Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Herbal Approach

When my daughter, Saylor, was about eight months old she was diagnosed with urinary reflux. The condition is characterized by the back flow of urine from the bladder into the ureters and kidneys causing urinary tract infections, most commonly found in young children. My daughter contracted two UTI’s before she was properly diagnosed which resulted in scarring of her kidneys. Because UTI’s can be prevented by taking antibiotics, our insurance would not pay for a minor out-patient surgery (deflux) that would correct the problem. The prophylactic antibiotics do not heal the affected area, but rather they simply treat the symptoms.

An annual exam called a VCUG, is performed to determine the severity of reflux and labeled by grades 1-5, level 5 being the most severe. A radioactive solution is inserted into the urinary tract via the urethra and viewed on a type of x-ray monitor reveals if the fluid is staying in the bladder or flowing back into the kidneys. Saylor’s reflux has worsened from level 2 to level 3 (grade 5 is pictured left). Normally, urinary reflux entirely self-corrects by the age of 5. Obviously Saylor’s reflux is not improving and long-term use of antibiotics is not the best solution.

I was extremely uncomfortable with the idea of having my daughter on antibiotics for an extended period. I was/am concerned that the antibiotics would weaken her immune system and its ability to function properly once she stopped taking the medication. I recently visited a local herbalist to seek out an alternative. After explaining the situation and consulting with the herbalist she recommended a blend of herbs that can treat and prevent UTI’s.

She explained that her daughter suffered from frequent urinary infections when she was young and successfully treated the infections with the same natural herbs that she recommended for Saylor. The simple blend that she offered was a combination of uva ursi (bearberry), marshmallow and pipsissewa. I figured we would at least try it and if it didn’t work we still had the antibiotics on hand. The main ingredient, uva ursi, is a natural astringent that has been used since as early as the second century to treat bladder and urinary infections. Pipsissewa also possesses natural infection-fighting qualities without any risks. The medicinal property in the herb, marshmallow is its ability to reduce inflammation.

A little over three weeks ago we discontinued the use of the antibiotics and began administering the tea. I prepare the mixture like a cold tea. I use running hot water to steep it, shake vigorously in jar and then refrigerate it.

The herbalist recommended that Saylor drink as much as possible, but roughly half of a cup a day at least. Because the herbs are fairly bitter, I mix the tea with cranberry juice which also helps to fight urinary tract infections. Cranberries are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and phytochemicals that boost the immune system and posses anti-adhesion properties that flush E. coli bacteria responsible for UTI’s. It’s not my daughter’s favorite thing to drink, but she keeps it down and we are excited to see the progress. I will continue to track the effectiveness of tmy herbal solution, but as of right now I have high hopes. I am eger to explain to Saylor’s Urologist during her next appointment that we have chosen a different route for our daughter and that we were not restricted to one opinion.

*More information on herbal remedies can be found at

*Southwest Herb is located at 148 N. Center street in Mesa, Arizona and frequently holds free seminars. *SW Herb 480-694-9931*
*They are extremely helpful and will most likely offer you a free cup of tea while you are browsing!
<<----My stinker, Saylor


  1. Way to go Idaho! Love that there are alternatives to look into and are effective. I have yet to try my hair, skin, and nails combo. ( I ruined the first batch). Keep us posted on her progress!

  2. I agree the medical opinion is not the only one that matters. There are alternatives to what the doctors say we need. Look at the Deaf, for example, many doctors push cochlear implants when ASL is an option for the Deaf.

  3. Great point, Linds. I hadn't thought of alternatives like that.

  4. Very awesome post, very well-informed. You are definitely correct on multiple accounts. I think that if regular MD's would embrace different views (not to mention taking a whole-body approach), and doing prevention (although that is mainly a problem with insurance payments, as you have pointed out), then I think that healthcare would not only be better, but also MUCH less expensive!