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Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis happens when the walls of the bladder become swollen. This causes an urgent need to urinate, pain or blood when urinating, and pain during sex.

It is treated with medicine. Some people may need surgery. Natural therapies have been used to ease pain. They should not be used in place of standard care.

Natural Therapies

May Be Effective

These therapies may ease symptoms:

  • Dietary changes C1
  • Physical therapy B1, B2

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Arginine A1
  • Guided Imagery D3
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction methods D1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse. For example, arginine should not be taken by people with heart problems.



Herbs and Supplements

A1. Korting GE, Smith SD, et al. A randomized double-blind trial of oral L-arginine for treatment of interstitial cystitis. J Urol. 1999;161(2):558-565.

Physical Therapy

B1. FitzGerald MP, Payne CK, et al. Randomized multicenter clinical trial of myofascial physical therapy in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and pelvic floor tenderness. J Urol. 2012;187(6):2113-2118.

B2. FitzGerald MP, Anderson RU, et al. Randomized multicenter feasibility trial of myofascial physical therapy for the treatment of urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes. J Urol. 2009 Aug;182(2):570-580.


C1. Oh-Oka H. Clinical Efficacy of 1-Year Intensive Systematic Dietary Manipulation as Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies on Female Patients With Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome. Urology. 2017 Aug;106:50-54.

Other Therapies

D1. Kanter G, Komesu YM, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a novel treatment for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Int Urogynecol J. 2016 Nov;27(11):1705-1711.

D2. Pazin C, de Souza Mitidieri AM, et al. Treatment of bladder pain syndrome and interstitial cystitis: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J. 2016 May;27(5):697-708.

D3. Carrico DJ, Peters KM, et al. Guided imagery for women with interstitial cystitis: results of a prospective, randomized controlled pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jan-Feb;14(1):53-60.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC