Overactive Bladder: Searching for a Possible Remedy
in Mother Nature’s Medicine Cabinet

Sooner or later, caregiver or not, we’ll likely experience an overactive bladder, which is a kinder, gentler way of saying we’ll all succumb to some form of urinary incontinence. As embarrassing a thought as it might be for some of us, it is most definitely not something to be ashamed of or to ignore. By understanding what an overactive bladder is, and what some of the causes are, you can better prepare yourself for how you may chose to treat it.  While there are many new medicines and advances for trying to arrest urinary incontinence, some remedies may come in the form of specialized exercise, or may already exist among nature’s meadows and fields, and they may be quite effective for you.

Overactive bladder is ranked as one of the 10 most common, chronic conditions in the US, and it affects people of all ages and genders, but is seen most often in women. It’s difficult to get an exact number of just how many people experience overactive bladder, because many cases go unreported, probably due to understandable yet needless embarrassment. Overactive bladder isn’t really something a person can necessarily help. It’s caused by the muscle that operates the bladder, contracting while the bladder is filling, causing a tremendous urge to urinate, resulting from the quick build up of pressure. There are three different cause for actual overactive bladder: stress incontinence is urine lost when coughing, sneezing or laughing; urge incontinence is a strong desire to urinate, frequent urination, getting up at night, with the person unable to get to the bathroom in time; mixed incontinence is a combination of these two types. Studies have found that 40% of  women reportedly stress incontinence, with 34% having mixed incontinence, and 17% have urge incontinence (this kind of incontinence becomes more common as women age). Keep in mind, no matter your age or gender, it’s extremely important to report the symptoms of possible overactive bladder since other conditions, like urinary tract infections, bladder cancers and neurological problems may have the same symptoms.

If you’re not quite sure about wanting to take the latest in prescription medicines for this problem, there are several different homeopathic methods that you might want to investigate. One school of thought is that some overactive bladders may be caused by some sort of a food allergy. If neurological damage, poor muscle tone, and hormonal deficiencies have been ruled out as possible reasons for the symptoms, perhaps a food sensitivity could be causing chronic inflammation of the urethra tissues and bladder. Just as with any potential food allergy, you must be prepared to keep a dietary diary of all the things you are ingesting, both liquid and solid. Once you have a fairly accurate and steady record of what you usually eat and drink, you then want to begin the process of elimination under your doctor’s watchful eye. At the end of about 6 to 8 weeks, you may be able to determine which food or beverage could be the culprit for inducing an overactive bladder.

Another homeopathic approach is utilizing exercise, particularly Kegel exercise. This form of exercise should be familiar among women who have had children in recent years, since many birthing classes instruct pregnant women to do this through out their pregnancy in order to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help decrease stress incontinence due to carrying a child and going through childbirth. These pelvic muscles will relax under your command, and will control the opening and closing of the urethral sphincter. Quite simply, these are the muscles that enable you to have urinary control. When these muscles become weak, leakage will occur. Through a continuous regimen of Kegel exercise, you can build up and strengthen the endurance of these muscles, helping you to regain bladder control. You can easily make these pelvic exercises a part of your daily routine, but you must be sure to do them regularly in order to benefit from them. Kegel exercise can be done quite discreetly, during your daily routine, like when you’re at your desk at work reading or typing, while you watch TV, or when you’re in your car and you’re stuck in traffic. In about three to six weeks, you will see an improvement with your ability to control your bladder, as well as notice less and less urine leakage. Another method used is something called “bladder training with timed voiding.” During this type of treatment, the doctor has the patient keep a daily diary of all episodes of urination and leakage. The doctor will then look at the information in order to see a pattern of urination. The patient will use a timetable created by the doctor to plan when to empty their bladder before there is the potential for a possible accident. 

Herbal therapy and support can be quite helpful in soothing an irritated bladder or urethra which may be causing an overactive bladder. Here are some suggested herbs to start with, that can be used as teas:

  • Cleavers (Galium aparine) -  a traditional urinary tonic.

  • Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) - has soothing properties, best when soaked     in  cold water for several hours; strain and drink.

  • Buchu - soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system.

  • Corn silk (Zea mays) - soothing, diuretic.

  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) - astringent, tissue-healing properties, mild diuretic.

  • Usnea lichen - soothing and antiseptic.

It is also suggested that you try to drink at least 2 to 3 quarts of water every day, in order to keep your urinary tract properly cleansed. Other herbs that can be helpful in decreasing and soothing any inflammation that may exist in bladder or urethra tissues: Flax oil; Vitamin C; Bromelain; Wobenzyme tablets;  and Vitamin E. There are a few more herbs that will also help with acute symptoms of overactive bladder, but before taking any kind of herbs or tonics, it is best to speak to a trained homeopathic practitioner or to a conventional doctor who is also knowledgeable with herbal medicines. Only a professional will be able to tell you how often and in what dose and combination to take these and other herbs. Also, be sure to let a professional know up front, the types of conventional medicines that you may already be taking, in order to watch for any negative drug interactions that may lead to an undesired and potentially fatal effect. Know too, that most homeopathic remedies are delivered in small, pellet form that has a lactose sugar base, so if you are lactose intolerant, a professional will need to know this prior to deciding upon your specific treatment. If your lactose intolerance is known ahead of time, a homeopathic liquid utilizing a water base, along with the needed herb, can be made instead.

Overactive bladder doesn’t have to be a problem, nor should it constantly be on your mind. All you need to do is tell your doctor or homeopathic practitioner, and with the combination of what you can do for yourself (through exercise and proper diet) along with what the professionals can do for you (through medicines or herbs), you’ll be able to finally go shopping, go to a party, or go to a recital or sporting event without having to know where the bathroom is first. 

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