Incontinence, Cystitis & Thrush

Incontinence and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Urinary incontinence is a common condition with aging, especially among women who have had children. Common actions such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing can lead to embarrassing involuntary losses of urine with incontinence. There are several underlying causes of incontinence according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):

Qi Deficiency and Urinary Incontinence

In TCM the Kidneys “govern water”, and are in charge of the metabolism of urination. Kidney Qi helps to hold the urine in the Bladder; therefore, Kidney Qi Deficiency could be the root cause of an urinary incontinence or an overactive bladder. With Spleen Qi Deficiency, symptoms could include:

  • A feeling of bearing down
  • Abdominal distention after eating
  • Loose stools

For indications of Qi Deficiency consider Sea of Qi formula.

Kidney Yin Deficiency and Urinary Incontinence

Bladder function and the Chinese medical Yin-Yang theory can also point to certain patterns of imbalance. The bladder’s ability to hold urine is a Yin function. With Kidney Yin Deficiency, the bladder will not be able to hold the urine with symptoms such as:

  • Frequent or sudden urination or urgency incontinence
  • Stress incontinence with a leakage of urine while lifting heavy objects, laughing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Night sweats, low grade feverish feeling, dizziness, poor memory, nighttime urination, and dry mouth

Kidney Yang Deficiency and Urinary Incontinence

Yang Deficiency would be common with urinary problems associated with prostate issues, but is also seen in women. Urinary incontinence associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency would include symptoms such as:

  • Clear urine
  • Profuse pale urination
  • Lower backache
  • A feeling of coldness throughout the body
  • Impotence and decreased libido

For indications of Kidney Yang Deficiency, consider Ancestor Treasure formula, possibly combined with Yin Valley formula, and be sure to read our Yin-Yang Theory article.

Liver Imbalances and Urinary Incontinence

In TCM, the Liver energetic organ system “governs the muscles and sinews” ; this means that the general function and health of the muscles are affected by Liver imbalances. Since muscles are involved with the ability to hold urine, an imbalance of the Liver can contribute to urinary incontinence or overactive bladder. Other signs of the Livers’ involvement are indicated when the condition is worsened stressful situations or are accompanied by frustration or anger. With Liver imbalances, consider Free and Easy Wanderer formula.

Lung Qi Deficiency and Incontinence

While not as common as the other patterns, Lung imbalances can be at the root of the cause of incontinence; here a couple of the reasons why:

  1. The Lungs and the Kidneys are closely interrelated in Chinese medicine, and an imbalance in one of the energetic organ systems can easily have an impact on the other.
  2. The Lung energetic organ system is central in the formation of Qi energy for the whole body, thus Spleen Qi Deficiency or Kidney Qi Deficiency could be related to Lung Deficiency.

You may notice incontinence occurring during asthma attacks or during coughing attacks with this pattern. For Lung Imbalances, consider White Tiger Return formula.

Stress Incontinence

The most common type of incontinence among women is stress incontinence with symptoms of involuntarily leaking urine while exercising, coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting with the sudden pressure to the bladder causes urine to leak. While weaknesses due to childbirth to muscles that hold the bladder in place is the most common cause, a weakening of the bladder itself can also occur. Other causes of stress incontinence include:

    • Nerve damage can be a result of or from treatment of gynecologic or pelvic cancers with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, or can be due to diseases such as diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and/or multiple sclerosis,
  • Following menopause, a decrease in estrogen can weaken the sphincter muscle in women
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer or prostate surgery can lead to stress incontinence in men

Interstitial Cystitis ( Urinary Tract Infection) and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Interstitial Cystitis(IC) is a painful bladder condition with frequent urination due to inflammation and irritation of the bladder wall. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this can be due to a number of imbalances. Because Chinese medical theory is able to differentiate IC into several different patterns, it is effective in addressing the condition utilizing herbal therapy that directly impacts the condition depending on how it uniquely presents in an individual.

These are some of the most common patterns of imbalance according to TCM. An individual is likely to have several of these underlying causes contribute to the full manifestation of Interstitial Cystitis:

Spleen Qi Deficiency Causing Interstitial Cystitis

Internal Dampness due to Spleen Qi Deficiency is a common pattern seen with IC. Frequent urination with clear urination would be indicative of this pattern. However, other symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency such as a pale complexion, low energy levels, dizziness, and cold limbs may also be present. Spleen Qi Deficiency is marked with loose stools, indigestion, and teeth impressions on the side of the tongue. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula

Liver Constraints Causing Interstitial Cystitis

The Liver can become discontent when emotional strain constricts the free flow of Qi according to TCM. With this pattern, there would be frequent urination with the feeling that you have not fully voided. Additional symptoms of Liver Qi constraints would include a feeling of distention or pain in the area of the ribs and breast, menstrual disorders, irritability, or abdominal distention and pain. Consider Free and Easy Wanderer formula and Yin Valley formula

Damp-Heat and Interstitial Cystitis

If Spleen Qi Deficiency is left untreated, Internal Dampness will begin to accumulate. If Liver Qi Stagnation persists, it will result in Heat internally. The two can combine to produce Damp-Heat with symptoms of frequent urination feeling urgent and burning or painful. Constipation, or sticky bowel movements that are difficult to expel fully may also be present. Consider Peaceful Warrior formula followed by Free and Easy Wanderer formula combined with Restore the Middle Way formula

Stomach Heat and Interstitial Cystitis

The Spleen and Stomach are paired organs and their functions are interrelated. If Spleen imbalances go on unchecked, the Stomach will eventually fall out of balance. Additionally, Liver Heat will transform in to Stomach Heat exacerbating the condition. Heat in the Stomach causes the Stomach function to speed up and food is dispersed too quickly rather than having a chance to digest fully. Additionally, the Stomach has a down-bearing function on foods and fluids; when fluids are directed down too quickly to the Bladder. Extreme hunger, frequent urination of possibly dark yellow urine, and constipation are some of the common symptoms of this pattern of interstitial cystitis. Consider Free and Easy Wanderer formula and Sage Mountain formula used together

Kidney Yin Deficiency and Interstitial Cystitis

This is one of the more common root imbalances associated with IC. The Kidney and Bladder are paired organs of the Water Element according to Chinese medicine; therefore, treating the Kidney energetic organ system treats the Bladder according to TCM. Interstitial cystitis presenting with a feeling of fever, dark urine, thirst, night sweats, and dry stools indicates an element of Kidney Yin Deficiency. Stomach Heat and Liver Heat can also be rooted in Kidney Yin Deficiency since the Kidneys are the root of all Yin of the body according to Chinese medicine. Consider Yin Valley formula

Kidney Yang Deficiency Causing Interstitial Cystitis

This type of interstitial cystitis would be marked with frequent, long, clear urination with dribbling at the end, urinary incontinence, lower back and knee achiness, impotence, severe fatigue, tinnitus, pale complexion, and a feeling of cold in the body. Yang Deficiency is rooted in Yin Deficiency and can be tricky to address; read the Yin Yang article to fully grasp this concept. Consider Yin Valley formula and Ancestor Treasure formula used together

Blood Stagnation and Interstitial Cystitis

This pattern can be serious and requires local professional health support.

This pattern can mimic a urinary tract infection, or can be seen alongside a urinary tract infection. Clearing the infection would be the first step. The most effective herbal remedy for UTI’s is a maceration of uva ursi leaf. A maceration, or cold infusion of the leaves overnight, is made with ½ cup dried leaves to 2-3 cups of water and is drunk throughout the day for 10 days.

If there is no infection and there is painful cloudy urination, possibly with blood or clots, Blood Stagnation would be indicated. Consider Stasis in the Lower Palace formula

Candida (Thrush) and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Candida-Yeast Overgrowth and Spleen in Chinese Medicine

The important thing to understand with a proliferation of candida or yeast is that this occurrence is not a random health condition that has stricken you. Fungus and candida require a damp environment in order to thrive; in our bodies, internal pathogenic Dampness must first develop before yeast and candida proliferate. Yeast and fungal overgrowth depends on a body with a compromised terrain and are simply opportunistic when presented with this type of imbalance.

How Does Internal Dampness Develop?

Internal Dampness is typically due to Spleen Qi Deficiency or a damaged Spleen Organ according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Generally, Cold foods and greasy foods are at the root of Spleen damage, but many pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and chemotherapy are very Cold and will Damage the Spleen also. You may read that pharmaceuticals cause candida to develop; this is incorrect according to TCM; rather, the pharmaceuticals damage the Spleen, thus causing Internal Dampness and resulting in candida and fungal overgrowth. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula.

Diabetes and Candida-Yeast

Likewise, diabetes does not create candida or yeast; rather, the pancreas is part of the Spleen energetic organ system, and Spleen Qi Deficiency is indicated with diabetes, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, or hypoglycemia. One of the main symptoms of candida or fungal overgrowth is sugar cravings; this turns out to be an indication of a compromised Spleen as well. Additionally, consuming large amounts of sugary foods can damage the Spleen Qi.

Digestive Problems Associated with Candida-Yeast

The Spleen energetic organ system is in charge of the transformation and transformation of foods according to Chinese medicine and is central in the body’s ability to digest food efficiently. Bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain are all symptoms of an overgrowth of fungus or yeast in the gut, but are also indications of Spleen imbalances. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula.

Skin problems with Candida-Yeast Overgrowth

Many skin issues such as eczema, rashes, or psoriasis can have an element of Internal Dampness; especially if these skin problems tend to be weepy. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula.

Fungal Infections

Many have had a nail fungal infection or skin fungal infection that just won’t go away. This is because the most common course of action is to first resort to topical antifungal medications of essential oils such as tea tree essential oil. While these efforts may result in temporary gains and relief, the condition returns because the Internal Dampness has not been address. Fungus is notoriously opportunistic; you only need to take a stroll in the woods after a good rain to witness a huge bloom of various funguses such as mushrooms to further understand this concept.

Internal Dampness will combine with other imbalances to create very complicated disease patterns. Often, symptoms of candida can be wildly diverse; this is likely an indication that the Dampness has begun to impact other organ systems in addition to the Spleen.

Damp-Heat Indications

Damp-Heat is often the result of Liver Qi Stagnation that is unresolves and develops in to Heat in the body. The Heat combines with the Internal Dampness to create viscus phlegm, inflammation, or colored discharges. As Damp-Heat continues, it congeals and creates Qi Stagnation and possibly Blood Stagnation since Blood goes where Qi goes. Consider Peaceful Warrior formula to clear Liver Fire for a few months before moving on to Free and Easy Wanderer formula to sooth the Liver.

  • Vaginal discharges with color and odor. Consider Restore the Middle Way formula and Peaceful Warrior formula
  • Phlegm-Fire attacking the Heart: irritability, palpitations, disturbing dreams, depression and confusion. Consider Blood Mansion formula and Restore the Middle Way formula.
  • Damp-Heat in Liver: Jaundice or acute hepatitis, acute pancreatitis, pain on the sides around the ribs.These conditions will require immediate care from your local health care provider.
  • Damp-Heat injuring the Spleen: abdominal distention and discomfort, abdominal masses, alternating constipation and diarrhea with foul odor, or nausea and vomiting. Urinary tract infection and painful urination
  • Lung-Phlegm: cough with phlegm, asthma, chest congestion, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia..

Damp-Cold Indications

Loose stools, abdominal distention and fullness, no appetite, white or clear vaginal discharge.

Candida Cleanses

There seems to be a misconception that chronic candida and fungal infections can be quickly cleared with some types of herbs and probiotics. This would bring only temporary relief, as the underlying organ level imbalances that allow a Damp environment in your body must be present for yeast and candida to flourish. You must support the Spleen energetic organ system to experience lasting relief from candida and yeast.