Dear Health-conscious Friend,
3 Potent Herbs to Help Fight Bladder Trouble
It’s one of the sad truths about bladder problems… If you have one, you’ll probably have another. And most women have bladder or urinary track (UT) issues at some point in their lives.
These problems often involve incontinence, which makes them both frustrating and embarrassing.
A lot of bladder and UT issues start with bacteria – especially E. coli. If you can keep the bacteria from getting a foothold, there’s a good chance you can avoid (or end) the problem. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today.
An important reason women suffer with more bladder and UT issues than men is a woman’s UT is more open than a man’s. So it’s easier for bacteria to get in… and eventually reach the bladder.
Your best defense involves three steps: kill what bacteria you can, keep them from “sticking” to your UT (and bladder) walls – called anti-adhesion – and flush them out.
Flushing is simple. Just drink plenty of fluids. But this only works if the bacteria can’t hold on to your UT walls. (Which, of course, they can’t if they’re dead.)
Fortunately, there are herbs that can make it harder for bacteria to hang on to your UT (and bladder) walls and kill many bacteria, as well. The best known is cranberry.
Cranberry juice is popular for UT and bladder problems because it helps flush your system, too. But the flushing comes with a price. Because cranberries are extremely tart, most cranberry juices come with lots of added sugar. And that’s not healthy.
That’s why I don’t recommend cranberry juice. You can get the same benefit by taking a cranberry concentrate with another liquid – such as water or green tea.
Cranberry is one of several herbs I recommend for bladder/UT health. And one of a very few that can help you keep bacteria from getting a foothold in your UT.
Cranberries are packed with antioxidants. One type – called proanthocyanidins – have been shown to block bacteria’s ability to get a foothold in your UT.1 That’s one reason cranberry is so effective for many women.
Cranberry has fair antimicrobial effects, too.2 Which simply means it can kill bacteria. So cranberry is a good start.
But it’s not the only herb with these properties. Another is juniper.
Today, juniper is probably best known as a candle scent and one of the flavorings in gin. But it has a long history in herbal medicine.
Juniper is strongly antimicrobial. It also has anti-adhesion properties. Plus, animal studies show it also increases urine volume.3 In other words, it has a flushing effect.
Juniper’s flushing effect encourages move more fluid to run through your UT. This combines well with the ability to kill some bacteria and keep others from “grabbing on” to your UT walls.
Provided you’re drinking enough fluids, juniper can help clean out invading bacteria. And that translates to less suffering.
Finally, uva ursi – bearberry – is an herb used long ago by Native Americans. Modern studies show your body can convert substances in this plant into a strong antimicrobial compound.
Uva ursi also helps keep bacteria from getting a foothold in your UT. So it has very similar properties to cranberry.3 Its track record is so good, the German agency in charge of evaluating herbs has approved its use for UT health.
All three of these herbs can boost your body’s defenses against bacteria in your bladder and urinary tract. And you’ll find each of them – especially cranberry – in some nutritional supplements. But for the best effect, I suggest choosing a bladder formula with all three.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 Howell, A.B., “Cranberry Proanthocyanidins and the Maintenance of Urinary Tract Health,” 2002; 42(Sup 3): 273-278.
2 Viskelis, P., et al, “Anthocyanins, antioxidative, and antimicrobial properties of American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) and their press cakes,” J Food Sci. Mar 2009; 74(2): C157-C161.
3 Yarnell, E., “Botanical medicines for the urinary tract,” World J Urol. Nov 2002; 20(5): 285-293.