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Marshmallow Root Tea & Interstitial Cystitis

author image Nicole Van Hoey
Nicole Van Hoey is a pharmacist and medical writer/editor in Washington, D.C. She has worked extensively on National Institutes of Health and trade pharmacy publications and is a contributing textbook writer on topics in infectious disease, nutrition and more. Van Hoey currently enjoys applying her drug information expertise to writings on women's health, complementary medicine and pediatrics.
Marshmallow Root Tea & Interstitial Cystitis
A cup of marshmallow root tea has been touted for symptom relief of interstitial cystitis. Photo Credit monica-photo/iStock/Getty Images

Interstitial cystitis, or IC, is a type of bladder disease that causes pain similar to a urinary tract infection in response to a wide range factors. Patients with IC often live with restricted diets and low quality of life, especially during disease flares. These patients may turn to herbal preparations or supplements as an alternative treatment and make lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms. As with any herbal product, users should consult a healthcare professional to determine the safest product and dosage for their health.

IC Symptoms

IC, unlike some other types of cystitis, is not primarily caused by bacterial infection. The cause for its associated pain is not known. The classic IC symptom triad of pain, urinary frequency of up to 60 times a day, and urgency occurs more often and more severely as the bladder wall itself becomes irritated and develops scars. Symptoms may either ease by themselves or with treatment, but they can return unexpectedly during severe flare ups.

IC Dietary Restrictions

Although the exact substances that irritate the bladder lining in IC have not been completely identified, many possibilities and mechanisms of damage have been suggested. It is clear that certain foods trigger increased bladder pain, possibly by further irritating the damaged bladder wall. People living with IC are encouraged to identify their particular food triggers by keeping food diaries. Observing personal dietary restrictions then plays a key role in symptom relief. For example, acidic foods like tomatoes, which would irritate the stomach lining and cause heartburn in some people, likewise irritate the bladder of most people with IC.

Marshmallow Root Ingredients

Many people with IC turn to herbal teas to soothe pain symptoms and manage the disease, and marshmallow root is one such herb that has been suggested for pain relief. Marshmallow root contains mucilage made from plant sugars that provides fiber and is also soothing on contact. Most herbal preparations are made from the dried root of the plant. Tea ingredients are specific to particular manufactured products; the actual quantity of marshmallow root in each U.S. product varies and is not examined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Marshmallow Root Tea Effects

The soothing component of marshmallow root has been used in folk remedies for sore throats, and its anecdotal anti-inflammatory effect may treat skin infection or swelling. Both of these effects could be useful to relieve IC symptoms, because marshmallow root may coat the damaged bladder lining and reduce its redness and swelling. Any herbal product has the same ability as traditional medicine to cause side effects, and marshmallow root has been known to cause, rather than relieve, irritation in some people with IC.

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