Baking Soda for Interstitial Cystitis

Urinary System
Urinary System (Image: Image by, courtesy of hobvias sudoneighm)

Interstitial cystitis, or IC, is a disorder resulting in mild to severe pain and pressure in the bladder and the pelvic area. Women 30 to 40 years of age with irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia are most affected, but it also affects men and children. Symptoms vary and flare up when triggered by allergies, menstruation, sexual activity and stress. For immediate pain relief of severe flare-ups, baking soda is fast and effective.

Baking Soda

Baking soda raises the pH of urine quickly to relieve pain. Mix 1/2 to 1 tsp. of baking soda in a full glass of water. Stir, allow the mixture to rest one minute, then drink. Repeat this process three more times per day. Do not use baking soda if you are on a salt-restricted diet. The effects of long-term use of baking soda are unknown and not recommended. Short-term use of baking soda is effective at relieving symptoms of interstitial cystitis.


The main symptoms are painful, persistent, urgent and frequent urination in small amounts and pelvic pain. Another common symptom is increased stress from the pain and sleep interruptions to urinate. Most people experience relationship troubles and lower quality of life from pain during sex and frequent urination.The frequent urination occurs when the signal to the brain from the bladder gets confused and signals the urge to urinate more often. The pain occurs when leaks in the epithelium, the lining of the bladder, allow urine to irritate the bladder wall. This irritation is reduced by consuming baking soda.

Doctor Visit

Symptoms will lead your doctor to make the proper diagnosis. Prepare for your doctor visit a few days before. Keep a journal of how frequently and how much urination occurs and what type of fluids you drink. Make note of all symptoms, even seemingly unrelated ones, and all medication including prescription, over the counter, vitamins and other supplements. Write down all you want to discuss with your doctor including questions about baking soda, your dosage of baking soda and the results you have seen from using baking soda for interstitial cystitis pain. Your doctor will also perform tests to diagnose your condition. Testing includes urine tests, a pelvic exam, a potassium sensitivity test, and a cystoscopy, or biopsy.

Medical Treatment

Test results will help your doctor manage your symptoms. Your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, ibuprofen or tricyclic antidepressants to relieve the pain; antihistamines for the frequency and urgency; and Elmiron, also known as pentosan, to restore the lining of the bladder. Other treatments available for pain and frequency are nerve stimulation and bladder distention. To reduce inflammation, your doctor has the option to instill dimethyl sulfoxide and local anesthetics in your bladder. According to the Mayo Clinic's website, “Doctors rarely use surgery as interstitial cystitis treatment because removal of part or all of the bladder doesn't relieve pain and can lead to other complications.”

Home Treatment

In addition to medical treatment your doctor will suggest home-based changes including bladder training, wearing loose clothes, lowering stress, stretching and strengthening of the pelvic muscles, stopping smoking and changing your diet. Diet changes include removing bladder-irritating foods. The four biggest irritants are high concentrations of vitamin C, carbonated beverages, citrus products and caffeine, including chocolate. Other foods that irritate the bladder are tomatoes, pickled foods, spices, alcohol and artificial sweeteners.

Removing irritants from your diet is for long-term relief. For short-term relief of flare-ups, take a warm bath with baking soda or Epsom salt. If your pain is chronic or severe, call your doctor for an appointment to get testing, diagnosis and a long-term treatment plan.

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