Get Needled, Prevent UTIs

WANNA GET OFF THE ANTIBIOTICS? TRY ACUPUNCTURE!

It looks like acupuncture could help women who suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). It's great news, because women who get lots of UTIs may now be able to avoid long-term antibiotic therapy. Why that's good: Antibiotic overuse can create germs that antibiotics can't kill, and that can render you vulnerable to dangerous, hard-to-treat infections.

THE STUDY: Ninety-four women with UTIs were followed by researchers in Norway. Those who'd been given acupuncture twice a week for a month had a UTI recurrence rate 50% lower than women who weren't needled.

Why'd it work? Acupuncture may have made it easier for the women to empty their bladders, which is the body's best defense mechanism against infection, says Barry Kogan, MD, spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation. When you urinate, you're literally peeing away the bacteria in your bladder. An empty bladder minimizes infection risk.

ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE: If you ask me, there's nothing "alternative" about acupuncture anymore. This ancient Chinese technique uses hair-thin needles to painlessly stimulate specific points on the body. There's science to support its use for arthritis, menstrual cramps, nausea, allergies, and pain of varied origins. Its potential for helping heal ailing hearts and improving stroke recovery has also gotten positive reviews.

GET MORE HELP
For more information about UTIs, call the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) at (800) 622-9010. To find a licensed acupuncturist near you, or to visit NKF's Web site, log on to www.prevention.com/links.

PHOTO (COLOR): Acupuncture's bonus: heavenly relaxation!

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By Sara Altshul

Sara Altshul is Prevention's alternative medicine editor.

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