Interstitial Cystitis – Multiple Treatment Options for a Chronic Condition

Dr. Preet Khangura, ND

Interstitial cystitis (or IC for short) is a condition in which the bladder lining becomes significantly irritated and inflamed. In some rare cases, ulcerations and lesions can even appear within the bladder lining. This condition causes bladder pressure and pain, pelvic pain, burning pain upon urination, painful intercourse, and even vulvar pain. IC is usually a diagnosis upon exclusion, which means that many other conditions are usually ruled out first. This is the case because in most cases, imaging and scopes do not show the active inflammation, and many times, IC fits the picture of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI’s). If you feel like you continually have a UTI, but the lab can never culture any bacteria in your urine sample – definitely be assessed and/or treated for IC. Speaking of treatment, what are some things that can not only palliate symptoms, but also treat the potential root cause of the IC?

Balance Hormones

For many IC patients, the bladder inflammation is linked to either estrogen deficiency or progesterone deficiency. Once the specific imbalance is assessed, therapy can be started. To raise either estrogen or progesterone quickly, bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) is an ideal option. I have seen bioidentical progesterone and estrogen creams work to completely subside IC symptoms within just days of use. Of course, there are also numerous herbs and specific nutrients that I also use balance estrogen and progesterone.

Treat the Gut

You’ve likely heard or read about it. The gut aka gastrointestinal tract has significant connections to a multitude of other bodily systems. The gut-brain connection, the gut-skin connection, the gut-immune system connection are some well-known examples. Well, research has also correlated the gut with the urinary system – specifically Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and IC. SIBO has been research proven to be by far the #1 root cause of IBS. And it has also been shown to be occurring in a very large number of IC patients. SIBO is a focus of my practice, and I have seen first hand that treating it, can also alleviate IC long term. Therefore, if you have IC and chronic digestive issues, you must see a physician who can treat both systems together.

Increase Integrity of Bladder Lining

While determining and treating the root cause of IC, it is also prudent to subside day-to-day symptoms by increasing the integrity of the bladder lining. This can be done using nutrients and herbs such as vitamin A, quercitin, bioflavonoids, L-arginine, corn silk, Oregon grape root, glucosamine HCL, and marshmallow root. When taken in the right combination and amounts, symptoms can be alleviated very quickly.

References:

  1. Weintock LB, Klutke CG, Lin HC, Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in patients with interstitial cystitis and gastrointestinal symptoms. Dig Dis Sci.2008 May;53(5):1246–1251.
  1. Korting G.E., Smith S.D., Wheeler M.A., Weiss R.M., Foster H.E., Jr (1999) A randomized double-blind trial of oral L-arginine for treatment of interstitial cystitis. J Urol 161: 558–565
  1. Lentz G.M., Bavendam T., Stenchever M.A., Miller J.L., Smalldridge J. (2002) Hormonal manipulation in women with chronic, cyclic irritable bladder symptoms and pelvic pain. Am J Obstet Gynecol 186: 1268–1271 discussion 1271–1263.
  1. Novi J.M., Jeronis S., Srinivas S., Srinivasan R., Morgan M.A., Arya L.A. (2005) Risk of irritable bowel syndrome and depression in women with interstitial cystitis: a case-control study. J Urol 174: 937–940
  1. Powell-Boone T., Ness T.J., Cannon R., Lloyd L.K., Weigent D.A., Fillingim R.B. (2005) Menstrual cycle affects bladder pain sensation in subjects with interstitial cystitis. J Urol 174: 1832–1836

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