In this post I’d like to get a bit more personal rather than practical. I would like to talk about how I healed from interstitial cystitis.
Contrary to common belief, I have experienced on myself that it is possible to recover from this condition. I believe that this is possible for each of us but that the journey might be a different one.
Because the body always tries to heal…When we have a wound, it heals. If we get an infection we get a fever and combat it.
We just need to let the body do its job.
How I got interstitial cystitis
Chronic disease is usually multi-factorial and therefore there probably is no one trigger, but multiple ones.
I have always been prone to bladder problems and so has my mother and relatives on her side of the family.
My earlier experiences consisted of bladder infections and sometimes overactive bladder (especially when I got cold).
Later, this turned into full blown urinary tract infections that also affected my kidneys.
I also suffered from IBS for most of my life, although I was never aware of it.
Then, a few things happened in my life: I went through an extremely stressful period that included graduating from uni and a break-up and I lived in a cold and mouldy house and my immune system was suffering.
When I went on a holiday to Switzerland, where it was extremely cold, I got another bladder infection. I couldn’t be bothered to go to the doctor over there and left it untreated.
The infection travelled up to my kidneys.
A circle of antibiotics and recurrent infections began.
After a few courses of antibiotics, the bladder pain and the frequency started to be present constantly. Thinking it might be a ‘rest infection’ I took another course of antibiotics.
That’s when my interstitial cystitis and IBS really kicked off.
A stony path to healing
I have been raised by a mother who always favoured natural remedies over orthodox medication so I was reluctant to follow the orthodox path. I had also not gotten much help from the doctors I visited and felt thoroughly let down.
Additionally, I was not prepared to live a life in chronic pain. I could not imagine myself being someone who has a chronic disease!
It was starting to really get in the way of my life and relationships.
Therefore, I started looking for answers.
I came across candida and the raw vegan diet. Having already been a vegetarian for most of my life, the switch seemed to make sense. I started juicing and eating superfoods. I took natural antifungals to ‘kill off’ the candida I thought I had. I cut out sugar and processed foods.
6 months later, my bladder still hurt and my gut was on fire. I had extreme food intolerances and every bit of sugar or starch made my bladder flare up. I was cold all the time.
All the while, I kept researching.
Recovery from interstitial cystitis
Things finally started to get better when I learned about the gut microbiota and probiotics. I started eating fermented foods and felt better. But the pain was still there.
Two books then changed my approach completely: Nourishing Traditions and The Gut and Psychology Syndrome. I learned how animal foods contain nutrients important for gut and bladder wall integrity and hormone health. I learned how the gut microbiota can make or break our health and how antibiotics kill these bacteria. I realized I had many of the symptoms associated with poor gut health and nutrient deficiencies.
I decided that I needed to put animal foods back into my diet. When I first started to eat eggs again, I could not get enough of them. My body was craving them so much, I couldn’t think of anything else. My body was clearly telling me something!
I started consuming bone broth and a few months later I ate meat for the first time in over twenty years.
Then I went on the GAPS diet to heal my gut.
After 6 months on the GAPS diet my interstitial cystitis was gone!
Steps I took that helped me recover from interstitial cystitis
- I cut out sugar, processed foods, grains, dairy (apart from fermented dairy), soy and hydrogenated oils
- I consumed nutrient dense natural animal and plant foods
- I only consumed organic vegetables and grass-fed/free range meats
- I consumed probiotic rich fermented foods
- I consumed glycine rich bone broth and gelatine that contain nutrients needed for gut and bladder wall repair
- I consumed healthy fats including butter, ghee and coconut oil and upped my omega 3 intake from cod liver oil
- I removed foods I was intolerant to
- I removed toxic cleaning products and personal care full of chemicals and switched to natural products
- I removed plastics
- I spent time outside
Although my case is only anecdotal evidence, the steps I took to finally recover all have evidence behind them.
I finally healed because I let my body heal. I removed things that stood in the way of healing and added things that supported healing.
Today I follow a paleo type of diet and I am healthier and stronger than I have ever been.
My interstitial cystitis only flares up very occasionally and briefly (usually if I’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with me or if I’m extremely stressed).
I believe that the steps I took can help anyone to feel better and that chronic disease does not have to be a sentence for life.
Making changes is not easy – but neither is being in pain!
Now I’d like to hear from you. Are you suffering from interstitial cystitis? Have you made changes and felt better, or have you recovered fully? Let me know in the comments!
Update: For those of you who want to know more about my experience with the GAPS diet please read ‘My Year on the GAPS diet’.
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