7 Natural Treatment Options for an Overactive Bladder
Oct 3, 2012 (updated Apr 30, 2014)
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If traditional treatments aren't working, or you aren't willing to try them all, complementary medicine may provide some alternatives. Be sure to check in with your doctor first.
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Acupuncture has been shown to provide relief for several medical conditions, including overactive bladder. Studies indicate that acupuncture for bladder control can improve bladder capacity and reduce the urgency and frequency of urination. Acupuncture is a low-risk treatment, but it is advisable to see a doctor first to be diagnosed, before heading to a reputable acupuncturist.
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Aromatherapy uses plant oils to help the body. It is believed that the aromas from the oils stimulate nerves in the nose, which then, depending on the type of oil and smell, relax or stimulate different parts of the brain. Aromatherapy has little scientific backing, but has been used to help people with overactive bladder. Some oils can actually cause a flare-up so make sure your aromatherapist is aware of your medical history.
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Several studies have shown chiropractic methods to be effective in minimizing urinary incontinence. Often, manual manipulation is used to adjust, flex or mobilize the spine and relieve pain, pressure and other symptoms. In some instances this can treat urinary incontinence.
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Massage is the controlled manipulation of the body using pressure. Certain tissues, muscles or organs are targeted using tension, motion or vibration. A main benefit of massage is relaxation, which may counteract the bladder contractions that are often the cause of an overactive bladder.
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Homeopathy is individualized treatment using natural remedies to stimulate the body to heal. Some examples for overactive bladder include determining whether a food allergy, hormone imbalance, or neurological damage are the cause and treating those. Studies tend to reveal little scientific support for homeopathic remedies, but they are still used.
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Although they're not backed by solid scientific evidence, there are herbal preparations for overactive bladder. The best-studied is Gosha-jinki-gan, found to decrease urgency, frequency and nighttime urination. Buchu, cleavers, cornsilk, horsetail and saw palmetto are other herbal treatments. Note: They are not as regulated as traditional medicines, so are subject to variation and labels may not be accurate.
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Qi gong, or chi kung, is the act of aligning breathing, physical activity and mental awareness. It incorporates martial arts moves and can be compared to tai chi. Qi gong is not fully supported by Western medicine, but is often found in the realm of alternative treatments in both a preventative and curative role.