When It's NOT a UTI: How to Deal With Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) has many of the same symptoms as a urinary tract infection....except it's not. There's urgency to urinate, frequent urination, and often pain and discomfort.
But there's no infection (according to the urinalysis). As of now, Western medicine has no concrete answers, and the underlying causes of IC are poorly understood.
I've had success treating IC with acupuncture. When we focus on the Bladder, we often treat the Kidney, which is the Yin partner of the Yang Bladder meridian. The Kidney and Bladder are considered "Water Element" organs in TCM.
Working with clients over the years, I've found other things helpful for addressing this often over-looked medical condition.
1. Food sensitivities
Foods high in oxalic acid tend to aggravate IC. Unfortunately, many of these foods are also good for you! Avoiding the foods highest in oxalic acid is a good way to reduce an acute flare-up, but not a great long-term solution, IMO. I'll get more into that in #2 below, where we talk about calcium.
The foods highest in oxalates include: cinnamon, spinach, soy, almonds, potatoes, beets, chocolate (😢), dark beer, tea, raspberries, and dates.
Oxalates combine with calcium in the absorption process, so if you have any underlying calcium issue, it aggravates that.
Not sure how to test for food sensitivities? Download our free guide here for testing at home for common food sensitivities.
I've seen some clinical successes clearing food sensitivities with NAET as well.
2. Calcium issue
Calcium, in it's most absorbable state, is slightly acidic on the Ph scale. Your gut needs to be acidic to absorb and use calcium. When people take proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux meds like Tums, Prilosec, Omeprezol, etc.), they make you more alkaline (opposite of acidic). Therefore, they reduce your gut's ability to absorb calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis, and more.
When you're too alkaline from your diet, medications, or toxins building up in your liver, your body (your very own complex chemistry set) takes calcium from your bones and organs to balance the blood and body fluids.
This is where calcium deposits come from.
Being too alkaline also sets you up for frequent infections. The reason we want an acidic gut, besides to help with digestion and absorption, is to kill invaders like viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria.
The epithelial tissues (the lining) of the bladder can become weakened from a lack of calcium. The epithelial lining of the bladder is usually more thin or inflamed in people who suffer with IC. I've prescribed calcium lactate (one of the easiest forms of calcium to absorb) with Omega 3 oils to people with IC, and have seen positive changes in the condition just from that.
The Omega 3 oil not only helps with inflammation reduction and nervous system conduction, but it also increases the absorption of the calcium.
3. Hormone imbalances
Another underlying reason for Bladder inflamation that I've found is low progesterone. Progesterone helps tone the epithelial tissues of the Bladder. The causes of low progesterone vary, so look those over before you jump on a progesterone pill.
Possible reasons for low progesterone:
* high estrogen (sources include plastics, processed foods packaged in plastics, non-organic animal protein, birth control pills, and fungi)
* chronic stress
* low cholesterol
We can improve our progesterone through... healthy living! Ha! Imagine that. Eating healthy; managing your stress with acupuncture, meditation, or exercise; and just please, please, please, stay away from statin drugs (unless your overall cholesterol is over 300, which only happens in like 1% of the population, so...)
4. Autoimmune markers
IC is frequently classified as an autoimmune condition. In this case, there's almost definitely an underlying reason why. Most of the time, in my experience, AI issues are triggered by a virus, fungus, parasite, or bacteria that's adept at hiding from your immune system.
This is by far the most difficult to fully resolve, but it's possible. To treat this holistically, we use a rotation of several different herbs that kill the offending "bug" and support your body.
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