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Ayurvedic Treatment for Urinary Tract Infection [UTI]
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A urinary tract infection is an infection from microbes that affects part of the urinary tract. These are organisms that are too small to be seen without a microscope. When it affects the lower urinary tract it is known as a bladder infection (cystitis) and when it affects the upper urinary tract it is known as kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are caused by fungi and in rare cases by viruses.
A UTI can happen anywhere in your urinary tract. Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections only involve the urethra and bladder, in the lower tract. However, infections can involve the ureters and kidneys, in the upper tract.
Symptoms of a lower tract UTI
- burning with urination
- increased frequency of urination
- urine that has a strong odor
- bloody urine
- cloudy urine
- pelvic pain in women
- rectal pain in men
Symptoms of an upper tract UTI
- pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
The most common cause of infection is Escherichia coli, though other bacteria or fungi may rarely be the cause. Risk factors include female anatomy, sexual intercourse, diabetes, obesity, and family history. Although sexual intercourse is a risk factor, UTIs are not classified as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Kidney infection, if it occurs, usually follows a bladder infection but may also result from a blood-borne infection.
Diagnosis can be difficult because bacteria may be present without there being an infection. In complicated cases or if treatment fails, a urine culture may be useful.
UTI is known as Mutrakricchra in Ayurveda and has seven aetiologies or root causes attributed to it:
- Chronic indigestion
- Excessive exercise
- Intake of food or medicines that are excessively pungent and harshly drying in nature
- Habitual intake of alcohol (an example of pt 3)
- Excessive intake of meat (of marsh animals) and fish
- Irregular and yet frequent intake of food before the previous meal is digested
- Regularly riding on the back of fast moving animals/vehicles
Ayurveda medical science has much to offer in the treatment of UTIs and MDR UTIs. It focuses on altering the conditions under which the (gram negative) bacteria such as E.Coli proliferate- at the urerthra level and at the whole body systemic level. This alteration is achieved through a personalised prescription of diet-lifestyle-herbal medicines-and cleansing therapies or ‘chikitsa’ in classical Ayurveda.
The first step, at the diet and lifestyle level, is to refrain from or avoid one or more of the wrong behaviors from the 7 listed above. In addition, follow a diet and lifestyle regimen that is systemically cooling and unctuous in nature. The medicines used are local-bactericidal as well as contribute to systemic correction of Triosha4 imbalances specific to the individual. The cleansing therapies are local (douching with medicated decoctions) and systemic (Panchakarma)- that lead to reversal of the pungent (pitta) and excessively dry (vata) conditions prevalent in the tract and in the whole system. With this multi-pronged, whole person approach, there is high probability that even severe cases of UTI may be reversed.
UTIs proliferate in certain seasons of the year and for women during pregnancy. A community level preventive strategy focused on Ayurveda principles based diet and lifestyle regimen will cut down the incidence dramatically.
Disclaimer: * Outcomes may vary from person to person