I was recently contacted by a very nice young woman, who was diagnosed with IC and was obviously suffering tremendous pain. Having been there myself for many years in agony, I decided to write a post about the many tools I acquired over the years that really made a HUGE difference in my ability to control the pain, inflammation and urgency. They are all inexpensive, non-toxic household ingredients that can be used regularly to minimize the pain and support the immune system during the healing process. Part of controlling the pain is understanding that bladder health is linked to the health of our guts, genital health and thus connected to our whole body. Treating more than just the bladder is very beneficial in reducing the acidic pain and inflammation responsible for IC symptoms. In this article I will not be getting into dietary or over-all lifestyle suggestions but here’s a quick overview: as most of you know, the dietary basics are avoiding all processed foods, sugars, soft-drinks, alcohol, over-consumption of commercial meats (a small amount of organic pastured meat is okay-lamb is better than beef), all dairy unless raw organic and preferably goat-derived. I personally suggest avoiding toxic medications, drugs, negative thinking and over-exercising as well which depletes an already ill body. Adequate sleep (ideally 10 or more hours a night), proper hygiene, adequate (non-tap) water intake and deep breathing are all very essential as well. Generally this goes for healing from all diseases.
Please bear in mind that some of my pain-management methods may seem a little ‘weird and wonderful’ to some (you may even ask yourselves how on earth I thought to do some of these things or why I am publicizing it?!), but when you are deep in the misery of a nasty ‘flare-up’, most of us are desperate enough to place our hands in dog poo if it promised relief, and don’t lie to yourself…you would so do it!! I truly hope that some, or all of these methods are able to help bring you the tremendous comfort they did for me. Don’t forget to always drink a lot of water, dehydration and concentrated urine creates unbearable pain!! So here goes:
1- The first thing I recommend to EVERYONE who has IC (or any disease, especially cancer and any disease ending with ‘itis’!) is to immediately begin taking organic turmeric every day, 3 times per day if you can. You have the option of using organic (so it’s not irradiated as conventional spices are) turmeric powder from a health store, or if you can find fresh raw turmeric root (it looks like ginger) and eat it fresh with meals or juice it with veggie juices. Personally I find it easiest to use the powder, 1/2-1 tsp. in lots of water first thing in the morning and 2 other times in the day, between meals. This beautiful golden powder possesses a powerful ability to neutralize free radicals and toxins in the body by supplying abundant anti-oxidants as well as having the unparalleled ability to squelch inflammation and is a naturally strong analgesic (pain-reliever). Who ever needs aspirin?! This traditional Ayurvedic/Indian herb is the perfect IC-pain tool and also supports the natural healing process of the body long-term. It can be taken indefinitely, as long as you are not allergic of course!
2- Natural Baking soda WITHOUT ALUMINUM. Please consider that this particular tool is for short-term, temporary use ONLY and should not be taken internally for a prolonged period of time in large amounts. Also over-consumption of this substance can be very dangerous to the body, please use only in the amounts suggested. To immediately help with the fire-burning pain of IC or any UTI, I like to use 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, with a bit of fresh lemon juice in a large glass of water on an empty stomach, 1-3 times a day during bad flare ups. This glorious, pristinely alkaline substance neutralizes acids in our urine; inhibiting pathogenic overgrowths which contribute to many IC attacks. It is a wonderful tool to very quickly alkalize the body and urine, removing the assaultive acid on your raw tender bladder. The lemon juice helps with the taste and adds minerals.
3- Garlic. There are a few wonderful things you can do with these precious bulbs! I recommend eating as much garlic as you can, raw is best. I love to juice a bud with my veggie juices and put raw garlic in all of my salad dressings or sprinkled on soups, to marinate meats and so on. This gorgeous seasoning not only tastes awesome (and you can invite your friends to share the meal so they are not repulsed by your rank-garlic breath!), but it is the most potent natural antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-parasite, anti-yeast food there is. Allicin in garlic literally destroys almost all types of pathogens in the gut and bloodstream, making the body inhospitable to unwanted invaders. In addition to being a notable anti-inflammatory and possessing the ability to dissolve arterial and cellular plaque, aiding in circulatory and cardiovascular health as well. “And the nobel Prize goes to…”
Another wonderful garlic tool that has literally SAVED me from the depths of my bladder-anguish, is to use a whole garlic clove as a vaginal suppository during severe flare-ups. Okay, I know this sounds wacky as hell (and not so dead-sexy), but please hear me out, as this can make the WORLD of difference! Contrary to popular understanding, most cases of IC are caused by pathogenic infections, in combination with malnutrition, toxicity, over acidity and poor energy flow within the body (homeostatic imbalance). The reason Doctors do not find an infection in your bladder with IC when they test you is because most modern tests are only able to detect a bacterial presence. Well guess what?! The most common infections in the body are not bacterial ones. Most of us are loaded with nasty microscopic parasites and worms that lay eggs in mucous membranes all over our bodies; particularly our genito-urinary systems (hello Bladder! and genitals-FUN) and our respiratory systems and guts (hence why we have such an outbreak of Inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis, IBS and Crohn’s, as well as such an epidemic of Asthma and sinusitis!) these nasty critters also carry viruses into our bodies that are tiny and opportunistic as well, passing in and out of our cells, laying dormant until our bodies are depleted enough for them to come out and play. These organisms cause systemic infections in bodies that are low in vitality- hence all of us with IC! This is not to mention Candida and other destructive pathogenic yeasts that overgrow abundantly in bodies that have had their immunity compromised with the use of alcohol, antibiotics, birth control pills and nasty processed, sugar and chemical-laden diets as well as through negative thinking. If you do not believe me, ask your Doctor to run a bladder infection test for your IC and ask them to test for the presence of white blood cells in your urine. Most cases will show increased white blood cell activity in the bladder (even without bacteria); which does not exist in a healthy bladder. White blood cells are an immune response to INFECTIONS!! This also explains why most people with IC also have regularly or have had at least one vaginal bacterial or yeast vaginal as well and why IC has all of the same symptoms as a regular bacterial urinary tract infection, only worse. This is where garlic can help:
What you do: Basically you take a peeled medium sized garlic clove, using a knife to cut few shallow slits into it in several locations, lube it up with coconut oil (be generous so that insertion is easy) and insert it the way you would a tampon with no applicator. You do this whenever you have bad IC flare ups, or overnight if you have bacterial or yeast infections (5 nights in a row). DO NOT FORGET TO GO GET IT OUT THE NEXT MORNING OR AFTER SEVERAL HOURS- it does not dissolve. It will not harm you if you forget it for 24 hours or less so do not panic, but more than that it can cause some non-serious vaginal irritation- still no need to panic. To make removal easy, you can always use a needle and long piece of thread to pass through the center of the clove before you insert it, this will leave a string out so you can remove it easily and externally. Whatever floats your boat!
What this does: This works to ease inflammation of the urethra and sanitizes the internal and external genitals, which reduces irritating microscopic substances that may be hanging around the base of your urethra, or heading up into the bladder via the urethra and adding to your pain. The garlic also gets absorbed through the vaginal wall into the blood stream where it fights full body pathogenic activity and boosts your immune system, as well as contributing to over-all vaginal health. Although it is NOT a form of birth control and does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, this can be a great tool for women to use after sex, to ensure that no dormant ineffective organisms are passed to you from your partner. He or she may not have symptoms from these organisms, as they’re bodies are stronger than yours, but these organisms may contribute to infection in YOU if you are already compromised as is the case with those with IC.
4- Extra virgin organic coconut oil: This oil has the similar activity to garlic and can be used as a vaginal cream, a sexual lube to destroy ineffective substances and can be taken internally daily to destroy pathogenic activity in the body. If you take a small bit and freeze it for 30 minutes, you can then insert this vaginally and as it melts it will coat the vaginal wall and destroy pathogens and soothe inflammation, as well as cleaning the urethral area. This brings near-instant relief for many IC sufferers and is a natural and wonderful alternative to chemical lubes.
5- Ginger, oil of oregano, and Apple Cider Vinegar- Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory, digestive aid and gut-soother, it helps immunity and strengthens resistance to systemic infections. Oil of oregano is a yeast-buster and helps destroy parasites in the body as well, a great tool for any person struggling with ineffective diseases like IC. Apple cider vinegar can be added to bathwater to help with urinary pain and can be taken internally (1tsp-tbsp, 30 minutes before meals in water, 3 times/day). This increases stomach acid, which helps with digestion and balances gut pH which helps destroy unwanted materials and organisms in the food we eat or that already live inside us. It can also be used as a great facial toner!
These are my best tools for helping immediately soothe IC pain. Although I am a Naturopath, an IC survivor and through my own experience, marvel at the power of natural healing, I cannot tell anyone what to do during their individual healing journeys. I simply ask that you use your gut instinct and logic to determine what is best for your particular situation. Please consider that before the last 100 years, all Doctors used natural methods for healing, as chemical drugs and synthetic meds did not exist. With the exception of poor living sanitation, many people were healed using natural methods, or our species would not have survived and we would not be here today. The body is NEVER sick because it is deficient in synthetic chemicals or meds, therefore an insufficiency in modern medicine is not the ROOT cause of your illness and therefore not a cure either. No disease is truly eliminated if the root cause of the damage, depletion and thus dis-ease is not addressed.