Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I am suffering from a painful bladder situation that has not stopped for several months now. I’ve been tested for several things and the doctors have told me that I have interstitial cystitis. (All tests are negative for STDs or any other bacteria.) My main symptom is feeling like I have to urinate all the time, although I do not feel burning with urination. I’d like to avoid invasive procedures. Any recommendations?
A: Has the interstitial cystitis (IC/PBS) been definitively diagnosed? I would like to suggest your physician try to rule out endometriosis because some of these symptoms may be caused by endometriosis. The only commonality for IC/PBS is the presence of antiproliferative factor, or APF in the urine of those that suffer from IC/PBS. Since there is no definitive cure for the condition, I would like to suggest the following dietary and adjunctive treatments that might help with the symptoms.
Dietary: Avoid alcohol, tomatoes (and the nightshade family, in general), spices, chocolate, caffeine, citrus beverages, high-acid foods, and artificial sweeteners. Eliminate various items from your diet, starting with wheat and dairy products, and gradually reintroduce them one at a time to determine which, if any, is affecting your symptoms. In general, you need to maintain a varied, well-balanced diet, on the bland side. No smoking.
Adjunctive treatments: Try acupuncture and herbal remedies; visit an acupuncturist to obtain specific advice. Specifically, electrostim acupuncture may produce good results. Tai chi or qigong exercises with light stretching may also help.
I would suggest you discuss the possibility of trying these recommendations with your physician before considering invasive procedures like fulguration and resection.