Bladder - Urinary Incontinence
an article by Susun S. Weed
the heat in your pelvis or it will leak out, dear
one, Grandmother Growth admonishes. Clench
your pelvic floor muscles; then release! Again,
and again, and again. Reclaim your power. Speak
your anger instead of pissing it away. Stand tall
and clench those pelvic floor muscles - again -
Be at ease, sweet daughter, Grandmother
Growth soothes. Let your pelvis be at peace.
Say no out loud so your bladder doesnt
have to scream it. Create your own safety; protect
yourself. I am here to help you. I will hold your
0 . Do Nothing
To determine which type of incontinence a
patient has, a doctor must perform lengthy and exhaustive
Avoid the expensive tests needed for a diagnosis
of incontinence. You know if you leak, and when.
If not, keep a diary. Answer the questions below,
and, for safety sake rule out infection or bleeding
with a simple, non-invasive urine test. Then try
the Wise Woman remedies gathered here. Specialists
concur that at least 80% of those with incontinence
can regain near normal bladder control with life-style
changes such as these.2
1. Collect Information
Theres no distinct structure around
the female urethra. Age weakens all the pelvic tissues.
So, as you get older, the gasket doesnt
work as well. Its a design flaw. [Overheard
at a medical conference]
affects 10-35% of women
globally, including at least 30 million American
women.3 Americans spend over$17 billion a
year on incontinence pads and treatments.4
incontinence means leakage of urine. There are several
different types of incontinence, and the cause may
be as different as muscle weakness or muscle spasms.
incontinence is the most common form of incontinence,
affecting half of those who leak. Weakness of the
pelvic floor muscles allows leaking when there is
pressure, such as from coughing, sneezing, laughing,
exercising, or bending. Herbs and pelvic floor exercises
strengthen weak muscles, whether from heredity,
childbearing, age, or surgery.
Urge incontinence or overactive bladder is less-well
understood. It may be caused by muscle or nerve
spasms, inflammation, chronic low-level bladder
infections, an enlarged prostate, a fibroid tumor,
uncontrolled diabetes, a stroke, even circulatory
or neurological problems. The voiding urge is so
intense, it is impossible to prevent accidents.
Herbs and exercises can relax tension in the nerves
and muscles of the bladder, eliminate infection
and counter prostate swelling.
Overflow incontinence is a worst-case for men with
very enlarged prostates or anyone with uncontrolled
diabetes. Leakage is constant, even after voiding.
In addition to exercises and anti-inflammatory herbs,
drugs may be needed.
Functional incontinence is experienced by those
with problems such as Alzheimers, dementia,
multiple sclerosis, or paralysis, who are physically
unable to get to the toilet in time or who fail
to get or recognize voiding signals. It may also
result from pelvic surgery or any injury to pelvic
nerves or muscles. Pelvic floor exercises and nerve-nourishing
herbs (oatstraw, passion flower, skullcap) complement
drugs that can sometimes help.
Transient incontinence is usually triggered by a
drug or infection and is relieved when the irritant
Is incontinence linked to age? In men, probably.
In women, probably not. Some incontinence is experience
by 57% of postmenopausal
women and 47% of those under 50.5
Does childbearing cause incontinence? No. A study
comparing over a thousand pairs of postmenopausal
sisters - one of whom had given birth vaginally
and one of whom had never given birth - found strong
concordance within the sister pairs: their stage
and type of prolapse was similar, and there was
little difference in the incidence, type, or severity
Does more weight cause incontinence? Weight makes
no significant difference in the likelihood of incontinence.7,8 But if you are incontinent, the more you weigh,
the worse it will be. Being diabetic increases risk
by as much as 70%.9,10
Does your heritage contribute to incontinence? Probably.
There is growing consensus that our genes predispose
us to incontinence and prolapses, with Caucasian
women being more likely than African American or
Asian women to have both.11
The Womens Health Initiative found over 66%
of 161,861 women aged 50-79 leaked in a given year.
The strongest risk factors were age less than 20
at first birth, breastfeeding regardless of duration,
and hysterectomy before the age of 40.12
money is spent on menstrual pads for incontinence
than for menstruation.13
2. Engage the Energy
behavioral training works as well as surgery - without
side effects or complications - in relieving both
stress and urge incontinence.14 Six weekly 20-minute sessions help everyone reduce
accidents by at least 50%; a third become completely
dry after keeping a diary of voids and leaks, learning
Kegel exercises, and training themselves to wait
longer and longer between voiding.
If your incontinence leaves you feeling ashamed
and embarrassed and reluctant to be social, remember,
you are not alone. And there are treatments. A dose
of 10-20 drops of calming motherwort tincture may
make it easier to take action.
Timed urination - voiding regularly on a schedule
- helps elderly, frail, or forgetful people get
to the toilet before its too late.
Functional magnetic stimulation of the pelvic floor
muscles, delivered by means of a special chair,
is used in Holland as a safe, effective treatment
against stress and urge incontinence. After two
20-minute treatments per week for eight weeks, 58%
of the women had less leakage, and three were completely
Homeopathic remedies for bladder problems cover
fourteen pages in my Homeopathic Clinical Repertory.
I have listed some here:
*Achillea mill.: when there is chronic incontinence
*Juniper. com.: to ease bladder heaviness, especially
*Rhus aromatica or Agrimony: to relieve constant
*Nux vomica: if there is pain in the bladder
*Thuja or Claviceps pur.: to strengthen the bladder
*Uranium nitricum: if there is burning pain on voiding
detrusor muscle is comparable to the bulbous end
of the baster, reflexively contracting when nerves
fire in the muscle. In order for the urinary system
to function in a controlled way, the muscles must
be strong, the nerves must be in good order, and
the bladder itself must be in good physical condition.16
3. Nourish and Tonify
* Nourish the bladder with apricots, blueberries,
brown rice, beans, celery, corn, cranberries, lentils,
miso, parsley, and prunes.
Seaweeds nourish and heal the muscles, nerves, and
mucosa of the entire urinary system: the kidneys,
ureters, bladder, and urethra. Kelps such as wakame,
kombu, alaria, and nereocystis (bull whip), eaten
in quantity, are most effective. Sprinkling seaweed
on food and taking pills of seaweed is far less
Nourish and strengthen bladder muscles with 2-4
cups of comfrey or nettle leaf infusion daily; add
a pinch of silica-rich horsetail for even more effect.
Soothe bladder mucosa with a dropperful (1-3 times
a day) of tincture of burdock root/seed, cleavers
herb, or marshmallow root; use teas of corn silk,
plantain seed, or mullein. Dandelion root/leaf tea
or tincture tones and tightens bladder sphincters,
while regular use of small (5-19 drop) doses of
the tincture of passion flower, oatstraw, or skullcap
strengthens the nerves of the bladder.
A review of randomized trials comparing pelvic floor
exercises/Kegels with no treatment or a sham treatment,
found that women who did Kegels (at least 40 a day
for three or more months) were all, unlike those
receiving other treatments, able to control or cure
stress, urge, and mixed incontinence.17 And women who were coached got the best results
of all. Dr. Kegel advised five clenches on awakening,
abed, five more when up, then five every half-hour
throughout the day.
Avoid bladder irritants. Food additives, preservatives,
artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol, pepper,
curry, black tea, tomatoes, citrus, parsley juice,
and soda pop are common culprits, but you may have
If incontinence makes you reluctant to be passionately
sexual for fear youll wet the bed, invest
in a waterproof pad, please!
Yellow dock root gently aids bowel movements, helping
to prevent pressure on the pelvic floor from constipation.
Tea of the root is too bitter for most, who prefer
a dropperful of the tincture.
Yoga, Pilates, weight lifting, and tai chi build
core strength and tone up tiny muscles in the pelvis
that help you stay in control.
Tinctures of strong herbs - such as damiana leaf
(Turnera ulmifolia), kava kava, uva ursi leaf, black
haw or cramp bark - in doses ranging from 1-8 droppersful
a day, have been used more or less successfully
to counter incontinence.
Step 5 . Use Drugs
A wide range of drugs - diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants,
antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, and alpha-blockers
- can cause or worsen incontinence.19
If your doctor says hormone replacement (ERT or
HRT) can prevent or relieve incontinence, s/hes
wrong. HRT increases the risk that a healthy woman
will become incontinent, and makes the symptoms
worse in women who already are.20
The Womens Health Initiative randomly assigned
more than 27,000 postmenopausal women to take either
hormones or placebos. The incidence, frequency,
and severity of all types of incontinence (defined
as having ever leaked even a very small amount
of urine involuntarily) increased significantly
in women taking ERT or HRT.21,22,23 The results were the same in all racial and ethnic
groups24, and were
not linked to prior incontinence; longer use increased
In HERS (Hormone and Estrogen Replacement Study),
half of the women who took HRT developed incontinence,
compared to a third of those who took the placebo.
After only one year, the risk of weekly episodes
of incontinence was three times greater among hormone
users; after four years it was five time higher.25
Drugs have side effects. Research them carefully
before use. After 3-4 months, go without to see
if you still need the drug.
6. Break and Enter
In addition to being risky, surgery can cause
significant discomfort - and it isnt always
effective [in treating urinary incontinence].26
Mild electrical shocks, delivered in a clinic or
at home with a prescription device, can relieve
both urge and stress incontinence.27 The current provokes involuntary muscle contractions,
which, over a period of months of daily treatments,
has the same effect as Kegels: strengthening of
the bladders muscles and nerves.
FDA-approved Urgent PC Neuromodulation looks like
acupuncture. A needle inserted near the ankle stimulates
a bladder-controlling nerve that goes up the leg
to the pelvis. Twelve 30-minute sessions reduced
leakage by at least half for most participants.28
Many effective treatments for urinary incontinence,
HealthNews, Aug 2006.
2. Urinary incontinence treatments that work,
J.Vapnek MD, Bottom Line Health, 2007.
3. Stem cells muscle in on bladder control, New
Scientist, Dec 2004.
4. Incontinence and women: usually curable,
often ignored, Leah Thayer, Womens Health
Network News, Sept/Oct 2002.
5. Regain Control, Sarah Toland, Delicious
Living, Jan 2005.
6. Kegels hold up as urinary continence treatment,
Harvard Womens Health Watch, May 2006.
7. Pelvic organ prolapse can run in the family,
Harvard Womens Health Watch, May 2007.
8. International Urogynecology Journal, Oct 2006.
9. (2) HealthNews, Aug 2006.
10. bid, HealthNews, Aug 2006.
11. Pelvic organ prolapse, Buchsbaum
et al., Obstetrics & Gynecology, Dec 2006; 108:1388-93.
12. Prevalence and associated risk factors
of urinary incontinence: results from the Womens
Health Initiative, WHI Investigator Group,
Abstracts: Twelfth Annual Meeting of NAMS.
13. Nicolette Horbach MD, past president, American
Urogynecologic Society, associate clinical professor
14 Simpler solutions for incontinence,
HealthNews, Sept 2002.
15. Magnetic chair, spinal nerve stimulation
help incontinence, BJU International, March
16. Winnifred B. Cutler, PhD, Hysterectomy: Before
& After, Harper Perennial, 1990.
17. (7) Harvard Womens Health Watch, May 2006.
18. Gotta go, gotta go? Tips to
help control overactive bladder, Environmental
Nutrition, Aug 2003.
19. When nature calls too often, The
Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Nov 2006.
20. Hormones can worsen and cause incontinence,
HealthFacts, March 2005.
21. Urinary Incontinence One More Purported
Benefit of Hormone Therapy Disproved, New
England Journal of Medicines Journal Watch,
April 15, 2005.
22. The Prevalence and Associated Risk Factors
of Urinary Incontinence: Results From the Womens
Health Initiative, Abstracts: Twelfth Annual
Meeting of NAMS.
23. Hormone Therapy Increases the Risk of
Urinary Incontinence, National Womens
Health Network, July/Aug 2005.
24. JAMA, Feb 23, 2005; 293:935-9048.
25. Urinary incontinence risk increased with
hormone therapy, presented at American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conference, April
26. Stem cells muscle in on bladder control,
New Scientist, Dec 2004.
27. Oopsie daisy, Ranit Mishori MD,
AARP, July/Aug 2006.
28. Ibid, AARP, 2006.
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 in this article 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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