Interstitial cystitis is an inflammatory disorder of the bladder. It primarily affects women. Symptoms are similar to those of urinary tract infections. In IC, however, no infectious organisms are present. Although IC is considered incurable, a change in your diet should be your first line of defense. Some supplements may also be beneficial to IC sufferers. Vitamins and herbs can, however, be toxic. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.
The cause of IC is unknown, but the protective barrier of the inner lining of the bladder has been found to be broken down in IC sufferers. Without this barrier, toxins enter, trigger the production of inflammatory mast cells, and cause severe irritation to the bladder. Mast cells release histamine, which is an allergy-related immune agent that promotes a local inflammatory response. In this sense, IC is correlated with both a compromised immune system and allergies.
Couch Grass, Licorice Root and Marshmallow Root
Couch grass, licorice root and marshmallow root are all herbs that may be helpful to IC sufferers. These herbs have anti-inflammatory properties and are soothing to the irritated mucosal lining of the bladder. Marshmallow root may also help to strengthen and cleanse the bladder.
Kava may be a particularly beneficial herb. It is known for its ability to alleviate inflammation and irritation of the urinary tract, as well as for its ability to relieve nerve pain. Kava may, however, cause drowsiness. Although kava is generally considered safe, long-term use of kava has been associated with adverse liver effects.
Colloidal silver is an antiseptic that is thought to subdue inflammation and promote healing of the bladder, according to Phyllis Balch's “Prescription for Nutritional Healing." She says to choose a colloidal silver supplement that is 99.9 percent pure silver particles at approximately 0.001 to 0.01 micron in diameter and suspended in water.
Quercetin and Bromelain
Quercetin stabilizes mast cells and reduces histamine secretion. Preliminary studies have found it to significantly reduce IC-related pain, according to Diana Quinn, N.D. in “The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.” A supplement combing quercetin with bromelain will help to reduce allergic inflammation and promote tissue healing inside the bladder.
The February 2006 edition of “BJU International” reported a study on the effects of vitamin D3 on rats with IC. The rats were given an oral dose of vitamin D3; the vitamin D3 was found to reduce the production of mast cells. More research needs to be done, but the study concluded that vitamin D3 may be a successful anti-inflammatory agent and a potentially therapeutic vitamin for IC sufferers.
Vitamin C may also be beneficial to IC sufferers due to its well-known anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting properties. Balch recommends taking 4,000 to 5,000 mg daily, in divided doses, because your body can only absorb so much vitamin C at one time.
- “The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine”; Interstitial Cystitis; Diana Quinn, N.D.; 2009
- "Townsend Letter": Natural Remedies for Interstitial Cystitis; Diana Brady; December 2010
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Third Edition”; Phyllis Balch; 2003