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Herbs and Exercise Ease Cystitis

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Dear Dr Leyton: In June of 2000, I was given antibiotics for a bladder infection.

Dear Dr Leyton: In June of 2000, I was given antibiotics for a bladder infection. By July, I had been to the emergency room three times with the following symptoms: extreme frequency in urination (both day and night); urgency in urination; pain throughout the entire pelvic area and lower back pain. A cystoscopy was performed and the bladder stretched. The next two months were excruciating. A kidney test was then performed--the results were normal. It was then decided that I possibly had interstitial cystitis. However, a diagnostic procedure will have to be performed and the waiting list is at least one year. Is there anything in the complementary medicine field that would help? SE I am going to assume you do not have an infection, but I am surprised you are waiting for a "procedure" to determine whether you have interstitial cystitis (IC) or not because a cystoscopy is the procedure used to make that diagnosis and you have already had one! Your urologist would have been able to tell from that procedure. There are a number of possible reasons for your symptoms including a chronic, nonbacterial inflammation of the bladder, lax pelvic floor muscles, small bladder, urethral inflammation and undiagnosed infection. If this is IC it can be difficult to treat. Treat the symptoms of inflammation using natural means. Cut out all processed foods and eat lean organic meat or fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon and herring are the best). Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains only. Some people with IC have wheat sensitivity and benefit from removing wheat and other gluten foods such as rye, oats and barley from their diet. Increase your water intake to at least eight to 12 glasses per day. This will help to flush out any bacteria and will often reduce the burning discomfort. Eliminate bladder irritants such as coffee, black tea, alcohol and chocolate. Don't eat chicken liver, canned figs, brewers yeast, raisins, avocados, soy sauce, grapes, fava beans, corned beef, nuts, hard cheeses, apples, peaches, pineapple, cantaloupe, citrus, pickled herring, bananas, yogurt, beer, wine, vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream or nectarines while you have the symptoms. Some of these foods are alkaline, and an acidic urine is needed to decrease bacterial growth. Take anti-inflammatory supplements such as four to six cold water fish oil capsules a day with meals (this is not the same as cod liver oil); take three evening primrose oil capsules daily; take a good multi-vitamin and extra vitamin C (1000 mg/day); vitamin E (400 IU of mixed tocopherols); mixed carotenes; and 50 mcg selenium. These latter are all antioxidants and will help to mop up the oxidation by-products that are generated in inflammation. Herbs like turmeric, which contains curcumins, can be used in cooking. Typically the herb most useful for urinary inflammation is Uva ursi or bearberry. It should only be used for about one to two weeks and is not for long-term use. The typical dose of dried herb is 1.5 to four grams daily. It's also commonly used as a tea, prepared by steeping three grams of the dried leaf in 150 millilitres of cold water for 12 to 24 hours and then straining. Uva ursi leaf teas should be prepared with cold water to minimize the tannin content. One cup of tea is usually taken up to four times daily. Finally, if your doctor suggests this is a pelvic floor problem you should ask for Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Written requests for advice must contain your age, gender, height and weight and a good description of your present problem; any past medical problems and treatments; a list of drugs and supplements you are taking and any recent blood or other test results. Address letters to the medical advisor, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5J 5B9. Please include a cheque or postal money order for $20 made out to Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd. Expect six to eight weeks for a reply.

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