Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections and Ayurveda
By Dr Sajimon George BAMS, AAA, ATMS
Urinary tract infections and ayurveda – Anatomical structures involved in the formation, storage and excretion of urine constitute urinary tract. This includes kidney, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. Urine contains metabolic wastes, water, salts and toxins such as urea. Presence of RBC, WBC, sugar, protiens, puss cell etc indicates pathology in the different parts of urinary tract. Intake of some medicines can also influence appearance of urine. Urinary tract infections can be caused by forceful inhibition of natural urge of urination, habit of low intake of water, ageing, illness, unhealthy sexual practices and injury. Age effect on the kidneys’ structure affects its ability to filter and remove wastes from the blood. Loss of muscle tone and strength can also be the result of ageing leading to incomplete evacuation. Women are more vulnerable to this infection and acquire chronic nature more often than men. An infection in the bladder will be usually chronic in nature. To make things worse many organisms causing UTI are becoming resistant to available drugs. This is the area where Ayurveda the holistic medical system offer a lot. It teaches how to cure UTI and modify life style to prevent any recurrence. Complex but natural and therapeutically effective phyto constituents of simple herbs as well as polyherbal formulations act on micro organisms such as E.coli, S.saprophyticus and Klebsiella. E.coli constitutes 80-85% infections. While Staphylococcus saprophyticus contribute10-15%.
In females E.coli which is normal in intestines enter urinary tract by fecal contamination via vaginal secretions. Shorter urethra in women and proximity of urethral orifice to anus make it is easy for bacteria to reach urinary bladder to cause UTI.
Signs and Symptoms
Burning sensation during urination
The causes of this symptom are diseases like gonorrhea, benign prostate enlargement, and calculi in the system or less water intake especially in summer.
Blood in the urine
Inflammation of bladder & kidneys, injury by calculi are the reasons of the symptom.
Cloudy or white urine
Presence of puss may cause this.
Increased frequency of urination and incomplete feeling after urination
Urinary tract infection may cause these symptoms.
UTI symptoms are mainly Pitha predominant. Many etiological factors are also related to Pitha. An etiological factor of Benign Prostratic Hypertrophy includes Vatha vitiating factors. In summary, vitiation of all doshas is related to UTI one way or the other. While designing treatment protocol, each dosha will be addressed based on factors resulted in UTI .Basic approach is to promote functioning of Vatha in normal direction or achieving vathanulomanatha while not contradicting Pitha.
Vitiating factors leading to UTI
- Food and drinks that is too spicy, salty and hot.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Suppressing the natural urge for urination.
- Long, direct exposure to sunny and hot day.
- Habit of emotional outbursts of anger, impatience and jealousy.
- Working with fire, chemicals and toxic fumes.
- Drinking less quantities of water.
Usually powerful treatment procedures are not required for UTI. But in very chronic conditions panchakarma procedures may be needed. Following are the steps involved.
Oral administration of medicated oils and ghees:
This procedure has ability to transport therapeutically effective components to different tissues of Urinary Tract. This is also helpful in achieving tone and neurological control of bladder musculature.
Steaming and other heating procedures:
In Pitha predominant conditions, steaming is not required.
Vamana or Medicated vomiting:
Only in Kapha predominant UTI vamana procedure is useful.
Virechana or Medicated purgation:
It is a cleansing method, performed by giving some herbal purgatives. This helps to eliminate blockage of pathways of Vatha humor and alleviates Pitha predominant symptoms.
Vasthi or Medicated enema:
This procedure is useful in cleaning the urinary tract. It is most effective in Ayurvedic treatment bringing cleansing of subtle channels or srothas spread all over the body. This is very effective in aggravated Vatha through removal of blockage in pathways of vatha humor thus enable us to calm Vatha aggravation. This include anal administration of medicated oil alone called Anuvasana Vasthi followed by Nirooha Vasthi where medicated oil, suitable herbal decoction, rock salt, honey and paste of herbal powder are mixed together and administered together. These procedures help in maintaining normal PH,muscle tone and neurological control of urinary bladder thus useful in chronic and recurring UTIs.
This is different from common vasthi in the way of administration, quantity and in ingredients.
Medicine is applied to urinary bladder through urethral route. This is very useful in chronic UTI.
Diet & Lifestyle
yurveda suggests a diet that will promote urination and alleviate vitiated doshas which resulted in UTI. Drinking sufficient quantities of water should become a habit. This will help in eliminating bacteria out of the system.
- Wear cotton and loose fitting innerwear and clothing.
- Use dry clothes after bath.
- Women should follow good personal hygiene practices especially during menstrual periods. Habit should be developed to wipe from front to back after defecation.
Bhujangasana, Surya namaskar, Dhanurasana and similar procedures can stimulate and preserve health of genito-urinary system.
Ayurvedic formulations and herbs helps urinary tract functioning preserve normal PH and reduce bacterial load. Following are some of the examples Tribulus terestris or Gokshura, Boerhaavia diffusa or Punarnnava, Asparagus racemosus or Shathavari.
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