Do herbal remedies work for an over active bladder?

If you’re thinking about exploring herbal remedies for an overactive bladder problem (or any other medical problem) it’s important to remember 4 things.

  1. The first is that herbal remedies don’t undergo the same rigorous high standards of testing that medical drugs have.  They do however, often come with many years of experience where people have said that they have worked for certain complaints (what scientists call ‘anecdotal evidence’).  This point may change in the future as traditional medical organisations such as the National Institutes of Health recognise herbal remedies’ value in treatment of some disorders.
  2. The second is that where medical drugs have strict rules about what ingredients are included, herbal drugs generally don’t.  So it’s very important to buy herbal remedies from a reliable and reputable source and with the right naturopathic advice.  This way you can be sure you’re getting the right strength of the right herb and not a cheap or corrupt substitute.
  3. The third thing to remember is that herbal remedies can be just as toxic as medical drugs if taken by the wrong person and in the wrong doses.  There are as many poisons in nature as there are at the pharmacy.
  4. Finally, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the herbal remedies that you want to try, especially if you’re taking other medications.  Herbal and traditional meds can interact in the same way that some traditional meds are not recommended to be taken together.

In this article we’re going to look at 5 herbal remedies that have been recommended for an overactive bladder.

Barosma betulina, also called Buchu is a South African herbal remedy used to treat bladder problems.  It has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties and may work in a non-specific way in the urinary system to make it healthier.

Cornsilk is gathered from the hair-like threads of the corn stalk.  It’s said that the ancient Incas used cornsilk to treat urinary infections and it may have a soothing effect on the urinary tract.

Horsetail is a plant and a relative of the fern. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may also calm the urinary tract.  It has been used it to treat bladder stones, bladder infections and incontinence.

Cleavers is another soothing herb for the urinary tract, especially the bladder wall and therefore may protect it against the irritation that makes it over active.

Gosha jinki gan has been quite well studied for bladder problems.  It’s a combination of 10 different herbs, largely found in Japan and a couple of small Japanese studies showed an improvement in urgency and night time urination.

Saw palmetto is thought to be especially effective for men with an enlarged prostate who have urinary symptoms.  It’s another herb that’s thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.

A naturopathic doctor will often recommend a herb that targets the source of the problem rather than the symptom.  If it’s thought that inflammation is causing the bladder to be irritated then an anti-inflammatory will work best.  If oxidative stress is irritating the nerves feeding the bladder then an antioxidant may work better.  Examples of antioxidants are vitamins C and E and alpha lipolic acid.

If you’re worried about your symptoms or medical problem but don’t want to seek professional help because you feel embarrassed, silly or that it’s your fault, read this page now:  How to talk to a doctor about an embarrassing problem.

Elspeth Raisbeck

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