Allopathic medicine has acknowledged a relationship between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and interstitial cystitis (IC) from population studies but due to its model of healing it has little to say about the association. It exists but we don’t know why.
According to the science of Ayurveda the vast majority of disease begins in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is why nutrition is the first mainstay of therapy. Of course it depends on what kind of nutritional advice is given. Molecular nutritional advice is at best guess work based on anecdotal IC sufferers’ reports.*
So what is the link between IBS and IC? It’s estimated that about 70% of people with IC have some signs and symptoms of IBS. From my vantage point in dealing with patients it’s more like approaching 100%. And this makes sense because of what I just related about the origin of almost all chronic diseases.
* For more information, please read ‘Foods Heal: Why Certain Foods Help YOU Feel Your Best‘.
The Relationship of IC and IBS
The symptoms of IBS are related to poor digestion. This leads to the increased qualities of hot and mobile which leave the GI tract and lodge in weak bodily areas predisposed to disease. The mobile quality leads to the frequency, urgency, getting up at night, and at times incontinence if certain characteristics of the continence mechanism are present. The hot quality leads to the intermittent burning in the bladder and vagina leading to vulvodynia like symptoms. In men the symptoms of chronic prostatitis are similar except that the perineal burning is often more severe.
Approximately 60-70% of people with IC become asymptomatic and their symptoms dramatically lessen over time. They experience minor flares that are tolerable and dealt with by small interventions that quiet the above qualities. The remaining 30% of patients become debilitated with symptoms.
More often than not this debilitated group of patients have not only IC symptoms (bladder, prostate, and vagina) but also extreme bowel symptoms as well. This leads to the diagnosis of IBS. Unfortunately there is little from the matter or molecular science discipline to deal with these symptoms as well. So this unfortunate group of patients have IC and IBS both of which are not managed well by the current medical system. Nothing to be offered.
Understanding IBS and Mucous
Incapacitating IC almost always has a component of IBS that is also severe. Since all disease starts in the GI tract the management of these severe cases must hinge around dealing with the problems in the GI tract. Typically when the GI symptoms are managed the IC symptoms take care of themselves.
As I talked about earlier the cause of IBS is poor digestive strength. Once this process of poor digestion is set in motion the accumulation of undigested unprocessed food disrupts the absorption and assimilation of food leading to toxicity.
All of these digestive disruptions lead to increased mucous production by the lining of the GI tract. Because of the hot and dry qualities in the GI tract this mucous over time becomes thick ropey and creates intermittent functional bowel obstruction, leading to bloating and pockets of gas. Another serious problem with this inspissated mucous is that it is incredibly inflammatory which produces severe cramping pain.
Over years this mucous becomes a major obstacle to clearing symptoms not only in the bowel but also the bladder. Both systems then create symptoms that interrelate causing a constellation of symptoms that are uninterpretable by allopathic medicine.
Healing Cystitis + IBS: What To Do
If early on in symptoms using licorice or slippery elm can serve as demulcents to the problematic mucous. Until the mucous is cleared the symptoms won’t be relieved. But the healing process of bowel recovery is another hurdle that has to be managed until the gas and bloating is controlled.
The important realization to the management of these difficult situations is that the process of healing from the science of Ayurveda view requires time. There is no magic fix, no magic pill, no magic operation. What’s needed is patience, diligence, and the courage to do the work.
All the best in your healing journey,
Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.