Naturopathic Treatment for IC

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammation of the urinary bladder. Naturopathic treatment involves inhibiting the inflammatory process by removing inflammatory and irritating foods from the diet, taking nutritional supplements, and using herbal support.

IC & Nutrition

The importance of nutrition cannot be overstated and changing to a healthy diet may help relieve symptoms.

  • Eliminate food sensitivities, which are often the cause of chronic inflammatory conditions. To determine food sensitivities, use an elimination and challenge diet.
  • Eat whole, fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel).
  • Avoid sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, some beans (fava, lima, black, soy) and caffeine. Coffee, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, and tomatoes often worsen symptoms.
  • Drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., if you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 oz of water daily).

IC & Supplements

  • Calcium citrate alkalinizes the urine, which decreases irritation to the bladder
  • Bromelain provides anti-inflammatory action

IC & Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicines usually do not have side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.

The following herbs may be used to treat IC:

  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)—Take 30 mg standardized extract triterpenes 3 times a day. It enhances the integrity of connective tissue by stimulating production of glycosaminoglycans, which are an integral component of the protective mucous layer in the bladder.

Herbs to consider as a tea:

  • Buchu (Barosma betulina)—A soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system.
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)—Traditionally used as a urinary tract tonic.
  • Corn silk (Zea mays)—Has soothing and diuretic properties.
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)—An astringent and mild diuretic with tissue-healing properties.
  • Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis)—Has soothing demulcent properties. It is best taken as a cold infusion; soak the herb in cold water for several hours, strain, and drink.
  • Usnea (Usnea barbata)—Has soothing and antiseptic properties.

IC & Homeopathy

A trained homeopathic practitioner is needed to diagnose and prescribe a deep-acting, constitutional remedy. The standard dosage for acute symptom relief is 3 pellets of 30C every 4 hours until symptoms resolve. Lower potencies, such as 6X, 6C, 30X, may be given every 2 to 4 hours. If the right remedy is chosen, symptoms should improve shortly after the second dose. If there is no improvement after 3 doses, a different remedy is given.

The following remedies may be effective in treating IC:

  • Apis mellifica—Indicated for stinging pain that is worse with heat.
  • Cantharis—Indicated for intolerable urgency with burning, scalding urination.
  • Staphysagria—Indicated for a urinary tract infection that is the result of sexual intercourse.
  • Sarsaparilla—Indicated for pain that burns after urination has stopped.

IC & Physical Medicine

Castor oil packs can be applied for IC that has associated bladder cramping or pelvic discomfort.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 10 May 2001

Last Modified: 23 Jan 2015