Alternative medicines refer to treatments that are not necessarily tested or backed by scientific evidence. Such treatments usually replace conventional medication and hence referred to as alternative therapy. These are, sometimes, also known as complementary therapy or complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). It is suggested that the difference between complementary and alternative treatment is that the former is used in combination with the conventional medication while the latter replaces the conventional method of treating an illness.
As said earlier, alternative therapies may not be backed by scientific evidence the way conventional medication is; there is a huge anecdotal evidence to the claim of its effectiveness and safety. It is generally considered safe without side effects. This is, however, is not the case as many such treatments may have negative effects and if not taken carefully or with expert advice, then these may cause harm.
It is, therefore, extremely important to either take expert opinion before using any of these alternative ways of treatment or do your own research to ensure you are on the right track.
When it comes to interstitial cystitis, I am a big fan of natural or alternative methods of treatment. Myself a patient of IC for more than 10 years, I have undergone a series of tests, examinations, procedures, operations and medication through several conventional medical channels including some of the top urologists. I did not find any relief going the conventional route except more pain and discomfort. The only thing that worked for me after years of these painful and rigorous procedures was trying the alternative way.
Now, I am not claiming that the conventional medication does not work. It may work for you and may be not for others. It did not work for me. In addition, there is a huge anecdotal evidence of patient across the internet who will repeat the same story.
In this post, I will share some of the alternative methods that I found useful in the treatment of the horrible interstitial cystitis. Please note you do not have to use all these treatments. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you, which one will work for you as we are all different and my own experience indicates that a treatment which works for one may not or may not work for others. All you have to do is try them yourself.
Let me remind you that do not use all of these treatments together. Try one and if it does not work, carefully proceed to the next. If you find a treatment helpful, add one more and see how it goes. This way you will find which ones works for you and which one does not.
Herbs are great when taken in the form of tea. They act on the bladder straight away and works on the mucus membrane to sooth it. You do not have to take these in the form of strong tea. It is rather better to start with very light tea. Most herbs are either available in the tea bag form or loose. Just add either a bag or some loose leaves to boiling water. Do not leave the bag or tea longer than 2 minutes.
IC patients are very sensitive and strong teas may not be ok to start with. It is worth noting that most of these herbal teas have detoxifying effect so you may initially find them to worsen your symptoms. This may be temporary because of the toxin passing through your system. However, if you find the tea troubling you for more than a week, discontinue and start another one. It also best to try a sip before you take a full cup to check for any adverse reactions. Here are some of these teas
• Marshmallow root tea
• Nettle tea
• Chamomile tea
• Peppermint tea
• Rosemary tea
• Milk thistle tea
Herbs can also be taken in the form of capsules. Some people find it difficult to go through the hassle of making and taking teas and they find it a lot easier to take these in the form of capsules.
Personally, I like them in teas as they act on the urinary system straight away and flush out toxins from the body. If you take them in the capsule forms, they are more beneficial on intestines. It does not mean that they do not work for IC when taken in capsules. But their action will be slower than when consumed in the tea form.
Here is a list of herbal capsules for IC patients
• Liquorice Root
• Uva Ursi
• Black cohosh
This is yet another great way to ingest herbs without taking them orally. Add a mixture of herbs to your bath water and stay there for around 15 to 20 minutes. The skin is a great means of detoxification of the body. One advantage of taking herbal bath is you do not have to prepare them in the form tea. Another advantage is you can mix several of them to reap the benefits of each.
I also put a few drops of tea tree oil to the bath water. This kills germs and bacteria and reduces any chance of infection. Another tip is to add baking soda to the water to produce alkalizing effect. I have found taking herbal bath extremely beneficial and soothing.
Do not use bubble baths or any other kind of bath shampoos or soaps that contains chemicals. The purpose of the herbal bath is to detoxify the body through the skin. Adding shampoos or bubble soaps are irritating for sensitive IC patients.
Many people report that acupuncture works. I saw an acupuncturist for four weeks. During initial consultations, she guessed that my body was toxic and this was blocking my energy. She said she was confident that her treatment would work.
I agreed with her explanation of toxic body, as this is what is common among all IC patients. Each week I would go for one-hour acupuncture session and then she would give me Chinese herbal prescription to be used for that week and then replaced next week.
Unfortunately, it did not work for me. It is also very expensive and I had to pay around $700 for 6 sessions.
But as said earlier, we are all different and it does not mean that it did not work for me so it will not work for you. There are many stories of people claiming is effectiveness.
Homeopathic treatments are becoming more popular due to people’s dissatisfaction with the conventional methods of treatment. Most homeopathic doctors do not know IC and after hearing you symptoms, they most probably will try to treat you for a urinary infection. You will have to explain that you have IC and not bacterial cystitis. I have used some ready made homeopathic remedies for my symptoms. My personal experience was not successful and I had to turn to herbal treatments.