Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are great options for treating Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), especially recurrent ones. Besides positive results in clinical studies, acupuncture and TCM can provide relief for those feeling they are running out of options for their recurrent UTIs.
ABCs of UTIs
Women are more likely to get UTIs. This is generally thought to be because their urethra is shorter and straighter than men making it easier for bacteria to make its way into the urinary tract system. Women who are more sexually active or going through menopause are at higher risk of getting UTIs.
If you experience symptoms such as:
Hot and stinging pain while urinating
Feeling of unable to empty bowels/bladder
Abdominal pain or pressure
Lower back pain
Frequent colds or fevers
Bitter taste in mouth
Then Acupuncture and TCM is worth considering as part of your treatment.
UTIs and Antibiotics
In Western medicine a UTI is a bacterial infection, most often the bacteria e-coli. This is why the treatment for UTIs is antibiotics.
Sometimes the antibiotics do not get rid of all the bacteria pathogens and they stay in the system, which is why recurrent UTIs are also very common.
Another issue is there are signs that UTIs can become resistant to antibiotics, making options for those with severe recurrent UTIs limited. For some people the best option is to take daily low doses of antibiotics or to take them every time after sex as prevention.
However, there are concerns about long courses of antibiotics.
Some people instead turn to natural medicine such as acupuncture and TCM for their recurrent UTIs.
UTIs and TCM
The TCM approach to UTIs is different. A very simple way of seeing a UTI from a TCM perspective is there is too much heat and/or dampness in the body. Too much heat/damp causes inflammation, weakening the immune system which leads to recurrent UTIs.
Generally a diagnosis for UTIs in TCM will fall into these categories：
Dampness and heat in bladder
Dampness and heat in liver and gall bladder
Liver and kidney yin deficiency, dampness and heat in pelvis
Qi and yin deficiency from accumulated damp heat
There are a lot of causes for this excess heat/damp, as seen by the number of diagnoses possible. It is then best to see a TCM practitioner to help with recurrent UTIs.
Advantages of TCM and Acupuncture for Recurrent UTIs
Non-invasive, natural and gentle on health (doesn’t weaken immune system)
Great option for those whose UTIs have become resistant to antibiotics
Can address other issues causing or promoting the UTIs (e.g. menopause)
In some cases people respond quicker to this treatment than with antibiotics meaning less time in pain or discomfort
Studies suggest it is very effective for those with recurrent cystitis UTIs
Provides at home options for dealing with the condition including nutrition, exercises and environmental factors
UTIs and Hormones
Women who struggle with their hormones and reproductive health will particularly benefit from acupuncture and TCM treatment for their recurrent UTIs. If a woman also has an oestrogen dominant condition, such as endometriosis, acupuncture and TCM can bring these hormones into better balance which works doubly to reduce the recurrence of UTIs. The most important time to have treatment in these circumstances is around menstruation or ovulation time.
UTIs and Digestive Issues
Another group of people to benefit includes those with digestive issues. Digestion and bacteria are linked and so treating one issue, such as a UTI, will also help with digestive concerns as well as keep the UTI from returning.
You can read our article on TCM for digestion here.
Acupuncture and TCM provide an effective alternative treatment to recurrent UTIs. Though it can especially help women with hormone or digestive issues, acupuncture and TCM will benefit anyone who struggles with UTIs. Recurrent UTIs are not something to put up with. Even if your options seem limited, there is always acupuncture and TCM to help.
For those who want to try a natural approach to treating their UTIs we recommend speaking with a qualified TCM practitioner.