Frequency and burning during urination; tenderness and pain in bladder area; intense desire to pass urine even after bladder has been emptied; cloudy urine that may have strong odor.


What is Cystitis and Urethritis?

From Modern Western Medicine

Cystitis and urethritis are characterized by inflammation of the inner lining of the bladder, which is caused by a bacterial infection. People with such symptoms should drink plenty of fluids, especially cranberry juice, which promotes acidity of the urine that in turn fights the infection. Often antibiotics are prescribes to destroy bacteria and prevent infection from spreading, which is usually accomplished within 24 hours. Occasionally infection spreads to the kidneys and may cause swelling and some damage (pyelonephritis).

When symptoms of cystitis are present but there is no evidence of infection, the disease may be urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).


From Traditional Medicine

Although bacteria may indeed be present in the bladder, they are not the real cause of the disease; otherwise everyone would likely suffer from cystitis. In health, the body’s immune system is able to destroy bacterial invasion, thus preventing bacteria from ever gaining a foothold. Therefore, the traditional approach is two-fold: address the immediate symptoms, meanwhile boosting the overall health of the immune system response through diet, exercise, and appropriate lifestyle considerations.

Who Gets Cystitis and Urethritis?

Women are far more susceptible to cystitis than men because the urethra in women is short and in close proximity to the anus, which makes it easier for bacteria and infectious agents to migrate to the bladder. Most women have cystitis at some time. Men contract cystitis on rare occasions when there is an obstruction present in the urethra or the prostate becomes enlarged, causing a buildup of bacteria in the urethra and bladder. Children may suffer from cystitis if there is a structural abnormality in the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from kidneys to the bladder), causing reflux of urine back into the ureters where bacteria can develop.



General Recommendations

  • See the section on ways to boost the immune system in Part IV.
  • See the section on ways to improve the health of the bladder and kidneys in Part IV.


Foods to Eat

According to Chinese medicine, the most effective foods are cooling foods with some bitterness. Less food is recommended, also.

  • Lightly cooked organic vegetables
  • Salads
  • The most cooling vegetables are celery, carrots, winter squash, potatoes with skins, asparagus, and mushrooms
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables that are high in protein, such as beans, especially adzuki beans (effective against damp heat) and lima beans
  • Fish containing essential fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines
  • Fresh fruit in small amounts (except citrus)
  • Cranberry juice slightly acidifies urine, increases urine flow, and reduces the adherence of bacteria to the mucus membrane walls; drink 4 glass a day
  • Apple cider vinegar, water, and honey: 1 cup, three times a day
  • Carrots and carrot juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Pure spring water: 8 or more glasses per day


Foods to Avoid

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy food
  • Citrus fruits
  • Refined sugar and other concentrated sweeteners
  • Refined white flour products
  • Greasy, oily foods


Herbal Teas to Treat Cystitis

  • Uva ursi: tincture, 10 – 20 drops, three or more times daily; fluid extract, ½ – 1 tsp., three times daily; infusion, steep 30 minutes, 3 oz. as needed, up to 3 cups per day
  • Slippery elm as decoction (whole bark): simmer 5 – 15, 3 oz., three to four times daily
  • Chaparral (one of nature’s best antibiotics): add to formulas in kidney and bladder infections. As infusion, steep 5 – 15 minutes, 6 oz., three times daily; tincture, 10 – 20 drops, three times daily; powder, 2 – 10 #0 (10 – 60) grains, three times daily



  • Aconite treats sudden retention of urine from chill or fright
  • Cantharis treats persistent and violent urging, passing a few drops at a time. These symptoms maybe accompanied by aching in the small of the back.
  • Mercurius carrosivus (mercury chloride) treats persistent urging with intense burning, unfulfilled need to urinate, with constant urging and straining. Urine maybe mixed with a little blood.
  • Nux vomica treats frequent and painful urging with little result.


Chinese Medicine

This is the result of a damp condition in the bladder that has combined with heat. Infections thrive in damp environments caused by too many acid-forming foods (see Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid).


Beta-carotene: 15 – 30 mg per day

Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day

Niacin: 20 mg per day

Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day