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Solving Nighttime Urinary Problems

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Q. I hate having to get up three or four times a night to urinate. Around 3 or 4 in the morning I have trouble getting back to sleep.

I have discovered that when I take ibuprofen for post-exercise soreness I am much less likely to be awakened by my bladder. I don't want to take this on a regular basis, though, because I worry about intestinal irritation.

I've heard that there is a new sleeping pill designed to help with going back to sleep. What can you tell me about it?

A. There are data suggesting that NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), celecoxib (Celebrex) and diclofenac (Voltaren) can ease nighttime urination problems (European Urology, Apr. 2006; Urology, Oct. 2008). Nevertheless, we worry that regular use of such drugs might affect kidney function and cause stomach ulcers.

The new sleeping pill is called Intermezzo. It is designed to dissolve under the tongue for fast action in the middle of the night. It is actually a low dose of the drug zolpidem, the active ingredient in the sleeping pill Ambien.

Should you wish a different approach, here is an intriguing story from a reader: "I never liked beets, but my wife (who is Polish) does. I have come to enjoy barszcz, which is a sweet/sour soup made from beets with either a meat or vegetable stock.

"I am 63 years old and have the normal urinary symptoms of an aging prostate. When we have barszcz, I can pee like a 10-year-old. At night it is so satisfying to be able to empty my bladder completely and get back to sleep.

"I am not mistaken about the correlation as I have repeated the experiment many times. I now grow beets in my garden!"

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I could have written the first part of that letter! And I'm definitely going to try beets for dinner more regularly. All the meds for incontinence cause serious brain fogging, sooner or later, and I've given up on them. Maybe this will help.

Would like to have the recipe for the beet sweet/sour soup in the above article.

My husband and I used to get up in the night to go to the bathroom; now that we have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and use the machine, we sleep through the night without getting up. One of my friends also was getting up two to three times a night until she, too, was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

One of the things I finally recognized is the evenings I drink water I sleep all night like a baby. The evenings I drink any kind of soda/pop I need to get up at least once, some times twice. I am off of all fake sugars now and usually only have a soft drink on rare occassions now.

Before taking the Ambien containing sleep aid, I would recommend trying a product called "Mid Nite" available at drugstores and grocers. It is a combination of 2 or 3 herbals, and a small amount of melatonin. 2 tablets dissolved in the mouth, and I'm usually back to sleep within about 5 - 10 minutes.

The possible hallucinatory side effects of Ambien terrify me. I've taken care of 2 elderly people on it for a period of time, and the experience was not good for any of us.

I have found that taking a Beano at bedtime, makes me sleep more soundly and I only get up once or twice instead of 4 times. I'm a 76 year old lady whose dr. said he couldn't imagine that would hurt me. I do not take it every night but if I'm having trouble falling asleep, that helps me?

I wish the comments aren't so far below- I don't think people realize they are here.

The ibuprofen is dulling your nerves not only for pain but for signaling a need to urinate. Your signal is probably stronger than it needs to be. I know mine is, but I am not willing to take medication.

Look up insomnia on the People's Pharmacy and try some of the drug-free techniques people use to get to sleep. If you are still considering a medication, you should read what the People's Pharmacy has about side effects first.

I would be most interested in trying your "Barszcz" soup. I like beets anyway, would you mind sharing your wife's recipe with me?

gary b

Can you provide a recipe for the Polish beet soup, barszcz, you wrote about in the Jan. 8, 2013 Clarion-Ledger?

I read that water and sea salt (you can take a pinch of salt and wash it down with water) will help. I did that last night and slept through the night! The number of times in a year that I sleep without getting up twice or more could be counted on your thumbs. I am going to try it again tonight!

This may be "anecdotal" but that doctor who scoffs at anecdotal evidence is exactly what is wrong with modern medicine! Whatever happened to "first do no harm"?????? Traditional remedies and "Old Wives Tales" didn't have STUDIES, but they are found to WORK. I would like to see a study of Centenarians in which even one person says to be sure to see your doctor often and never to do anything that hasn't had several "independent studies" done to be sure it's the right thing. Also, I would like to see just one person says it was a drug that helped them to live so long.

I am 71. For many years, I suffered from an enlarged prostate with frequent urination 3-4 times a night. I tried many prostate drugs with little to no improvement. For the last 2 years I have taken daily Cialis and now I can empty my bladder with ease. I frequently sleep through the night or get up to urinate once. All of the side effects of daily Cialis are good for me and my wife.

Would appreciate so much if the person who has the recipe for Barazcz would share it with me. I get up 4,5,6 times EVERY night and have been doing this for YEARS. I am past exhausted and would be so grateful to get some help.

I would also be interested in the vegetarian version of this soup for my husband.

Here's one recipe for the soup.

Polish Beetroot Soup – Barszcz


2 litres beef stock or vegetable stock
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 bouquet garni (your choice of herbs)
• 1 can mushrooms, or fresh or as my Mother-in-law did, she took a small handful of dehydrated mushrooms from Poland and soaked them list
• 3 uncooked medium-sized beetroots, peeled and sliced thickly
• 300 ml kwas - ascorbic acid
• 1 tsp. sugar
• sour cream and homemade croutons to garnish

How to make it
• Heat beef stock in a large saucepan.
• Add onion, bouquet garni, mushrooms and sliced beetroot.
• Boil on medium high heat for 1 hour.
• Strain the soup and stir the kwas into the clear soup.
• Add sugar to taste and reheat if necessary without boiling.
• Serves 8.
• Note: My Mother-in-law always added small little meat ravioli's or tortellini to the Barszcz.

I'd love the receipt for the "barszcz" soup. Sounds too good to be true!!! Thanks

I have been taking AdvilPM or TylenolPM with good results (sleep a good 7.5 hours), but also worry about the side effects. I tried taking the "sleep ingredient" (which is Benadryl) by itself, but that kept me awake all night! Strange ... My thyroid was found to be low so we're hoping my sleep issues will clear up when my thyroid is back up to snuff.

I am getting up at least once and most often twice at night. I take Ropinerole for RLS And this may be responsible but I must take it.

I put lavender essential oil on the bottom of my feet before I go to bed. When I wake in the middle of the night to pee, I go right back to sleep. Before I started putting the lavender oil on the bottom of my feet, I'd lay in bed for a long time before I could go back to sleep. This works wonders! And as you know, lavender is a natural and calming flower.

I read your column in the Seattle Times on 60 Jan 2013.
I also have the problem of getting up 2-3 time per night for a toilet visit. And I have also noticed that if I take a couple of Advil prior to retiring I am more likely to sleep undisturbed for 5-6 hours.

I plan to discuss with my doctor nest time we meet.

Do pickled beets do the same?

I'm 61 years old and used to have the same problem. I started taking fish oil and Vitamin D3 and no longer have to get up in the night to use the bathroom.

Easy Beet Barszcz 4 servings

4 medium beets, washed, or 2 cups sliced canned or jarred beets
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 minced clove garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
Chopped fresh dill and/or sour cream for garnish

Heat oven to 400. Wrap beets in aluminum foil, roast until tender, about 30-45 mins. When cool enough to handle, peel & slice into cubes or strips. In a medium pot, bring stock to boil, add beets, garlic, sugar, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold with or without garnish.

I take as much melatonin as I need to get to sleep, sometimes 10 mg or more. It always works and it's safe and cheap.

I would appreciate having the recipe for the "barszcz" soup. Thanks

This is how we do it here in Germany.

Barszcz Soup Recipe:


32 ounces beets (cooked)
1 onion, sliced
1 quart water
2 cups vegetable stock (or vegetable pulp from your juicer)
1 lemon, juice of
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar (I usually exclude this and the soup is much better!)
salt and pepper

Optional Garnish

1/2 cup sour cream
port or red wine, to drizzle (I usually add half a bottle)


1. Reserve beet juice. Grate beets and onions. Add to soup pot.
2. Add water, and vegetable stock. (A few dried mushroom pieces can be added for extra flavor--optional).
3. Cook 30 minutes.
4. Whisk together reserved juice, vinegar, lemon juice, & sugar . Add to boiling soup, simmer at 10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings.
5. Garnish with your choice.


I like to add some meat to this soup. You can add beef, pork, or poultry, or even beans and potatoes. Bare in mind though, as a sleep aid you'd probably exclude the animal protein.

Thank YOU. I'll let everyone know how it works.

gary b

I have had the problem of multiple wakeups to pee for years. I take ibuprofen for a painful back problem and it has never helped alleviate the frequent urination problem. It is interesting that one person responded that drinking water helped. In my case, drinking water will INCREASE my need to urinate... more than coffee, tea, soda, beer, etc.

At best, individual remedies appear to be anecdotal.

Thank you so much for the recipe. I saw this or one like it on Google, but was hoping for yours!! Thanks bunches!!

Just discovered the below comments and blather, but best of all the Beet, Barszcz soup recipe.

My sister made the best borscht, but she put also canned milk into it!!!! Her daughter was also good at making this. She gave some to her husband in a thermos for his lunch. When his boss saw it, he took it and ate it, said he hadn't had borscht for a long time!

My super easy recipe for beet soup? I go to the ethnic section of my grocery store, buy a bottle of Manischewitz Beet Soup (with shredded beets settled on the bottom), pour it into a pot, squirt a bit of lemon juice in, and heat it all up. That's it.

If I feel like taking the extra effort, I'll boil up some Idaho potatoes separately, mash them up, and plop a good bit into my bowl of beet soup. A tasty combination.

How much soup do you eat at one time????????

I too would like to know how to make "barszcz" for the prostate problem.

This discussion strand sums up why I just love The People's Pharmacy website. There is so much information, care and help given, not only by the Graedons but also by the people using the website. I will definitely be trying out the Beet Soup.

A couple of questions regarding the Barszcz Soup -- to get the effects as stated in the article, does this have to be consumed several days in a row? It sounds like the effect may have been the same night one consumes the soup? Also, is it the soup that has this effect, or does eating beets directly supposed to have the same effects?

Thank you

It sounds like good old fashiond jewish Beet Borscht should do the trick.
You don't have to enen cook it yourself, it's easily found in jewish markets,

First of all, to the original poster of the tip, a big thank you. I intend to give it a try.

If others have tried it, has it helped?

JP you make me laugh very funny indeed and good luck with those awfull side effects.

You could try diced beets in a blender with apple juice.

It's also great for energy due to increase of nitrates.

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