I’m a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist (Dip NNT) who as been researching bladder health for a number of years now and is working with clients suffering from chronic bladder problems. My findings are posted on this blog so that anyone needing the information can get to it!
Why would I be so interested in bladder health you ask?
Well, it’s because a few years ago I developed what I now believe was interstitial cystitis. Determined to not be chronically ill for the rest of my life, I embarked on a quest to get better, naturally….
I first experienced bladder issues as a child, when I regularly developed bladder infections. One time, my mum took me to the hospital where I had a cystoscopy under anaesthesia to check for any abnormalities. Nothing was found.
After that, I don’t remember having much trouble apart from being prone to increased urgency when feeling cold or stressed.
Chronic urinary tract infections
The real trouble begun when I moved to Thailand where it was extremely hot and humid – I developed a bladder infection that quickly turned into a kidney infection. I had been dehydrated.
Without knowing much about it, I went to the hospital and was given both intravenous and oral antibiotics and painkillers. It took over two weeks to clear the infection in which I experienced a lot of side-effects from the antibiotics.
A few months later I developed my second kidney infection. This time I saw a different doctor and the infection cleared on the first course of antibiotics.
After that, I was left with chronic bladder infections, which only cleared when I moved back to Europe a year later.
Apart from one minor bladder infection, I remained symptom free for a few years, although I had developed more digestive issues and food intolerances.
What I later started to call ‘my demise’ begun when I lived in student accommodation that was cold, drafty and mouldy. To my sub-optimal living conditions came a traumatic break-up, graduation stress, lots of traveling and partying and a decline in my previously fairly healthy diet.
I went on a winter-holiday to Switzerland where it was extremely cold. The first morning I woke up with my (up to that day) worst bladder infection and spent the whole night on the toilet. As I failed to seek treatment, the infection quickly spread to my kidneys, too.
Back home I went to see a GP and one more time it took two courses of different antibiotics to clear the infection.
A few weeks later I had the next infection and went through another course of antibiotics.
This is when the constant bladder pain started.
I went back to the GP’s and because of a ‘probable infection’ I received more antibiotics (which I took) but the test results came back negative.
Taking these antibiotics is one of my biggest regrets as the pain instantly got worse.
The next doctor I saw took an ultrasound and tested for an infection and similar diseases. But when nothing showed up she declared that there was nothing wrong with me and that I should just ‘try drinking some cranberry juice’…
I had a break-down. I remember sitting on the floor, crying and not knowing how I got to this dark place and how I would get back out of it. The issue had started to severely affect the quality of my life.
Then, I decided to find an answer on my own.
My journey to freedom from cystitis
My first step was to read Angela Kilmartin’s book ‘The Patient’s Encyclopaedia of Cystitis, Sexual Cystitis, Interstitial Cystitis’ and implementing her ‘bottle-washing’ technique. This prevented further bouts of bladder infections from occurring.
Although I had decided to be a vegetarian as a child and was raised by a mother who had studied TCM nutrition and prepared meals for us every day, I had never really given much thought to nutrition. But when I started searching for my symptoms, I came across forum entries in which women linked their symptoms to a fungal ‘candida’ infection. Not wanting to see a doctor again I found out about anti-candida diets and decided to try one.
For some reason I got convinced that a raw vegan diet was the answer to all problems, whilst also taking a lot of natural anti-fungals.
6 months later my bladder symptoms were worse and my gut was on fire. I spoke to a therapist at one of the companies that sold anti-fungal supplements and he said to me ‘stop what you’re doing! You have interstitial cystitis!’
This was the first time I had really considered that it was in fact interstitial cystitis that I was suffering from. I have never officially been diagnosed with the condition but all my symptoms fit exactly into its definition.
I followed the therapist’s recommendations, stopped the anti-fungals, took lactoferrin and colostrum supplements and introduced fermented foods into my diet.
The turning point came when I read the wonderful book ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon and not much later ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome’ by Natasha Campbell-McBride – both books recommend a traditional, real-food based diet including bone broth, fermented foods and animal fats.
After over 20 years as a vegetarian I slowly started introducing animal foods back into my diet and a while later went on the GAPS diet.
My body started going through a lot of changes.
The journey was tough, but 6 months later my interstitial cystitis was gone.
My health today
To this day I have not had another urinary tract infection and the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are gone. I only have flare ups of bladder pain on very rare occasions when I’ve overeaten or eaten something that doesn’t agree with me. But they never last long.
The changes I’ve made to my life have had additional benefits such as increased energy and fitness. However, I still have some digestive issues that I keep on trying to resolve. But overall I’ve come a long way!
My mission behind bladder-help.com is to provide helpful, informative and science-backed material to empower women (and men) to overcome their bladder issues naturally through diet and lifestyle changes. I know how debilitating it is to live with these issues and I hope I can provide some help for fellow sufferers.
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