Many people tend to gravitate towards herbal remedies to manage symptoms. However, while going all-natural may sound like an attractive option, there isn’t enough scientific evidence that herbs are effective in treating OAB
Before taking herbal supplements, make sure to talk to your doctor. In some cases, they can cause more harm than good or cause side effects.
What are symptoms of an overactive bladder?
Overactive bladder refers to a group of urinary symptoms that include:
- Urinary urgency with or without urinary incontinence: Strong and sudden need to urinate that may cause bladder discomfort. Urinary incontinence refers to a lack of control over urination. Not all people with urinary urgency have incontinence. Those who have incontinence complain of uncontrolled leakage of urine.
- Urinary frequency: Urinating more often than usual.
- Nocturia: Increased need to urinate at night.
OAB is fairly common, affecting about 40% of women and 30% of men in the United States. Symptoms can be managed with medical treatment, although sometimes surgery may be necessary.
9 common herbal remedies for an overactive bladder
Common herbal treatments for overactive bladder include:
- Gosha-jinki-gan (GJG): Traditional Japanese herbal blend that is believed to act on the nerves around the bladder, decreasing the urge and frequency to urinate.
- Hachi-mi-jio-gan: Chinese herbal formulation that is supposed to lower bladder contractions, thus reducing the need to urinate.
- Saw palmetto: Shrub-like palm common in eastern parts of the U.S. that may calm the nerves around the bladder and reduce OAB symptoms.
- Buchu (Barosma betulina): Flowering plant native to South African mountain regions that is meant to reduce the urge to urinate.
- Cleavers (Galium aparine): Popular for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI) and OAB.
- Horsetail (Equisetum): Has antioxidant and inflammatory properties that are said to restore bladder health.
- Ganoderma lucidum (Linzhi or Reishi): Mushroom that is a common ingredient in many Eastern medicines and may help with OAB, especially when it is secondary to an enlarged prostate.
- Cornsilk (Zea mays): Packed with vitamins and antioxidants and traditionally used for UTI, although it may also help manage OAB symptoms.
- Capsaicin: Chemical compound isolated from chili peppers that is believed to act on the nerves around the bladder, increasing the capacity to hold more urine, although it may cause side effects such as pain and irritation.
Can dietary changes help with OAB?
What you eat or drink can affect your overactive bladder symptoms.
Foods to avoid:
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Carbonated drinks, including sodas and sparkling water
- Artificial sweeteners
- Spicy foods
- Some citrus fruits
- Dark and milk chocolate (not white chocolate)
Foods that may help:
- Whole grains and oatmeal
- Fresh and dried fruits
Chughtai B, Kavaler E, Lee R, Te A, Kaplan SA, Lowe F. Use of herbal supplements for overactive bladder. Rev Urol. 2013;15(3):93-96. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3821987/
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