Guest post on Chinese medicine diagnosis and understanding of UTI.  Surprisingly fascinating, if you’re into Chinese medicine. 

Traditional Chinese medicine operates under a different paradigm than conventional / Western medicine. It has been evolving over many thousands of years and is based on the observation of the body, rather than looking for parasites and bacteria or specific organs as the site of a problem. Chinese medicine takes a more system-wide or whole-of-body approach. It also doesn’t follow a “germ” theory approach.

Needles in the ear

What this means is to understand a problem, a different way of diagnosing is required. There may be a few different ways that the imbalance in the body has occurred, thus resulting in, for example, cystitis or bladder infections. A Chinese medicine practitioner will consider the different ways this may have manifested in order to recommend the best path to resolution. A range of interventions may be required to resolve the problem such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, teas, massage, changes to environment, and diet.

Diagnosing cystitis

According to Chinese medicine, there are two common patterns that result in cystitis or urinary tract infections. They are the accumulation and retention of damp heat or a deficiency in Spleen and Kidney energy.

Damp heat can build up in the body as a result of consuming alcohol, foods that are hot and spicy, fatty foods, sugar, and certain prescription medicines.

Spleen and Kidney deficiency are associated with ageing, chronic illness, pregnancy, menopause and emotional stress.

You don’t need to have both for cystitis to be present.

Once the trigger for the cystitis has been identified, the path for relief can be mapped out. This is often a sophisticated herbal formulation or multi-factorial approach to healing.

Managing damp heat

The symptoms of damp heat-related cystitis can include a need to urinate urgently or frequently, painful urination and burning feeling, cloudy or milky-colored urine, Medicine used in Chinafever and/or chills, abdominal discomfort and unpleasant reaction to pressure on the tummy, a sticky, yellow-coated tongue; a rapid but “soggy” pulse.

Some of the herbs that can be used to assist with damp heat conditions include the formulation Ba Zheng San, and herbs plantain (Che Qian Zi), knot grass (Bian Xu), akebia stem (Mu Tong), and dianthus (Qu Mei). The formulation also contains liquorice, rhubarb and gardenia.

Managing Spleen and Kidney deficiency

The symptoms associated with urinary infections and cystitis related to this pathway include needing to go to the toilet frequently during the night; dull pain when urinating; only being able to wee in dribbles, not a strong flow; recurring infection and fatigue; lower back pain or aches; dizziness; weak pulse; pale tongue; and bouts of fever.

The Chinese herbs given to help resolve the problem include the formulations Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan and Wu Bi Shan Yao Wan, and the herbs are dioscorea (Shan Yao), poria (Fu Ling), rehmannia (Di Huang), cornus fruit (Shan Zhu Yu), schizandra fruit (Wu Wei Zi) and cuscuta seed (Tu Si Zi). They help by tonifying the Spleen or Kidneys.

Same cause, different symptoms

Whether the expression of the imbalance is cystitis, (urinary tract infection or UTI) or other bladder infection, stones or tumorous growth similar remedies can be applied as the underlying cause for each of these is the same.

Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and Pilates.