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Interstitial Cystitis Treatment Options for Women Who’ve Tried It All


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I’m a healthy person overall. But I’ve had my fair share of health issues. Most of the people who know me probably don’t know that. When problems arise, I tend to be downright secretive about whatever ails me. This blog is my outlet though. I don’t tend to discuss my health problems when they’re afflicting me but I do like to share my experiences with treatments that work so that other people can perhaps find relief for similar problems too.

 

I’ve written about interstitial cystitis in a previous article that was composed about 2 years ago. It has some of the same information here combined with my experiences with intestinal parasites. Even if you don’t believe you have intestinal parasites, if you have chronic cystitis, you might benefit from reading the article. Two years ago, I didn’t want to believe that I had parasites either, but apparently, most people do have parasites. Treating parasites is relatively painless, affordable, and it can make a huge difference in terms of your overall health. I always recommend a parasite detox using ONE of the following as the first step toward treating chronic interstitial cystitis:

1) Albendazole (I used Valbazen, purchased online at Amazon.com)

2) Pyrantel Pamoate  (Also purchased on Amazon.com)

OR

3) A combination treatment using Wormwood, Black Walnut, and Cloves

 

That being said, this article, however, addresses interstitial cystitis treatments for bladder irritation that isn’t caused by parasites and that doesn’t respond to a parasite detox protocol…

 

When I was 4 years old, I tried lifting my dad’s weights. I’d seen him do it and it looked pretty easy. And I loved my dad. I wanted to be like him. As soon as I did it though, I knew it was a mistake. The weights were way too heavy for me and one end of them crashed through the wall. And, I got a hernia.

 

Of course, my parents didn’t know at first that I’d gotten a hernia. And I didn’t know. I successfully hid the hole in the wall too. For a year, I was plagued with chronic urinary tract infections. My parents took me to a rural doctor who refused to diagnose me with an inguinal hernia even though my mom insisted that this was what was wrong with me. My mom would stand me up on the table and point at the bulge. But the doctor just prescribed more antibiotics and sent me back home—for a year.

 

Finally, around age 6, the hernia was acknowledged and then surgically repaired. This was in the 1980’s, so I was treated using traditional surgical techniques (basically, just a couple of sutures). I was lucky because the doctor didn’t use hernia mesh to close the hole. But he’d waited so long for me to have the surgery that my bladder suffered a great deal and after my first pregnancy, I started having chronic interstitial cystitis and regular bladder infections as a result.

 

It took a long time for me to realize that I didn’t have chronic urinary infections. I went to the doctor often over the course of several years for the problem. Sometimes they’d prescribe antibiotics, sometimes they’d send me home with no treatment to just suffer through it. I moved to different cities during this time, so different doctors told me that the problem was caused by different things. One doctor in Florida told me that my husband was cheating on me. I was certain that he wasn’t since we’d been traveling together for over a year in an RV and we barely left each other’s sight, but the doctor insisted. Another doctor gave me a shot of high dose Rocephin and Zithromax (it didn’t help, but the shot did give me diarrhea for several days). The last time I went to the doctor for interstitial cystitis, I was still in my twenties and he said, “Do you ever have eye problems? Inflammation? That sort of thing?”

 

I said, “No.”

 

Then he said, “What about arthritis? Aching joints?”

 

I thought about it for a minute and then said, “No”.

 

But then, even though I technically didn’t fit the profile, he said, “You might have Reiter’s Syndrome.”

 

Reiter Syndrome, I later learned, is a cluster of symptoms, including those mentioned by the doctor, that are caused by a bacterial infection [1]. There was little information online at that time about Reiter Syndrome and to be honest, I didn’t care to learn about them at the time. The doctor indicated that the problem is chronic (actually, it usually lasts from 2 to 6 months, but at the time I didn’t know that) and that there was no cure. I came home from that appointment with the intent to make some changes in my diet and lifestyle. I had no desire to be labeled with any syndrome that was incurable.

 

I’d been kicking around the idea of cutting coffee out of my daily routine for quite some time. I loved coffee, but I drank too much of it. Sometimes I’d drink up to three pots of coffee a day. Coffee replaced water for me. And I suspected that there was a relationship between coffee and my chronic urinary tract infections with occasional bouts of interstitial cystitis. The doctor’s new diagnosis (Reiter’s Syndrome) motivated me to finally make the change and rid myself of the coffee habit.

 

And you know what? I started having fewer urinary tract infections. At first, with my coffee habit quelled, the change manifested as fewer urinary tract infections, but still occasional bladder irritation (interstitial cystitis). I bought some of those AZO test strips which were available by that time at certain pharmacies and noticed within the first year that I was having fewer bladder infections. In a way, this was distressing as well as a relief because I started noticing how often my bladder was irritated even when there was no bacterial overgrowth according to the test strips. When I’d have UTI’s, I’d be able to take antibiotics and have them clear up within a day or two. But interstitial cystitis was something completely different. It had no cause and no cure. I just had to suffer with it. Doctors would offer me phenazopyridine hydrochloride to cover up the symptoms, but it didn’t always help.

 

So I started paying more attention to the interstitial cystitis. When did it happen? What had I eaten before it happened? Was there a pattern in my life that could help me predict when I’d get it?

 

Around this time, I went to an acupuncturist for the first time. Her name was Robin at Acupuncture Boulder in Colorado and she told me that she’d worked as an editor before becoming an acupuncturist. She’d decided to change professions because she’d had extreme interstitial cystitis for many years and nothing had worked to cure it except acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She recommended that I cut back on refined sugars and start using D-mannose powder daily to prevent UTI’s.

 

She also offered me a bottle of Yin Care for yeast infections. (If you buy this stuff, be sure to buy a douche too.) Often, my cystitis was caused by vaginal yeast infections and I just hadn’t realized that vaginal inflammation and yeast could cause bladder irritation. Over time, the over-the-counter yeast infection medications stopped working for me but Yin Care works every time. I have to use it more often than over-the-counter yeast medications when I get a yeast infection, but it’s an herbal formula so it’s less toxic to my body and the yeast won’t develop a resistance toward herbs. I also use Pau d’Arco (an herb) and Oregano Oil drops 3 times a day when I get yeast infections and this usually helps within 24 to 48 hours.

 

Almost immediately, I started realizing that sugar was part of my problem. Not eating refined sugar seemed to really reduce the number of cystitis episodes that I was having. Instead of refined sugars, I started cooking with Coconut Palm Sugar, Maple Syrup, and Agave Nectar.

 

Shortly after beginning treatment with acupuncture, I also visited an energy healer in Denver who told me that I needed to stop eating gluten. I was really resistant to this idea. I’d already cut dairy out of my diet after reading The China Study and watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, but I decided to go ahead and try it. Our whole family changed to a diet that excluded wheat, sugar, and dairy products. It wasn’t a change that happened over night. Rather, it took several years, but eventually, most of our grocery shopping started to happen in the produce aisle.

 

I still occasionally have cystitis flare-ups, mostly when I travel on long flights overseas, but I can predict these episodes and plan for them. A Rolfer told me once that I could probably fix this problem of stress-induced cystitis if I went to a visceral manipulation specialist to have them reposition my bladder. Visceral manipulation is a little bit like massage for the visceral organs. It’s a process that’s done on the fascia that holds the organs in place inside the body. I tend to put my stress in my bladder and when that happens, the muscles and fascia in my lower torso pull my organs out of alignment causing irritation, particularly in my urethra. My husband puts his stress in his abdominal muscles and as a result, he often has tummy troubles when he’s stressed. My Rolfer encouraged me to “be kind” to my bladder when it starts to flare up and to treat it like a child that’s upset and that needs consoling, which was good advice. I often neglect my bladder and my excretory system most when I’m stressed. Giving my poor bladder some extra attention meant drinking water, taking the D-mannose, and perhaps some Uva Ursi (an herb) did help keep the pre-travel cystitis flare-ups under control.

 

And I did go to an appointment for visceral manipulation, but the girl who did the appointment was new at visceral manipulation. Instead of relief from my cystitis, I stopped getting my periods for four months. I’ve read that it’s important to be really gentle when performing visceral manipulation on or near the reproductive organs. A little bit of work can go a long way. The visceral manipulation girl did, however, recommend that I regularly try to hold my pee until I feel like my bladder is totally full. She said that this stretches the bladder wall and makes it less sensitive. So I tried it. And it helps a LOT, especially when I’m stressed. I also spend several days holding my urine before I take a big trip overseas, for example. But I’ve read that some women get more UTI’s when they hold their pee, so you’ll need to decide for yourself if this is something that would help or hurt you. It could be that you’ll need to let your bladder heal for a little while by changing your diet, nixing the coffee-habit, and other things before you’ll be able to stretch your bladder without getting an infection.

 

These days, interstitial cystitis is not an issue for me. It’s something that happens when I’m extremely stressed and occasionally right before I get my period. If you have interstitial cystitis, start by changing your diet. I would recommend eating a lot of organic fruits and vegetables and eliminating all refined sugars, caffeine and even decaffeinated coffee, dairy products and heavily processed foods. Use D-Mannose powder daily to keep UTI’s to a minimum at first. Later, after your bladder has time to heal, you may not need to take it every day. Visit an acupuncturist. And take Pau d’Arco (4 capsules up to 4 times a day) and Oregano Essential Oil (3 drops in a tablespoon of olive oil up to 3 times a day) to rid yourself of excess yeast that might be irritating your bladder.

 

Work with this regimen and give it some time. Drink a lot of water. Try holding your pee to let your bladder stretch. Do you find that you’re able to wait longer between pee sessions if you stretch your bladder once a day by letting it fill to the max? Or do you have problems with UTI’s when you hold your urine. Decide what works best for you and then make it happen! You don’t have to live every day of your life with the angst of interstitial cystitis!

 

 

References:

 

[1] University of Maryland Medical Center (2017). Reiter Syndrome. Available online: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/reiter-syndrome January 5, 2017.

[2] The Mayo Clinic (1998-2017). Interstitial cystitis. Available online: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/interstitial-cystitis/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20251968 January 5, 2017.





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