an article by Susun S. Weed
am the holding tank. I am the lowest point. It all
flows down to me. The blood goes round and round,
and the liver decides what stays and what goes.
What goes, goes to the kidneys. And when the kidneys
are done with what goes round, it goes down to me.
It all comes down to me.
It goes round and it comes down and I hold it in
until it is time. Then I let it go, so it can go
round somewhere else, back into the flow of nourishment
I am part of it all, but I am apart; I am touched
by it all, but not taken. I am the container, not
the contents. I offer short-term storage, no interest,
no credit, just in and out, here and gone. I have
no plans, no memories, no desires. Fill me. Empty
me. Again. And again.
I am your bladder. I am your servant. But I can
only hold so much.
Your rage trickles down to me. It burns me; it irritates
me. Your fear of life seeps into me. It annoys me;
it compresses me.
Grudges precipitate and settle into me. Your suspicious
nature grabs hold of me. It tears at me; it agitates
me. Controlling me doesnít give you control
over your life. Trust the process; surrender to
I am your bladder. It all comes down to me. It all
goes round and round, and it comes out here.
The urinary bladder is an elastic, muscular, thin-tissued
storage place for urine, which is produced by the
kidneys. Urine travels to the bladder via thin,
foot-long tubes called ureters. The tube from the
bladder to the outside is the urethra. An adultís
bladder can hold at least 1000ml before bursting.
The bladder has an inner layer of protective, collagen-rich
mucus, a middle-layer of smooth muscle (the detrusor
- ìthrust outî - muscle), and an outer
layer of connective tissues which unites the bladder,
ureters and urethra.
At the base of the bladder, smooth muscles form
an internal sphincter that involuntarily releases
urine. Below that, skeletal muscles - which are
under conscious control - form the external urethral
sphincter, giving us a choice in when we void. The
average human bladder is emptied every 2-5 hours
during the day.
When the bladder is about half full, stretch receptors
send an impulse to the sacral spinal nerves, which
send a message to the brain, causing the detrusor
muscle to contract, the internal sphincter to relax,
and alerting us to our need to ìgo.î
If we donít void, the urge disappears within
a minute, then recurs at intervals. The tighter
the stretch, the more frequent the messages to let
Although womenís bladders are somewhat constrained
in size by the uterus, which lies behind it, there
is little difference in the capacity, or functioning,
of healthy menís and womenís bladders.
But the bladderís proximity to the ovaries
and uterus in women, and the prostate gland in men,
give a subtle, hormonally-mediated twist to bladder
problems. A womanís shorter urethra (4cm
versus his 20cm) makes bladder infections more common
for her; more women than men are incontinent; and
prostate problems interfere with bladder functioning
in many men as they age.
There are many problems that can bother the bladder,
from infections to retention (canít go) to
incontinence (canít not go). If the muscles
of the pelvic floor are weak, urine leaks (stress
incontinence); if they are very lax, the bladder
prolapses down into the vagina. As men age, the
growth of the prostrate can press on the bladder,
preventing it from fully emptying and increasing
the frequency of urination. And some men have paruresis
or ìshyî bladder, while women are more
bothered by an overactive bladder or urge incontinence
which bothers many women as well. Exercising the
pelvic floor muscles is the best medicine for anyone
with these problems.
If bacteria move from the anus into the bladder
the result is a urinary tract infection (UTI) or
cystitis, which can range from acute episodes to
chronic urgency and pelvic pain. Bacteria - including
gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and
Mycoplasma genitalium - can inflame the urethra
(urethritis) and cause pain. Herbs are very effective
in soothing inflammation and in clearing infections
of all sorts, though drugs may be required.
Symptoms of cystitis include frequent intense urges
to urinate, often with burning pain, tenderness,
incontinence, and bloody, cloudy, or strong-smelling
urine. When treated promptly, cystitis is not threatening.
Left untreated, however, the bacteria can move up
the ureters and into the kidneys, causing fever,
chills, nausea, vomiting, back pain on one side,
and eventual kidney damage. Interstitial cystitis
is an ulcerated condition of the bladder which mimics
cystitis, but gets worse, or fails to respond to
treatments that relieve cystitis. Interstitial cystitis
may be related to fibromyalgia.
And cancer can grow in the bladder or kidneys.
Bladder Star - Comfrey
An herb that can improve muscle tone in the bladder,
ease irritation in the bladder lining and ureters,
heal all surfaces, counter inflammation, and create
resilient health throughout the urinary system is
a true bladder star. Thatís comfrey - Symphytum.
I donít use Symphytum officinale, which is
often cited, and is associated with alkaloid-overdose
of the liver. Instead, I use the comfrey from my
garden, Symphytum uplandica x, also called ìRussianî
or ìblueî comfrey. In fact, Iíve
never seen anyone growing officinale, which is a
small plant with yellow flowers. I strongly suspect
that all the comfrey for sale in the United States
The allantoin in comfrey is a superb healer of mucus
surfaces, such as those lining the bladder and ureters.
It gives almost immediate relief to those with interstitial
cystitis and works to counter urge incontinence
and overactive bladders. Comfreyís anti-inflammatory
action relieves urethritis and prostate swelling,
The astringent tannins in comfrey help tone and
tighten the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, countering
stress incontinence. Comfrey also relaxes the detrusor
The lavish amounts of minerals, vitamins, and protein
found in comfrey allow the body to engage in any
repairs that are needed and may counter bladder
A sitz bath of the leaves or roots works well for
those reluctant to consume comfrey. But, for best
results, comfrey leaf infusion, a cup or two a day,
gets my vote.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended
to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions
made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or
symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided
by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare
practitioner with a specific formula for you. All
material on this website/email is provided for general
information purposes only and should not be considered
medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable
healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical
care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
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and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
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S. Weed - Republished here with kind permission.