The painful, stabbing sensation in your abdomen has become unbearable. The frequent trips to the restroom has begin to control your life. Sexual intercourse has become too painful.
And yet, all the cranberry juice and antibiotics in the world don’t seem to be taking care of these troublesome symptoms. In fact, your urine culture has come up clean. You are not going crazy and these are symptoms that you do not have to just live with. Chances are, you are suffering from interstitial cystitis (IC).
Interstitial cystitis, also called painful bladder syndrome, is a neuro-inflammatory condition of the bladder, affecting the bladder nerves, the urinary tract, and the immune system.
Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis plagues more than 1.2 million people in the United States, about 90% of the sufferers being women. Women can be afflicted with this condition at any stage of their lives, from puberty to menopause.
Symptoms may feel like a urinary tract infection (UTI), however, it will not show up as a one during a urine culture. It is important to make the correct diagnosis, which should come from a medical professional.
Trying to treat the wrong condition can result in the worsening of symptoms. Symptoms may vary from person to person, but they may include:
• Frequent and urgent urination
• Low pelvic and bladder pain
• Pressure and tenderness around the pelvis, bladder, and the area between the anus and vagina
• Painful sexual intercourse
• Symptoms that worsen around the time of menstruation
Possible Causes of Interstitial Cystitis
Research is still being done on the condition itself, so there is currently no information on what exactly causes interstitial cystitis. What is currently known is that the symptoms are a result inflammation and an immune dysfunction, especially allergies and sensitivities.
Some experts believe that this condition may be connected to an autoimmune disorder as well. There may also be a connection with diabetes and IC—but there is no research to support this. However, in searching online you will find a lot of diabetics with IC wondering if there may be a connection.
- Leak in the protective lining of the bladder, which may allow toxic substances in the urine to infect the bladder wall
- Mast cell activation
- Previous trauma to the bladder
- An autoimmune reaction
Natural Remedies for Interstitial Cystitis
Due to the elusive nature of this disorder, there is no currently no cure or no one-size-fits remedy to treat the symptoms. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies and treatments you can try at home to find the best way to manage your symptoms.
Dietary Changes: Its possible that you’re consuming foods that are irritating to your bladder. By eliminating these foods from your diet, you may help reduce the discomfort of interstitial cystitis. Some potential bladder irritants are:
Coffee and black teas can create painful bladder inflammation. The caffeine in these beverages also act as a diuretic, promoting frequent urination, exacerbating an already meddlesome symptom. Consider drinking a mint tea instead.
Diet soda is quite possibly the worst thing you can consume while suffering from interstitial cystitis. In one can of soda alone, you have four distinct bladder irritants: artificial sweeteners, caffeine, acidic carbonation, and citric and phosphoric acids. If you still crave your sweet carbonated drinks, your best option is non-diet root beer watered down with ice cubes.
Alcohol is a common bladder irritant. By eliminating alcohol from your diet, you may greatly reduce the painful inflammatory symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
Food and beverages rich in vitamin C are extremely irritating to your bladder.
Acidic Fruit Juices
Acidic fruit juices can wreak havoc on bladders inflamed with interstitial cystitis. This includes cranberry juice, a traditional UTI treatment. Try drinking non-acidic fruit juices instead, such as pear, apple, and blueberry juices.
Tomatoes are highly acidic, and therefore a major no-no for those suffering from interstitial cystitis. Indulging in this savory fruit is okay on occasion so long as you treat yourself to a low-acidic type of tomato.
Try eliminating spicy foods from your diet and see if your symptoms improve. Spicy foods are known to cause intestinal distress and can be a contributing factor to your interstitial cystitis symptoms.
Artificial Food Coloring and Sweeteners
Foods that contain artificial food coloring and sweeteners can have a negative impact on those suffering from interstitial cystitis. It is recommended that you cut out these foods completely if you can.
This inflammatory protein, often found in grains can exacerbate this painful condition. Try eliminating gluten from your diet to see if your symptoms decrease.
Foods the promote the growth of yeast may result in an overgrowth, which in turn can aggravate symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Some examples of foods that promote the growth of yeast are: Vinegar, sugar, yeast, and malt.
Eat Whole Foods
Diet is extremely important and plays a role in every function of your body. By eating fresh, whole, unprocessed foods, you increase your chances of having a smooth operating digestive and intestinal system. Replace the triggers mentioned above with fresh fruits, veggies, wholes grains, nuts, olive oil, beans, and cold-water fish.
Keep a Food and Bladder Diary
By keeping track of what you eat and the frequency of your symptoms, you can learn what your interstitial cystitis triggers are and modify your diet to decrease your symptoms.
Balance your Hormones
For women, hormones such as estrogen act as the control center of their body, greatly affecting their health. When there is a hormone balance in the body, women may experience inflammatory disorders such as interstitial cystitis. Natural therapies such as a soy supplement can help restore balance to the body and therefore decrease symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
Lower your Stress
As it may be related to an autoimmune disorder, stress can be a trigger. Try yoga, calming aromatherapy and exercise to relieve stress symptoms.
You can decrease the inflammation in your body by taking a supplement. Many women find that calcium citrate increases a more alkaline environment in the body while greatly reducing inflammation. Some other alternatives are Omega-3 supplements and Tumeric.
By urinating at set intervals, whether you feel the urge to go or not, you can slowly train your bladder to wait longer intervals between bathroom visits. Start out with half hour intervals and gradually increase the length between each visit.
It is commonly known that smoking is hazardous to your overall health; however, it should be known that smoking is a contributing factor to bladder cancer. By eliminating this habit, you can eliminate another irritant to your bladder.
Gardenia Essential Oil
Essential oils are not just for aromatherapy. In fact, many essential oils, such as gardenia essential oil can have a healing effect on physical ailments like interstitial cystitis.
Gardenia is a natural anti-inflammatory and is a great way to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and interstitial cystitis. This essential oil contains geniposide and genipin; two chemicals that have anti-inflammatory actions and can therefore greatly decrease the symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
Studies have shown that gardenia essential oil can also help reduce pelvic pain. One recent study found that on 25 patients suffering from interstitial cystitis, 82% of the patients found a reduction in pelvic and bladder pain within 90 days of starting gardenia essential oil therapy.
To experience the healing effects of gardenia essential oil, try adding a drop or two into your herbal tea to supplement your interstitial cystitis treatment routine. Be sure to consult with your physician before using essential oils or any other treatment for your interstitial cystitis.