This post is dedicated to the lovely women I have met that are struggling with this often times debilitating disease. There is hope. I am living proof.
Before I go any further, however, I need to stress that everything I have done to heal myself was done with the approval of, and in some cases, the suggestion of my doctors. Also, please keep in mind that what has worked for me may not work for you.
Now that that is out of the way, here is my story…
For those that have never heard of Interstitial Cystitis(or Painful Bladder Syndrome or IC), it is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that can result in urinary urgency and frequency. In some cases (including mine), an ulcer, called Hunner’s ulceris present, which makes this disease all the more unbearable.
There are various theories as to what causes IC, and I truly believe that for me, it was a combination of having used toxic products for so long, eating toxic foods, and stress.
I first noticed something was wrong 5 years ago, when I had to run to the bathroom every ten minutes, regardless of how much liquids I drank, and that feeling of having to “go” never went away. No matter how many times I went, I never felt “relief”. I lost sleep because I woke up so frequently, and I was afraid to go anywhere because of the constant urgency. I knew that my co-workers were getting annoyed because I had to keep getting up from my desk. No one I knew could understand or relate to what I was going through. My life was a nightmare. I was in constant pain (made worse by the constant back pain I was in). I literally wanted to die.
At first, I thought it was a bladder infection, but the treatments for that didn’t help. I finally went to a urologist, who performed a cystoscopy and discovered that I had a Hunner’s ulcer and also confirmed through some other testing that I had Interstitial Cystitis.
Once I knew what it was that was plaguing me, I could start working on making myself better. I opted to not take the drug Elmiron, as the side effects were far worse than the disease, in my opinion. So I asked my doctor if there was anything natural I could take. He suggested pure pomegranate juice and aloe vera juice. Aloe vera helps because it is anti-inflammatory, but also because it helps to repair and maintain the glycosaminoglycans (GAG) layer of the bladder which is destroyed by IC, and pomegranate juice because it contains quercetin (a natural anti-histamine that has been shown to help patients suffering with IC).
In addition to the aloe and pomegranate, I put myself on an elimination diet, eliminating all of the foods that were known to aggravate IC. I also, as is my custom, started researching other natural means that could help. I didn’t just want to feel better, I wanted to be cured!
After realizing that I felt no different giving up all my favorite foods, I started incorporating them back into my diet. Thankfully, none of the foods triggered a flare-up.
While none of the normal food culprits caused an issue, I still decided to change my eating habits to what I’ve mentioned before has helped my overall health – a more organic, raw, vegetarian diet. I also switched all of my personal care and make up products to all natural, non-toxic brands. In addition, I incorporated several different herbs and supplements which have proved to be immensely helpful.
Here is what I took:
Quercetin – a flavonoid that is found in foods such as apples, onions, broccoli & squash, it has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties and is nature’s anti-histamine.
Bromelain – another anti-inflammatory, but also helps to relieve pain
Gotu Kola – while this herb has a multitude of benefits, it’s ability to stimulate the synthesis of glycosaminoglycan is what makes it so effective in treating IC. It literally helps to repair the damaged bladder lining.
Valerian Root – a natural muscle relaxer, helps to keep the bladder muscles from that constant “spasming”, which halts that annoying frequency!
Marshmallow Root – helps to soothe and protect irritated and inflamed tissue
L-Arginine – an amino acid that is essential to the metabolism of ammonia & is needed for nitrogen transport. It has been shown to decrease pain and urgency in people who have IC by helping to relax the bladder muscles.
While I did notice relief after taking all of these, it literally took years to repair the damage that had been done to my bladder with the IC. And honestly, it wasn’t until after I had my back surgery that I noticed the biggest difference. Once my back issues were finally being taken care of, my body could start focusing on healing the rest of me. And I noticed that things felt different in the bladder region..in a good way. I was able to sleep all night, could sit through an entire movie, enjoy the short car ride to the store without squirming in my seat. Things continued to get better once I started seeing a holistic doctor regularly, and she gave me herbal remedies to really help my body heal.
Now, the only time my bladder ever “acts up” is when my back is having a bad time..got to love inflammation. But the ulcer is gone. The constant pain is gone. I finally feel like I can have a normal life. Finally.
I hope this information is helpful, but again, please remember that what I did took me five years to finally be free from IC, and what worked for me may not work for you. Listen to your body.
Until Next Time,
*All reviews are based on my own experience with the products. I do not get paid to write reviews and will only recommend products if I truly like them. Photo Credit – Pexels