Here is a list of supplements for interstitial cystitis that could be helpful for reducing pain, inflammation and aiding recovery. This list is not extensive and may be updated as research into this condition is ongoing. Personally, I always prefer getting nutrients from real food rather than supplements. This is because I’ve had more adverse effects from supplements than positive ones. Strive to get the following nutrients from real food sources. When diet has been inadequate or additional relief is needed, the following supplements could be helpful.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The following information does not constitute medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs. Always check for contraindications with medication.
May help to prevent tryptophan metabolites in urine from being used as free radicals. Avoid other B vitamins as they can stimulate neurotransmitters that increase spasms, cramping and burning.
Free radicals contribute to damage and inflammation of the bladder wall. Antioxidants may help scavenge these free radicals, helping to reduce inflammation. Antioxidants can be found in deep coloured fruits and vegetables.
Beta carotene might be especially helpful as it is water soluble and also because it’s a precursor to vitamin A, which is important for the integrity of the mucosal lining.
Selenium is a synergistic with the other antioxidants.
Vitamin C is the most important antioxidant, a synergist for many nutrients and also important for immune function. However, vitamin C as ascorbic acid can be very irritating for patients with interstitial cystitis. Therefore, only take a buffered source of vitamin C (such as magnesium ascorbate).
Vitamin E is a synergistic antioxidant with vitamin C. It may help to prevent bladder spasms.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are important parts of cells and are therefore important for helping to restore the integrity of the bladder lining. They also have anti-inflammatory actions. Aim to eat 1-3 portions of oily fish per week or you could look into fish oil (or eschium oil for vegans).
Magnesium is needed for hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. It is a relaxing mineral and may therefore help to relieve spasms.
Cysteine and Cystine
These are antioxidants that may help to deactivate free radicals. They may help to promote healing of inflamed tissues and help stabilize cellular membranes.
Glutathione is the most potent antioxidant manufactured in the body. It could be supplemented or you could supplement with food-grade rosemary oil, which may help to boost the body’s own glutathione production.
May help to promotes wound healing and is important for the utilisation of protein.
DHEA sulfate is a precursor for DHEA, which is produced by the adrenals and is the most dominant steroid hormone in body. It has been found to be low in many pain patients. It may help to elevate oestrogen in women and help to stimulate the release of pain relieving neurochemicals. I’d recommend to get your hormone levels checked before supplementing with DHEA sulfate.
Potassium citrate could be used to alkalinize the urine, which may help to reduce burning in the bladder. We need to be careful with potassium supplementation, always do this under guidance of an experienced practitioner.
Calcium glycerophosphate can be taken when trigger foods or beverages are consumed. It has been shown to help reduce triggered symptoms.
Interstitial patients often have reduced nitric oxide synthetase (NOS) in their urine. NOS helps to relax smooth muscle and helps to release certain hormones. Supplementation with L-arginine may increase NOS synthesis and help reduce the pain of IC.
Mucopolysaccharides have demulcent properties and may help to sooth and protect the bladder lining. These can be found in botanicals such as liquorice, slippery elm, marshmallow root and aloe vera.
Amino sugars are an important component of the GAG layer, which may be damaged in IC patients. Supplementing with amino sugars in the form of glucosamine as either N-acetylglucosamine, glucosamine sulfate, or glucosamine hydrochloride or chondroitin sulfate may help to replenish the GAG layer. L-Glutamine is the amino acid used to manufacture these amino sugars (NB. All of these are found in bone broth!).
One characteristic of IC is the accumulation of mast cells in the bladder, which release histamine and other inflammatory compounds. The bioflavinoid quercitin is found in onions, apples, olive oil and tea. Quercetin may inhibit mast cell activation and the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may be especially useful when taken together with chondroitin sulfate and sodium hyaluronate.
The methyl donation of sulfur may help soothe pain and inflammation of the bladder lining. The best supplements for methyl groups are betaine, choline and methionine, with betaine being the best choice.
Chinese herbs (a mix of Cornus, gardenia, curculigo, rhubarb, Psoralea, and Rehmannia as tea) have been used successfully to help decrease pain in IC patients.
Kava kava, crampbark, wild yam and valerian may help support the repair of the bladder lining.
Feverfew may stabilise mast cells and help reduce histamine release in the bladder.
Many IC patients also suffer from conditions such as IBS and decreased digestive capacity. Recent research has linked many chronic health problems to the microbiome (the microorganisms living in and on us). Although there is no research on probiotics and IC specifically, a good quality probiotic may help to reduce symptoms.
Pin ‘Supplements for Interstitial Cystitis’ for later:
Whitmore, Kristene E. Complementary and Alternative Therapies as Treatment Approaches for Interstitial Cystitis Rev Urol. 2002 [4(Suppl 1): S28–S35.] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476005/
Clayton, Paul Health Defence (Aylesbury: Accelerated Learning Systems Ltd, 2001)
Gillespie, Larrian You Don’t Have to Live with Cystitis (New York: Avon Books, 1996), p.254-257
Bone, Kerry Herbal Protocols for Interstitial Cystitis Medi Herb 2004 [71: 1-3] available at: http://www.mediherb.com/media/797214/pp-no-71_us.pdf
Braun, Lesley Herbs and Natural Supplements Volume 2: An Evidence-Based Guide (Chatswood: Elsevier, 2015), p. 318
Weng, Z. et al Quercetin is more effective than cromolyn in blocking human mast cell cytokine release and inhibits contact dermatitis and photosensitivity in humans. PLoS One. 2012 [7(3):e33805] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22470478
Kempuraj, D. et al Inhibitory effect of quercetin on tryptase and interleukin-6 release, and histidine decarboxylase mRNA transcription by human mast cell-1 cell line. Clin Exp Med. 2006 Dec [6(4):150-6.] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17191106
Kempuraj, D. et al Flavonols inhibit proinflammatory mediator release, intracellular calcium ion levels and protein kinase C theta phosphorylation in human mast cells. Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Aug [145(7):934-44.] available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15912140
Theoharis, C. et al Mast cells and mast cell mediators as targets of dietary supplements ANNALS OF ALLERGY, ASTHMA & IMMUNOLOGY 2004 [93: 24-34] available at: http://mastcellmaster.com/documents/cam-theoharides.pdf
Hudson, Tori Treating Interstitial Cystitis – A Natural Medicine Approach ALTERNATIVE & COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES 2001 [7 (2): 88-90] available at: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10762800151125074?journalCode=act