What is Interstitial Cystitis?
It is currently estimated that anywhere from 4 to 12 million Americans suffer from a urinary condition known as interstitial cystits (IC) and two-thirds of these are women. IC involves scarring and inflammation of the bladder lining bringing about symptoms of urinary urgency, urinary frequency, and pelvic pain. Pain may vary in intensity as the bladder fills or empties with urine. For some the pain of IC is excruciating. Frequency of urination is not always related to bladder size and many people with IC have normal bladder capacity. Those with severe IC may urinate as many as 60 times a day and more than a dozen times a night. In women, symptoms are often reported to be worse during menstruation. In many cases these symptoms are severe and life-limiting.
What are the Causes of Interstitial Cystitis?
Although the causes of interstitial cystitis are not fully recognized, one theory suggests that its origins may lie in bladder scarring stemming from recurrent antibiotic use. No matter what the cause of this painful condition, in all cases IC involves inadequate bladder tissue repair, resulting in chronic inflammation of the bladder lining.
Treating Interstitial Cystitis with the Alkaline for Life® Diet
To date the search is still on for life-supporting, effective treatments for IC. A new therapy, however, pioneered by pH Sciences®, offers hope for IC suffers like Mary Smith. Mary was a client of mine who suffered from interstitial cystitis and because of this she had to plan her entire day around how close she would be to a bathroom. She often had to urinate more than 40 times a day. She endured frequent pain and near-constant urgency. Mary tried a variety of medications and watched her diet very closely, avoiding the foods she knew irritated her bladder. The medications were only of limited benefit, and brought with them some unpleasant side effects. Eating acidic foods like tomato sauce or drinking acidic beverages like coffee threw her symptoms into overdrive.
In my work with Mary and others I have noticed that IC sufferers most frequently find vast improvement in their symptoms after they begin to follow my Alkaline for Life® diet and supplement program. This makes sense to me—alkalizing the urine should help because with IC the bladder wall becomes hypersensitive and extremely vulnerable to the corrosive effects of highly acidic urine. Buoyed by my success with Mary and others, I welcomed the invitation to work with pH Sciences® on a pilot project to test my theory that the pH imbalance known as chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis might play a significant role in IC.
Low-grade, chronic, metabolic acidosis occurs when excessive metabolic acids accumulate within the body. As a result, the urine takes on an excessive acidic tilt and this acidity irritates the already inflamed bladder of IC sufferers. This acid-induced irritation compounds the severity and frequency of IC symptoms. The question of whether active management of the body's acid-alkaline balance could bring relief to those with IC was the topic of our pilot investigation.
Since 2000, pH Sciences® has been collecting data on symptom relief associated with the use of their novel alkalizing agent known as Alka-Plex®. The Alka-Plex® approach to interstitial cystitis symptom relief consists of a natural, nutritional therapy aimed at:
- reducing the acid content of aggravating foods and beverages,
- reducing the acidity of the urine, and
- lowering the systemic burden of chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis.
Two-Year Follow-Up Report on the Benefits of Alkalizing for Interstitial Cystitis
Between November 2000 and April 2001, Tamer Laboratories, the parent company of pH Sciences®, conducted an informal study of 18 interstitial cystitis patients using the alkalizing agent known as Alka-Plex®. My role was to collect and quantify the data on Alka-Plex® use and the reduction of IC symptoms. As detailed below, the results of this pilot investigation were extremely positive, and, in most cases, upon alkalization the IC sufferer experienced a significant reduction in pain, as well as urinary urgency and frequency.
After using Alka-Plex® for three months, the interstitial cystitis patients reported a 50 percent decrease in bladder and abdominal pain, a 31 percent reduction in urgency, and a 37 percent reduction in urinary frequency. These results were impressive, particularly given the difficult nature of IC.
In February 2003, a two-year follow-up assessment was conducted on the long-term benefits of Alka-Plex® use among the original interstitial cystitis study participants. As director of the Nutrition Education and Consulting Service in East Syracuse, New York, I designed and implemented this assessment. Fifteen of the original 18 participants were located and interviewed. Thirteen were female and two were male.
Five from the original group were no longer using Alka-Plex®. While one might expect that the "dropouts" did not benefit from product use, this was not the case. Four of the five subjects who discontinued use reported significant symptom relief with Alka-Plex®. The 10 IC suffers who were still using this alkalizing formula were interviewed in this investigation.
Long-Term Sustained Benefits of Using Alka-Plex® for Interstitial Cystitis Patients
- Over the two-year use of Alka-Plex®, the symptom relief benefits were not only substantial, but sustained.
- Bladder pain was reduced by 43 percent.
- Urgency of urination was reduced by 35 percent.
- Frequency of daytime urination was reduced by 38 percent.
- Frequency of night-time urination was reduced by 37 percent.
By comparing the effects of Alka-Plex® both over the short term and the long term, it became evident that symptoms improved, and remained improved, over time. In fact, the reduction in the frequency of day and night urination was greater over the longer period of time.
Given the level of pain experienced by interstitial cystitis sufferers, all participants considered a 34 to 43% reduction in pain to be very significant. One participant detailed that she was so desperate she had considered bladder removal. She couldn't stand up or eat without pain, nor could she sleep as she was "up all night" urinating. Her case was the most striking of all, as she reported a 100 percent recovery of bladder health and full symptom relief with the use of Alka-Plex®.
Another remarkable case of pain reduction involved a male subject with radiation cystitis. He had undergone radioactive "seed treatment" for prostate cancer. The treatment resulted in burning with urination. The pain continued to worsen until he found he would burn up to six hours after urination. With the IC medication Elmiron®, he experienced complete relief. He stopped taking Elmiron® after a month and used only Alka-Plex®, with continued complete relief. This man attributes his recovery to the use of the Alka-Plex® formula.
In addition to pain, urinary urgency and frequency are also common and devastating symptoms of IC. Our investigation suggests that these burdensome symptoms may also be alleviated by use of this alkalizing aid. One woman reported that before starting Alka-Plex® that she had to urinate 40 times a day. After using Alka-Plex®, urination was reduced to 25 times a day. In another case, one male participant reported urinating 30 to 40 times a day even while using the conventional interstitial cystitis medications (Elmiron® and Atarax®). When he added Alka-Plex®, his daytime urination was reduced by 30 percent and night time by 40 to 50 percent.
All users reported important collateral benefits from Alka-Plex® use. The most frequently mentioned was improvement of digestion with a correction of acid reflux and reduced bloating. Additionally, for many participants, reduced nocturnal urination meant much better sleep. The benefits of more restful sleep appeared to have far reaching healing effects both physically and emotionally.
My conclusion from this simple investigation was that reducing total acid load through the use of Alka-Plex® provided immediate, significant, and enduring benefits to the vast majority of the IC patients studied.
For information on the content and formulation of Alka-Plex® see http://www.alkalineforlife.com/nutrients/alka-plex-sports-nutrition.