Have you ever wondered if there are any herbs that can help an overactive bladder? Because I have! So, to satisfy my curiosity, I went straight to a reliable source and asked Naturopath and Herbalist Norelle Hentschel. I hope you find her insights as enlightening as I do.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below.
Has your bladder become way too needy?
“Hello, I need to go pee and I need to go now!”
Do you scope out where all the toilets are when you go somewhere and carry a backup pair of undies in your handbag?
You are not alone.
What is an overactive bladder?
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common but often hidden urinary problem affecting up to 60% of women at some point in their lives. It comes in two styles: dry and wet.
Dry OAB – is when you get the urge to urinate frequency but nothing happens until you get to the toilet.
Wet OAB (as the name suggests) means a little or a lot of leakage may occur before you make it to the bathroom.
• Needing to urinate more than eight times per day or getting up more than once a night
• Strong urge to go even if you haven’t consumed much fluid
• Leakage (urinary incontinence)
Why does is happen?
- Excessive fluid consumption. Excess fluid intake may alter your electrolyte balance so the water can’t get into your cells and just goes through you.
- Caffeine – can act as a diuretic in higher doses. More likely at about 200mg/day (2 espresso style coffees) but some people are more sensitive.
- Alcohol – acts a diuretic
- High sugar diet
- Cranberry – although beneficial for preventing urinary tract infections it can increase the urge to urinate.
- High dose supplemental vitamin C
- ACE Inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Stress and anxiety. Part of the “fight or flight” response is to empty the bladder.
- Weak pelvic floor – pregnancy and childbirth
- Nerve damage (spinal injury, herniated disc, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis)
- Kidney disease
- Urinary tract infection (symptomatic and asymptomatic)
- Increased pressure on bladder (pregnancy, obesity)
- Menopause – lowered oestrogen levels are thought to change the muscle tone of the bladder
To effectively treat OAB you need to address the underlying cause. Herbal medicine has a supportive role to other therapies such as pelvic floor exercises.
5 Herbs to Reduce Overactive Bladder
Crataeva (Crataeva nurvala)
Crataeva is an Indian herb with a long history – it’s been helping bladders since the 8th century BC! Crataeva is the herbal equivalent of a workout for your bladder. Using this herb for between 6-12 weeks increases the smooth muscle tone of your bladder (less likely to leak!) and also reduces residual urine. Great if you need to get up more than once a night to pee! Think of it as a tonic with results gradually building up over time.
Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)
Mullein is beneficial for the kind of OAB which causes the urinary incontinence associated with menopause. It strengthens the bladder sphincter which can weaken in low oestrogen states.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Horsetail not only contains the mineral silica, it also helps your body use silica more efficiently. Silica is a mineral needed for strong connective tissue. If you’ve got weak nails, brittle hair or low bone mineral density along with OAB this herb can help strengthen the connective tissue of the bladder. I would usually combine this with Buchu or Crataeva for a rounded prescription.
Buchu (Barosma betulina)
This South African herb reduces the desire to constantly urinate. Buchu is particularly beneficial for diabetic incontinence due to it’s anti-inflammatory activity.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis)
Green tea may seem a strange inclusion given that it contains caffeine (however, the caffeine content is around ¼ of that of an espresso style coffee).
Research supports green tea as a preventative strategy for OAB.
In 2011, the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute collaborated with Japanese researchers to assess the effects of green tea in Japanese women aged between 40 and 75. Those who drank four or more cups (equivalent of about 600-700mL) per day were less likely to have bladder leakage.
Getting the best results with herbs
Getting the best results with herbal medicine involves taking the right herb for your individual needs. Work with a Naturopath or Herbalist who can take a detailed case history and give you the most appropriate prescription. This is especially important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are taking medication. Not all the herbs mentioned above will be suitable for you.
About the Author
Norelle Hentschel is an experienced Naturopath and Herbalist who enjoys supporting women to help them thrive and feel their best. She has a clinic in Crows Nest, Sydney.
Find out more about her offerings:
These programs can help you to improve your bladder control, manage urgencies, prevent or lift prolapse and enhance your intimate sensation.