Thursday, July 12, 2012

Natural Relief For Interstitial Cystitis

According to the National Institute of Health one in five women experience discomfort caused by Interstitial Cystitis (IC).

Women’s health expert and naturopath Narelle Stegehuis, explains that “effective management requires an individualised approach to provide long term relief”. 

Interstitial Cystitis is a complex condition caused by erosion of the protective bladder lining. This may be due to infection, inflammation, hormones,  autoimmune conditions or a combination of factors.  For many suffers, symptoms are often worse during ovulation and under stress due to a neuro-hormonal connection

Symptom relief can be achieved with traditional herbal support that targets the underlying cause.  This can be established with hormonal profiling and wellness mapping. 

For example, Rachel achieved relief from IC by applying a combination of antimicrobial herbs such as Thymus vulgaris and anti inflammatory herbs such Achillea millefolium, as the underlying cause of her IC was triggered by bacteria and inflammation.  Other herbs such as Passiflora incarnata were included in her tonic since stress was thought to be a contributing factor.  This is why a tailored herbal tonic is often the best choice of natural treatment.

So What Natural Support Is Available?
IC may improve with medical treatment but unfortunately infection associated with both of these conditions may be resistant to traditional antibiotic treatment which means symptoms may recur with time. 

Improving bladder tone and the health of the urinary tract is achievable in three easy steps:

Step 1 Identify The Cause

A diagnosis for IC can be both time consuming and frustrating and even once a diagnosis is made, treatment options can be limited until you isolate the cause. “Symptomatic health screening and hormonal profiling coupled with pathology testing to identify the underlying factors triggering the symptoms, is the first step in the right direction”, says Stegehuis.  “Once the cause is established, effective long term management is possible”.

Step 2 Diet and Lifestyle

Start making small changes such as giving up coffee and alcohol.  Consume foods that promote alkalinity within the body and remove allergens such as wheat or dairy from your diet.

Other changes depend upon a more individualised approach such as tailored diet and lifestyle changes to support immune or digestive health and hormonal balance.

Step 3 Targeted Treatment

Finally, the choice of traditional herbal medicine for IC and UTI’s depends upon the underlying contributing factors to the condition, such as hormones, auto-immunity, central nervous system excitability, bacterial infection, inflammation or digestive weakness .

According to Stegehuis, a common mistake is to take Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) for IC.  For many women with this condition, taking this herb aggravates the condition. 

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus may provide beneficial support for IC caused by Escherichia coli due to their protective influence on the immune system. 

Remember, IC is a complex condition requiring an individualized treatment approach.  This is why I recommend sufferers seek the expertise of a qualified health practitioner and if symptoms persist seek medical advice.

Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing naturopath and medical herbalist specializing in the natural treatment of women's health and hormonal imbalance for over 14 years. She is both an accomplished writer, editor and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award.  

To find out more, call 1300 133 536 or visit