Today I’d like to cover a problem that affects millions of people. It’s especially common if you’re over 50. It’s embarrassing to the sufferer, so people mostly talk about it in whispers. If they talk about it at all.
The problem is urinary incontinence – or “weak bladder.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories – if you haven’t had the experience yourself. Someone laughs or coughs and suffers an embarrassing leak. Or they have to make frequent trips to the restroom for sudden urges. In men, the problem may be frequent leaks because they have trouble emptying their bladder.
There are many causes of urinary incontinence. But there are effective natural approaches for most of them.
Stress incontinence is caused by pressure on the bladder. You sneeze, laugh suddenly or lift a heavy object… and leak. This is because the muscles that control the bladder are too weak. Childbirth and certain surgeries are common causes of this problem.
Fortunately, stress incontinence often responds to a simple exercise called “Kegels.” The idea is to strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine from your bladder.
To do Kegels, start by lying on your back. Now imagine you have a strong urge to urinate. Tighten up the muscles you’d use to hold the urine back. After 3 seconds, relax the muscles – also for 3 seconds.
Tighten and relax a total of 10 times, 3 times a day. It’s easy, it only takes a couple of minutes, and it can help reduce – or even eliminate – the leaks.
Bacteria are another common cause of urinary incontinence. Bacteria can irritate your urinary tract and lead to incontinence… especially if you have frequent bacterial build-up.
Certain nutrients and herbs often help. For example, vitamin C, uva ursi (bear berry) and cranberry have all proven effective against bacteria in the urinary tract.1
Vitamin C also helps because it’s important for collagen formation. Collagen is one of the building blocks of muscle – especially the fiber sheaths on muscle cells that contain blood vessels and nerves.
So vitamin C can help you build up the muscles you’re exercising to improve bladder control.
Another herb that can help is called buchu. This South African plant has been used for bladder problems for over 900 years. Modern research shows it has a cleansing effect in the urinary tract and promotes greater urine flow.2
Men may suffer urinary incontinence due to prostate problems. But there are several nutrients and herbs that may help them, as well.
Lycopene – a plant pigment found in tomatoes and watermelon – supports lower rates of prostate growth.3 So getting more lycopene in your diet may help. You can also get lycopene in supplement form.
Zinc is another nutrient that promotes prostate health. In fact, a healthy prostate contains higher levels of zinc than any other part of a man’s body. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of this mineral.
Many men get some relief with saw palmetto. This herb has been well studied and is proven effective.4 But I prefer Beta-sitosterol. It’s the active ingredient in saw palmetto, and works well in its concentrated form.5
Finally, one of the most effective herbs I’ve found to deal with prostate problems is a pollen extract called Cerniltin. Studies show it helps ease the prostate problems most likely to lead to incontinence.6
I don’t have the space to cover every cause of urinary incontinence here. Let alone the many nutrients and herbs that can help. But if you – or someone you love – suffer from this common problem, there is help.
With the right natural approaches, even a problem as embarrassing as urinary incontinence can become a thing of the past.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 Head KA. Natural approaches to prevention and treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):227-44.
2 See http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/herbal-remedies-for-overactive-bladder?page=2.
3 Schwarz S, et al. Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia. J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):49-53.
4 Marks LS, et al. Effects of a saw palmetto herbal blend in men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2000 May;163(5):1451-6.
5 Wilt T, et al. Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001043.
6 Dutkiewicz S. Usefulness of Cernilton [Cernitin] in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Int Urol Nephrol. 1996;28(1):49-53.