Review of Alternative Therapies for Interstitial Cystitis

If you are a reader of my blog and articles, you know that I am interested not only in the clinical effects of acupuncture, but also acupuncture research, and physiology of acupuncture.  This is why it is unfortunate that there is a lack of studies for acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Interstital Cystitis, a condition which I have very positive clinical result with acupuncture.

There is one published case study which describes the acupuncture treatment course of a 31 year old women with IC for 5 years.  The treatment was very effective, over a course of 10 treatments there was a substantial reduction in pain and Interstitial Cystitis symptoms.  More work like this should be published along with larger trials, and different approaches.  There is also a very good article published at ITM Online about acupuncture for IC describing the theory of acupuncture and Chinese medicine for interstital cystitis.

There is a review of Complementary and Alernative medicine (CAM) therapies for IC which was published in 2002.  It covers many different approaches to treatment and management, including acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies, physical therapy, biofeedback, amongst others.  They conclude, and I agree, that a combination approach is often the most effective method for at managing this condition.  Which is why I combine acupuncture, acupressure, and sometimes, herbal remedies for my patients with interstital cystitis.

On the other hand,  grouping so many different therapies into one analysis makes it difficult to explore any one of the modalities on its own. Each of the different CAM approaches, like acupuncture, homeopathy, and physical therapy have their own theories of diagnosis and treatment.  Each must be examined on their own.  Which bring me back to my original point, the unfortunate state that there has not been much research on acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine for IC.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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