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By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor

Treating Migraines And Headaches


Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome is a urinary bladder disease and can be very painful, irritating and uncomfortable if left untreated or unchecked. It is a condition that leads to reoccurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region and is often mistaken for overactive bladders or urinary tract infections. Because of the severe pain that can accompany interstitial cystitis, the condition is also called PBS - painful bladder syndrome. Both men and young or menopausal women are affected by it.

Primarily, clients complain of pain associated with urination - which is why it is quite often diagnosed as a bladder or urinary tract infection, although urine cultures reveal no abnormalities. It can often be accompanied by frequency of urination, the urgency of the urination and frequent pressure in the bladder and pelvis - hence the diagnosis of overactive bladder. The frequency can be as often as every 10 minutes or up to 60 times a day for severe cases of interstitial cystitis. IC / PBS diagnosis encompasses all the cases of urinary pain that cannot be attributed to other conditions, such as infections, bladder diseases or urinary stones.


  • Strong urge to urinate

  • Frequent urination and reduced bladder capacity

  • Painful bladder (when it fills with or empties of urine)

  • A constant feeling of pressure in the lower abdominal area, often accompanied by dull backache or pain

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Discomfort while sitting or driving

  • Symptoms worse during menstruation


Although the causes of Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome remain “unknown”, there are speculations as what might trigger IC.

Interstitial Cystitis - as the name suggests is due to the inflammation of the interstitial tissues or the epithelium lining of the bladder wall. Although no specific causes have been found of what might cause this inflammation, it has been proposed that the auto immune system, neurological allergies, and genetics may play a role in causing interstitial cystitis.

Mast cells, which cause histamine release is allergies, have in fact been found to cause inflammation, pain and a burning sensation. In practice, I have found that allergies or sensitivities to certain foods containing acids and caffeine, such as cranberry juice, acids, alcohol, chocolate, and citrus can make the symptoms worse or cause the symptoms.

Stress can significantly impact the severity of the symptoms as well, as an increase in the stress hormone cortisol will also cause an increase inflammation. I have also found that toxins of various origins (in food such as colorings, dyes, preservative and additives), environmental toxins, in toxins in the urine due to breakdown products or metabolites of medications and other products) can trigger or worsen symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis.

Quite often people are suffering from IC also have other conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, candidiasis, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome but not necessarily most of which are again related to inflammation in the body.


Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis is difficult and is often misdiagnosed. Quite often when other symptoms similar to other bladder conditions especially bacterial infections, have been ruled out by trial and error, eventually the diagnosis comes up, and that could unfortunately take years of pain and suffering.

Most bladder conditions have symptoms that include pain, urinary urgency and frequency, which are also felt in patients with interstitial cystitis. The main difference between IC and bacterial bladder infections is that there are no traces of bacteria in the urine of individuals with IC.

There is no definite test to screen for IC in people who are experiencing the above symptoms. To properly diagnose IC, other treatable bladder conditions that are similar in symptoms must be considered prior to IC.


Once the root cause of your inflammation and symptoms is established after a thorough assessment and a complaint oriented physical exam, your Naturopathic Treatment Plan * will include suggestions to:

  1. Eliminate any bladder conditions that may be pre-existing
  2. Finding the proper and most effective treatment for your specific symptoms based your individual case, as opposed to a recipe book approach of trying different things
  3. Improve and ameliorate / alleviate the symptoms, pains and urgencies, and reduce or eliminate inflammation
  4. Improve and optimize overall health

Your Naturopathic Treatment Plan may include one or more of the following natural treatments if needed:

  1. Diet changes - to eliminate certain foods triggers that maybe worsening your symptoms

  2. Supportive supplements / vitamins or herbs - that would help alleviate the pains and symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis

  3. Lifestyle changes and other therapies - such as stress management, which may be contributing to bringing on or worsening your symptoms

Not getting any treatment at all is not only painful, but can also lead to scarring of the bladder, which would also affect the bladder’s capacity level, in turn creating urgency to urinate as well damaging the bladder. Bleeding can also occur, which can lead to other serious problems.

If you or someone you know is suffering from constant bladder infections or are concerned that you may have interstitial cystitis, and would like try to treat your symptoms naturally and improve your overall well being, please call us at 416 913 4325 to schedule an initial naturopathic consultation.

The information on this handout is the property of SUSHMA SHAH N.D., and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. For any questions, or concerns, please contact me at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email me at

* DISCLAIMER: The information on this article is the property of Dr. Sushma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases or promote any services or products mentioned on the website.

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