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Natural relief

If you’ve ever had thrush, candida, cystitis or other urinary problems you will know how uncomfortable they can be. Here’s the best natural ways to treat them

For many people the whole subject of thrush, cystitis and urinary tract infections (UTIs) is embarrassing, but these infections are extremely common and nothing to feel ashamed of. Staff working in health stores around Ireland have undergone training and are professional - they are no strangers to these subjects, so always ask for advice.

“Previously a ‘taboo’ topic, everybody’s talking about vaginal health at the moment – and I’m all for it!” says Kerry Beeson, a nutritional therapist who works with OptiBac Probiotics. “However, many women are unsure about how best to care for their intimate health. The first thing to note is that our vaginas consist of a delicate balance of bacteria, primarily belonging to the lactobacilli family, which produce lactic acid, helping to keep the vagina at its optimum pH of 4 or below. This acidic environment helps to prevent the growth of undesirable pathogens, which typically prefer more alkaline conditions.”

Perfect balance

When we are stressed, we tend to eat too many processed, sugary foods and consume too much alcohol and this means that our bodies can become unbalanced, creating a perfect environment for candida, thrush, cystitis and urinary tract infections.

“Our vaginas are actually very adept at warding off infection by themselves,” says Kerry Beeson, “so long as the vaginal microbiome is healthy. However, a number of factors, including an excess of dietary sugar, antibiotic use and even exposure of the vagina to scented bath products, can disrupt this delicate balance of bacteria.”

“Probiotics are a simple and non-invasive method of rebalancing your vaginal microbiome. Two strains which are particularly well-researched for vaginal health are Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1®. These strains are usually researched as a pair, and have been clinically trialled by thousands of women across the world for the support of thrush, cystitis and bacterial vaginosis. They have also been shown to reach the vagina and colonise within a week.”
Kerry Beeson

Cystitis and UTIs

A burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent or intense urge to go, even though little comes out when doing so, pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen, cloudy, dark or strange smelling urine, feeling shaky or feverish are all symptoms of cystitis or a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Your first port of call for any UTI is cranberry – you can take it as a juice or in a capsule. It is crucial that the juice contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners, because sugar is a known breeding ground for bacteria. Drinking at least two litres of plain water every day can also help to flush out bacteria.

Natural help is available from:

  • Cantharis – very effective at easing the burning sensation when urinating.
  • Dandelion herbal teas may help to support the urinary tract.
  • Goldenrod – has important anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic actions.
  • Magnesium – a mineral that can help muscles to completely empty the bladder. Bananas and potatoes are a good source, or take a supplement.

It can be helpful to have salt baths, keep the area clean and dry, wear loose cotton underwear, avoiding irritating personal care products.

Herbal teas that help to support the urinary tract include dandelion due to its diuretic action; goldenrod which has important anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic actions; and cantharis which is very effective at easing the burning sensation when urinating.

Probiotics will help to rebalance your beneficial bacteria levels after a course of antibiotics.

Thrush

Thrush is a vaginal yeast infection caused by a fungus called candida albicans, a naturally-occurring fungus usually found in moist parts of the body such as the vagina. Thrush occurs when the yeast takes over. Symptoms include burning or itching around the vagina and a burning sensation when urinating.

Natural help is available from:

  • Take salt baths, keep the area clean and dry.
  • Wear loose cotton underwear and avoid using irritating personal care products.
  • Try drinking apple cider vinegar, but avoid other vinegars
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks and drink plenty of water.
  • Wash underwear with a very mild natural washing detergent or none at all.

Most UTIs shouldn’t last more than 10 days. If they do, you should consult a healthcare practitioner.

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