Are you always scouting out restroom locations when you’re in public? How about ducking social engagements for fear of having an accident? If you’re planning life around your urinary patterns, you probably have a case of overactive bladder (OAB). OAB may result from stretched or weak pelvic muscles, chronic bladder infections, bladder diseases, diabetes, or obesity. Men often feel the need to urinate frequently due to an enlarged prostate, while women tend toward bladder infection and pelvic muscle weakening.
About 33 million Americans, both men and women, live with OAB, but the real number is probably much larger because people don’t ask for help or are embarrassed. OAB is marked primarily by a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate. Some will experience incontinence frequently and out of the blue. Those with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) experience “leaks” while sneezing, laughing, or exercising.
OAB is not a normal part of aging. You shouldn’t need to urinate more than about eight times in 24 hours. Prescription drugs for OAB have side effects including dry mouth, constipation, and dry skin and eyes—and the list goes on. Want to go a more natural route? Several herbal remedies can benefit OAB.
Buchu (Barosma betulina) leaf is the go-to remedy for bladder health in South Africa. Buchu has been widely used in North America for at least 130 years, where it has been a foundation therapy for bladder complaints, but its use as a healing herb in Europe goes back to the 1650s, when Dutch settlers introduced it into the herb field in the United Kingdom. The leaf is anti-inflammatory, so that contributes to its appeal.
Use buchu as a tincture. Start with 10 drops three times per day, and increase until you get the desired effect.
Asian herbalism, schisandra berry is a mild general tonic, used to “prolong life without aging.” Schisandra is also one of the premier astringents in Asian herbalism. Astringents tighten membranes, making it ideal for bladder control. It may be especially beneficial for men. A scientific paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that schisandra relaxed prostate tissue, which may benefit urine flow.
Schisandra berries are sour but mild and actually pretty tasty, so they can be taken as a tea, or even added to soup or broth. They can be used liberally without overwhelming other flavors in food or drink. You may find schisandra in supplement form. The Chinese dose is 10 grams per day.
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Schisandra berries are sour but mild, and can be taken as a tea or added to soup or broth.
In Chinese natural healing, qi, or vital energy, “preserves the essence,” or keeps liquids inside the body in the proper manner. Excess urination is a sign of qi deficiency, which goes along with general fatigue, low libido, and weak immunity. Qi tonic herbs benefit energy, stamina, immune function, and broad-spectrum wellness.
Ginseng root is the ultimate qi tonic, and is used in Asia for OAB. Ginseng enhances the conversion of arginine into nitric oxide, which is thought to contribute to relaxation of the bladder muscle. Research supports its use for reduced urination. Start with one gram of ginseng per day, in capsules, and increase by one gram every couple days, until OAB is reduced.