When antibiotics fail; more is not always better when treating urinary tract infections
It seems like a simple equation– urinary tract in infection equals a course or two– or three of antibiotics. It is such a common treatment that many doctors will not even check the urine for signs of bacteria overgrowth, they will write the prescription with just a phone call.
The Western bio-medicine standard of care for scanty and painful urination usually results in a prescription for the penicillins, cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. Sometimes these clear the problem up in short order, in which case no point in reading further. However, for those who are failed by the standard of pharmaceutical care, then Chinese medicine has options that don’t involve the collateral damage of destroying the intestinal tract’s beneficial bacteria. More importantly, Chinese herbs can be tremendously effective in the treatment of recurrent and stubborn UTI’s.
Antibiotics are amazing medicines when used properly, and for the scope in which they are most effective. However, overuse of these power pharmaceuticals over the past 50+ years has brought with it the co-evolution of the very same pathogens we are trying to control. Our magic bullet has had the unfortunate side effect of encouraging the growth of more virulent strains of bacteria.
Chinese herbal medicine offers a different approach. And there is a reason why in the past 2000 years the doctors of Asia have not developed formulations that “kill” the invader. Unlike our western medical model of kill, cut and control, the medicine of Asia seeks to promote balance, harmony and communication between the various body systems. Systems in balance, those that are strong and resilient, inherently have the capability to control pathogenic influences. Chinese medicine’s strength lays not so much in fighting pathogens, but in promoting systemic homeostasis, that balance does not give pathogens an environment in which to collect and breed.
Does this mean that Chinese herbs can only be used to treat long-term chronic and unresolved urinary tract infections?
Not at all. There are a number of formulas that both “attack the pathogen, while re-balancing the system.” These prescriptions are good for acute UTI’s. And for those recurrent issues that multiple courses of antibiotics just don’t seem to touch, the more harmonizing and strengthening formulas are more appropriate.
Acupuncture too is helpful for UTI’s, especially with the symptomatic issues of burning and urinary frequency. Together acupuncture and herbs can bring relief to the sufferer of chronic urinary tract infections that have been failed by multiple courses of antibiotics.
And of course, there are things you can do for yourself that help to regain bladder health and balance. Unsweetened cranberry juice is a commonly used home cure that many people find to be helpful. Also, anything you can do to reduce inflammation in your system will have a positive effect on the urinary system. So when dealing with a lingering UTI, cut out the sugar, eat well, balance work and play, and make sure you are getting enough of the good essential fatty acids– fish oil is a great source of these. In essence to have balance within, it is important to have balance in various aspects of life. As is often the case, an illness or symptom just might be a call to see how we are unfolding our life and if a change is being asked for.
Some women use acupuncture as a last resort, while others use it at the first sign of an infection. If you would prefer to strengthen your body’s innate ability to ward off bladder infections, then a visit to your acupuncturist is a good place to start!