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What Can You Do for Interstitial Cystitis?

It can be difficult to find out what to do for interstitial cystitis, since the cause is unknown and different people have unique dietary triggers.

Most people have never heard of interstitial cystitis, a condition in which urination is exceedingly painful although the urge to urinate is very frequent. The cause of this condition isn’t clear, so sufferers are left wondering what to do for interstitial cystitis.

What Should You Do for Interstitial Cystitis?

Q. My urologist has diagnosed me with interstitial cystitis. He initially put me on Tofranil. When it caused a rapid heart rate (tachycardia), I discontinued it.

He said he thought I had “overactive bladder” because I have to make several trips to the potty during the night, so he put me on Ditropan. I am still having the discomfort that feels like cystitis. He said if my symptoms didn’t get better, he could instill DMSO (Rimso-50) into the bladder, but I am hesitant about that.

My question is: is there a holistic treatment you could recommend? I have been drinking cranberry juice and have eliminated as much caffeine as possible. I have also cut way back on diet drinks and artificial sweeteners.

Natural Approaches to Ease the Pain of Interstitial Cystitis:

A. If your cranberry juice has added vitamin C, it could be counterproductive. Citrus products and vitamin C could irritate the bladder. You might also avoid other drinks such as tea, coffee (even decaf), carbonated beverages and wine.

People with interstitial cystitis often skip spices and acidic foods like tomatoes. Fruits such as berries, kiwi, peaches and pineapple may cause trouble. You will need to keep a diary to figure out which foods affect you most. With this condition, foods affect people differently. As a result, no single list holds true for everyone.

Try Prelief:

One thing you might do for interstitial cystitis is try an over-the-counter product called Prelief (calcium glycerophosphate). This non-drug dietary supplement removes most of the acid from food and has been reported to ease symptoms (International Urogynecology Journal, Aug., 2016).  Probiotics, fish oil or vitamin D are additional options.

A small pilot study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction could help ease symptoms and make people feel less at their mercy (International Urogynecology Journal, Nov., 2016). Your doctor might not offer this therapy, but he or she should be able to refer you to someone who does.

Instead of DMSO:

You may also want to let your doctor know about a new study that shows hyaluronic acid plus chondroitin sulfate works as well as DMSO with fewer side effects (Neurourology Urodynamics, Sept. 21, 2016).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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