Overactive Bladder: The alternative treatments

Overactive Bladder: The alternative treatments

When a person has an overactive bladder, he or she suddenly feels the urge to urinate, irrespective of the volume of urine in the bladder. These symptoms can be treated with certain prescription medications, as administered by the physician. However, one may also derive some benefits from alternative treatments such as therapies, herbs, and supplements, but there is very little scientific evidence to back them up.

Some alternative treatments directly address the symptoms of an overactive bladder.
Others are concerned with the overall health of the urinary tract.

There are no scientific studies to show that alternative treatments have similar effects
like the Kegel exercises and bladder retraining. The patient is advised to consult his or her physician before embarking on any form of alternative treatment. It should be noted that under no condition should alternative treatments replace conventional ones.

So what exactly are these alternative treatments? Let’s find out…

Herbs and supplements

We know that most supplements and herbs are natural. However, this does not change the fact that they can interact with the medications you have been taking, and in a negative way at that. You are advised to consult your physician about the supplements and herbs you are considering. With this, you can avoid unnecessary side effects.

  • Magnesium hydroxide: Studies have shown that magnesium hydroxide can minimize the spontaneous contractions of the muscles that cause incontinence. A particular study showed that magnesium hydroxide caused an improvement in urinary incontinence in women. However, it was also accompanied by side effects such as cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Supplements of magnesium hydroxide can be found in health food and drug stores.


  • L-arginine: L-arginine is an amino acid. It helps in the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is extremely important in the physiology of the lower urinary tract. Very few studies have been carried out on the effect of L-arginine on the overactive bladder. A particular study which X-rayed the supplement Edicare, (having 115 milligrams), showed that the amino acid plays helpful roles in overactive bladder, especially in adults. Supplements of L-arginine are common and can be found easily. They are also rich in foods like walnuts, meats and dairy products, cereals, coconuts, chickpeas, and soybeans. People who have the following conditions would do well to avoid L-arginine:


  • Arginine allergy
  • Hypoglycemia or diabetes
  • High potassium levels
  • Disorders of the immune system
  • Bleeding disorder

Pregnant women and children are advised to steer clear from L-arginine because of a lack of evidence concerning its safety.

  • Pumpkin seeds: The extract of pumpkin seeds is a well-known form of treatment for an overactive bladder. A study conducted recently has shown that oil from the pumpkin seed has the potential to treat or prevent overactive bladder symptoms and other disorders of the urinary system. However, more research is being carried out on the therapeutic effects of pumpkin seed oil and overactive bladder.


  • Cleavers: The cleavers have been used for hundreds of years for the treatment of skin ailments. The Collins Alternative Health Guide has hinted that cleavers may be a tonic for general urinary health. They may also have diuretics and anti-inflammatory properties that may minimize the symptoms experienced in overactive bladder.


  • Other herbs and supplements that may be used include corn silk, capsaicin, kohki tea. However, very little or no scientific studies have been conducted on this.

Mind and body approaches

This approach may help greatly in the treatment of overactive bladder. Symptoms may
be eased using the following approaches:

  • Guided imagery: This is an aspect of cognitive therapy that changes a person’s thought patterns. This is done under the guidance of a practitioner. You will be made to relax your mind and your thoughts using thoughts and imagery. The guided imagery therapy may be done with good and soothing music combined with nature sounds. This can help a person to cope mentally and physically. Guided imagery can help relax the bladder and minimize the frequency of urination.

  • Biofeedback: This is a technique aimed at changing a person’s behavior, allowing the person to control bodily functions. With these, the patent can retrain the muscles of the pelvic floor and the bladder, thus reducing the risk of leakage. The monitor will show you when the floors of the pelvic muscles are taut. The biofeedback method can be used to help a person gain more control over his bladder.

  • Acupuncture: A number of studies have supported acupuncture as a potentially useful option. In acupuncture, needles with a very fine tip are inserted in specific areas of the body. The aim is to enhance energy flow all over the body. Treatment is done at least once weekly, for 12 sessions. Treatment may also be done until the patient witnesses an improvement in his or her condition.


  • Behavioral therapies: Focusing on your behavior may also help with OAB symptoms. These therapies include:
  • behavioral therapy
  • hypnotherapy
  • meditation involving visualization and relaxation exercises

Research suggests that hypnotherapy isn’t effective when done alone. A pilot study of hypnotherapy and behavioral therapy suggests that adding hypnotherapy can improve how patients feel about their OAB, but more studies need to be done.

Hypnotherapy in the study involved three 60-minute sessions with a hypnotherapist for six to eight weeks. These sessions involved replicating behavioral therapy sessions and going through hypnotic induction using guided imagery and therapeutic suggestion. At the end of the study, those who did hypnotherapy reported greater improvement.

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