woman running to bathroom
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Treatment Without Medicine

When you’re choosing an alternative remedy for your overactive bladder, you probably have one question on your mind: What works? Consider these options. Your doctor can help you decide what’s best for you.

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woman with doctor
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Do Herbs Help?

For centuries, people have turned to herbs to fight common conditions without medicine. In many cases, there’s not much scientific evidence to prove that they’re effective or safe. Herbal remedies may be harmful if you take them with over-the-counter or prescription medications, or with other herbs and supplements. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking anything, even if it’s natural, to make sure it’s safe for you to use.

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japanese herbs
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Gosha-jinki-gan

This blend of 10 herbs has been studied for overactive bladder. Japanese researchers found it to be effective at decreasing urgency, frequency, and nighttime urination in both men and women with the condition.

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saw palmetto
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Saw Palmetto

A few studies suggest that the herb may be an effective treatment for a small group of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. It may help bladder symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.

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euphorbia resinifera
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Resiniferatoxin

Made from a cactus-like plant, this chemical may block signals from the nerves in the bladder that tell your brain you need to go. It may also help your bladder hold more urine.

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chili peppers
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Capsaicin

This spicy compound, which gives chili peppers their heat, is thought to work the same way resiniferatoxin does. Researchers believe it may help manage pelvic pain syndrome, of which OAB is often a symptom.

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kale
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Magnesium

This mineral is crucial for your whole body. It helps keep your blood pressure normal, bones strong, and your heart rhythm steady. It can also improve OAB symptoms by reducing muscle spasms and allowing your bladder to empty completely. Add magnesium-rich foods like kale, bananas, cashews, and pumpkin seeds to your diet if your doctor says that’s safe for you. If, for example, you have kidney disease, certain foods may not be safe for you.

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pumpkin seeds
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Pumpkin Seed Oil

The pumpkin could have benefits, too. Some researchers believe that part of the pumpkin seed may help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. That, in turn, could help control the muscles involved in urination.

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acupuncture
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Acupuncture

This ancient technique stimulates specific points on the body with very thin needles. Studies have shown that it can increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold and reduce the urgency and frequency of urination. Make sure you go to a licensed acupuncturist. The treatments are usually once or twice per week for 10-12 sessions.

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percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation
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Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS)

This technique, which is similar to acupuncture, has shown promise in the treatment of OAB, especially among those who couldn’t tolerate medicine or weren’t helped by it. During the 30-minute session, a health care professional inserts a thin needle into a nerve at your ankle. The needle is connected to a device that sends a mild electrical current to the nerve. Most experts recommend one session a week for 12 weeks.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/15/2015 Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on October 15, 2015

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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(10) Photo courtesy of Uroplasty

 

SOURCES:

American Urological Association.
FDA.
Nishimura, M. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, May 2014.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
National Institutes of Health.
National Association for Continence.
The Cleveland Clinic.
The Simon Foundation for Continence.
National Association for Continence: “Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for the Benefit of OAB."
Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation: A Clinically and Cost Effective Addition to the Overactive Bladder Algorithm of Care, Current Urology Reports, published online on Aug. 15, 2012.
NHS: “Bladder Problems Fact Sheet.”

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on October 15, 2015

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.