Since I was a teen up until quite recently, I suffered with constant bladder infections and UTIs. To the point that I had to have investigative surgery (a cystoscopy under general anesthesia) to shed light on why they were so frequent. They found I had interstitial cystitis where the inside walls of my bladder had become so red and inflamed from constant infections that I was suffering stabbing pain, serious discomfort while urinating, and sexual intercourse ignited pain that lasted for several days.
I was prescribed a tricyclic antidepressant called nortriptyline to treat the interstitial cystitis, but the bladder infections and UTIs still continued. I also suffered some serious health complications from the medication, like black outs. I finally came off the tablets in preference of some marked changes in my diet and life and natural tools to rebalance the bacteria in my gut and bladder.
How did I get to that point?
I learnt through my experience with Eden that we live in symbiosis with the bacteria that inhabit the Gastro-Intestinal tracts in our bodies. There are more of these bacteria than cells in our body. It is an extremely fine balance of friendly bacteria and unfriendly bacteria/fungi/yeast/parasites. If we allow the latter to overgrow we activate the immune system and impair barrier function, which can lead to chronic diseases.
The problems we suffered with Eden and moreover, how nobody seemed to know how to help us or what was wrong for a good while, made me go away do significant research and learned a lot. For Eden her intestinal permeability led to many symptoms outside of her GI tract, like thrush and other skin rashes, headaches, congestion, abdominal pain, extreme bloating, constipation and diarrhea, that all led to disruption of her sleep and restlessness, and ultimately…. a bladder infection. This got me thinking! I was already suspicious that my gut was out of balance, based on other problems I had suffered in the past. I had many predisposing factors that would prevent my body from working optimally and create an imbalance – early and frequent exposure to antibiotics as a child and teen, chronic use of chemical birth control, which dries out mucosal tissue from tip to tail, creating a breeding ground for bad bacteria; A LOT of stress, disordered eating (a diagnosed eating disorder as a teen). Then, because of how Eden was born with such an imbalance of her own I considered, if I recreated my own gut bacteria balance by removing the undesirable organisms and restoring the desirable bacteria, while I worked through this process with Eden would my bladder problems reduce?
The result was YES!
The first thing I did was identify all the things in our lives that were increasing our toxic load, (heavy metals such as chemicals, mercury, pesticides, and herbicides) and attempt to reduce them, in order to restore immune function (our bacteria are an integral part of our immune system, helping it to distinguish between ‘friend and foe’).
I hadn’t realised until I started reading labels how many toxic ingredients there are in the things that we use every day – soap, toothpaste, creams, lotions, washing detergents, air fresheners, candles. Not to mention in the food we eat! I began to opt for organic food and began to cut chemical products out one by one and replace them with things I made myself, using essential oils.
Then I attacked the food intolerances I suspected Eden had head on! Eden and I did a full elimination diet to identify problem foods and then we removed them.
I also made other dietary changes. I began eating some fermented foods like kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut to help re-colonize my bodywith helpful bacteria. We cut out refined sugar completely because it feeds the bad bacteria and we cut down on grains that are high in carbohydrates, so break down into sugar and also feed yeast and bad bacteria growth.
As I realised the bacterial imbalance was not only in my gut, but in my bladder, I started taking D-mannose (500mg 4x daily) to prevent bacterial buildup in my bladder directly.
I used a course of Oregano Essential Oil (5 drops 3x daily in 250ml water for 3 days) because it is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
I then started on quality Probiotics. I visited Nicola John’s Pharmacy in Glen Innes, Auckland, upon the advice of my awesome midwife with Jade and talked to her about how I could increase the good bacteria in my bladder and gut and reduce the growth of the infection-causing bacteria.
And I took Cranberry tablets (400-500mg 2x daily) to prevent bacteria from sticking to my bladder walls.
Vitamin C (1,000mg 3x daily) was also introduced to make my wee more acidic, so that the growth of E.coli was inhibited, my immune function enhanced. Eden’s bladder infection was identified as caused by E.coli, so this was important for both of us.
In making these changes I have changed my life. And I thank Eden for that, for leading me to a better way. Although what we went through with her was awful and horrific for everyone it has opened my eyes to so many different things that were impacting my own health and as a family we are now so much healthier!
If you are suffering with frequent bladder infections and UTIs I obviously advise seeing a doctor as I am not one of those! However, investigate some of the things that helped me and if you think they might be able to help you, give them a try because living with the pain and discomfort of frequent infections is awful and as I found can be seriously damaging to your bladder.
Much Love x x