Interstitial Cystitis
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Dorothy
Posted on: September 10, 2004

My daughter has just been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. The doctors say there is no cure. She is trying to stay off offensive foods for two weeks. Are there any herbs or natural things that could help?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bladder characterized by symptoms of urgency, frequency, and pain. Though the cause is unknown, it is thought to be an autoimmune disease. It often occurs in women with a history of bladder infections that have resulted in damage to the bladder wall, but other possible causes are an allergic reaction or a weakness in the bladder wall.

Because there is not a specific cause, the approach to healing is to first strengthen the metabolism. Strengthening the liver and digestive system will optimize the effect of nutritional and herbal therapy. Ensure that the bowels are working optimally to maximize elimination of toxins from the body. Bodywork (yoga, Tai chi, physical exercises etc.) supports the entire metabolism. Nutritional and herbal therapies are used to regulate and optimize the immune system. When these have been put in place, then specific herbs can be used to strengthen and heal the bladder. It is best to consider a multifactorial approach, including nutritional counseling, traditional Chinese medicine and bodywork. Often, one approach will stop working after a while, so it is advisable to have additional approaches thought out. Consult experienced specialists to help you to optimize your general health and to advise on specific protocols for your individual condition. An experienced natural health practitioner will ensure that you are free of digestive toxins such as parasites, and fungi and that your intestinal flora is healthy before beginning specific treatment for interstitial cystitis.

Specific herbs may be used in a herbal protocol:

* To improve the quality of mucus layer of the bladder: Marshmallow root tea, made by infusing 4 teaspoons of shredded marshmallow root in 4 cups of cold water. Allow to sit overnight, then drink one cup, four times daily. Keep unused portion refrigerated.

* Antispasmodics: kava kava tincture made from fresh root; one half teaspoon, four times daily; lobelia tincture made from the fresh herb: 10 drops, three times daily

* Anti-inflammatory for bladder tissue: Echinacea angustifolia root tincture

* Soothe irritation: sitz bath with chickweed "tea", urinating afterward

The following herbs may be included in a general strengthening formula

* Horsetail (Equisetum arvens) to soothe and strengthen the irritated bladder connective tissue.

* Bearberry leaves (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) as a urinary antiseptic and astringent.

* Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium) to strenthen the liver and as an anti-inflammatory agent.

* Anemone pulsatilla as a nerve relaxant, antispasmodic and mild pain reliever

* Black cohosh as a relaxing anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and anti- spasmodic

* Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry) to regulate hormones

* Dandelion root as a diuretic and to support the liver and digestion.

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