The term ‘Cystitis’ refers to ‘inflammation of the bladder’. It is a most common complaint in women. Escherichia coli infections are considered the primary culprit in cystitis. The female anatomy makes it more convenient for e.coli bacteria, which normally inhabit the colon, to travel from the rectum to the vagina, up the urethra and into the bladder. This condition is rarely dangerous but it is generally a forerunner to more serious troubles. The reoccurrence of cystitis may in some cases be associated with kidney troubles.
The kidney and bladder are the principal strikers in the urinary system. The kidneys are situated on the back of the abdomen, one on each side of the spine at about the level of the lowest rib. The bladder is situated in the lower abdomen, in the pelvis. The body is relieved of the greater part of the waste matter, resulting from the complex working of the whole body’s vital processes by means of these two organs.
Cystitis is characterised by symptoms which may cause great discomfort. The patient complains of frequency and burning on urination as well as an almost continual urge to void. There may be a feeling of pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen. The urine may become thick, dark and stingy.
It may have an unpleasant smell and may contain blood or pus. The ‘scalding’ sensation on passing urine indicates that the inflammation has spread to the urethra. Some pain in the lower back may also be felt in certain cases. In an acute stage there may be a rise in body temperature. In the chronic form of cystitis, the symptoms are similar but generally less several and without the rise in temperature. The persistence of the chronic form of the disease indicates a process of deterioration, almost invariably due to wrong treatment of the acute form by suppressive drugs.
Cystitis may result from infections in other parts adjacent to the bladder such as the kidneys, the urethra, and the vagina. Local irritation and inflammation of the bladder may be caused if urine is retained there for an unduly long time. It may also result from severe constipation.
Continual draining of pus and germs from an infected kidney may injure the epithelial lining of the bladder. Trouble may also arise from the presence of a stone in either bladder or kidney.
Childbirth injuries and major surgical procedures within the pelvis may also lower the resistance of the bladder-wall and predispose to the development of the cystitis. There is also the problem of new brides who sometimes suffer from so-called honeymoon cystitis. The bladder wall may become swollen and ulcerated so that the bladder cannot hold the normal amount of urine.
Germs may then find their way into the bladder and bring about chemical changes in the urine.
Calcium or lime may thus be deposited in the walls of the bladder, increasing the patient’s discomfort.
At the onset of acute cystitis, it is essential to withhold all solid food immediately. If there is fever, the patient should fast either on water or tender coconut water for three or four days. If there is no fever, raw vegetable juices, especially carrot juice diluted with water, should be taken every two or three hours. By so doing the biochemical energy needed for digestion and metabolism of food is diverted to the process of eliminating toxins and promoting healing and repair. It is advisable to rest and keep warm at this time.
Pain can be relieved by immersing the pelvis in hot water or alternatively by applying heat to the abdomen, using a towel wrung out in hot water, covering it with dry towel to retain warmth. Care should be taken to avoid scalding. A little vegetable oil gently rubbed into the skin , will avoid too much reddening. This treatment may be continued for three or four days, by which time the inflammation should have subsided and the temperature returned to normal.
For the next two or three days, only ripe sub-acid fruits may be taken three or four times daily. These fruits may include grapes, pears, peaches,apples, and melon, as available.
While the hot compresses are intended to relieve pain, the use of cold water compresses to the abdomen is most valuable, if correctly applied, in relieving pelvic congestion and increasing the activity of the skin. Care should, however, be taken to ensure that compresses do not cause chilling.
After the all-fruit diet, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. The patient should avoid refined carbohydrates and salt, both at table and in cooking. Salt disturbs the balance of electrolytes and tends to raise blood pressure, which is frequently already raised in kidney troubles.
The prescribed dietary should exclude meat, fish and poultry. They produce uric acid. Most cases of food poisoning and infections, which may lead to gastritis and colitis, are also caused by the flesh foods.
In case of chronic cystitis, the patient should commence the treatment of strict adherence to the dietary programme, designed to cleanse the blood and other tissues and at the same time provide a rich source of natural vitamins and minerals in balanced proportions. The patient may adopt the following restricted diet for seven to ten days.
Upon arising : A glass of unsweetened apple juice or carrot juice
Breakfast : Fresh fruits, selected mainly from apple, pear, grapes, melon, peach and pineapple and a glass of buttermilk, sweetened with a little honey.
Mid-morning : Tender coconut water.
Lunch : A salad of raw vegetables such as carrot, beetroot and cabbage, mixed with curd and a tablespoon of honey. This may be followed by a ripe apple.
Mid-afternoon : One cup of unsweetened grape juice.
Dinner : A salad of green leafy vegetables and a fresh fruit, preferably a portion of melon sweetened with a teaspoon of honey.
Before retiring : One glass of mixed raw carrot and beetroot juice.
After the restricted diet, the patient should gradually embark on a well-balanced diet , consisting of seed, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. Even after the recovery from the chronic condition, it will be advisable for the individual to live exclusively on vegetables or on tender coconut water or raw vegetable juices for a day or two, every month. The water treatment and other health building methods should , however, be continued to the greatest extent possible, so that the patient may stay cured.