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Holly Carling
Two studies reveal acupuncture to be as effective as drugs, and without side effects for the treatment of over-active bladder (OAB). Two research teams: the first a combination of Whipps Cross University Hospital and University College of London Hospital, and the Second, Department of Urology in the Second Affiliated Hospital of Guiyang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that acupuncture was extremely effective in treating OAB.
Over-active bladder is the sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control, resulting in “not making it to the latrine in time,” urinating eight or more times per day, or waking two or more times per night to urinate. Some people lose control altogether or leak and need to wear incontinence liners.
One study compared acupuncture to the drug solifenacin, also known as Vesicare. The results were 86.9% effectiveness with the drug, which is pretty impressive, however, the acupuncture was 90% effective! The drugs had the following side effects: dry mouth with extreme thirst, dry eyes, blurry vision, constipation, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, burning or painful urination, difficulty breathing and extreme exhaustion. The side effects for the acupuncture were none. That was notable. It was determined that acupuncture was safe, free from side effects, and effective!
The other study, the one done in China had a tighter acupuncture point selection. Only 3 points, and the same points used for everyone. This is referred to as a protocolized approach — quite common in research. Except in real practice, acupuncture points are selected with wider variation — customized to each individual person. This study found a 79% effectiveness, still pretty impressive, however, in actual practice the results would be closer to the 90% effectiveness rate (as in the first study and in clinical results). Also, in the later study, the patients selected had already tried conventional treatments, which failed. 79% success in this group is even more impressive!
There are also nutritional components that can aggravate the bladder. Contributing nutritional factors include any food that can be an irritant: spicy foods, certain fruit juices (orange, grapefruit and cranberry especially), caffeine (especially coffee, but including chocolate), alcohol, artificial sweeteners, sugar, carbonated drinks, (soda contains many irritants: carbonation, caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners), tomato sauces, MSG, and too little water (concentrated urine is an irritant too!) or too much fluid intake.
Acupuncture and nutritional therapies are effective in the treatment of patients with over-active bladder. This is especially true of those sufferers where medical measures, such as medications, have failed and they are unwilling or are not candidates for more invasive therapies. Bottom line: there are other choices, and acupuncture heads the list!
Want to hear more from Dr. Carling? Check out our podcast. Search for VitalHealth4You on your favorite podcast listening app or go to
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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with over four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective.” She looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place.
Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles.
Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.
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