Natural Remedies for Overactive Bladder: Herbs, Bladder Training, and More

Try these natural remedies for overactive bladder to find relief.

If you have symptoms of overactive bladder syndrome, you might feel that your bladder is beginning to control your life.

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Is the urge to go interfering with your day-to-day activities? Are you afraid to venture too far from a bathroom? Are you tired because you have to continuously disrupt your sleep to get up and go? If you have symptoms of overactive bladder syndrome, you might feel that your bladder is beginning to control your life. But you don’t have to let it; try these natural remedies for overactive bladder to find relief.

Symptoms of overactive bladder

People with overactive bladder syndrome have a frequent and urgent need to urinate that is difficult to control. They may experience urine leakage or the involuntary loss of urine immediately after feeling the urge to urinate. Overactive bladder often causes the person to wake up multiple times during the night to visit the bathroom. The condition is more common in men than in women.

The problems with conventional drug treatment

Anticholinergic drugs like Enablex or Oxybutynin are the most commonly used drug treatments for overactive bladder. While they can help by decreasing the urge to urinate, anticholinergics should be used cautiously, as they have a long list of potential adverse side effects. These include changes in blood pressure, trouble with balance, constipation, and memory problems.[1]

Herbal remedies to try

  1. Gosha-jinki-gan is a Japanese traditional herb used to treat overactive bladder. In one study, 7.5 g of the herb taken each day for eight weeks significantly improved symptoms and reduced the number of times the women in the study urinated daily. The study found that the herbal supplement also improved the quality of life of over 50% of the women included in the study.[2]
  2. Pumpkin seed oil extract may also have beneficial effects for overactive bladder. Researchers have found that 10 g of pumpkin seed oil extract taken daily for 12 weeks resulted in decreased daytime frequency, nighttime frequency, urgency, and urgency incontinence in participants.[3]
  3. Antioxidants found in various foods and supplements might help to treat overactive bladder by reducing oxidative stress, which can contribute to the condition. An antioxidant called kaempferol, for example, helps to eliminate oxidative stress and ameliorate bladder irritation and overactivity in a laboratory study.[4] Kaempferol is found in berries, spinach, green tea, tomatoes, broccoli, and onions. Try eating foods rich in various antioxidants like berries, green leafy vegetables, green tea, grapes, and more to help with symptoms.
  4. Saw palmetto helps relieve bladder overactivity, especially in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.[5] This extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and can help to relax the muscles around the bladder to relieve pressure and relieve symptoms.[6]
  5. Silymarin, or milk thistle extract, has been shown to suppress bladder overactivity in animal models, but evidence in humans is still lacking.[7]

Self-care strategies

At home, there are several self-care tools you can use to improve your symptoms. Try the following ideas.

  • Keep a diary. Record every time that you urinate, and also keep track of your fluid intake. This can help you identify patterns and determine how much you are actually going to the bathroom each day. If you find that you consume much of your fluids all at once, try shifting to periodic fluid intake throughout the day.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help you to better control your bladder and prevent involuntary leakage. Training your pelvic muscles to become stronger makes a big difference for many people with overactive bladder.
  • Bladder training is a way to retrain your body to be able to hold urine for longer periods of time. This consists of learning to hold urine until certain time goals, which increase over weeks, learning to stop thinking about using the bathroom, and learning to resist the urge to go. You may need to schedule trips to the bathroom to make a significant change. Ask your doctor for specific tips and instructions on how to retrain your bladder.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which might be making your symptoms worse.
  • Don’t drink fluids near bedtime to reduce the amount of times you need to get up in the middle of the night.

Using these strategies at home can make a major difference in your symptoms. In one study, 91.3% of people who underwent a training program found that their symptoms improved after the first 30 minute training session, and even more experienced improvement after a second session.[8] Consult with your doctor about receiving proper education to help you implement these self-care strategies at home.

Share your experience

Do you have overactive bladder? What do you do to control your symptoms? Share your favorite natural remedies for overactive bladder in the comments section below.

[1] Rev Urol. 2013;15(3):93-6.

[2] Hinyokika Kiyo. 2008 Feb;54(2):95-9.

[3] J Tradit Complement Med. 2014 Jan;4(1):72-4.

[4] Int J Urol. 2014 Jan;21(1):94-8.

[5] Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2009 Mar;30(3):227-81.

[6] J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Mar 14;152(2):283-91.

[7] Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):840-5.

[8] Int Neurourol J. 2013 Mar;17(1):11-7.

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  • There is a growing specialty within physical therapy that focuses on pelvic floor therapy. Pelvic floor training with a physical therapist who specializes in this can be very useful as part of the treatment plan for overactive bladder.

    Dr. Jade

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