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Steps to a Healthy Bladder and Urinary Control

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An overactive bladder, or urge incontinence, causes you to have the sudden, urgent feeling that you need to urinate frequently. Men and women can have urinary incontinence, and older women and men have the highest rate of urinary control problems. In fact, a 2014 report from the CDC found that more than half of Americans aged 65 or older suffer from incontinence.[1]

There are several causes for urinary incontinence. One of the most common is that E. coli bacteria stick to the walls of the urinary tract. This may cause pain, burning, pressure, and incontinence. Once the acute symptoms are under control, you may still have irritation of the mucus lining along the urinary tract that causes urge incontinence.

In the past, doctors used to treat an imbalance of E. coli with antibiotics. However, due to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and unpleasant digestive side effects like diarrhea and constipation, many are now using natural remedies which can be very effective.

Supplements That Help Support a Healthy Urinary Tract and Urinary Control

Probiotics. Your urinary tract normally has a healthy balance of different types of bacteria. E. coli is a part of that balance, but should be a small part. Studies show that women who have higher levels of

  1. coli have more urinary problems.[2]

Women who have higher counts of “good” bacteria like Lactobacillus have fewer problems. Taking a probiotic helps support a balance of healthy bacteria in the urinary tract. The most researched types shown to help women with urinary flora balance are Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus fermentum RC-14 strains.[3]

If you are a woman and have too much E. coli in your stool, it can contaminate your urinary tract when you wipe. That’s why it’s important for women to wipe front to back—and to take a good probiotic to support a healthy balance of bacteria in your colon and your urinary tract.

Cranberries and D-Mannose. Most women have heard about taking cranberry juice for urinary problems. Studies show that cranberries can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract.

But the urinary benefits of cranberry aren’t limited to men. One study found that cranberries can also help men who have both urinary and prostate problems. Researchers recruited 42 men who were all about age 63 to participate in their six-month study. Half the men were given 1,500mg of cranberry extract or no treatment at all. By the end of the study, the results showed that flow rate, volume and residual urine in the bladder improved significantly for the group given the cranberry extract.[4]

The active ingredient in cranberry is a natural sugar called D-Mannose. D-Mannose doesn’t kill bacteria, it simply helps it to “relocate” them. D-Mannose grabs hold of the E. coli and escorts them out in your urine.

You can take a supplement of cranberry plus a supplement of additional D-Mannose for increased effectiveness. Because commercial cranberry juice is loaded with corn syrup or sugar, you might want to consider taking a supplement instead of juice.

Mallow or Hollyhock Root Leaf Tea. Mallow and hollyhock are in the same family of plants and work similarly. A tea made from these plants is extremely soothing to an irritated bladder and urinary tract. To make the tea, combine 1 tablespoonful of dried leaf or root in a quart of room temperature water. Let sit for 2 hours and drink throughout the day. It is safe, and most people find it extremely refreshing. The mucopolysaccharides in these plants increase the speed and ferocity with which white blood cells can grab unwanted bacteria and get rid of them.[5]

Magnesium. Women who suffer from urge incontinence may benefit from taking magnesium supplements. In one study, 60 women with urge incontinence were randomly assigned to receive 350mg of magnesium hydroxide (providing approximately 150mg of elemental magnesium) twice a day or a placebo for one month. Twelve of 30 women in the magnesium group reported improvement in urinary incontinence after one month, compared with only five of 30 in the placebo group. In addition, compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group experienced significantly fewer episodes of urge incontinence, urinated less frequently, and awakened fewer times at night to urinate.[6]

[1] Gorina Y, et al. Prevalence of incontinence among older Americans. Vital Health Stat 3. 2014 Jun;(36):1-33.

[2] Pfau A, et al. The bacterial flora of the vaginal vestibule, urethra and vagina in premenopausal women with recurrent urinary tract infections. J Urol. 1981 Nov;126(5):630-4.

[3] Reid G, et al. Use of Lactobacillus to prevent infection by pathogenic bacteria. Microbes Infect. 2002 Mar;4(3):319-24.

[4] Vidlar A. The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;104:1181-1189.

[5] Moore M. Medicinal plants of the desert and canyon west. Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 1989.

[6] Boschert S. Milk of Magnesia May Help Ease Urinary Urge Incontinence. Family Practice News. 2003;33:46.

 

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