A urinary tract infection generally clears up after treatment and sometimes even on its own. But what if you got a UTI that wouldn't go away? In this post, Jaclyn gets vulnerable and talks about her interstitial cystitis treatment in hopes that if you've been suffering, you may get some relief, as she has. ~Emily
It might be interstitial cystitis
Also called painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis (IC) is characterized by bladder pain and frequency. It often feels like a UTI, but urine tests generally do not show infection.
Symptoms of IC include:
- Burning or other pain during urination
- Urinary frequency
- Pain in bladder or urethra
- Pain during sex
- Excessive nighttime urination
My story: when a UTI drags on for months… or years
My immune system was already suffering due to exhaustion (I had a newborn) when I indulged in a bunch of sugar for my birthday. I developed a UTI, which rapidly turned into a kidney infection and eventually, a UTI that never went away. Strangely, it didn't just feel like a UTI.
I had pain following urination; after using the bathroom, I constantly felt like I needed to sit down and go again.
Towards the end of that year, I passed a monster kidney stone (read about my experience and home remedies for kidney stones). I finally got a referral to a urologist, who suggested I go on antibiotics indefinitely. Still breastfeeding and concerned about my gut health, I refused long-term antibiotic use as my interstitial cystitis treatment.
Now, it's been almost two years since the initial UTI started. Urine tests no longer show an infection, but I still have symptoms. Symptoms of a UTI in the absence of infection is a hallmark of IC.
How my interstitial cystitis treatment can help you
Conventional interstitial cystitis treatment doesn't offer many options, other than antidepressants (one suggestion from my urologist) and a very expensive, often useless drug called Elmiron.
Although most conventional doctors will tell you that IC is not caused by an infection, holistic-minded doctors believe that there's a link to infection. This infection could be due to multiple pathogens hiding under biofilm, a slimy layer that protects microbes.
A test called a “broth” or “extended” culture may show bacterial infection, while a typical quick urine test in the doctor's office may not. Finding an interstitial cystitis treatment that works can be tough because the symptoms of IC may be caused by bacteria that doctors don't typically look for. Some bacteria can be difficult to test for, such as mycoplasma (tiny, parasitic bacteria) or Lyme disease (IC is often one of the first symptoms of Lyme).
I've treated my IC symptoms as an infection and I feel better. If you're looking for a holistic interstitial cystitis treatment:
#1 – Eliminate sugar
I realized pretty early on that sugar made my symptoms much worse, so I avoided it for the most part. Once I got serious about eliminating sugar, my pain went from almost a constant 7 or 8 to a 5 or 6. This is for two reasons:
- Sugar makes the urine acidic
- Sugar feeds bacteria and other pathogens
When I did the GAPS intro diet, eliminating fruit and starches, my pain went down to a 4 or 5. I also stopped having to wake up through the night to use the bathroom. More progress!
#2 – Take supplements to get rid of hidden infection
Following the GAPS intro diet and eliminating sugar helped to reduce inflammation and starve pathogens, but I also needed to treat the underlying infection. After reading about a few women whose interstitial cystitis treatment included long-term antibiotic use, I chose to use natural antibiotics like:
- Humic monolaurin – Made from lauric acid, which is found in coconut products and breast milk, monolaurin is effective against bacteria, viruses, and even candida. Get it here.
- Oregano spirits and olive leaf extract – Two of nature's most potent antibiotics, these extracts are effective against a host of infections. Get oregano spirits here and olive leaf extract here.
- Nano particle colloidal silver – Because this silver is suspended into nano-particles, your body is able to rapidly absorb and use it. This is the strongest, most effective colloidal silver I've ever used, and it's had the greatest impact on my symptoms. Get it here.
- Biofilm buster – Contains enzymes which break down biofilm. Get it here.
I take the biofilm buster about an hour before taking one of the natural antibiotics. I find that I have the most luck if I change up my protocol about once every three weeks: I'll take monolaurin for a few weeks, then oregano and olive leaf extracts, and then colloidal silver.
#3 – Support your pelvic floor
After having four babies, I knew my pelvic floor muscles were not as strong as they should be. I also suspected my bladder was not emptying completely, resulting in retained urine and pain after urination. I expected to learn that my pelvic floor muscles were weak, but part of my interstitial cystitis treatment was learning that my pelvic floor muscles were tensing up, rather than relaxing as they should.
Did you know that muscle spasms may account for IC pain?
My physical therapist also has access to a biofeedback machine and taught me about double voiding. Double voiding is when you urinate, wipe, get up and take a few steps, then return to the toilet and repeat. This ensures complete bladder emptying.
A holistic approach to an embarrassing problem
Truthfully, this is the first time I've ever written about this problem that I've suffered from for nearly two years. Finding an interstitial cystitis treatment that works is not exactly a main-stream topic. But it's estimated that up to 12 million people in the United States have IC, so we should talk more about it.
A holistic interstitial cystitis treatment is multifaceted and involves several body systems. By healing my gut, addressing the underlying infections, and beginning to heal my pelvic floor through physical therapy, I have taken my pain down to a 2 or 3 and eliminated my worst symptom: the pain and urge following urination.
Slowly but surely, I'm getting my life back. I'm confident that continuing these interstitial cystitis treatments, I will be IC-free!
Have you had success with any of these or another interstitial cystitis treatment?
When Jaclyn became a mom more than eight years ago, health food was the last thing on her mind, but when her son began to struggle with behavioral disorders, she dove in headfirst to begin learning about how to live and eat naturally. Since switching to a paleo diet and doing the GAPS diet, her children have been healed of behavioral disorders, eczema, and digestive problems, and her own thyroid disorder has been healed. Today, she blogs about raising her four boys to be happy and healthy at The Family That Heals Together.