Interstitial Cystitis & Bladder Symptoms in Lyme

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Interstitial Cystitis and Bladder Symptoms

Some patients with Lyme disease and bartonella infection have symptoms similar to those seen in a bladder infection. These symptoms include

  • urge to urinate,
  • bladder pain and pain on urination,
  • bladder cramping, and
  • increased frequency of urination.

When these symptoms occur, a bladder infection should be ruled out by a healthcare provider. When it is ruled out, these symptoms are often the result of a condition called Interstitial Cystitis. Depending on a person's age and other risk factors, a urologist may need to evaluate the bladder with a fiberoptic scope to assure that cancer is not present and to confirm a diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis.

In this article I review the ways to support Interstitial Cystitis with natural medicines in a Lyme disease treatment.

Marty Ross MD Discusses Interstitial Cystitis

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There are many possible causes of Interstitial Cystitis. Based on my experience, bartonella is a common cause when these symptoms are seen in Lyme disease. But the Lyme germ, borrelia, may cause this problem too. The end result of these infections is inflammation of the lining of the bladder.

Natural Medicines for Bladder Issues in Lyme Treatment

Treatment is directed at rebuilding the healthy lining of the bladder and decreasing inflammation. Glycosaminoglycans for the bladder lining can protect the lining of the bladder. These are supplied by glucosamine sulfate. Also the sulfur from glucosamine sulfate has a pain reducing and anti-inflammatory effect on the damaged bladder lining. L-arginine helps to increase nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide may decreased production of inflammatory prostaglandins. Quercetin also helps by decreasing histamine release from allergies and through its anti-inflammatory effects by decreasing both the production of inflammatory cytokines from infections like borrelia and bartonella and inflammatory prostaglandins. (Quercetin is helpful in die-off reaction and pain.)  A bladder ease herbal combination product includes all of these substances in addition to others that help the bladder. Ultimately treating the borrelia or bartonella infections with antimicrobials may decrease inflammation cytokines and can cure the Interstitial Cystitis.


Diet modification can help by removing inflammatory and allergic foods. Eliminating the following foods is helpful for some: aged cheeses; alcohol; artificial sweeteners; chocolate; citrus juices; coffee; cranberry juice; fava and lima beans; meats that are cured, processed, smoked, canned, aged, or that contain nitrites; most fruits except blueberries, honeydew melon, and pears; nuts except almonds, cashews, and pine nuts; onions; rye bread; seasonings and anything else that contain MSG; sour cream; sourdough bread; soy; tea; tofu; tomatoes; and yogurt.

Treatment Ideas for Interstitial Cystitis in Lyme Disease

If present treat borrelia and bartonella with herbal or prescription antibiotics. Use the herbal combination product and stop any other quercetin or glucosamine sulfate you may be on.

  • A Bladder Ease Herbal Combination (L-Arginine 750mg, Quercetin 600mg,
    Glucosamine HCL 450mg) 3 times a day.

Or use quercetin and glucosamine sulfate but do not use the herbal combination.

  • Quercetin 250 mg 2 pills 3 times a day.
  • Glucosamine Sulfate 500 mg 1 pill 3 times a day.

Stop alcohol, caffeine and foods containing nitrites or MSG. In four to six months of treating  infections and using these supplements, if symptoms persist, then remove the remaining foods noted in the background section above. In three to four weeks, if diet elimination works, then try adding foods back in one at a time every four days to see which foods are a problem.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


View Citations

  1. Atchley MD, Shah NM, Whitmore KE. Complementary and alternative medical therapies for interstitial cystitis: an update from the United States. Transl Androl Urol. 2015;4(6):662-7. (View)
  2. Katske F, Shoskes DA, Sender M, et al. Treatment of interstitial cystitis with a quercetin supplement. Tech Urol. 2001;7:44–6. (View)
  3. Korting GE, Smith SD, Wheeler MA, Weiss RM, Foster HE., Jr A randomized double-blind trial of oral L-arginine for treatment of interstitial cystitis. J Urol. 1999;161(2):558–565. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5347(01)61950-5. (View)
  4. Theoharides TC, Kempuraj D, Vakali S, et al. Treatment of refractory interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome with CystoProtek--an oral multi-agent natural supplement. Can J Urol 2008;15:4410-4. (View)
  5. Whitmore KE. Complementary and alternative therapies as treatment approaches for interstitial cystitis. Rev Urol. 2002;4 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S28-35. (View)
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About The Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State (License: MD00033296) where he has treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice.

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) and The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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