A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system, including the kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, and involve the bladder and urethra. Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men. Infections need to be treated quickly, as serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to the kidneys. UTIs typically occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract via the urethra and multiply in the bladder.
Urinary tract infections don't always cause signs and symptoms, but if they present, they can include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-coloured — a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the centre of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
There are three types of UTI:
- Kidneys (acute pyelonephritis): Can present with back pain or side (flank) pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea, vomiting
- Bladder (cystitis): Can present with pelvic pressure; lower abdomen discomfort, frequent, painful urination, blood in urine
- Urethra (urethritis): Can present with burning with urination, discharge
The most common UTIs occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra.
Causes can include:
- Infection of the bladder (cystitis)
- Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis
- Infection of the urethra (urethritis)
Risk factors include: Female anatomy, sexual activity, certain types of birth control, urinary tract abnormalities, blockages in urinary tract, suppressed immune system, catheter use, recent urinary procedure.
Treatment approaches include: antibiotics for an infection and preventative practices to avoid a reoccurrence.
Self-care and prevention practices can include:
- Avoiding wearing tight-fitting clothing, especially clothing made from synthetic materials. Loose-fitting, natural-fibre underwear is preferable.
- Wipe from ‘front to back’ after going to the toilet.
- Avoid soaps, deodorants or talcum powder in the genital area.
- Avoid deodorised panty liners, bath foams or salts, or vaginal douches.
- Use a water-based lubricant during intercourse, or when inserting tampons if your vagina is dry.
- Avoid spermicidal condoms.
- Shower after exercise.
Ayurvedic Approach to Thrush:
Following Ayurvedic classical literature, UTIs have several etiologies, and can be caused by:
Vata dominant: Vata aggravating diet and lifestyle activities, including excessive intake of cold food/drinks, dry substances, food that lacks oil, fear-based emotions.
Pitta dominant: Pitta aggravating diet and lifestyle activities, including excessive intake of alcoholic drinks, fish, pungent, sour, salty tastes, excessive desires and second chakra emotional malfunctioning.
Kapha dominant: Kapha aggravating diet and lifestyle activities, including intake of cold and heavy foods, mucous forming foods, sedentary lifestyle.
Tridoshic: all three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha involvement) through the above.
Other causes: can also be from vitiated blood from trauma, urinary calculi, and obstruction of semen (these can also have a different pathogenesis from the one explained below).
The above said factors disrupt the normal state of a balanced digestive fire (Agni). This then leads to undigested food matter in the GI tract which then leads to the formation of Ama (putrefied/toxic food waste). This can also mix with the doshas (Vata, Pitta and/or Kapha) in the GI tract. The Ama then leaves the GI tract and is carried via the bloodstream to a weak area within the body, where it settles and disrupts the normal balance of the tissues - in this case the urinary system - and thus produces symptoms of a UTI in the urinary tract.
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR THRUSH:
Vata Pitta Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, shatavari, punarnava, sandalwood
Vata Kapha Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, ashwanganda, punarnava, sandalwood, shilajat
Pitta Vata Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, shatavari, punarnava, sandalwood
Pitta Kapha Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, punanrava, sandalwood, musta
Kapha Vata Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, ashwaganda, punarnava, sandalwood, shilajat
Kapha Pitta Balancing: turmeric, gokshura, guduchi, coriander, triphala, punarnrva, sandalwood, musta
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Thrush:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) for migraines are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Panchakarma detox treatments (when deemed appropriate)
- Avoid causative factors
- Balance Jataragni (digestive fire) and digestion
- Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
- Balance doshic imbalances through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Abhyanaga massage, steam therapies (as required)
- Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Thrush:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, high fat foods, greasy foods. Minimise the intake of hot chilli type foods and spices, alcohol and caffeine.
- Pure (room temperature) coconut water can be drunk during the day.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- A small amount of buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months.
- Avoid chilled water. Drink sufficient water during the day.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Thrush:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and minimise caffeine intake.
- One should avoid constipation and supressing natural urges (passing stools, gas, burping etc).
- Wipe from front to back when going to the toilet.
- Empty the bladder before and after intercourse, and avoid excessive sexual activity.
- Avoid using chemical antiseptics, douches or perfumed sprays in the genital area, and use sanitary pads over tampons.
- Avoid using perfumed toilet papers and menstrual products. Also, use unperfumed and natural laundry products, and avoid chemical or perfumes feminine products.
- Wear loose fitting clothing of natural fibres that allow the area to breathe. This includes underwear.
- Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can contribute to bacterial growth.
- Keep blood sugar levels under control if one is diabetic.
- Take showers instead of baths.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.