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Natural solutions for the prevention of and relief from thrush, cystitis and urinary problems

Some people find that talking about thrush, cystitis and urinary tract infections (UTIs) is embarrassing, but these infections are common and nothing to feel ashamed of. Staff working in health stores have undergone training and are professional – they are no strangers to these subjects. Women tend to suffer more from thrush and UTIs like cystitis, while men are more likely to have prostate problems, which can lead to UTIs and prostatitis.

“Many people will experience thrush, candida, cystitis or a UTI at some time in their life,” says Jacinta Tyndall of Horans health store in Killarney, Co Kerry. “Some visit their doctor and end up having to take an antibiotic. The problem with this is that while antibiotics kill off bad bacteria they also significantly reduce levels of good bacteria.”

A perfect environment

“When we are stressed, we eat too many processed, sugary foods and consume too much alcohol so our bodies can become unbalanced,” says Jacinta Tyndall. “This imbalance creates a perfect environment for candida, thrush, cystitis and urinary tract infections to occur. These are all horrible conditions to experience and often can be very painful. Our bodies thrive in an alkaline state – this is achieved through a proper diet, sufficient water intake and exercise. We should avoid foods containing sugar, refined and processed foods such as breads, pastas, alcohol and dairy. Eat a balanced diet and when necessary take an immune-boosting supplement, especially in times of stress, to stay healthy.”

Thrush

“Thrush is a vaginal yeast infection, which is caused by a fungus called candida albicans, a naturally occurring fungus which is usually found in the moist parts of the body such as the vagina,” says Jacinta Tyndall. “In a healthy person the body is able to control the growth of this yeast. Thrush occurs when the yeast takes over. Symptoms include burning or itching around the vagina, redness and soreness around the vulva, a burning sensation when urinating. It can be helpful to have salt baths, keep the area clean and dry, wear loose cotton underwear, avoiding irritating personal care products, change sanitary products regularly and where possible avoid taking antibiotics.”

“For thrush take a good probiotic and avoid sugar,” says Helena Murphy of health store Loop de Loop in Castletownbere, Co Cork. “Sugar literally feeds candida, so you must avoid it. Try apple cider vinegar, but avoid other vinegars; try taking coconut oil or oregano oil. Avoid alcoholic drinks and drink plenty of water. Avoid wearing tight underwear or trousers, do not wash intimate places with any chemicals or scented products – just use water only. Wash underwear with a very mild natural washing detergent or none at all.”

Cystitis and UTIs

“Cystitis and UTIs are quite similar in their symptoms which include a burning feeling when you urinate, a frequent or intense urge to urinate, 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,” says Jacinta Tyndall. “The reason it is so easy to get an infection like this is because a woman’s urethra is very close to the anal area where bacteria such as e-coli lies. This bacteria can reach the bladder and multiply rapidly, causing irritation of the bladder lining. Wipe from the front to the back to ensure proper hygiene. Taking a supplement which contains cranberry can lessen the duration of an infection. Drinking pure cranberry juice and plenty of water can help flush the toxins out of the body. Avoid cranberry that is not in its purest form as it may contain lots of added sugar which will aggravate the condition further. After a course of antibiotics it is a really good idea to take a probiotic supplement or eat foods containing probiotic cultures such as kefir or kombucha to replenish stocks of beneficial good bacteria.”

“D-mannose is a wonder product to help if you have urinary or bladder issues, combined with drinking plenty of water (two litres or more a day),” says Helena Murphy. “Take a probiotic, keep warm and avoid sex. Go to the toilet as often as you need to – this will help flush out infection.”

In addition to juice, cranberry is available in tablet or capsule form. 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.

UTI-friendly lifestyle tips

Magnesium – a mineral that can help muscles to completely empty the bladder. Bananas and potatoes are a good source, or take a supplement.

Blueberries help to prevent bacteria breeding in your urinary system. Take as an unsweetened juice or shot.

Acidophilus – a probiotic that helps to keep unfriendly bacteria at bay. Available in chewable tablets.

Stop smoking – many smokers have a frequent cough which can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.

Acupuncture – can help urinary problems like incontinence.

Drinks lots of water – to flush out your bladder of any unfriendly bacteria.

Wear loose cotton pants rather than man-made fibres.

Do your kegels – exercise to improve pelvic floor muscles.

Do not sit around in a wet swimming costume after swimming.

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