Natural remedies for an overactive bladder

An overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition where you are not able to hold urine in your bladder due to involuntary bladder muscle contractions.  It causes a frequent, sudden and difficult-to-control urge to pass urine, which may lead to unintentional loss of urine. You may also feel the urge to pass urine 8 or more times in 24 hours.

With an overactive bladder, the first-line treatment is usually behavioral and lifestyle changes. But if the condition remains troublesome even with the changes, further treatment may include medications, bladder injections, nerve stimulation, percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS), or surgery. 

So what are the natural remedies for an overactive bladder?

  1. Eliminating bladder irritants

Symptoms of an overactive bladder can be relieved by avoiding foods and drinks known to irritate the bladder. 

Common culprits include alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, citrus fruits and juices, and chocolate. Other foods and drinks to avoid or reduce are sodas and fizzy drinks, cranberry juice, corn syrup, tomatoes, sugar, honey, vinegar, dairy, and spicy foods.

Since irritation from foods and drinks vary from person to person, you can benefit by keeping a diary of what you take and the associated bladder symptoms. A diary can help you work out which foods are causing you problems.

  1. Making lifestyle changes 

Quitting smoking can remedy an overactive bladder. That’s because smoking tends to make the symptoms of the condition worse, while the coughing fits associated with smoking tend to increase OAB-associated leakage of urine

Another change that can improve an overactive bladder is withdrawal of medications contributing to the problem. For instance, diuretics, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, sedatives, narcotics, and alpha-adrenergic antagonists worsen OAB symptoms. So if you’re taking any medications you suspect to be behind the problem, speak with your doctor about alternatives. 

Also, losing weight can reduce the pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles, and improve your bladder control.

  1. Using bladder control techniques

There are a number of bladder control techniques you can apply, including scheduled urination, delayed urination, and double-void technique. 

    • Scheduled urination

By scheduled urination, you keep a diary of your urinary habits, such as bathroom visits, any leakages, and urgency symptoms. Based on the patterns in your diary, you start scheduled bathroom trips aimed at adding at least 15 minutes to your normal urination times. 

For example, if you pass urine every 60 minutes, you change this and schedule your bathroom breaks for every 75 minutes. Then you stick to these scheduled visits regardless of whether you feel the urge to pass urine or not. After that, you gradually increase the time interval between your bathroom visits 

    • Delayed urination

Delayed urination means every time you feel the urge to go, you try to delay by some minutes, if possible, usually by at least 5 minutes. You can use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing to help delay. The aim is to gradually increase the delay time until you have achieved a 3-4 hour gap between your bathroom visits.

    • Double voiding

Double voiding technique is useful if you feel your bladder does not empty fully. It is also worthwhile to double void before bedtime. 

To do so, you sit in the toilet, lean slightly forward, rest your hands on your knees or thighs, and urinate as normal. Then you remain in the toilet and wait for another 30 seconds, leaning slightly further forward to urinate once more.

  1. Doing kegel exercises

Kegels involve strengthening exercises on the pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles that help to control urine flow. To locate your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop urine flow midstream. If you succeed, it means you have located the muscles.

Now, practice squeezing these muscles for 10 seconds and relaxing for 3 seconds, repeating the pattern 10 times. Then try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily. Deep breathe to make the process easier.

  1. Managing your fluid intake

Drinking plenty of water is essential for your health, and you shouldn’t stop because of an overactive bladder. 

That’s because taking too little water allows your urine to be more concentrated, which may irritate your bladder lining and increase urgency. But excess fluid intake may also make frequency symptoms worse, such as fluid intake before bed contributing to urinating during the night.  

Make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily, but to avoid liquid intake 2-3 hours before going to bed.

  1. Using herbs and supplements

There are a number of herbs and supplements that are effective in treating an overactive bladder. Speak with your urologist about these options for recommendations, but don’t use them without your doctor’s advice. 

Effective herbs and supplements include:

  1. Gosha-jinki-gan

This is a blend of 10 traditional herbs that help with overactive bladder by increasing the bladder’s capacity and lowering bladder contractions. It reduces frequency, urgency, and nighttime urination in people with the condition. 

  1. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is an extract from chili peppers. It works by blocking signals from the nerves in the bladder and ensures the bladder holds urine longer. Plus, it helps to manage pelvic pain syndrome, of which overactive bladder is usually a symptom.

  1. Pumpkin seed extract

The extract is effective in improving pelvic floor health. It helps to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and enhances control of muscles involved in passing urine.

  1. Magnesium hydroxide

Magnesium helps maintain normal blood pressure, reduces muscles spasms, and allows the bladder to empty fully. As an alternative to magnesium hydroxide, you can add magnesium rich foods, like bananas, kale, pumpkin seeds, and cashews to your diet if your doctor deems it safe.

  1. Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto has been tested in men with an enlarged prostate, where it has demonstrated efficacy in treating the condition as well as relieving bladder control symptoms. Hence, using it helps improve bladder issues associated with OAB.

  1. Resiniferatoxin

This is a chemical derived from a cactus-like plant. It is effective in blocking signals from the bladder nerves to the brain; hence, reducing the strength of the urge to pass urine, allows the bladder to hold urine longer, and relieves symptoms of an overactive bladder.

  1. Vitamin D

Increased intake of vitamin D lowers the risk of pelvic floor disorders, such as bladder leakage, especially in women. For older adults, more vitamin D in the diet or as a supplement effectively prevents bladder leakage.

  1. Bromelain

This is an enzyme found in pineapple plant. It has powerful anti-inflammatory abilities and prevents bladder irritation. Therefore, it has a positive effect on those with an overactive bladder.

  1. Cornsilk

Cornsilk refers to the hair-like threads found on top of the ears of corn and beneath cornhusks. It is rich in flavonoids and is helpful in relieving bladder control symptoms by reducing inflammation and protecting the bladder wall against irritation.

  1. Cleavers

This is a wild flower with tiny hooks on its stems, seeds, and leaves. It reduces bladder inflammation and protects the bladder wall from irritation.

At Advanced Urology Institute, we are known for our comprehensive, accurate diagnosis and tailored approach to treating urological disorders. With an overactive bladder, we make sure to establish the underlying cause, whether weak or stretched pelvic floor muscles, an enlarged prostate, chronic UTI, obesity, diabetes, or a nerve problem. 

Then, as first-line treatment, we often recommend natural remedies such as behavioral, lifestyle and dietary changes. For a more bothersome and persistent overactive bladder, we offer a variety of surgical and non-surgical interventions.

For more information on an overactive bladder and other urological disorders, visit the site “Advanced Urology Institute.”