The Truth About Interstitial Cystitis
Have you been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC)? Were you given little hope and then received a pat on the back as you left your doctor’s office with a life sentence and options that consisted only of symptom management?
For ten long years, conventional medicine failed me as multiple doctors told me that my condition could not be reversed and that managing my symptoms with harsh medications was my only option. They were wrong! The truth about interstitial cystitis is that it can be reversed or at minimum symptoms can be significantly reduced; and I will tell you how.
First, let’s talk about what IC is and then jump into what may be causing it. The truth is that if you can get to the root causes of your IC, then you can come up with a plan to tackle it head-on and get your life back.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder syndrome (PBS), is a bladder disorder that is characterized by chronic bladder pain, bladder pressure, bladder spasms, discomfort, lower back pain, pain in the abdomen, pain as the bladder fills, the frequent need to urinate (some report urinating upwards of forty to sixty times a day) but with little voidance, pelvic pain, and Hunner’s ulcers (which affects five percent of IC patients), with symptoms that last longer than six months. IC sufferers often experience increased pain during exercise, in seasons of stress, and even while carrying out routine activities. They may also suffer from pain during and or after intercourse, including pain in the urethra as well as the vulva and/or vagina (women), or the penis, scrotum, and/or testicles (men).
IC pain can range from dull to sharp and may be either chronic or sporadic, with extreme bouts of pain (flare-ups) lasting anywhere from a few hours to upwards of ten days or more. Due to damage in the bladder lining, bladder scarring is not uncommon with IC. This scarring can lead to stiffening and shrinkage of the bladder, which decreases its ability to store normal amounts of urine. Poor diet, hormone imbalance, stress, anxiety, infections, and physical activity can all act as triggers or worsen IC symptoms.
IC affects the lives of millions but is most common in women, with an average onset age of forty, though many have experienced symptoms since childhood. Those with IC often suffer from other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), candida overgrowth, prostatitis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and vulvodynia. The exact reasoning behind their association is multifaceted, and conventional medicine has struggled to explain the correlation.
What causes IC?
The exact cause of IC is still unknown, but may include physical trauma to the bladder, a genetic predisposition, allergies, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), food allergies and/or sensitivities, sensitivity to certain environmental factors, intestinal permeability, neurological damage, hyperthyroidism, adrenal fatigue, infectious microorganisms, neurogenic inflammation, pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), toxicity, liver dysfunction, and bladder mastocytosis.
Given that the human body is complex and internally integrated, it is likely that multiple underlying factors are at work in creating what may be the “perfect storm.” This makes IC a difficult condition to treat when viewing bladder dysfunction in isolation. I do agree with some medical professionals that have acknowledged that the syndrome may be an autoimmune condition. It may be due to the fact that T lymphocytes and mast cells can primarily infiltrate the bladder wall. Many patients with IC have autoantibodies and systemic diseases that are associated with IC.
The root issue is often chronic inflammation
Inflammation is the precursor to most disease with chronic inflammation playing a central role in a number of them including interstitial cystitis, arthritis, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s and many more. Inflammation is part of our body’s immune response, and its purpose is to defend us against pathogens. Unlike acute inflammation which resolves within a few days (such as the flu), chronic inflammation can persist for months or even years due to an inability to eradicate the offender. Unfortunately, this may result in organ damage and can be extremely taxing on a number of systems.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
- Joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Hormone imbalance
- Frequent colds and infections
- Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
How to address IC head-on
If you want to begin reducing your IC symptoms, you will need to address the root cause of your inflammation which will stop your immune system’s attack on your bladder and other tissues. This is where diet and lifestyle changes are key! You will need to detox, repair your gut, personalize your diet, reduce your toxic burden, heal any infections that you might have, and finally relieve your stress.
Healing your gut is a must. Leaky gut is likely to blame for most of your health issues. Why is the condition of your gut so critical to your health? Because eighty percent of the body’s immune system is located in the gut. As such, a healthy gut equals a strong immune system. The gut is often the first point of entry for toxins; it’s vital that it is in good condition so that it acts as a barrier to prevent disease. Should its complex network of cells, proteins, tissues, and organs become compromised, it’s likely that your whole immune system will become rundown, allowing harmful bacteria to thrive and attack the body. Most of our digestion takes place in the small intestine, so it’s critical to make sure this part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is healthy and functioning properly.
How do you know if you have leaky gut? If you have an autoimmune disease or condition, it’s relatively safe to say that you have leaky gut. Many functional medicine doctors now believe that leaky gut is behind several of the diseases that are specific to first-world nations.
The following symptoms most likely point to leaky gut:
- Chronic inflammation (for example IC, arthritis or Crohn’s disease)
- Osteoporosis (fragile bones)
- Mood issues (such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and stress)
- Brain fog (for example confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory loss)
- Digestive system issues (such as acid reflux, IBS, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea)
- Hormone imbalance (too much or too little of our natural Hormones; for example, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol)
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent colds or infections
- Food intolerance or sensitivity
- Muscle and joint pain
- Candida (thrush, recurring yeast infections, jock itch)
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Skin issues (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and athlete’s foot)
- Low metabolism
- Nutrient deficiency
The American diet is not known to be very healthy, and it is additionally compromised with our constant exposure to toxins. These are two factors have led to the belief that a significant proportion of people in the U.S. suffer from leaky gut. Some experts believe that as many as eighty percent of us may have it! With millions of Americans suffering from gastrointestinal issues, it is essential to identify the underlying conditions that could be responsible for an attack on our digestive systems.
Furthermore, when leaky gut is in play, it more often than not brings unwelcome friends along with it including SIBO, candida overgrowth, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Gut dysfunction is due to a shift in the guts microbiome, but studies show that there are also alterations in the bladders microbiome.
Building a healthy microbiome
One of the most important ways to maintain gut integrity is to focus on a healthy microbiome. According to Amy Myers, author of The Autoimmune Solution, we need more “friendly” bacteria. She writes: “The friendly bacteria that live in the gut are incredibly helpful. They make it possible for you to digest your food, and they maintain the lining of your intestinal walls, the epithelium.”
The gut relies on trillions of bacteria that live within the intestines. In fact, we possess ten times more microbial cells than human cells. You probably don’t even realize it, but you’re carrying around a good few pounds’ worth of microbes – including fungi, viruses, and bacteria in your intestines, and all these symbiotic microbial cells cause us to become sick if they get out of balance (known as “dysbiosis”).
This ecosystem is affected by diet, chronic stress, infections, antibiotics, and toxins, including environmental toxins. Additionally, gut flora (microbiota) plays a role in the gut-brain axis, which links the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. Since the gut contains the highest quantity of bacteria, as well as the most significant number of species in comparison with the rest of the body, gut flora provides a vital barrier against pathogenic organisms. Focusing on gut microbiota (microorganisms), which are responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients, is extremely important when addressing IC. As you work to restore balance to the guts microbiota you will simotanuously begin to restore balance to the bladders microbiome as well. The body is a system and if there is an upset to the interconnected bacterial community in the bladder one’s health can be greatly affected.
By reducing inflammation through necessary diet and lifestyle changes, and addressing pelvic pain (if needed) you will be able to reverse your IC. Odds are that there are several factors contributing to your inflammation but if you can get to the root cause you can regain your health and get your life back.
How I Got My Life Back
You have more control over your health than you think. You have the power to change your life and begin reversing your symptoms. That’s what I did, and I share my story in my newly released book “How I Got My Life Back; My Journey with Interstitial Cystitis.” In my book, I lay out a step by step approach to health. You will learn how to reverse inflammation and keep it from coming back, which foods to eat and avoid for optimal health, how to address genetic variants that are affecting your body’s natural pathways, detoxify your body and heal leaky gut, tame the toxins, overcome your pain once and for all, restore your body’s balance, and have more energy and feel better.
Are you ready to take your life back? Click Here
What people are saying
“I found this book at one of the most desperate times in my life. I had been in a flare for months and had my first ever UTI, tried two installations, was taking a cocktail of Pyridium and sedating myself daily. NOTHING was working, yet I got up every morning and got myself to work and came home and took care of my family all while suffering terribly. Nobody understood my pain. I dove into researching and found this book. I had read similar books on autoimmune disease and holistic healing, but this one resonated with me. I was brought to tears reading about Elisabeth’s journey since I have personally felt her pain. If you are suffering from IC, I highly recommend this book. It has changed my life. I have followed her instructions and my flare has ended! I hope this post can help at least one person find relief” ~ Lydia
“I have had IC for about three years now. It has been such a trying time for me and my family. Elisabeth’s book gives me so much hope and makes me strive to do better in regards to my eating and exercise habits. In this book, she tells her own personal story of IC and what got her into remission. She is raw and real and so encouraging. Often times it is easy to become depressed and feel like IC is going to be a life long condition filled with hopelessness and despair, but this book has honestly stirred up so much new hope for me! She gives tons of great suggestions and even brand names of supplements so you can research them yourself. I KNOW that my IC can go into remission and to read another story about someone else who did it makes me want to strive for that goal even more!”~ Julie
“As a current IC patient, this book is a must read! Besides all the informative information and considerations it’s heartfelt, genuine & true. Elisabeth made a breakthrough In solving the IC puzzle. I too am following her protocols … and slowly but surely I am feeling my symptoms subside. Yes, I still may have frequent urination still but the burning & pressure is fading!!! “FYI” get tested for Cándida I too had an overgrowth of Cándida with my IC. Diet & high-quality supplements are everything! Thank you, Elisabeth, for sharing your story & giving IC warriors hope!!” ~ Amazon Customer
“Praise for Elizabeth Yaotani’s book which will not only encourage those with IC but anyone who seeks to find a solution to autoimmune, chronic inflammation or other health issues through the use of many functions including supplements, exercise, and our kitchens as our pharmacies! In this small, but information-rich book, Elizabeth poignantly and honestly shares her health struggles with IC, her deep faith that gave her hope, and her ultimate victory.
“In her chapter “The Climb” Elizabeth speaks to the very real mental and emotional struggles we go through when faced with chronic pain and difficult situations and encourages the reader in how to purposefully respond. She then goes on to lay out clear advise for detoxification, cleansing, supplementation, and nutrition to support the metabolic pathways which lead to healing and strong healthy bodies.“~ Gail
“A smart, effective, realistic approach to managing Autoimmune disorders and diseases. Appreciate that the writer maintains that Autoimmune is individually unique and can be difficult to manage without knowledge and resources. This book wonderfully weaves together the physical, mental and spiritual facets of autoimmune disease. Additionally offering reliable resources needed to achieve a fully functioning quality of life while managing autoimmune symptoms.” ~ Stephanie, RN, BSN
“This book is incredible. Elisabeth is very open about her battle with IC and how she pressed on through painful treatments & debilitating bladder pain that left her struggling to care for her family. From doctor to doctor, she did not give up for her search to find healing. Her story is such a testimony to her faith and her determination. Thankfully she discovered healing through the care of an Integrative Medicine Dr. and after addressing genetic factors, diet & supplements, etc. she was able to finally get her IC into remission. The protocol is not just for IC sufferers, but for anyone battling an autoimmune disease. I have battled IBS and leaky gut for years now and have found so much help here-from recommended supplements to diet changes, I am on the road to healing myself. I highly recommend reading this informative & comprehensive “manual” for regaining your health naturally.” ~Andrea
To learn more click here
Jana McNulty says
I am a terminal cancer survivor. I had radiation from my nose down to my upper lungs. I am now on a liquid diet. For breakfast and dinner I have the same thing: a Baristric Fusion shake and a bowl of dry oatmeal. I can not do anything with my diet because I can no longer eat any other food.
Elisabeth Yaotani says
Jana, I am sorry to hear you are going through so much. I pray the Lord comforts you and that you enjoy this life and all its blessings despite the hardships.
Teresa Tomsic says
How do we get our vitamin C etc so it helps our immune system? Have had IC for 30 years now. Still sick. What diet should I follow?
Elisabeth Yaotani says
Hi Teresa, I am sorry to hear you have been struggling for 30 years! “IC Warrior” is definitely a title you have earned. I personally started with a multivitamin from Holistic Health International. Their formula is gentle and designed for those with chronic inflammation. However, everyone is different so start slow. You can find it here https://www.holisticheal.com/all-in-one-multi-vitamin-mineral-120-capsules.html
As far as your diet goes, I recommend starting with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for 30 days and then moving to the Whole 30 and/or Paleo diet. Always customize it for your personal needs and if you need help Brianne Gohlke our nutritionist can absolutely help put you on the perfect diet.
What should I take if have very bad flare and burning sensation on my vulval area
Elisabeth Yaotani says
I would drink distilled water and at least three four cups of bone broth as well as marshmallow root tea. Supplements- oil of oregano twice a day away from food, a probiotic two hours after oil of oregano, Nrf2 detox (available on amazon) and quercetin.