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Gary Bellman, M.D., F.R.C.S.
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Natural Remedies For Overactive Bladder?

By: Dr. Gary Bellman on November 26, 2013, 12:37 pm

Overactive bladder, also known as urinary incontinence, occurs when your bladder is unable to properly store urine.  An overactive bladder causes a sudden urge to urinate and results in an involuntary loss of urine.  A variety of factors such as stretched or weak pelvic muscles, chronic  UTI's, bladder diseases, an enlarged prostate, diabetes or obesity can trigger an overactive bladder.

Herbs have long been used as botanical medicine and have been popular throughout Europe and Asia.  Here in the U.S., there has been growing interest in natural supplements that may help overactive bladder and urinary leakage.

The herbal supplements you've seen advertised on the internet or lining the shelves of your local pharmacy may claim they can relieve your overactive bladder with virtually no side effects; You might have wondered, do these herbal remedies really work for overactive bladder, or are they nothing more than marketing hype?

There is no substantial evidence to support 'all natural' herbal remedies, although few herbal remedies are formulated specifically for overactive bladder.  Most of the herbal preparations contain not one, but several different herbs combined. Incorporating a variety of herbs is thought to have a synergistic effect possibly addressing a urinary problem from several different areas.

Here are some of the most commonly used herbal remedies for overactive bladder, and how some experts think they work:

Gosha-jinki-gan: One of the best-studied herbal remedies for bladder problems is gosha-jinki-gan, which is made from a combination of several different herbs.  A couple of small studies out of Japan found that gosha-jinki-gan improved urinary urgency, frequency, nighttime urination, and quality of life in both men and women with overactive bladder.  Based on animal studies, researchers believe this herbal supplement increases bladder capacity and reduces the number of bladder contractions via its effects on the nervous system.

Saw palmetto: Several studies have focused on saw palmetto for urinary symptoms, particularly in men who have an enlarged prostate gland.  Doctors aren't exactly sure how saw palmetto works, but they say its benefits might have something to do with its ability to fight inflammation, as well as its effects on testosterone levels (which affect prostate growth).

Bromelain is an enzyme found in the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus).  It is revered for its anti-inflammatory abilities.  Since urine leakage is often related to bladder inflammation, proponents say Bromelain may have a positive effect on the inflammation.

Buchu (Barosma betulina): South American herb prescribed by herbalists to treat recurring urinary tract infections and support overall bladder health.  Buchu is said to have a soothing diuretic that also has mild antiseptic properties.  Known to have an antibacterial effect, Buchu may also help with prevent bladder inflammation.

Cleavers (Galium aparine):  A wildflower with small hooks on its stems, leaves and seeds that attach to anything that comes in contact with the plant.  It can have a diuretic effect that may also reduce bladder inflammation and protect the bladder wall against irritation.

Cornsilk (Zea Mays) are hair-like threads found atop ears of corn and beneath cornhusks. High in flavonoids, it can be an effective solution for women who get frequent urinary infections. Cornsilk reduces inflammation and can reduce the accompanying urge to urinate.  May also have a soothing effect on the urinary tract.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense): Also known as bottlebrush, is a natural diuretic with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been used by herbalists to treat a variety of urinary, bladder and kidney problems and is touted for its tissue-healing properties.

Pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) has been the subject of significant clinical investigation for the treatment of urinary incontinence and is considered the natural 'treatment of choice' for overactive bladder.  The research points to the seed’s fatty acids and phytosterol compounds that help maintain hormonal balance and support healthy bladder strength.

The FDA doesn't regulate herbal remedies like it does traditional medications. There can be fluctuations in what's in them from batch to batch or even from pill to pill, and the ingredients listed on the label aren't always accurate indicators of what you'll find inside the bottle.  So before taking any supplement, it is always best to speak with your doctor first before starting a regimen.

Dr. Gary C. Bellman can treat both men and women with urinary symptoms.  If you or a loved one needs to seek medical attention for this matter, please schedule an appointment, and Dr. Bellman will be able to provide you with the best knowledgeable care you deserve.

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West Hills, CA 91307
818.912.9500

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Thousand Oaks, Ca 91361
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