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The Urinary Bladder: An Under-rated Organ


Written by Dr. Jewel Alfoure, ND

It seems like there is a detox or support supplement/ protocol for almost every organ of the body. Heart support agents are very common, liver detoxes are almost ubiquitous. While a bit more rare, some kidney detoxes and functional support supplements do exist indeed. 

There is almost no focus on the urinary bladder.

No focus, that is, until it starts to demand attention by signaling a problem. 

The act of comfortable urination is taken almost for granted, yet anyone who has ever had a urinary system ailment will attest to the fact that the act of voiding urine from the body is one of the most underrated forums of release and detox.

Additionally, it is a simple act that can turn into a notoriously painful ordeal with any imbalance. 

The urinary bladder is a round bag-like superficial organ of the pelvic region.It is around the size of a large grapefruit and can readily stretch to hold up to 16 oz of liquid (1). 

The bladder is lined with a very specialised, delicate lining known as the Transitional Epithelium, followed by a Lamina Propria

The Transitional Epithelium is a highly specialised epithelium that is not permeable to water or salts.

Additionally, it has the capacity to stretch and maintain functionality.

The Lamina Propria contains the connective tissues, encased in muscles, blood vessels and nerves.

On top of all that, there is a Muscularis Propria, and a covering of fat and fibrous tissues. 

The urinary bladder is seen as a mere “bag” for the collection of urine. 

However, the accumulation of the urine in the bladder is in itself a huge deal physiologically. 

The act of activating urination is a mixed pathway of considerable complexity. 

Once micturition ( The act of voiding urine) starts, complex pathways activate (1,2,3).

It requires sympathetic (fight or flight nervous system) involvement followed by parasympathetic (rest and digest nervous system) activation (3). 

Urinary Bladder Infections

Urinary bladder infections can have many causes including gut bacteria contamination, sexually transmitted infections and even natural symbiotic flora turning virulent due to a drop in immunity. 

Additionally, urinary bladder conditions that may mimic infections can be allergic in nature, autoimmune or even psychosomatic (4,5). 

The psychosomatic response of the urinary bladder can become apparent as:

  1. Recurrent infections

  2. Infections that do not fully heal

  3. Sensitivity to foods/ spices

  4. Destruction in mucosal barrier

  5. Endothelial inflammation (inner lining inflammation)(4,5,6)

Though the previously mentioned issues vary in seriousness, almost no urinary condition is comfortable. In fact, many simple urinary conditions can be extremely discomforting and at times even highly painful.

Urinary Bladder Infection Complications

Urinary complications may be of significant seriousness.

Any urinary tract infection has room to make its way up the ureters (tubes that connect the urinary bladder to the kidney).

Pyelonephritis is a condition that can seriously injure the kidneys and should not be taken lightly. (7) 

Other complications: Urinary Infections and Mental Health

Urinary tract infections can affect many aspects of health including mental health. 

It is a well known fact that urinary tract infections can cause confusion and mood changes in older individuals. 

Some reports show that there are complications related to mood alteration and mental health in younger individuals also. 

But how could an infection of the inner lining of a sack of urine affect mental health?

With an astonishing association that demonstrates that 88% of publications reported a positive association between UTIs and neuropsychiatric disorder. There is no denying the fact that the urinary bladder can play a role in mental health (8,9).

It seems like the pathways that connect mental health patterns to the urinary bladder are not well known in Western Medicine. Hypotheses about the root cause include the following: 

  • Inflammation as the root cause (systemic)

  • Access to blood 

How Does The East See Urinary Bladder Infections?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Urinary Bladder meridian ( line of “energy” that acupuncture needles follow) is the longest in the body.

Yet like Western Medicine, the organ is associated with the act of voiding water. 

Though that may seem like a simple act, “water” in itself as a Chinese Medicine Element is not in any way a simple one. 

The urinary bladder is associated with the removal of water from the body with the act of energy transformation. 

Additionally, imbalances in the organ are associated with mental/ emotional manifestations. 

Stressors that are social in nature including jealousy are associated with bladder dysfunction. 

There is also an overall importance to the urinary bladder that puts it at a level of respect for functionality as high as that of the kidney (10,11). 

UTI Natural Ingredients 

Natural UTI Ingredients are ingredients that are to be used not only when one is suffering a UTI, but also as urinary cleansing and balancing agents. 

Some of the best urinary cleansing agents include:

  • Cranberry Extract (12)

  • Hibiscus (13)

  • Probiotics (14, 15,16)

Those ingredients are great as both fighters of active infections, as well as preventative agents. They act as diuretics and help the body eliminate both sediment as well as bacteria from the urinary bladder.

Additionally, evidence shows that antimicrobials like Oil of Oregano play a significant role in adding an anti-microbial support when one is suffering from an acute UTI (17).

When one is in a position where the immune system is significantly compromised or when one is under chronic stress, it is the mushroom Reishi that adds to the stress management and the immune supportive aspect of UTI prevention and treatment (18,19).

Finally, the proteolytic enzyme Serrapeptase plays a huge role as an agent disruption of bacterial biofilm formation. Bacterial biofilms are accumulations of bacteria that cover the crevices in the body at a continuous rate.

Usually they are very hard to disrupt as they are in deep secluded areas that protect them from ant-biotics and antimicrobial therapies. Adding a proteolytic enzyme to the treatment regimen can highly enhance both antibiotic therapy as well as natural supplement therapy. Long standing UTIs and stubborn UTIs usually respond best to adjunctive serrapeptase (20).

References 

  1. de Groat WC. Anatomy and physiology of the lower urinary tract. Urologic Clinics of North America. 1993 Aug 1;20(3):383-401.

  2. Cooper PH, Waisman J, Johnston WH, Skinner DG. Severe atypia of transitional epithelium and carcinoma of the urinary bladder. Cancer. 1973 May;31(5):1055-60.

  3. Ochodnicky P, Uvelius B, Andersson KE, Michel MC. Autonomic nervous control of the urinary bladder. Acta Physiologica. 2013 Jan;207(1):16-33.

  4. Hudson T. Treatment and prevention of bladder infections. Alternative & complementary therapies. 2006 Dec 1;12(6):297-302.

  5. Reid G. Do antibiotics clear bladder infections?. The Journal of urology. 1994 Sep 1;152(3):865-7.

  6. HUNT JC, WALLER G. Psychological factors in recurrent uncomplicated urinary tract infection. British journal of urology. 1992 May;69(5):460-4.

  7. Bleidorn J, Hummers-Pradier E, Schmiemann G, Wiese B, Gágyor I. Recurrent urinary tract infections and complications after symptomatic versus antibiotic treatment: follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. GMS German Medical Science. 2016;14.

  8. Coyne KS, Sexton CC, Kopp ZS, Ebel‐Bitoun C, Milsom I, Chapple C. The impact of overactive bladder on mental health, work productivity and health‐related quality of life in the UK and Sweden: results from EpiLUTS. BJU international. 2011 Nov;108(9):1459-71.

  9. Chae JH, Miller BJ. Beyond urinary tract infections (UTIs) and delirium: a systematic review of UTIs and neuropsychiatric disorders. Journal of Psychiatric Practice®. 2015 Nov 1;21(6):402-11.

  10. Zhang N, Huang L, Liu S, Wang Y, Luo Y, Jin X, Guo J, Ke Y, Chen J, Yuan X, Chen Z. Traditional Chinese medicine: an alternative treatment option for refractory recurrent urinary tract infections. Clinical infectious diseases. 2013 May 1;56(9):1355-.

  11. Maciocia G. Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine-E-Book: A Comprehensive Guide. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2018 Mar 22.

  12. Wang CH, Fang CC, Chen NC, Liu SS, Yu PH, Wu TY, Chen WT, Lee CC, Chen SC. Cranberry-containing products for prevention of urinary tract infections in susceptible populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of internal medicine. 2012 Jul 9;172(13):988-96.

  13. Alshami I, Alharbi AE. Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits in vitro biofilm formation capacity of Candida albicans isolated from recurrent urinary tract infections. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine. 2014 Feb 1;4(2):104-8.

  14. Schwenger EM, Tejani AM, Loewen PS. Probiotics for preventing urinary tract infections in adults and children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015(12).

  15. Barrons R, Tassone D. Use of Lactobacillus probiotics for bacterial genitourinary infections in women: a review. Clinical therapeutics. 2008 Mar 1;30(3):453-68.

  16. Reid G, Bruce AW. Probiotics to prevent urinary tract infections: the rationale and evidence. World journal of urology. 2006 Feb;24(1):28-32.

  17. Lee JH, Kim YG, Lee J. Carvacrol‐rich oregano oil and thymol‐rich thyme red oil inhibit biofilm formation and the virulence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of applied microbiology. 2017 Dec;123(6):1420-8.

  18. Fathima AT, Reenaa M. Anticancer and Antibacterial Activity of Ganoderma lucidum. Int. J. Curr. Microbiol. App. Sci. 2016;5(10):891-909.

  19. Wang X, Lin Z. Immunomodulating effect of Ganoderma (lingzhi) and possible mechanism. Ganoderma and Health. 2019:1-37.

  20. Hogan S, Zapotoczna M, Stevens NT, Humphreys H, O'Gara JP, O'Neill E. Potential use of targeted enzymatic agents in the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus biofilm-related infections. Journal of Hospital Infection. 2017 Jun 1;96(2):177-82.