We offer the following recommendations as an easy-to-follow check list to help you improve your bladder health. As with all recommendations on this site, without seeing you in person, we cannot know your individual concerns, nor can we address specific conditions. That said, our patients tell us that these simple practices have made a big difference in their lives.
Lack of Estrogen
In postmenopausal women, a lack of estrogen can contribute to bladder symptoms. If you are not taking any oral medications or vaginal creams to treat low estrogen levels, you may want to consider using Black Cohosh, which is an herb with mild estrogenic effects. A good brand is Remifemin (20 mg twice a day).
Better Bladder Health Behaviors
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day. You want to dilute your urine. Remember, concentrated urine contains more harmful elements that can do damage to tissues.
- Take frequent pee breaks. Please don’t hold your urine in for long periods of time — it can contribute to bladder problems.
- Avoid contraceptives that can cause irritation and possibly urinary tract infections (diaphragms and spermicide jelly).
- Void before and after intercourse.
- Lay flat on the floor with your nose pointing towards the ceiling and draw you knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knees and rock gently side to side, feeling any sore places in your back being massaged by your weight against the floor.
- Acu-yoga is extremely beneficial in restoring bladder health. If you want more information on this topic, please take a look at Cystitis: A Time to Heal with Yoga and Acupressure by Dr. Ripoll.
Packs (ice, heat, castor oil)
- Experiment with ice packs or heating pads to see which helps you best. Use those refreezable blue ice packs or hot packs between your legs, pressing the pad up against your public bone and clitoris.
- Castor oil packs can be useful with pelvic pain or bladder spasms. They also soften scar tissue.
Wear Cotton Underwear
Avoid Tight Clothing
Take showers, Avoid Baths
- Wash your clothes with mild detergents. After you are finished washing, re-wash a second time without any soap, just water. This will remove any residual detergent present and cut down on irritation. It’s OK to only do this for your underwear.
- Avoid all dyes and fragrance in your detergents and soaps. No dryer sheets or fabric softeners.
- Dried mung beans are a good alternative to body soap. These beans can be finely ground in a coffee grinder and used instead of regular soaps. This simple substitution cuts down on some patients bladder symptoms.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a bladder irritant that can contribute to bladder symptoms. A link between Smoking and bladder cancer has also been established.
- Mannose: ½ to 1 teaspoon in water 3-4 times per day decreases bacterial adhesions; therefore, cutting down on the number of infections.
- Cranberry juice or cranberry pills help some people cut down on the number of infections. In other patients, however, cranberry juice and pills can increase bladder irritation; therefore, promoting bladder infections and other symptoms. Please use with caution
- L-Argenine helps with urinary frequency and Nocturia. (Caution: Do not take if you have a history of herpes.)
- Acidophilus is a friendly bacteria that is found in our intestines. It can be taken to restore normal gut “flora” after taking a course of antibiotics. A healthy population of acidophilus in your intestinal tract is a good way to prevent pathogens that are known to lead to bladder and yeast infection.
- When taking Vitamin C, please use buffered forms.
- Magnesium foot soaks and oral supplements can help with muscle spasms. Oral magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea; foot soaks do not.
- MSM (methylfulfonylmethane) provides an essential sulfur foundation the body needs to form proteins, collagen, and maintain the immune system. MSM relieves swelling, inflammation, and helps to dissolve scar tissue.
Beneficial Herbs for Urinary Tract Infections and Better Bladder Health
- Aloe Vera capsules (not juice, as it may be preserved in citric acid) can help heal the lining of the bladder and make it more slippery so that bacteria cannot attach. The effect is very soothing for the bladder.
- Golden Seal has been know to prevent adhesion of bacteria to the bladder, as well as have antimicrobial effects as well.
- Marshmallow root, slippery elm, and corn silk are all excellent at soothing irritated urothelium surfaces.
- Buchu is a South African plant that is used as an antiseptic for urinary tract infections.
- Kava Kava is an herb root that was used by ancient Polynesians as a sedative and anesthetic. Kava kava can be very helpful with urinary frequency issues and Nocturia (waking up in the middle of the night to pee).
- Uva ursi (also known as “bearberry” because it is a favorite food of animal it is named after) has been used medicinally by Native Americans for centuries. Prior to the invention of sulfa drugs and antibiotics, uva ursi was a common treatment for bladder and urinary tract infections. Warning: long-term use and large doses are not recommended because Uva ursi can be toxic to the liver.
Alkalinize Your Urine
To promote normal digestion, take 20 minutes before meals and at least 2 hours after.
- Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a tall glass of pure water. This combination will alkalinize your urine and help prevent the acids in the urine from interacting with sore and damaged tissue. This fact-acting remedy can be taken twice a day, or after consuming an irritating food or drink..
- Take 2-4 Tums or another form of calcium carbonate after every meal. Tums will slowly release bicarbonate into your tissues. You may also want to use Tums as a post-meal treatment after eating acidic foods.
- Prelief is a natural dietary product that helps neutralize the acid in urine. Prelief is an over-the-counter medication (www.prelief.com).
Dietary Advice for Better Bladder Health
Avoid foods and beverages that bladder irritants. Hint: If you are having bladder issues, don’t eat anything you wouldn’t put on an open wound. Would you put orange juice or curry powder on an open wound?
1. Spicy foods (peppers, curry, wasabi)
2. Alcohol (beer, wine, spirits)
3. Acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes, apples, pineapple)
4. Carbonated beverages (sodas, energy drinks)
5. Caffeine (coffee, black & green tea, even chocolate)
- Stay away from tea with caffeine, citric acid, or hibiscus flowers. These types of tea are very irritating to the lining of the bladder and can contribute to bladder symptoms. On the other hand, peppermint, spearmint, and other mint teas are excellent for the bladder and many cultures around the world have used these herbs for bladder conditions for centuries.
- Coffee can be extremely irritating to the bladder. Some good coffee substitutes are Raja (an antioxidant that is 100 times more powerful than Vitamin C), Daffex, Postum, and Kava.
- White chocolate does not irritate the bladder/urinary tract nearly as much as other types of chocolate do.
- If you are going to enjoy fruit, it is better to eat it than drink the juice. Juices are absorbed quickly and cause pH changes in the urine, causing more bladder irritation. Remember: Tomatoes are a fruit.
- Vegetable juices are very healthy for the bladder. These tend to alkalinize the urine and help with bladder symptoms.
- Celery, parsley, and carrots are bladder-friendly vegetables. Corn is known to contain mannose, which can help with bladder health.
Foods to Avoid
Fruit: apples (yellow apples have less acid than red ones), apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, and others), cranberries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes (yellow tomatoes and certain hybrids contain less acid) — and juices made from these fruits.
OK fruit: Blueberries, pears, and melons (other than cantaloupe) are OK and so are blueberry and pear juices.
Grains: Rye and sourdough.
Vegetables: Fava beans, lima beans, onions, tomatoes, soy (all types).
Dairy: Aged cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, and chocolate milk. American and cottage cheese are OK, so is frozen yogurt and milk.
Nuts: Avoid most nuts. Almonds, cashews, and pine nuts are OK.
Seasonings: Avoid mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salsa, soy sauce, salad dressing, vinegars. Garlic is OK.
Preservatives and Additives: Aspartame (Nutrasweet), MSG, citric acid, nitrates, artificial colors, most preservatives.
Cold and allergy medications: Many of these contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, avoid both these ingredients if possible.
1. Dr. Ripoll’s Special Anti-Constipation Remedy
1 cup applesauce
1 cup oat bran
1/3 cup prune juice
Spices as desired (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)
Begin with two tablespoons each evening followed by one 6 to 8 ounce glass of water. After 7 to 10 days, increase your dose to three tablespoons. By the end of the second to third week, increase the dose to four tablespoons.
You should start to see an improvement in your bowel habits in two weeks. Dr. Ripoll suggests making this simple remedy a part of your daily routine for life. It’s good for you!
Reminder: This special recipe is high in fiber. You may experience some gas and bloating during the first two weeks. This side effect usually goes away quickly.
Hint: This recipe may be stored in your refrigerator or in the freezer. (Pre-measured servings may be frozen in sectioned ice cube trays and thawed as needed.)
Caution: Please report major changes in bowel habits to your physician. The American Cancer Society lists major change in bowel habits as one of the seven danger signals.
Drink 8-10 glasses every day of the purest water available. (Water from a natural spring is best, purified water is a close second, tap water is a distant third.)
Eat 3-5 large helpings of vegetables every day. Eat a rainbow of different vegetable colors — instead of just green ones. Colorful salads are a great ally in the fight against constipation.
Magnesium Glycinate supplements (Avoid Magnesium Citrate. Magnesium Citrate is such a powerful laxative that it can induce dehydration, which will increase your chances of developing kidney stones.)