In a previous article, I wrote how I cured a case of chronic cystitis with herbs uva ursi and juniper berry. This was back in 2001, before I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and had relatively few symptoms. I took the herbs for two months, was healed, and had no further problems.
But by 2007, the Lyme was in full swing and nearly every system of my body was affected. I became severely anemic, had inflammation in almost every joint of my body, and was experiencing problems with my heart. I also developed another case of chronic cystitis—a more complicated cystitis that seemed to be related to other issues.
Where in 2001, my only symptom was a burning sensation on visiting the restroom, the cystitis that began in 2007 gave me a sense of extreme urgency that woke me from sleep every 90 minutes. Each time, I would stumble to the bathroom, expecting to pass a quart or more of fluid, often to be greeted with only a few scant drops! The urgency was at its worst in the evening, between 9 and 11 p.m. In the later part of the night, it was accompanied by extreme thirst, dizziness, and dry eyes and mouth. I would wake up, guzzle a glass of water, visit the bathroom, and go back to sleep, only to do it all again in an hour or two.
Exhausted, I made an appointment with my doctor and was tested for urinary tract infection as well as diabetes, but both came up negative. He said I appeared healthy according to the tests and that he didn’t know what to do for me.
So I again turned to the Internet.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was experiencing the same condition as I had in 2001—chronic bladder inflammation, also known as interstitial cystitis. Urgency (the feeling of needing to go) is a very different sensation from the burning I had previously felt, and the concurrence with the other symptoms made me think something more than bladder inflammation was going on. As it turns out, I was right—Lyme disease and several co-infections were going on. They wreak havoc on every major system of the body and produce endotoxins (waste products) that are quite acidic. The urgency was likely coming from the inflamed condition of my bladder that resulted from passing abnormally acid urine day in and day out.
While I was clueless to all of this, I came across posts by people with nighttime urgency who had found relief with two supplements: aloe vera and olive leaf extract. I began taking them and felt about 50% relief by the second night. Within a week, the urgency was gone! I was still waking up to drink water, but I didn’t need to visit the bathroom except when my “tank” was full.
I took two capsules of each, three times a day the first week and then reduced to two capsules of each twice a day. It didn’t seem to matter when I took them.
I stayed on this regimen for about a month until the bottles ran out as I was tight on cash and wanted to see if I was ready to go off them before repurchasing. I wasn’t! I stayed on them continuously for about a year and then found that I was able to stop. However, my symptoms would eventually return—usually when I was feeling bad in other ways as well—and so I have kept them on hand, always ready to do a course of a month or two if needed.
Once I was diagnosed with Lyme, I realized that cystitis for me coincides with Lyme flares and with the post-exercise recovery period, which aggravates many of my chronic symptoms. I may not be able to completely control these inner conditions that lead to acidic urine, but I’m certainly grateful that I can protect my bladder, my sleep and my sanity by taking aloe vera and olive leaf!
One thing that’s important to note: per the recommendation of other interstitial cystitis (IC) sufferers, the aloe vera I bought was one that was free of anthroquinones, a chemical found in the green part of aloe leaf (the skin) that tends to aggravate cystitis. The bottle should say “inner leaf” or specifically state that it is IC-friendly. The olive leaf extract I bought was high in oleuropein (should be at least 15%, the higher the better). That brand is no longer available, but I’ve used both Barlean’s liquid olive leaf extract and Nature’s Way Olive Leaf to good effect.
And one more thing: if you suffer from digestive problems, you may wish to take these herbs together with a warming herb or herbal supplement. The Chinese are experts in herbal medicine and always combine herbs that are said to have a “cold nature” together with herbs of a “warm nature.” Cold and warm in Traditional Chinese Medicine are metaphors that describe certain real, physical properties of foods and herbs. Aloe vera leaf is considered very cold in nature and taking it for a long time may heal your bladder but weaken your digestion. This can be avoided by taking it with warming herbs like garlic, ginger, or cinnamon, or a nice chai or licorice root tea that will balance it out.
Have aloe and olive leaf helped your chronic cystitis? Let us know in the comments!