Overactive Bladder Alternative Treatments

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on September 29, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on September 29, 2014

Overactive Bladder Alternative Treatments

Using alternative treatments is one option for people with overactive bladder (OAB) who may not be able to take medication or have surgery. This type of treatment is also for people who simply prefer options other than traditional medicine. Some of these treatments address OAB symptoms directly, while others are taken to promote the general health of the urinary tract.

As is the case with many alternative treatments, research of their effectiveness is often mixed. There is also less research overall when compared to traditional medicine treatments.

Many people have had success in using alternative methods in the treatment of disease and illness, including in the treatment of OAB. You should check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right for you before trying these or any alternative treatments.

Supplements and Herbal Treatments

As with any sort of medication or supplements, consult your doctor to see what may work best and to avoid side effects. Don’t assume that supplements and plants are harmless just because they are “natural.” Even “natural” supplements can interact with other drugs and side effects.

Magnesium Hydroxide

A few studies have shown that magnesium hydroxide can reduce the muscle contractions that cause incontinence. One study revealed that women who took 350 milligrams (mg) of magnesium hydroxide twice a day had positive results. They had fewer incidents of urge incontinence, woke up in the night less frequently to urinate, and urinated less often in general. You can find magnesium supplements in most drug and health food stores. 

L-Arginine

This amino acid helps create nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays an important role in the health of the lower urinary tract. Studies have also found it to help with bladder obstruction. L-arginine supplements are fairly common. L-arginine is also available in foods including:

  • meat and dairy products
  • walnuts
  • coconut
  • cereals
  • soybeans
  • chickpeas

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seed extract is a popular natural treatment for OAB. Specifically, many believe the water-soluble part of the pumpkin seed can build and strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles, which weaken in many women later in life. This is a result of low estrogen levels due to menopause. These weak muscles can lead to both urge and stress incontinence.

Cleavers

This climbing plant has been used for centuries to treat skin diseases. According to Collins Alternative Health Guide, cleavers are also said to be a tonic for general urinary health. They may have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties that could ease symptoms of OAB.

Mind and Body Approaches

Guided Imagery

This is a cognitive therapy that alters the way you think. You will be guided to a relaxed state of mind through imagery and thoughts. This may help you with bladder relaxation and reducing the urge to urinate.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a behavior-modification technique that helps people learn to control bodily functions. The method uses electrodes to gather and display information on a monitor that both the patient and doctor are watching. The monitor can show when the pelvic floor muscles are taut. The patient uses the feedback with guidance from a doctor to gain more control over a particular area. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with OAB can use biofeedback to re-train their bladder and pelvic-floor muscles to minimize the risk of leakage.

Acupuncture

Chinese medicine can offer a holistic approach to treating OAB. Several studies support acupuncture as a useful option. Treatment can be done once or twice a week for about 12 sessions, or until symptoms improve.

There are many possible alternative treatments for OAB. Your doctor can help you design a treatment plan that includes both traditional and alternative options depending on your symptoms and your preferences. Talk to your doctor before starting any herbs or supplements. This will help ensure your treatment plan has a minimal risk of side effects.

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