Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Diet Changes to Treat Incontinence

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • The last two SharePosts I wrote focused on alternative and complementary treatments for incontinence. This SharePost will be my last in this series, and will focus on some specific types of complementary treatments for incontinence. There are several alternative therapies that many people have found successful in treating their incontinence, including acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary changes, homeopathy, and Tai Chi and Qi Gong.


    Acupuncture is a Chinese healing method that involves a trained practitioner sticking needles into the skin at specific points on the body. The belief is that by stimulating these specific points, the body's energy will come into alignment. Acupuncture is one of the most widely accepted forms of alternative medicine, and there are some studies that seem to support it.

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    Herbal medicine involves using natural herbal plants and substances to treat various conditions in the body. Keep in mind whenever using herbs that they are not regulated by the FDA, that some herbs do have side effects, and sometimes overdose is possible. A practitioner who is trained in herbal medicine and interested in incontinence will be able to recommend a treatment plan.


    In addition to herbal medicine, simple dietary changes may possibly help with incontinence. This includes limiting or eliminating from the diet caffeine and alcohol, and eating unrefined and unprocessed foods (think fresh fruits and veggies). Supplements and vitamins believed to help with incontinence are calcium, magnesium, cranberries, flaxseed oil, and vitamins C and E. Many women experience incontinence during and after menopause, which is thought to be a result of hormone changes. In these instances, plant estrogens may be helpful. Plant estrogens are found in soy products including soy nuts, soy milk, and tofu.


    Homepathy is a practice in which a person is cured with small, diluted doses of the same natural substance that also, in larger doses, causes the symptoms. The belief, founded by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is that by administering these substances, it naturally stimulates the body's immune system. recommends Causticum, Sepia and Natrum mariaticum for stress incontinence, and Zincum and Pareira for difficulty urinating with enlarged prostate.

    Tai Chi and Qi Gong are traditional Chinese treatments that involve slow and gentle movement with meditation and breathing techniques. The belief is that this practice enhances the flow of qi or chi (both pronounced "chee"), or energy in the body.


    In my last SharePost I cited a study that showed some improvement in bladder control in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis who participated in Tai Chi or Qi Gong. There are also some studies showing that a reduction in mental and emotional stress can reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence. Whether Tai Chi and Qi Gong reduce symptoms because they adjust energy fields in the body, or because they reduce mental and emotional stress, is mostly unknown. But if it works without hurting anything or anyone, does it really matter to you, the patient, how it works? (Please keep in mind that I'm referring here to mental and emotional stress, which is different than the physical stress implied in the case of Stress Urinary Incontinence. The stress that can lead to leakage in the case of SUI is a physical stress put on the bladder and urethra, for instance, when coughing, laughing, sneezing, running, etc.)


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    While it's true that some of these methods can be controversial, the fact remains that traditional medicine isn't working for everyone. It's important to see a medical doctor for testing and diagnosis. After that, if the traditional treatment plan isn't working for you, it may be time to consider some alternative options with a qualified practitioner who was trained at an accredited and reputable institution.

Published On: July 09, 2007