September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month
When I found out that September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month, I wondered what I should do, and also what being part of the IC community means to me. After some thought, I've decided to write several blog posts this month on the topic of Interstitial Cystitis. This first post will focus on why I decided to specialize my clinical practice to work with people who have IC.
Interstitial Cystitis can be a debilitating condition for many people, causing extreme pain that severely affects quality of life. I, myself, was diagnosed with IC, though thankfully my case was caught early and I have been able to manage it fairly well with dietary changes and herbal support. When I have a flare, I now think of my symptoms as my teacher. My bladder is telling me that something is out of balance (usually that I have been eating too much dairy!)
In 2021, I decided to launch my clinical practice again, after having been on a break for several years to raise my young children. As I was giving thought to who I wanted to work with in my new practice, I found the IC Wellness Podcast. As I listened to the interviews on the podcast, I felt like I was finding my clinical niche. People with IC are a small group, and I felt a kinship. It is estimated that 2.7 - 6.5% of the female population fits the criteria for IC diagnosis. Men can suffer from IC too, but male IC is commonly misdiagnosed as prostatitis.
Once I felt this was the direction I wanted to take, I began to look at Facebook groups that focus on IC. I thought I might get some good tips on what is working for folks. But this is where I learned just how debilitating the condition can be for some people. I read stories of people being in so much pain, they were considering surgery to have their bladders removed; stories of people who could not work anymore; stories of people who were now so depressed that suicide was on the table. It broke my heart. I wasn't sure if I could help in such drastic cases, but I knew from my own experience, and from my clinical practice, that herbs and diet can make a big difference in lots of conditions. I felt that I had to try.
So, that is how I came to focus on working with people who have Interstitial Cystitis.
To learn more about IC Awareness Month, visit icawareness.org. This organization has created 30 daily facts about IC for the month of September. I would like to share Daily Fact #18 - Stress and Interstitial Cystitis because I have found that stress is a major player with bladder flares. This info sheet draws a connection between the experience of stress and IC, and it gives lots of resources for how to reduce stress. It does not mention herbal medicine as a modality to reduce stress, but herbs can play a huge role in modulating the body's stress response and in calming tension. Want to learn more about the physiology of how stress can affect bladder pain? Check out my blog Top 5 Herbs for Interstitial Cystitis (that you might not have tried), and scroll down to the heading for Ashwagandha, or listen to my guest appearance on the IC Wellness Podcast - How Herbs Can Support those with IC.
Having trouble with your own Interstitial Cystitis?
My name is Jillian Bar-av and I am a Registered Herbalist and Licensed Nutritionist who works with busy women to help them have the energy to do what they love. I specialize in conditions that affect the reproductive system and urinary tract, such as PCOS and Interstitial Cystitis. I believe that it takes healthy people to create a healthy planet, and I want to make a difference for both.
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