We are constantly bombarded with different claims of natural remedies that are supposed to calm bladder problems and incontinence. Using herbal teas and plants is one of these.
Urinary tract infections and bladder inflammation are common yet irritating conditions. Women in particular are more prone to UTIs than men due to the close proximity of the urethra to the anus. Bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to colonize the lining of the bladder and urethra. However, both men and women should pay close attention to bladder health to prevent problems.
Finding the Truth: Could Herbal Tea and Plants be the Answer?
There is ultimately less caffeine in green tea than traditional tea with milk and sugar. Caffeine is a known a bladder irritant, so this does make green tea a suitable alternative to normal tea and coffee. Bladder Control Tea for Women, a herbal tea by Bell Lifestyle Products is one of the many recommended herbal teas for bladder problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that women who drink herbal and green tea powder have much lower rates of bladder cancer. Green tea may also help prevent recurrence of bladder cancer in men. LPI reports that this link may be due to the effects that the flavonoids in the tea have on cell signalling. But what exactly is it in green and herbal teas that makes so many experts insist on their benefits?
One project found that drinking green tea may help alleviate urinary incontinence in middle-aged and older women specifically. Professor Andy Lea from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute collaborated with a Japanese research team to assess the effects of green tea in a cohort of Japanese women aged between 40 and 75. The results showed that those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily were less likely to have incontinence. The main conclusion from Andy Lea was that green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is often found in apple skin, plums, onions, hazlenuts, pecans and carob powder. Research has shown EGCG to be mainly responsible for the inhibitory effect of green tea on urinary stone formation. This substance has been shown to cause a dose-dependent decrease in urinary bladder cancers. EGCG can interfere with oxidation and helps minimize oxidative damage in cells. It ultimately provides powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrosis, antioxidant and cell productive benefits.
Studies show the use of supplements in green tea protect against inflammation of the urinary tract. It may therefore be a viable option for the treatment of inflammatory bladder conditions, such as interstitial cystitis. It has also been proven to prevent bladder cancer. Michael Chancellor, Professor of Urology, asserts “We discovered that catechins found in green tea protected bladder cells from inflammation”. Catachin is a type of natural phenal and antioxidant, a plant metabolite. It has been implicated in benefiting almost every organ system in the body. The anti-flammatory activities of catechins is partially due to their suppression of leukocyte adhesion to endothelium.
Green tea and herbal tea have also been proven to cleanse the bladder of unwanted waste and any irritants. Clearing the bladder of irritants can help it maintain healthy function and creating a calming effect. Herbal teas in particular have been shown to reduce water retention. These teas contain bladder-protecting properties and hydrating effects, restoring a troubled or irritated bladder. Teas such as alfalfa leaf tea demonstrate an alkaline effect, which reducing the acidity of urine. Your bladder is therefore less irritated and much calmer.
The Use of Medicinal Plants
The use of medicinal plants for incontinence can sound questionable and unlikely. However, phytotherapy is a medical practice that focuses on the impact of plants on various incontinence symptoms. Herbs can be bought from a qualified herbalist, or you can discuss it with a natural health practitioner.
Interestingly, researchers have found certain plants to have the following benefits:
- Improving inflammation
- Reducing urine protection
- Diminishing the effects of menopause
- Avoiding constipation
Here are a few interesting ones that deserve mentioning:
- Raspberry leaf. This is an astringent herb, which has been proven to strengthen the uterine and pelvic muscles. It can also help with pelvic organ prolapse.
- St. John’s Wort. Known to help depression, these can help incontinence caused by nerves problems.
- Horsechestnut. The bark from this tree is effective for inflammation of the prostate. It is often used for overflow or urge incontinence.
- Carob Tree. Interestingly, seeds of this tree are known to prevent constipation. This is specially helpful in preventing faecal compaction and overflow incontinence.
- Yarrow. This is a bitter herb that can tone the bladder and uterus. It is also a urinary antiseptic, clearing congestion and provides good circulation to the pelvic area.
Irritation to the Bladder
Health experts warn that for some, plants can actually be a diuretic. Horsetail is a known diuretic in many people. Taking more than one herb at the same time can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects, such as upset stomach or a frequent urge to urinate. They do not have side effects when used appropriately and at recommended dose.
The negative effects of tea can be similar to that of plants. According to various studies, green tea is one of the beverages that have the potential to irritate the bladder. In excess, green tea can be counterproductive. Like all drinks that contain a small amount of caffeine, you should be careful to drink the tea in moderation. Caffeine is a known bladder irritant, and can rapidly worsen incontinence if consumed in excess. This can cause you to urinate frequently. Green tea does have a diuretic effect. As specialist Dr Chanceller insists, “if you drink too much of it you get a higher amount of caffeine beside the extra liquid. Drinking excessive fluid is just counterproductive”. In particular, people with urge incontinence are advised to closely watch their consumption of green tea. Evidence has also shown that herbal tea is not safe for Kidney Disease. You should ask your Doctor whether it is safe for you to drink tea with a serious Kidney condition.
Ultimately, green tea can be both effective and counterproductive to the bladder. Green tea can work as an antioxidant and calm the bladder. However, you should be extremely careful with ensuring you drink it in moderation. You should always talk to a Doctor before trying a herbal remedy to ensure it is suitable for your health condition. Similarly, although plants do show promise, you should always consult your doctor before starting any complementary treatments.