Interstitial Cystitis

If your doctor suspects that you have a damaged bladder wall (chemical irritation, ketamine cystitis, etc.) products that are calming, soothing and support the health of the bladder wall will be a priority.  The key ingredient to look for is chondroitin which has been found in research studies to help restore the surface integrity and recovery of the bladder wall.(1) 

Key Patient Education Tips

The bladder wall has three key layers: an outer mucosal (GAG) layer that provides protection, several layers of urothelial cells and, at the deepest level, blood vessels, nerves, mast cells and the smooth muscle of the bladder wall. The bladder wall can be injured, often by chemical exposure (chemotherapy, acidic drinks, foods, etc.). The injured area then allows urine to penetrate deeply into the bladder tissue where it will trigger irritation and/or pain. No therapy (alternative or traditional) will force the bladder to heal. It takes time, patience, determination, a wilingness to protect your bladder and follow the diet, and so forth. 

Drinking water is essential to bladder health. Water dilutes urine, thus reducing the potential irritation that the chemicals in urine can cause. Dehydration causes urine to become more irritating. Some patients, however, stop drinking water in a mistaken attempt to reduce frequency. This actually makes urine more concentrated and potentially irritating. 


Diet modification is essential. Foods high in acid and caffeine can trigger more pain and discomfort and should be avoided until the bladder calms down. Your goal is to create an environment that will support healing of the urinary tract. This means modifying your diet to reduce any foods that are caustic and irritating, such as coffees, teas, sodas, cranberry, etc. And not just for a week. Because the bladder heals quite slowly, diet modification may be necessary for several months or longer. 

Nutraceutical Options

The American Urology Association suggests that patients try OTC nutraceuticals in Step One of their Guidelines for IC/BPS. Here are some options that you can consider: 


AloePathBladder BuilderBladder Rest
ALOEPATH® - For a soothing and pain reducing effect

BLADDER REST® - For a simple chondroitin based protective effect

BLADDER BUILDER® - Our most comprehensive formula provides a coating, soothing, pain reduction and biome support

PEAORA® - For chronic pain relief

Prelief® - To reduce acid in some foods. 

CystoProtek® - For a coating effect with chondroitin and hyaluronate.

CystoRenew® - Combines a coating effect of chondroitin with the soothing effects of aloe and lemon balm.

*It's not unusual for some to have sensitivities to various ingredients. Please review the label carefully for any known allergens. We suggest starting small. Try one capsule and see how your body handles it. If you feel good, try one a day for a week and again assess. If you are doing well, you can gradually increase to the manufacturers recommended dosages. Of course, if you struggle with any side effects, stop the supplement and talk with your physician.

Recommended Reading



Breaking Through Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Holistic Approach for Relief by Dr. Jerome Weiss - An outstanding book the explains how pelvic floor muscles and dysfunction can lead to IC, vulvodynia and prostatitis symptoms. This is a critical book for patients to read and will help them have more productive discussions with their clinicians and work, if necessary, with physical therapists. 

The Interstitial Cystitis Solution by Nicole Cozean DPT - This is the first book that discusses, in depth, the relationship between the bladder and the pelvic floor. 

ICN Guide To Managing Flares by Jill Osborne MA - This will give you practical, easy tips that you can use to manage and prevent the most common IC flares, including new hour by hour customized "rescue plans" that you can use to control your symptoms and, we hope, reduce the length of your flares. If you're uncertain about what a flare is or what you can do to manage and prevent them, this guide is a must read!


The IC Diet



The IC Chef Cookbook by Jill Osborne MA - This book is more than a cookbook. It's a primer on the IC diet as well with easy to read sections explaining why food can irritate the bladder, and the most irritating foods to avoid. It includes the full IC Food List along with articles on Fighting Constipation, Fatigue Fighting Foods, Foods and Chemicals and more. We hope that it gives you some great new ideas and fresh flavors to play with. The book is appropriate for patients struggling with bladder and prostate disorders as well as acid sensitivity.

ICN Guide to the IC Diet by Jill Osborne MA - This will guide you through the necessary basics for the IC diet, the IC food lists with articles that discuss IC friendly foods, beverages, elimination diets, wines and more! 


Confident Choices: A Cookbook for IC and OAB by Julie Beyer RD - This book walks the novice patient through essential IC diet basics in a style that is simple, easy to understand and inherently practical. It'’s a perfect resource for patients who are afraid to eat for fear of causing an IC flare. The section on “rescue menus” alone will be greatly appreciated by patients currently struggling with a sensitive bladder.

Confident Choices: Customizing The IC Diet by Julie Beyer RD - A fabulous, easy to read guide for patients and medical care providers who want the IC diet basics. It includes fifteen chapters that cover a variety of topics including flare foods, discovering your trigger foods, planning meals, ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, some IC friendly recipes, dietary supplements, exercise & fitness and IC diet success stories.

Prelief® acts to reduce acid when eating acidic foods and beverages (coffees, teas, citrus, pasta, etc.).


Wellness Coaching

If you are newly diagnosed and/or struggling to determine what could be causing your symptoms, you might benefit from personal coaching from one of our IC coaches. ICN Founder & National IC Support Group Leader Jill Heidi Osborne MA can help you understand tests, treatments, how to prevent and/or manage flares and so much more. Julie Beyer RD is happy to work with you on diet and nutrition! We are here and we care! 




Low Acid Beverages & Foods

The ICN carries a variety of beverages (low acid coffees, white chocolate, herbal teas) and foods (low acid jams, carob candies) that are quite bladder friendly! 




Become an ICN Member and receive our magazine the IC Optimist!

The best way for an IC patient to stay informed of the latest developments, research news, consumer reports and treatment breakthroughts is to become an ICN Member so that you can read our quarterly patient magazine, the IC Optimist! Learn more about our memberships here! 


Reference: 

1. Rozenberg BB, et al. IMPROVING THE BARRIER FUNCTION OF DAMAGED CULTURED UROTHELIUM USING CHONDROITIN SULFATE. Neurourol Urodyn. 2019 Nov 27.

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