Cystitis is a swelling or inflammation of the bladder wall. According to popular medical web sites, the bladder can become inflamed for a variety of reasons:
-general inflammatory response in the body
-other reasons that have not been acknowledge by modern medicine yet (like intestinal parasites–see my article Can Interstitial Cystitis be cured? for more information.)
When cystitis is the result of a bacterial infection, it is referred to as a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI and it can be treated with antibiotics, D-Mannose powder, or herbs like Uva Ursi. Basically, the difference between cystitis and Urinary Tract Infection has to do with evidence of infection in the urine. If you don’t have an infection (a UTI), then you just have discomfort or pain (interstitial cystitis) and as far as your doctor is concerned, there is no cause and no cure. If you ask your doctor about the possibility of a parasitic infection, he (or she) will probably scoff at you. There are few diagnostic tests on the market to test for parasites of any kind and the ones that do exist are unreliable. Luckily, you can treat yourself for parasites even if you just suspect that you have them by taking herbs like wormwood, black walnut, and cloves. These herbs are available online at Amazon or at your local Whole Foods of Vitamin Cottage.
You can buy AZO test strips to test yourself at home for a UTI caused by a bacterial infection. An antibiotic like Macrobid (also known as Nitrofurantoin) is a good choice because it won’t destroy your intestinal flora, but if you have a more serious UTI infection, Bactrim may be a better choice even though it’s a broad spectrum antibiotic. D-Mannose powder can also cure UTI’s as well as the herb Uva Ursi. You can take D-Mannose powder daily to prevent bacterial bladder infections. It works really well, costs very little, and it doesn’t cause toxic side effects like antibiotics.
When cystitis has no known cause, doctors call it “interstitial cystitis” or “painful bladder syndrome”. Western medical doctors in the United States may prescribe phenazopyridine for the pain and irritation of interstitial cystitis, but our medical system offers no cure for the problem. Phenazopyridine just covers up the symptoms temporarily and it can have a negative impact on the kidneys. A lower dose of the same stuff, known as AZO is available over-the-counter. These drugs are really helpful if you can’t figure out what’s causing the interstitial cystitis and you need some relief from the symptoms. Pau d’Arco is an herb that lessens inflammation in the bladder without the same negative effects on the kidneys and as an added bonus, this herb also combats yeast infections. It may take slightly longer than AZO to take effect, but if your cystitis happens to be caused by excess yeast in the bladder (which is a common problem and one that’s associated with an intestinal parasite infection), Pau d’Arco will be your best friend.
Eastern treatment options such as acupuncture have proven effective for many patients. My acupuncturist in Boulder, CO had chronic interstitial cystitis that interfered with her ability to lead a normal life. Acupuncture cured her and though she’d worked successfully as an editor for Architectural Digest in California for many years, the experience of being cured made such an impression her that she moved to Boulder to study acupuncture.
Nutritional and lifestyle changes can also sometimes cure the problem.
Cystitis can happen in men or women, but it’s thought to be more common in women.