Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that causes frequent, urgent, and painful urination often with pelvic discomfort. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), IC affects about 700,000 people in the United States, 90% of whom are women. IC can often manifest with associated conditions, including allergies, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, painful genitals (vulvodynia), and endometriosis. Autoimmune disorders are also often associated with IC. Overactive immune cells are commonly found in these patients, which lead to increased production of inflammatory agents, causing pain. The precise cause and mechanism of IC are still unknown, and conventional treatments often give little or no relief to patients who are suffering from it. However, IC is treatable and many patients can find relief with individualized treatments and lifestyle changes.
Sara’s Story (name changed for privacy)
Sara had been suffering from IC for over 10 years when she came to Tao of Wellness. She experienced recurrent episodes of pelvic discomfort, frequent and urgent urination as well as fatigue, allergies, eczema, anxiety, neck and shoulder pain. She had been taking a prescribed medication for her IC symptoms; however, she discontinued it after suffering from its side effects. She began her weekly acupuncture and daily herbal therapy at Tao of Wellness and immediately began feeling better with her IC symptoms, allergies, eczema, shoulder and neck pain. As her stress level, sleep pattern, and diet fluctuated, her IC symptoms also fluctuated during the course of her treatments. With careful monitoring, fine adjustment of treatments, and lifestyle modification, Sara has been able to gain comfort and be symptom-free from her IC. Currently, Sara is in a maintenance phase of her treatment at the Tao of Wellness.
It is important to avoid foods that irritate the sensitive lining of the bladder. These foods include alcohol, carbonated drinks, chocolate, coffee, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegar. Arylalkylamine-containing foods such as bananas, beer, cheese, mayonnaise, aspartame, nuts, onions, raisins, sour cream, wine, and yogurt can exacerbate IC symptoms as well. It is also important to avoid many preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings.
Treating IC with Chinese Medicine
Studies have found Chinese Medicine to be a beneficial treatment modality for IC. Acupuncture is effective for reducing pain and inflammatory responses by promoting endorphin production and helping to reduce pain-related neurochemicals. This effect further promotes relaxation of the body and the nervous system. Chinese herbal medicines such as rehmannia, dioscorea, gardenia, anemarrhea, rhubarb, cornus, morinda, cuscuta, and poria have been found helpful in alleviating IC-related symptoms.
IC and its flare-ups are debilitating for many patients. It is important to do activities that can promote relaxation and overall vitality, such as exercise and meditation.
Each person’s healing journey for IC is unique. At Tao of Wellness, we offer comprehensive, customized treatments including acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling, tai chi and chi gong sessions as well as massage and InfiniChi treatments. We are committed for each patient to reach optimal health and healing.