The Bladder
by Susun Weed
mentor at the Wise Woman University
Excerpt from "Down There Sexual and Reproductive Health" 

I am the holding tank. I am the lowest point. It all flows down to me. The blood goes round and round, and the liver decides what stays and what goes. 
What goes, goes to the kidneys. And when the kidneys are done with what goes round, it goes down to me. It all comes down to me.

It goes round and it comes down and I hold it in until it is time. Then I let it go, so it can go round somewhere else, back into the flow of nourishment and change.

I am part of it all, but I am apart; I am touched by it all, but not taken. I am the container, not the contents. I offer short-term storage, no interest, no credit, just in and out, here and gone. I have no plans, no memories, no desires. Fill me. Empty me. Again. And again.

I am your bladder. I am your servant. But I can only hold so much.

Your rage trickles down to me. It burns me; it irritates me. Your fear of life seeps into me. It annoys me; it compresses me.

Grudges precipitate and settle into me. Your suspicious nature grabs hold of me. It tears at me; it agitates me. Controlling me doesn't give you control over your life. Trust the process; surrender to the flow.

I am your bladder. It all comes down to me. It all goes round and round, and it comes out here.


Healthy Bladder

The urinary bladder is an elastic, muscular, thin-tissued storage place for urine, which is produced by the kidneys. Urine travels to the bladder via thin, foot-long tubes called ureters. The tube from the bladder to the outside is the urethra. An adult's bladder can hold at least 1000ml before bursting.

The bladder has an inner layer of protective, collagen-rich mucus, a middle-layer of smooth muscle (the detrusor - "thrust out" - muscle), and an outer layer of connective tissues which unites the bladder, ureters and urethra.

At the base of the bladder, smooth muscles form an internal sphincter that involuntarily releases urine. Below that, skeletal muscles - which are under conscious control - form the external urethral sphincter, giving us a choice in when we void. The average human bladder is emptied every 2-5 hours during the day.

When the bladder is about half full, stretch receptors send an impulse to the sacral spinal nerves, which send a message to the brain, causing the detrusor muscle to contract, the internal sphincter to relax, and alerting us to our need to go. If we don't void, the urge disappears within a minute, then recurs at intervals. The tighter the stretch, the more frequent the messages to let go.

Although women's bladders are somewhat constrained in size by the uterus, which lies behind it, there is little difference in the capacity, or functioning, of healthy men's and women's bladders.

But the bladderís proximity to the ovaries and uterus in women, and the prostate gland in men, give a subtle, hormonally-mediated twist to bladder problems. A woman's shorter urethra (4cm versus his 20cm) makes bladder infections more common for her; more women than men are incontinent; and prostate problems interfere with bladder functioning in many men as they age.


Bladder Problems

There are many problems that can bother the bladder, from infections to retention (can't go) to incontinence (can't not go). If the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, urine leaks (stress incontinence); if they are very lax, the bladder prolapses down into the vagina. As men age, the growth of the prostrate can press on the bladder, preventing it from fully emptying and increasing the frequency of urination. And some men have paruresis or "shy" bladder, while women are more bothered by an overactive bladder or urge incontinence which bothers many women as well. 
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles is the best medicine for anyone with these problems.

If bacteria move from the anus into the bladder the result is a urinary tract infection (UTI) or cystitis, which can range from acute episodes to chronic urgency and pelvic pain.Bacteria - including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and Mycoplasma genitalium - can inflame the urethra (urethritis) and cause pain. Herbs are very effective in soothing inflammation and in clearing infections of all sorts, though drugs may be required.

Symptoms of cystitis include frequent intense urges to urinate, often with burning pain, tenderness, incontinence, and bloody, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine. When treated promptly, cystitis is not threatening. Left untreated, however, the bacteria can move up the ureters and into the kidneys, causing fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, back pain on one side, and eventual kidney damage. Interstitial cystitis is an ulcerated condition of the bladder which mimics cystitis, but gets worse, or fails to respond to treatments that relieve cystitis. Interstitial cystitis may be related to fibromyalgia.

And cancer can grow in the bladder or kidneys.


Bladder Star - Comfrey

An herb that can improve muscle tone in the bladder, ease irritation in the bladder lining and ureters, heal all surfaces, counter inflammation, and create resilient health throughout the urinary system is a true bladder star. That's comfrey - Symphytum.

I don't use Symphytum officinale, which is often cited, and is associated with alkaloid-overdose of the liver. Instead, I use the comfrey from my garden, Symphytum uplandica x, also called "Russian" or "blue" comfrey. In fact, I've never seen anyone growing officinale, which is a small plant with yellow flowers. I strongly suspect that all the comfrey for sale in the United States in uplandica.

The allantoin in comfrey is a superb healer of mucus surfaces, such as those lining the bladder and ureters. It gives almost immediate relief to those with interstitial cystitis and works to counter urge incontinence and overactive bladders. Comfrey's anti-inflammatory action relieves urethritis and prostate swelling, too.

The astringent tannins in comfrey help tone and tighten the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, countering stress incontinence. Comfrey also relaxes the detrusor muscle.

The lavish amounts of minerals, vitamins, and protein found in comfrey allow the body to engage in any repairs that are needed and may counter bladder cancer.

A sitz bath of the leaves or roots works well for those reluctant to consume comfrey. But, for best results, comfrey leaf infusion, a cup or two a day, gets my vote.





Author's Bio: 

Susun Weed, Copyright 2012

LEARN HOW TO PREVENT ILLNESS AND HEAL YOURSELF safely and easily the Wise Woman Way. Women's health forum, FREE women’s forum, weblog, and email group. Topics include menopause, breast health, childbearing, fertility, disease prevention, nutritional advice, and cancer prevention. Visit the Wise Woman Web

Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.

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