Ancient practice to the rescue: acupuncture for chronic UTI

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Using acupuncture for chronic UTI is not a novel idea. In fact, it’s about 5,000 years old. To find out more about how this ancient practice could help UTI sufferers I spoke to Denise Bowden, a licensed acupuncturist and a clinical herbalist. Denise is one of only four acupuncturists at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in San Francisco and the founder of The root & The branch center.  

Acupuncture is a part of TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back over 5,000 years. Denise uses herbs and acupuncture to treat patients, which are two of many therapies of TCM.

TCM does not differentiate pain of the body from pain of the spirit. Uniquely toTraditional Chinese Medicine, all organs have emotions associated with them. For example, grief causes illness of lungs, anger affects your liver, fear linked to problems with bladder & kidney.

UTI is only one part of the problem

If you come to Denise seeking help with your recurrent UTIs, she will start by establishing your TCM diagnosis. Surprisingly, same UTI symptoms among different individuals could mean different Chinese Medicine diagnosis.

“Since there are many different ways a pathology can exist in a body, diagnoses and treatment for two patients experiencing UTI symptoms could be very different.”, says Denise.  

As you may expect, chronic UTI assessment with Denise goes beyond just discussing your urinary tract infection symptoms and causes, but includes a full review of systems. She will ask you about your sleep, digestion, any other chronic health problems and ailments that you have.

Besides attentively listening to the details of your medical history, Denise will be looking for other signs that reveal your general health: she will notice the state of your nails, hair, skin, feel your pulse, and see your tongue.

Acupuncture affects your vital energy flow

As a practitioner of TCM Denise thinks about disease as an imbalance of Yin and Yan that in turn affects the flow of vital energy (Qi) through your body.

All acupuncture points are part of the meridian system and connect to each other and to all organs. Each point has two-three main functions. With the application of needles, energy is either nourished or sedated in a particular part of the body.

Denise normally uses 10-15 points to affect the core imbalance that manifests itself in a range of your health issues, including chronic UTI.

How long to become healthy?

Since every person’s health is different, it’s hard to predict when you’ll feel the first effect of the therapy. You might notice an improvement immediately, or it might take several months of the therapy.

In our culture of instant gratification it’s hard to accept the fact that holistic healing requires time. Generally speaking though, most of the patients will feel something on their first visit and will require 8-12 sessions to see noticeable improvement in their chronic problems and overall health. Claiming your health back is a gradual process and it might take time.

It’s important to remember that during each session an acupuncturist treats the core imbalance of the system rather than an isolated organ. Therefore, f you came to get help with recurring UTIs, once your sessions are over, you must see an improvement in your general health as well (improved digestion, sleep, anxiety etc..). It’s truly healing on a whole different level when comparing to contemporary Western medicine.

There are several clinical studies that discuss the positive effects of acupuncture on chronic UTI and suggest that acupuncture could be successfully used to reduce UTI recurrence.  Hence if you are tired of being sick and would like to try an approach that has no side effects but promises vibrant health on many levels, give a chance to acupuncture.

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