A Duke University scientist has come out with a possible herbal cure for urinary track infection (UTI).
Soman Abraham and team from the Duke University Medical Center found that the herb called forskalin or commonly known as the Indian Coleus plant, can significantly reduce UTI as well as help antibiotics kill 90 percent of the bacteria associated with it.
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) says urinary tract infections are a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year and are the second most common type of infection in the body.
Latest estimates show that urinary infections account for about 8.3 million doctor visits annually. It is also seen that that nearly 20 percent of women who have a UTI will have another.
Indications of UTI include: A burning feeling while urinating, frequent or intense urges to urinate, pain in the back or lower abdomen, cloudy, dark, bloody, or unusual smelling urine and fever or chills.
Doctors use antibiotics to treat urinary infections because if left untreated it can spread to the kidneys and cause other complications.
Forskalin is widely available in health stores and is sold as a body building supplement, aid to decreasing allergies, as well as a weight loss supplement.
According to Abraham, who published the study in Nature Medicine, when an experiment was conducted on mice with UTI , it was seen that when the herb extracts were directly injected or placed into the bladder, the recurrence of UTI was almost negligible.
This is where the significance of the herb lies, says Abraham. The usual way of treating UTI is with specific antibiotics. Yet recurrence of the disorder is a common problem, and according to Abraham the reason is because the antibiotics are not able to target all the bacteria.
Some hide in recesses or pouches in the bladder wall and hence escape attack. These later multiply and restore the previous state of infection.
Forskolin helps here by enhancing cellular activity in the bladder wall and in this way, the hiding bacteria are flushed out into the bladder or urine and hence vulnerable to action by the antibiotics.
Says Abraham: "This herb has been used in Asia for centuries for a wide variety of ailments. However, one of its constant uses has been for treating painful urination."
At the same time, the scientist does not recommend self-medication with the herb as this herb is not as yet, tested or approved by the government for any medication. He recommends a chat between the patient and his doctor before using the herb.
Yet as Abraham rightly points out, this type of treatment strategy may prove to be beneficial for patients with recurrent urinary tract infections.
"Ideally, use of this herb would expel the bacteria, where it would then be hit with antibiotics. With the reservoir of hiding bacteria cleared out, the infection should not recur", he avers.