Urinary Tract Infection

A woman in her 40’s called the clinic to make an appointment due to a chronic urinary tract infection (UTI). She had been on antibiotics for months with no significant relief. The pain was significant, and urination very difficult. She wanted to try acupuncture in the hopes of getting some relief.

When the patient came to New England Acupuncture and Herb Clinic for the initial visit, she also mentioned she had scant urinations, i.e. the amount of urine she passed was smaller than normal. Acupuncture points for treatment are given according to specific needs of the patient. In Chinese acupuncture, local points are often treated near the site of the problem, or just adjacent to it. We used an acu-point which is the mu (alarm) point for the bladder, and resides in the lower abdomen. A mu alarm point is often chosen when there is an acute condition. Acupuncture points can be grouped in many categories. Mu-alarm points are one such category of points.

A point known as CV6 was also used, this was a bit higher up, located about an inch below the navel. This point is excellent for promoting circulation of qi (energy) throughout the abdomen and the organs contained within, including the urinary bladder. Various other points were also used, including SP9, which promots free flow of urine, and K3, which governs the functioning of the urinary system.

After the treatment, the patient noted significant relief. The pain was almost completely gone, and she was quite relaxed for the first time in about a week. However, the patient called two days later saying the pain had returned; so we scheduled a couple of more visits.

SECOND VISIT- The patient received a similar acupuncture treatment. However, this time a simple Chinese herbal remedy was prescribed – Ba Zheng San. This formula gave lasting relief, however, urination remained more scant than normal, and the patient felt a little hot and irritable. An additional herb (Sheng Di Huang) was added to the formula. After a few days on this new modified formula, the patient was able to urinate without pain and the amount of urine had returned to normal. Tha patient was able to stay pain free and comfortable until she was able to get health insurance and see a new medical doctor. What we didn’t mention at the beginning of this case study, is the patient had a deformity in the urethra. This caused the urinary tract infection to be chronic. The deformity was to be fixed through surgery.

This case is an excellent example of one where prescription medicine (her antibiotic) was having little effect, but where traditional use of herbs was able to provide significant, quick, and lasting relief.  Also, because the herbs were very effective there was no need to continue with acupuncture. The patient was on the herbs for about two weeks and when going off them had no recurrence of pain.

In the language of traditional Chinese medicine, the acupuncture and herbs cleared damp-heat from the lower burner (aka the lower abdomen), disinhibited urination, promoted movement of the qi and blood, moistened the natural fluids of the body, and stopped pain.