My Experience of Treating Frequent Urination with Chinese Medicine
“I have a tiny bladder…” That’s the excuse I used to give for why I would need to go to the bathroom every hour. I’m not kidding when I say that I know where every bathroom is in the stores we frequent. And I’ll never forget the time I went to the bathroom at home before starting the hour and 25 minute drive to my parent’s house, barely making it the 45 minutes to the rest stop, and THEN proceeding to run into their house and immediately heading to the bathroom. The abnormal frequency I would need to urinate was driving.me.crazy.
Did you know that a healthy person should feel the need to urinate four to six times per day, and either just once or not at all during the night? If urinary frequency exceeds ten times during the daytime, or more than twice at night, it may be considered pathological. I did a tally and realized I was going at least twelve times a day and for sure once a night, maybe twice if I drank a lot before bed. “I’m too young for this,” I remember telling myself. I’m an active person, and it was really starting to cramp my style. I know I’m not alone in this; I’ve joked with many friends over the years about having “a tiny bladder.”
What I AM excited to share is that this year I decided to get serious about fixing the problem. I started seeing an acupuncturist/herbalist in April 2017 and over the course of the last three and a half months, she has successfully helped me get down to going seven times a day! I can’t express how free I feel; it truly is a relief (pun intended) that I have dreamed about for years. So many things we think we have to live with can be addressed using a combination of food therapy, acupuncture, and herbs. My body has been telling me for years that something was out of balance, and I finally listened!
So what did I do? I began with removing caffeine (a known urination instigator ) for seven days. My acupuncturist said if it didn’t make a difference (which it didn’t) then there was something more “structural” happening on the interior.
In TCM there is Yin & Yang. To be in balance, we strive to have close to equal parts of both. In today’s “go-go-go” lifestyle we use a lot of Yang energy which burns up Yin. My acupuncturist likened it to candle wax (Yin) & a flame (Yang). If you keep burning the candle, all the wax gets used up. But you NEED that wax! In our body, Yin is important for interior functions and building new tissue. It is both lubricant and fuel. In my case it would help hold the bladder up and keep it strong. She noted through light abdominal massages that the tissue around my bladder was dry, hard, and weak–it wasn’t performing properly because the moisture was gone.
Rebuilding Yin is a slow process, but extremely important. When Yin is deficient, we need to avoid foods which stimulate us to use up energy we don’t really have, like stimulants and the more heating and drying pungent spices that release energy from our body (e.g., peppers, cinnamon, garlic, onion, etc.) We need to eat Yin-promoting foods which combine deep and subtle nourishment with moistening and often cooling qualities. Yin foods travel deeply into the body replenishing our core and soothing our overworked system. They include many deeply nutritious foods: creatures/plants from the seabed, nuts, seeds and beans, and many cooling fruits. Since building Yin is a slow process, it was important to treat me with more than food. In addition to acupuncture to help strengthen me internally, my herbalist also prescribed certain herbal formulas to help build Yin. While I am a huge proponent for treating as much as I can with food therapy, I truly believe I wouldn’t have had the success I have had thus far without seeing an acupuncturist/herbalist.