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Interstitial Cystitis - Your Natural Guide To Recovery

“Follow 8 Steps Below for Lasting Relief from a Painful Bladder”
Lifestyle image of woman feeling free of IC

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or "non-bacterial cystitis" is known as an immune system breakdown disorder because it typically appears when immunity has been compromised. In IC, the space between the bladder lining and the bladder muscle is chronically inflamed, leading to pain, sometimes severe. Cracks in the bladder wall allow urine to irritate bladder tissue, leading to a breakdown in the lining of the bladder.

Interstitial Cystitis is one of those mysterious chronic illnesses that many doctors don't really believe in. The reason being is that when patients get tested for urinary tract infections, more often than not, nothing turns up. Hence the name "non- bacterial cystitis".

There is no known cause and no known medical cure for Interstitial Cystitis. There are medical treatments and procedures, such as bladder instillations, hydrodistensions, and the pharmaceutical drug Elmiron, but they only work for a small percentage of people some of the time, and often have strong side effects.

Interstitial cystitis is considered to be an "immune system breakdown disorder" because it typically appears when immunity has been compromised. It often occurs in tandem with other immune system breakdown disorders, namely chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and vulvodynia.

In fact, IC patients are 100 times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome than the general population, and a large percentage suffer from the afore-mentioned disorders as well. This is not surprising, since a compromised immune system can and does affect many areas of the body.

Message from Andrea Nichols [Author of this website]

Andrea Nichols
Listen to message on IC
If you suffer from interstitial cystitis, my heart goes out to you. I know full well the sheer agony of endless days and nights of pain, not to mention the countless trips to the bathroom and the inability to lead anywhere near a normal life. My symptoms started in 1996, after the birth of my son. I had a relatively severe case of IC for approximately 6 years. Then in 2002 I read Catherine Simone's book "Along The Healing Path" and followed the protocol outlined below.

Today I am completely symptom-free. I can eat anything I want, and do anything I want, without discomfort or pain. So there is hope! What worked for me may be different than what works for you, but I believe you have the best shot at healing if you approach it from a natural, holistic perspective, with the idea of detoxifying the body and then rebuilding the immune system.

Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms

Interstitial cystitis symptoms typically appear when your immunity has been compromised. The space between the bladder lining and the bladder muscle becomes chronically inflamed, leading to pain, sometimes severe. Cracks in the bladder wall allow urine to irritate bladder tissue, leading to a breakdown in the lining of the bladder.

Do you suffer from :

  • pain in the bladder that intensifies as it fills and then goes away upon voiding, only to immediately return again;
  • breakdown of the bladder tissue, even when infection is not present;
  • extreme frequency of urination, often every few minutes;
  • blood in the urine;
  • digestive problems;
  • low grade fever;
  • recurrent vaginal yeast infections;
  • joint pain and swollen glands;
  • thyroid problems;
  • severe food allergies which trigger bladder pain;
If so, then follow the steps below to gain immediate and long-term relief!

8 Steps to Recovery and Long-term Bladder Health

  1. Read Catherine Simone's Book "Along the Healing Path"

  2. Identify Your Allergens & Eat the Right Foods for You

  3. Tackle Acute Pain for Immediate Relief

  4. Reduce Inflammation for Long-term Relief from Chronic Pain

  5. Rebuild the Lining of the Bladder

  6. Alkalize Your Body

  7. Detoxify Your Body of Heavy Metals and Chemicals

  8. Use Additional Supportive Products for Bladder Health

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Scroll below for details or click on the individual links above.

1. Read "Along the Healing Path - Recovering from Interstitial Cystitis"

This excellent book, written by Catherine M. Simone, is a must read for anyone with Interstitial Cystitis. I can honestly say, if it weren't for this book I would not be in the place I am today, which is completely symptom-free. Catherine Simone had a very severe case of IC, which she healed using the methods described in her book.

"Along The Healing Path" is a holistic perpective of interstitial cystitis with information on various alternative treatments, herbs, and natural products.

along the healing path

"Along The Healing Path" offers very helpful tips and vital information for IC sufferers “from one IC patient to another…”. You can check out Catherine Simone's other two books as well, To Wake in Tears, and Awakening Through the Tears by clicking here.

Customer Feedback

Leaf motif "Thank you for all the information you provide on your website. Just one month ago I received the book I ordered, "Along The Healing Path". I have read and re-read it, followed what it had to say, and am symptom free for almost a week now....

- Sincerely, Sharyn B., Long Beach, CA

Leaf motif "...I just wanted to let you know that I am well on my way to recovery. It's been about a year and a half and I am 90% better. I want to thank you for your encouragement.... The information that I've gained has helped tremendously, along with all the other measures I've taken. I'm living proof that you CAN get better!! Thank you for dedicating your career to helping women like me..."

- Theresa Carney, Sr. Financial Analyst, The University of Texas System
Phone: (512) 499-4272

Leaf motif "Your site is so informative. Using your info, I was able to recover completely from my IC bladder. Thank you!"

- Connie H., Mt. Pleasant, SC

2. Identify Your Allergies and Eat the Right Foods

The first thing I did and what I encourage you to do is identify the foods that are causing you problems and eliminate them from your diet. For many of you it will seem like this will be most foods, but it is imperative that you do this so that your body has a chance to rest and heal. I did it the "laymans" way, just by noting how I felt after eating each food.

You may choose to seek professional help in identifying your allergies, but the true test is still how you feel a few minutes to several hours after eating each particular food or supplement.

For information on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid, visit our page Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

Recommended: Try a Safe Acid Reducer

Acidic or spicy foods can often "trigger" bladder symptoms of IC. A calcium-based acid reducer can take the acid out of foods to make foods less acidic without affecting the taste. Consider it the same principle as taking the caffeine out of coffee or the lactose out of milk.

The studies and consensus are clear: Where IC symptoms are triggered by acid foods, studies confirm that nothing works on those foods as well as a safe acid reducer dietary supplement which is not a drug and has no side effects.

Unlike other antacids and proton-pump inhibitors, safe acid reducers don't affect your body's bacteria-killing protective stomach acid or your body's stomach acid pump.They simply takes the acid out of food, when and as you eat that food.

3. Relieve Acute Pain

The Emergency Way to Relieving Pain Fast!

If you are having a painful flare-up right now try this fast and effective tip:

Use Baking Soda
Baking Soda

Take one half of a teaspoon of baking soda and put it in a full glass of water. Stir, let sit a minute, and then drink it down. You can repeat this up to 4 times a day, not to exceed 2 teaspoons per day.

Baking soda is an extremely fast and effective way to alkalize your body. It works very quickly to relieve painful flare-ups.

You can use this tip when you are having painful flare-ups, however I would recommend the alkalizing supplements listed below for long term use, since doctors have not studied the long-term effects of consuming baking soda on a daily basis.

NEW! There are now aluminum-free baking sodas on the market which are ideal which are ideal for people with chronic health conditions because it does not contribute to the toxic heavy metal load on the body.

Take Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit Seed Extract is used internally as a natural antibiotic for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

NutriBiotic® Tablets contain Citricidal, which is a natural compound synthesized from the seed and pulp of certified organically grown grapefruit.

This process converts the grapefruit bioflavanoids (polyphenolics) into an extremely potent compound that has been proven highly effective for yeast infections like candida albicans, urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and gastro-intestinal issues.

Taking grapefruit seed extract in combination with baking soday seems to be extremely effective for reducing interstitial cystitis related flare-ups.

Try Proteolytic Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes is one supplement that is having tremendous results for inflammation and pain in all forms, but particularly for bacterial and non-bacterial cystitis.

Protelolytic enzymes digest non-living tissue, blood clots, arterial plaque and inflammation in all forms.

Besides reducing inflammation, one of the most profound benefits is the reduction of pain - physicians in Europe and Asia are using proteolytic enzymes as an alternative to aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDS.

4. Reduce Inflammation for Long-term Relief of Chronic Pain

For the long-term relief of painful flare-ups, you will likely need to take some additional measures. You may find that even when you eat completely "safe" foods, you may still get symptoms of burning and pain. This was also the case with me.

Research has shown that inflammatory conditions in the body are often a direct result of a deficiency of essential fatty acids. As a result, I started taking flax seed oil and fish oil capsules everyday.

Essential fatty acids are very important because they suppress the cytokines in the body that produce inflammation, especially interleuken-6 (IL-6).

You can try either flax or fish oil, but fish oil is recommended since a minority of people are unable to metabolize or break down the flax oil. You can try a fish oil which comes from the entire fish, or cod liver oil which is strictly from the liver. The disadvantage of cod liver oil is that the ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D can sometimes be too high, thereby deactivating the naturally occuring vitamin D which has so many health benefits.

It is best to take your fish oil one hour before bedtime, as the omega-3 fatty acids suppress cytokines that disturb sleep.

Try Quercetin

As another direct antidote to the pain of IC, I found that I was able to take a supplement combined quercetin with bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapples.

This seemed to help within a few hours, giving me several hours of relief at a time. But I had to keep taking it, because if I didn't the pain would come right back. Quercetin is a unique bioflavonoid derived from plant sources. In human cell culture studies, quercetin has been shown to inhibit histamine release. The bromelain enhances the effects of the quercetin, making it more bioavailable. Quercetin by itself without the bromelain is not as effective.

Some people find that the only way to relieve their pain is to take pain medication prescribed to them by their doctor. I say if it works for you in the short term, that's great. But these medications do nothing to heal the underlying cause of your condition, so it is best not to rely on them exclusively.

5. Rebuild the Lining of Your Bladder

In order to experience permanent relief from painful flare-ups and food sensitivities, you will need to do something to help repair the lining of your bladder.

I did not begin to experience long-term relief from my symptoms until I tried a supplement called bovine colostrum. This is one of the recommendations also found in Catherine Simone's book, "Along the Healing Path - Recovering from Interstitial Cystitis".

Information about Colostrum

Colostrum is the first food mothers produce for their young. It is packed with antibodies and immune factors, and also reduces inflammation. One of the most important things it did for me was that it slowly but surely relieved my severe food allergies.

It took about a year, but in that time my food allergies and chronically inflammed bladder were 90 percent improved. I started out by taking only one or two capsules a day, and by the end of that year was taking eight to ten capsules per day.

I feel strongly that colostrum was the supplement that was the most important in helping relieve my IC symptoms. In my opinion, I believe the colostrum is what healed the lining of my bladder as well, since colostrum has the documented ability to heal the lining of the digestive tract.

Today, I no longer need to take any quercetin or colostrum capsules, and I only take them if I feel like I am coming down with a cold or flu, or am fighting an infection.

According to the well-known naturopathic physician, Dr. Bernard Jensen, colostrum has a therapeutic role to play in heart health, blood sugar control, and immune health.

Bovine colostrum also has powerful antioxidant properties, helps reduce inflammation, and is a source of many vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids if it is unprocessed and in its original natural state.

Marshmallow Root Tea
Marshmallow Root Tea is an herb that is highly recommended by Catherine Simone, author of “Along the Healing Path”. It is believed that marshmallow root tea provides a soothing coating to the bladder because of the mucilage found in the plant.

Recent studies have demonstrated that there is a component in marshmallow root that does effect the lining of the bladder in a positive way.

Many thousands of people with bladder problems attest to the near miraculous effects of this healing herb. The one we carry is organic and contains 24 tea bags.

Scientific Name: Althaea officinali

Description: The herbal supplement is made from the dried root and the dried leaves combined as a tea.

Actions & Pharmacology: Marshmallow root relieves bladder and bowel irritation, functions as an anti-inflammatory, and soothes the lining of the bowel and bladder.

General Precautions: Marshmallow root tea is safe to use; some people may have an allergic reaction if they are sensitive to other herbs.

How Supplied: Marshmallow root is best prepared as a tea; it can be stored at room temperature and taken throughout the day.

Marshmallow Root Extract

As an alternative to the marshmallow root tea, you can try marshmallow root extract. We recommend one that is alcohol-free.

Alcohol-free extracts are produced using alcohol, water and natural extractants. All alcohol and extractants are then removed through an extraction process, yielding a standardized extract.

Liquid extracts are absorbed faster than tablets or capsules, and are more potent than tinctures.

6. Alkalize Your Body

I achieved a 90 percent reduction in my interstitial bladder symptoms over an 18 month period using colostrum, and I eliminated most, if not all of my food allergies.

However, I wa still experiencing mild periodic flare-ups. This frustrated me since it didn't seem to matter how much colostrum I took, I still would have periodic flare-ups approximately every 3 months for about 3 - 4 days. It seemed I had reached a plateau in my healing, and I wasn't sure what steps to take next.

I did some more research and learned that people with chronically inflamed bladders are considered to be very acidic. Acidic bodies are toxic bodies, and excess acidity also causes symptoms of pain. When you start to alkalize your body, either by eating an alkaline diet (which most people with interstitial bladder symptoms patients cannot do) or by taking alkalizing supplements, your body starts to come back into balance and your symptoms slowly but surely begin to recede.

Alkalizing your body definitely begins to eliminate some of the burning sensations associated with painful flare-ups. In a German study on people with chronically inflamed bladder, the researchers found a substantial reduction in inflammation and pain after 3 months of taking alkalizing supplements.

Try Alkalizing Supplements

There are different types of alkalizing supplements on the market. There are alkalizing booster drops that are designed to boost the pH value of any drinking water, changing it into healthy alkaline water. The drops contain a patented ratio of potassium and sodium hydroxides to maintain the proper mineral ratio in the body.

The recommended use is 2 drops in an 8-10 oz glass of water and drinking 5 glasses a day. Booster drops can be taken with tea, coffee and juice, but not with carbonated or dairy beverages.

Other effective alkalizing supplements come in capsule form and are usually contain a combination of sodium and potassium bicarbonate with alkalizing mineral salts.

Besides balancing an overly acidic pH, alkalizing supplements can also replace important minerals that have been leached out of the bones and body tissues to counteract over-acidity.

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Our Opinion and Recommendations About Alkalizing Supplements

People with a chronically inflammed bladder need to be very careful with what supplements they take into their bodies, since they are so very sensitive to many different agents including beneficial vitamins, minerals and other supplements.

With this in mind, the alkalizing supplement I recommend you try first are the booster drops. These drops are composed of simple mineral salts with no added ingredients, so they are very gentle and mild and not likely to adversely affect the sensitive bladder tissues..

The buffering capsules can be taken if you have milder bladder symptoms or are not as sensitive to various ingredients. They work faster at regulating your body's pH, but are typically a stronger formula. It may be beneficial to start with the booster drops and then add the buffering capsules after a few weeks to accelerate improvement.

7. Detoxify your Body of Heavy Metals and Chemicals

Eliminating your allergies, healing your "leaky gut syndrome" and alkalizing your body will go a long way in ensuring a return to health. Not only will colostrum and alkalizing products assist you in these areas, but they are also gentle cleansers and detoxifiers as well.

As I said before, sick, tired and hurting bodies are toxic bodies. In fact, if there is one thing that people with interstitial cystitis have in common, it is that they have a toxic body.

In fact, according to Catherine Simone, the author of "Along the Healing Path", people with interstitial bladder pain/inflammation have pretty much the epitome of a toxic body. The more severe the symptoms, the more toxic and sick the rest of the body.

The symptoms of a severely toxic body are exactly the same symptoms experienced by people with chronically inflamed bladders, including chemical sensitivities and allergies, inflamed and irritated mucous membranes, digestive disturbances, lowered immune system, and mysterious muscle and joint pain.

Catherine Simone states in no uncertain terms that until the toxins that are causing these symptoms in the first place are removed from the body, nothing else you do is really going to have a beneficial healing effect, since the same environment that caused the immune system breakdown is still present.

To put it bluntly, adding supplements and other healing agents to a toxic body is like putting good oil in a crappy engine - the supplements simply can't work as well and won't be nearly as effective. As some people with chronic diseases have found, healing supplements may seem to work for a short time and then stop working altogether.

In my opinion, this may be why some people who have had a chronically inflamed bladder for years and years seem to have very little improvement - all the good things they may be taking simply cannot work as well if the body environment is compromised.

So while I believe that taking colostrum and other supplements and using alkalizing products may definitely help over time for you like they did for me, I now firmly believe that detoxifying the body may further accelerate the healing process and reduce the time needed for healing.

Remember, it took me approximately one year to go from being extremely sick to having mild, intermittent symptoms with periodic flareups, and then another six months to having no symptoms at all. I had not been using any detoxifying products since I had a difficult time taking anything internally, even good things like vitamins and herbs.

Author's Story of Recovery From Interstitial Cystitis

As owner and founder of Evenbetternow, LLC, I [Andrea Nichols] wish to share my story with you so that you may know that I did indeed have the same or similar symptoms that you may be experiencing.

My interstitial cystitis started when I experienced symptoms of inflammation, burning and pain after eating certain foods, notably tomatoes, potatoes, green and red peppers (all members of the nightshade family). I had developed an allergy to these foods, and this is the way my symptoms manifested. It very quickly progressed to my becoming allergic to more and more foods, to the point where I was down to about 10 things I could eat.

All fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and dairy products were off limits. What I was left with was meat, eggs and some grains. Talk about acidic! It was a vicious cycle, with me becoming more and more sensitive and sicker and sicker, but since I was unable to take any fresh foods or even vitamins and supplements, the downward cycle continued.

I also suffered from frequent urination, extreme bladder achiness and pain, insomnia, and frequent vaginal yeast infections. In fact, my symptoms seemed to worsen when I had yeast infections, which was a lot. I could definitely see the correlation between the two. And while I did not have irritable or inflammatory bowel symptoms, or the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, I had struggled with both of these disorders several years prior to the onset of IC, so I knew there must be some connection.

The connection I later learned, was complete immune system burn out and dysfunction, which was causing symptoms to move around the various systems and organs throughout my body. Even as old disorders like irritable bowel symdrome disappeared, new ones, like interstitial cystitis, would appear.

Interstitial Cystitis is a painful, debilitating disease, but it can be overcome!  I am living proof, and so are many others.  If we can do it, then hopefully so can you.

I wish you much success on your healing journey!

Very best wishes,

Andrea Nichols

P.S. Due to time constraints, I'm no longer able to personally communicate with people about any information posted on this website. However, everything that I wished to share with you is written on this web page, and you can find more detailed information in Catherine Simone's book, Along the Healing Path.

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For information on Diet for Interstitial Cystitis, please click here.

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