One of the most over used and over prescribed drugs on the market today are Antibiotics. An antibiotic is an anti microbe that becomes active against different bacteria strains when a bacterial infection is present. This is essentially two organisms fighting against each other. However, nature tends to adapt and becomes resilient, creating antibiotic resilient strains (aka superbugs). This is a normal response to pharmaceutical created anti microbes. Thus, pharmaceutical companies continue releasing drugs that are “stronger” with side effects that have been doing more harm than the bacteria it is being prescribed to eliminate.
One of the most common bacterial infection for women happens to be a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). This bacteria infection can occur in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder, or urethra. One of the most commonly prescribed drugs for this problem is Cipro (Cetraxal, Ciloxan, Cipro in D5W, Otiprio, and Cipro XR) and Levaquin (Levofloxacin). Two of the most dangerous strains on the market today. Even though there are lawsuits and debilitating side affects connected to both drugs, they continue to be heavily prescribed by the medical industry.
They both come from a family called fluoroquinolones (floxacin). This drug is prescribed as an alternative to individuals who are allergic to or have infections resistant to other antibiotics. These antibiotics are also commonly over prescribed for colds, sinusitis, sore throats, stomach pain, viral infections and pneumonia. According to CBS, The FDA has reported concerns about fluoroquinolones since 2008. A study on Nucleic Acids published in 2018 showed the same process that allows Cipro to inhibit a specific enzyme in bacterial invaders inhibits the same enzyme in our healthy cells. This particular enzyme is important to our metabolic function. Studies also now show they may have a permanent side effect on our stem cells which happen to be our bodies repair men.
Side effects (many permanent) acknowledged both by the drug companies, documented studies and lawsuits are as such:
- Skin disorders, rash and damage
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Joint pain (permanent)
- Muscle pain and spasm
- Allergic pneumonitis in the lungs
- Kidney disorder and failure
- Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
- Blood-related issues
- UTI (prescribing the same drug to treat what it may cause)
- May harm developing fetus
- Behavioral changes
- Vaginal itching and discharge
- Alters colon and gut bacteria
- Tendinitis and tendon rupture and permanent damage (most common)
- Permanent nerve damage and central nervous system damage
- Aortic dissection
Today, women have a 1 in 2 chance of contracting a UTI bacterial infection in their lifetime. Symptoms include frequent or urge to pee, cloudy or bloody urine, discomfort or burning pain when trying to urinate, pain in kidney areas, feeling tired accompanied by fever and chills. As E. coli is responsible for 90% of UTI infections, prevention is one of the best things you can do to avoid contraction.
Because women have short urethras (tube that allows urine to empty) it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the body. Causes and prevention of a UTI include:
- Improper personal hygiene: wear cotton panties, avoid thongs, leaving pubic hair intact (this protects bacteria from getting into the vagina) avoid toilet backsplash
- Swimming: chlorine kills off good vaginal bacteria while lakes and oceans may allow bad bacteria in
- Exercise: avoid synthetic fabric where bacteria can thrive
- Sex, multiple partners, spermicide: urinating and cleansing right after sex
- E. coli: wiping front to back, avoiding vaginal contact with feces (common in babies)
- Diabetes, pregnancy and menopause: healthy diet, removal of processed sugars, foods, gluten, corn, soy and dairy to balance hormones, eliminate candida and strengthen immune system
- Dehydration, not urinating frequently: drink lots of clean water, empty bladder, don’t hold urine in
- Tampons, douches, powders and scented soaps: use tampons and pads void of chemicals and synthetic ingredients, natural soaps without heavy scents and antibacterial properties, avoid powders and douches as these all kills good bacteria that protect the vagina
Although the “floxacin” family of antibiotics has been shown to be troublesome, there are infections that still need Doctor and antibiotic intervention. There are safer antibiotic options available to us and should be discussed with your doctor. Many of these other strains of antibiotics have been shown to heal an E-coli UTI in 3-7 days. If a UTI is reoccurring, resistant to antibiotics or contracted via chlamydia, stronger antibiotic interventions may be necessary. Because antibiotics may target both good and bad bacteria alike, there are many steps you can take to protect your gut during and after a course of antibiotics. These steps may also help reduce the side effects that may be caused by antibiotics.
-Probiotics can help reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea according to the world journal of gastroenterology. Probiotics help protect and restore gut flora, especially ones containing the Lactobacilli strain. Integrating prebiotic foods such as apples, onions, garlic and bananas can help feed and fuel probiotics.
-Fermented foods produced by microbes that include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi also help restore gut flora, heal and ease antibiotic symptoms.
-High Fiber foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, bananas, berries and cruciferous veggies are known to stimulate the growth of good bacteria as well.
-Avoid foods that are fortified with calcium, grapefruit juice and alcohol which all may hinder the effectiveness of most antibiotics.
-Vitamin K helps reduce the impact of antibiotic side effects. Eating foods high in vitamin K include: turnips, spinach, kale, swiss chard, brussel sprouts, parsley and other leafy greens.
Now let’s talk about the natural approach you can take to help treat a UTI infection. The great thing about these natural therapies is that many of them can be discussed with your healthcare provider to take in conjunction with traditional UTI therapies. Some of the natural treatments that have been shown to be successful include:
Cranberry: 100% unsweetened juice can prevent bacteria from sticking to walls of the urinary tract. Prevents reoccurring UTI and protect bladder and kidneys. Relieves discomfort when urinating and reduces inflammation.
Lemon Balm & Nettle: antimicrobial, reduces inflammation in kidney and bladder, calms nervous system, works synergistically combatting bacteria.
Golden Seal: antimicrobial, strengthens other antibacterial herbs and properties.
Vitamin C & Liquid Zinc: supports immune system, work together to increase antioxidant activity, reduces acidity of urine, antimicrobial, removes pathogens.
Garlic: antibacterial properties, suppresses inflammation, provides immune support, decreases urge to urinate.
D Mannose: natural occurring sugar that is found in fruits attaches to bacteria (bugs love sugar) and prevents the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls, draw bacteria out through urine, prebiotic that stimulates natural growth of good bacteria, empowers probiotics.
Lauricidin: antibacterial, specifically against pathogenic bacteria, It works by disturbing the integrity of the bacterial cell membrane, blocking replication and making it easier for the immune system to destroy the pathogen.
Oil of Oregano: powerful antibacterial properties, wild oregano containing 80% of it’s active ingredient carvacrol eliminates E. coli. Take for 14 days maximum due to irritation of stomach lining.
Vitamin D: boosts immune system, induces the antimicrobrial peptides in the bladder that help prevent UTI, deficiency associated with reoccurring bacterial infections.
Probiotics: restores good bacteria, boosts immune system, fights infection, deficiency associated with reoccurring bacterial infection. Canadian study showed Lactobacillus prevented UTI.
Apple Cider Vinegar: prevents bacterial infections, contains acetic acid that is effective in reducing the growth of bacteria, restores gut microbes, supports immune system, alkalizes urine.
Honey: antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, local honey is always more affective in immune response, anti inflammatory, reduces growth of bacteria.
Horsetail: used when suppressed urination that is accompanied by blood and severe pain is present, diuretic plant relieves pain when bladder feels full yet unable to be relieved by urination. Contains silica to promote cellular repair, not to be used longer than 12 days, strengthens immune system.
Many of these remedies have been a personal success with the complete elimination of my reoccurring UTI, however taking a few steps towards prevention, communication with your health care provider and listening to your body are always suggested. Everyone’s healing journey and approach varies, looking into what works best for you can be a powerful way to successfully eradicate this common bacterial infection in women.
By Natasha M
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.