Interstitial cystitis is also known as painful bladder syndrome. While there is little effective treatment by conventional medicine, we find that it can easily be managed by a combination of natural dietary and homeopathic approaches. Our Perth naturopathic clinic has helped many cases over the years.
Although the exact cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, the holistic approach of treating the person as a whole, reducing inflammation in the body through naturopathic principles and balancing the body mentally, emotionally and physically with homeopathy has success in healing this painful and irritating condition.
Symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC) are similar to those of regular cystitis: urinary frequency and urgency, pelvic pain and discomfort after sexual intercourse. The difference is that in IC there is no infection, and antibiotics give no relief. There may have been infections present in the past history of the patient, and one theory is that the body’s immune system is still reacting as if it were fighting a bacterial intruder. The resulting chronic inflammatory process causes a similar pattern of symptoms. There may also be damage to the bladder wall and leakage of urine into the tissues.
There also appears to be a connection between IC and other syndromes such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and vulvodynia and dyspareunia (pain on intercourse).All may have a connection between what has been called Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS).
Patients with CSS become sensitised to things that are processed by the central nervous system: lights, odours, smell, touch and pressure on the body. This explains the connection between the above conditions and also the following: migraines, restless legs syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, temperomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) and dysmenorrhoea (painful periods). Some patients have more than one condition, and this helps make sense of the connection.
It appears irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis and reproductive and pelvic pain may have a connection through nerve pathways in the pelvis. Researchers have demonstrated a “cross-sensitisation” between nerves in the bladder, bowel and reproductive organs. Trauma, irritation or inflammation in one area can lead to similar symptoms in the others through “cross-talk” along neural pathways.
Pelvic trauma may also underlie interstitial cystitis in individual patients. This can include childbirth, or a history of athletic injury and bicycle or motorcycle riding. Diagnosis of “pelvic floor dysfunction” may be made by urologists who discover tight pelvic muscles on examination. These tight muscles can make urination, defecation and sexual intimacy painful.
Another factor appears to be antiproliferative factor (APF), a substance that appears in the urine of people with IC. APF appears to block the normal growth of cells that line the bladder and interfere with the healing process following damage to the bladder wall. Whether this is a cause or a result is unclear, but it is at least a biomarker for the condition.
In any chronic condition, and certainly all sensitivity syndromes, one of the fundamental contributing factors is inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body is a healing response to trauma and injury, but where the inflammation is out of control and unrelenting, chronic disease results, along with attending symptoms of pain and restriction of normal function.
From a naturopathic perspective, the treatment of interstitial cystitis involves increasing the foods that reduce inflammation and restricting those that promote inflammation. However, trial and error by sufferers has also resulted in a list of possible dietary items, even within the normally “good” foods, that may cause irritation to sufferers with painful bladder syndrome. It is not the same for everything; but for patients at our Perth naturopathic clinic, from a careful analysis of your diet, Michael Blanch can work out a likely dietary plan that will help the healing in your individual case.
We use homeopathy as the main treatment modality. The focus is on the constitutional remedy that promotes healing in the person on all levels.
Regardless of the above discussion, the real cause is the weakness in the patient’s life force, whatever the superficial pathology. We may also use “acute” remedies similar to those we use in cystitis infections, but mainly for more acute outbreaks of symptoms. These are remedies that help extinguish the flaring of symptoms like pain, burning on urination, frequency and urgency.
However, these remedies will never prevent the recurrence of symptoms, which is why our focus is on the deeper levels and the constitutional layer of treatment. With this combination, in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle modification, at our Perth naturopathic clinic we find many cases of interstitial cystitis can be healed completely, given enough time, or at the very least permanently improved. Improvement of symptoms usually occurs in the first week.