The Urinary System
Lesson 13, Page 4 of 6

The most common reason that the elderly are put in nursing homes is urinary incontinence.

Preventative and Conservative Care for the Urinary System

Kidney Stones

There appears to be some hereditary component to the development of urinary tract stones. If kidney stones run in your family, you should moderate or eliminate coffee consumption and drink plenty of pure water each day.

Kidney stones are more common in hot climates due to water loss through perspiration and are more common in men than in women. Typically, the person with kidney stones sweats a lot and produces little urine. Since there is little urine, the urine that is produced is highly concentrated increasing the likelyhood that stones will develop. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of pure water each day is one of the best preventative measures you can take to prevent this problem.

Urinary Tract Infections

Women experience UTI's more frequently than men. The E. coli bacterium, one of the most common bacteria of the colon and the most frequent pathogen found in UTI's, can travel more easily up the shorter urethra of women. To prevent the spread of E. coli from the colon to the urinary tract, women should wipe themselves from front to back after urinating rather than from back to front.

Individuals who experience recurrent and persistent urinary tract infections may unknowingly be suffering from a systemic candida infection. Candida albicans is a parasitic opportunistic yeastlike fungus that is found in the mouth, skin, intestinal tract, and vagina of all individuals. Ordinarily, the growth of this fungus is kept in check by the beneficial flora (bacteria) of the body and by the immune system. Individuals with a weakened immune system, and particularly those who have taken antibiotic drugs (which kill the beneficial flora) may develop an overgrowth of this fungus throughout the body. This can result in a myriad of health problems, including frequent urinary tract infections. (For more on Candida see Candida Control.)

Nutritional Support for the Urinary System

Most people have heard about the benefits of cranberry for the urinary system, especially for urinary tract infections. The scientific community has taken a closer look and is now in agreement with long-known folk wisdom. About a decade ago a preliminary study was published in The Journal of Urology (vol. 131, no. 5). Dr. Anthony Sobota of Youngstown State University (Ohio) identified a special factor in the juice that seemed to make harmful bacteria less likely to cling to the surface of cells in the urinary tract. Another study reviewed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (vol. 271, no. 10, March 9, 1994, pp. 751-754) concluded that cranberry juice does indeed have substances which alter the bacteria population in urine.

Even though medical research has confirmed that cranberry juice can help prevent UTI's, the effect of cranberry juice alone is weak and will probably have little effect on an infection that is already in progress. Furthermore, the cranberry juice that is most commonly available is the "cocktail" variety which is watered down and heavily sweetened. Most people will find this "cranberry juice cocktail" to be of little use when trying to deal with UTI's.

Cranberry juice will be much more helpful when it is concentrated and taken without the added sugar (or corn sweetners.) An herbal combination called Cranberry & Buchu Concentrate combines concentrated cranberry juice with the herb buchu (Barosma betulina). Known in some cultures as "woman's best friend," this aromatic perennial shrub is found in South Africa. Its natural oil has a powerful penetrating aroma similar to peppermint. Buchu is beneficial for the urinary tract and works synergistically with cranberry juice concentrate to boost its beneficial effects. (Buchu is also good for digestion, as you would expect from any aromatic.)

Another effective natural home remedy for UTI's is canned asparagus. This can be very helpful in even the most stubborn cases. A 12 oz. can of asparagus should be consumed—along with the juice—every day until the symptoms disappear. Asparagus, by the way, is approved by the German equivalent of the U.S. FDA for the treatment of urinary tract infections. (See also Kidney Drainage below.)

There are many other herbs that have been traditionally used with UTI's and other urinary problems:

Parsley herb (Petroselinum sativum) is a bitter aromatic herb with mild diuretic properties.

Juniper berries, from the evergreen juniper shrub which grows widely throughout the Northern Hemisphere, is another herb with diuretic properties.

Golden seal root (Hydrastis canadensis) is a native North American bitter herb with many health benefits including tonic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a mucilaginous herb that is used for both the respiratory and urinary systems. Its high mucilage content makes it appropriate for soothing mucus membranes, such as an irritated throat or chest due to coughs, emphysema, and other lung problems. For the urinary tract it is especially helpful in removing stones and gravel. It "coats" the stones allowing them to pass more easily. (Take with hydrangea root and JP-X (see below) for stones. Drink plenty of water with lemon juice added.)

Hydrangea root (Hydrangea arborescens) is a bitter herb that has been traditionally used to relieve inflamed or enlarged prostate, for urinary stones or gravel associated with infections, for arthritis, gout, and for bladder problems. Hydrangia root is antilithic, which means that it dissolves urinary stones and prevents the formation of new ones. Herbalists recommend taking three capsules, four times a day, to dissolve kidney stones.

Uva ursi leaves (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), also known as bearberry, contain an antiseptic substance known as arbutin. This herb has astringent, diuretic and tonic effects and helps reduce the accumulation of uric acid. It has been used by herbalists for chronic cystitis (bladder infections) and to ease the pain from uriniary stones or gravel.

Cornsilk (Zea mays)—the silky tassel inside the corn husk—is highly valued in herbology for urinary system support. After the corn plant has shed its pollen, the silk is gathered and dried, then powdered for various uses including chronic urinary tract problems and prostate problems. It has been used for kidney, bladder and for bedwetting.

Herbal Combinations for the Urinary System

Historically, herbalists have found that the benefits of herbs can be enhanced by combining herbs that are synergistic.

JP-X is an herbal combination formulated by the late great herbalists Dr. John Christopher. The "JP" comes from two of its principle ingredients, juniper berries and parsley. (The "-X" indicates that it is one of Dr. Christopher's formulations.) In addition to the important herbs juniper berries and parsley, this combination also contains dong quai root, golden seal root, ginger root, marshmallow root, and uva ursi leaves. JP-X has been used for kidney and urinary tract infections, and as an aid (along with hydrangea and additional marshmallow) for passing stones.

Urinary Maintenance is an herbal, vitamin, mineral combination and is NSP's key product for the urinary system. It contains the nutritional factors that promote a healthy urinary tract along with ten herbs: uva ursi leaves, dong quai root, hydrangea root, cornsilk, parsley herb, horsetail herb, dandelion root, hops flowers, schizandra fruit and siberian ginseng root. Urinary Maintenance is a good combination to add to any nutritional program targeting the urinary tract. For those who suffer from persistent or frequent problems with the urinary system it is an excellent preventative maintenance supplement. It may also help incontinence.

Kidney Activator is an herbal combination that fights infection and reduces inflammation in the urinary system. It contains juniper berries, dandelion root, parsley herb, chamomile flowers and uva ursi leaves. This combination for the urinary system supplements deficient conditions (strengthens the kidneys and bladder) and has been used for incontinence, bed wetting, nephritis, urinary stones, edema, gout, hypertension, urinary tract infections and hypertension.

Kidney Drainage is a liquid herbal extract containing pure extracts of asparagus tops, plantain leaves, juniper berries and goldenrod herb in a vegetable glycerin base. It is a diuretic with mild antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Unlike diuretic drugs that stimulate excessive electrolyte secretion resulting in the loss of potassium, sodium and other electrolytes; Kidney Drainage increases urinary volume (diuretic) without the loss of electrolytes. Furthermore, asparagus contains high amounts of the electrolytes potassium and sodium.

Chinese Herbal Combination

Chinese herbalists almost always used their herbs in combinations. Over the 5,000 or so years that Chinese herbalists have been practicing their science, they have developed some very effective combinations. (The "-C" at the end of a combination name indicates that it is a Chinese herbal combination.)

KB-C (Kidney/Bladder) is a Chinese combination consisting of 18 herbs that tonifies the kidney/bladder meridian and "strenghtens water" according to Chinese herbal philosophy. It is used to nutritionally support both the urinary and structural systems. It strengthens the structure of the body, particularly the bones, connective tissues and sexual organs; increases blood circulation; shrinks inflamed tissues in the urogenital system and increases calcium absorption. It has also been used for incontinence.

Herbalists often combine herbs into formulations, usually selecting herbs that are ______ with each other.

antagonistic
synergistic
contrary
grown

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