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Herbal Remedies for Overactive Bladder: The Evidence continued...

Saw palmetto: Several studies have focused on saw palmetto for urinary symptoms, particularly in men who have an enlarged prostate gland. Doctors aren't exactly sure how saw palmetto works, but they say its benefits might have something to do with its ability to fight inflammation, as well as its effects on testosterone levels (which affect prostate growth).

Sometimes naturopathic doctors recommend herbal remedies to target the underlying processes that may contribute to an overactive bladder, including inflammation and oxidative stress. For inflammation, Espinosa recommends anti-inflammatory remedies such as bromelain or quercetin. To combat the oxidative stress that can irritate nerves surrounding the bladder, he advises his patients to take antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and alpha-lipoic acid.

Before You Go Herbal

Herbal remedies seem pretty innocuous. After all, they're made from plants. However, Griebling cautions that what you see with an herbal remedy isn't always what you get. "Even if something is labeled as 'all-natural,' that doesn't mean it's without a potential risk," he says.

The FDA doesn't regulate herbal remedies like it does traditional medications. "There can be differences in what's in them from batch to batch or even from pill to pill," Griebling says. The ingredients listed on the label aren't always accurate indicators of what you'll find inside the bottle. When they were tested, some herbal remedies were found to contain prescription-strength medications, meaning they could share the same side effects as those medications.   

You don't have to avoid herbal remedies entirely. They can be a useful addition to the medications or treatments your doctor has recommended for overactive bladder. But when you do try herbal supplements, use a little bit of caution.

Tell your primary care provider or urologist which herbal supplements you plan to try, and make sure they won't interact with any of the drugs you're already taking. A naturopathic or holistic doctor, who specializes in the use of herbal remedies to treat medical conditions, can steer you to the right supplements based on your symptoms, the medications you're taking, and your general health.