Herbal Remedies for Overactive Bladder: The Evidence continued...
Even without solid evidence to support their use, a few herbal remedies are formulated specifically for overactive bladder. Most of the herbal preparations contain not one, but several different herbs combined. Incorporating a variety of herbs is thought to have a synergistic effect, addressing a urinary problem from several different angles at once, Espinosa says.
Here are some of the most commonly used herbal remedies for overactive bladder, and how some experts think they work:
Gosha-jinki-gan: One of the best-studied herbal remedies for bladder problems is gosha-jinki-gan, which is made from a combination of several different herbs. A couple of small studies out of Japan found that gosha-jinki-gan improved urinary urgency, frequency, nighttime urination, and quality of life in both men and women with overactive bladder. Based on animal studies, researchers believe this herbal supplement increases bladder capacity and reduces the number of bladder contractions via its effects on the nervous system.
Buchu (Barosma betulina): South Africans have used preparations made from the buchu plant for hundreds of years to treat a number of different ailments, including bladder and kidney infections. The secret behind this medicinal plant likely lies in its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and diuretic properties. Buchu remedies may act like tonics to improve the overall health of the urinary system, according to Espinosa. "They nourish the bladder tissue -- make it healthier, more supple," he says.
Cleavers: This herb gets its name from the small hooked hairs on its leaves that cause it to "cleave" -- or attach to -- anything that touches it. Cleavers is an ingredient in herbal remedies for treating urinary problems, in part because of its diuretic effect. It also acts as a soothing coating along the inside of the bladder wall that may protect against irritation -- one cause of overactive bladder, Espinosa says.
Cornsilk: Gathered from the silky, hair-like threads of the corn stalk, cornsilk has been a remedy for urinary infections for so long that even the ancient Incas once used it. Cornsilk may have a soothing effect on the urinary tract.
Horsetail: This relative of the fern descends from gigantic plants that existed some 400 million years ago. Horsetail acts as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It's been used to treat kidney and bladder stones, urinary tract infections, and incontinence, although there isn't much research to prove its effectiveness in humans.