The urinary tract system, which includes our kidneys, urethra, bladder and ureter, is central to our overall well-being. Some of its functions include managing our fluid output to keep blood pressure in the normal range, keeping our bodies hydrated, filtering out nutrients that need to be reabsorbed – sending them back to be used where needed, and of course, eliminating waste products to name a few. Many adults and children have problems with their urinary system including: urinary tract infections (cystitis), kidney stones (urolithiasis), bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) and frequent urination (polyuria). Keeping our urinary system healthy is important to our overall health.
Here are two simple tests your Naturopathic Doctor may suggest to evaluate how your kidneys and urinary tract are doing. These tests can also give an idea of how your body is doing overall and what needs to be done to get things back in balance.
pH strips: These can often be found in health food stores. You can test the acidity/alkalinity of your urine (or saliva) with these. A quick morning test will let you know how you are doing in this area. Various types of kidney stones form if the urine pH is not in balance1. In addition highly acidic urine is associated with increased inflammation – this can lead to disease and to health problems such osteoporosis, arthritis, skin conditions like eczema, and may advance the aging process. It is important, therefore, to keep your urine pH in the range between 6.6 and 7.0 in the morning…the numbers will be a bit higher later in the day, and in the evening the target will be between 7.0 and 7.4. If you are doing salivary pH it should ideally be 6.5. Eating more fruits and vegetables helps to alkalinize the body and eating high protein foods and cereals tends to acidify your body.2 It’s a balancing act here, as you need a variety of foods in your diet.
Urinalysis: The urinalysis is a simple but valuable tool that can be done during your office visit. It tells your ND many things about your body. They look at the color and clarity of the urine as well as the reading on the dipstick. Some of the things it can tell them include if you are.3
- Have a bacterial infection in the urinary tract, and if your body is actively fighting it
- If there is a problem with the kidneys or heart that needs further investigation
- Not able to manage your sugar intake such as in diabetes
- Possible kidney stones
- Liver disease or bile duct obstruction
Here are two simple home treatments that can be done to help the organs and systems in the body including the urinary system:
Castor Oil Packs (COP): This is very beneficial and it can help to heal and detoxify the organs and tissues under the area being treated. It involves warming and pouring castor oil on a piece of flannel and applying it over the area needing support along with a hot water bottle to provide continued warmth to the COP. The treatment can be as little as 10 minutes a day to 1 hour depending on your body and condition. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor who will be able to evaluate if the COP is suitable for you, and the best way for you to use it. You also need to be careful not to make it too hot – you don’t want to burn yourself. It is contraindicated during pregnancy and menstruation.
Hydrotherapy: The use of water in hot and cold alternating applications over the bladder or pelvic region. This can be done as sits baths (immersing in alternating warm and cold water) or alternating hot and cold towels which bring blood flow to the region for an improved local immune response. Your Naturopathic Doctor will be able to help you decide if it is suitable for your treatment plan.
It may seem almost too simple to test your pH or to have a urine dipstick done at your Naturopathic Doctor’s office, however, a positive test result here allows you to address problems early on. Prevention is the best medicine.
- Smith, Dr. E Kinsey M., Renal Disease A Conceptual Approach, Churchill Livingstone., New York, N.Y., 1987
- Crisafi ND., MH., PhD., Daniel J “pH balance: Are you acid or alkaline” Nature’s Impact June/July 1998 pp 46-49
- Marieb, Elaine N. Human Anatomy and Physiology, The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company. Inc. Redwood City, California P 917