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Understanding Homeopathy and Chiropractic Care

In October, when we were in Boston for the Fall IC Forum, I saw a homeopath for treatment of a severe rash I have had on my legs and arms for 7 years. I have exhausted all traditional treatments, so I thought I'd give homeopathy a try, again.

Growing up, I was given homeopathic remedies when I visited my mother's family in England. My great grandfather was a surgeon and a homeopath. However, when I saw a well-known doctor/homeopath in Boston for my IC in 1989, my experience was very negative. The doctor searched my psyche for the cause of my bladder symptoms. He told me they were caused by sexual guilt. I felt humiliated, angry and embarrassed, especially because he had a student sitting in during the appointment. However, the remedy of bitter cucumber he gave me did calm my bladder pain.

Although I have a background in holistic healthcare, I have found a lot of alternative practitioners to be very blaming, assuming and inflexible. When I saw the new homeopath in October I was skeptical, particularly because she was the student that sat in on my 1989 visit. Since my husband Andy is a psychologist and my advocate, he came to the appointment with me.

During the session I spoke about my body, my life, and even my emotions. My new homeopath was non-judgemental, and I actually liked how she linked my mind and my body. She did not say that I caused my IC. She agreed with me that stress and emotions do not cause illness; they just bring out illnesses that we are predisposed to genetically.

When I took my new remedy, about a month ago, it did not affect my bladder except in a good way. I found voiding easier. I am trying to be patient with my skin. I believe that because my rash was the last of many conditions to affect my body, it may also be the last to heal.

Homeopathy works from the top of the body to the bottom, and from the inside to the outside, using naturally occurring essences of plant, mineral and animal origin to treat illness and pain. Unlike herbs, which are usually prescribed for specific conditions, homeopathic remedies can be prescribed specifically for the individual.

Good chiropractic care can also work with the individual. I have found great relief with spinal adjustments. However, alternative therapies and treatments are only as good as the practitioner, and I have an excellent chiropractor (who I have seen over a period of 20 years).

Dr. Sylvi Beaumont has a wonderful understanding of health and illness. Dr. Beaumont, who practices in New Orleans and is of Swiss decent, has gained a lot of knowledge from her yoga studies in India. Therefore, I have asked her to answer some questions about bladder function and chiropractic care. I hope you will learn as much as I have.

· Where are the nerves to the bladder located?

The nerves to the bladder are located in the lower back. The last five vertebrae, called the lumbar spine, house the nerve roots to the bladder.* The spinal nerves exit between these vertebrae, and the spinal nerve to the bladder, L3, exits between the third and the fourth vertebrae.

Chiropractors have noticed for many years that if the lower vertebrae are curving sideways, particularly to the right, and particularly the right vertebrae, the patient often complains of symptoms associated with frequent bladder illness. When lower back vertebrae lean one way or the other, most of the time they lean to the right. Consequently, the bladder and uterus are more irritated on the right side. (Many IC patients complain of left side pain. I wonder if the right side might be pulling on the left side in these patients?)

When we need to use the bathroom to void, and there isn't a bathroom around, we use our bladder sphincter muscles to hold our urine. Our sphincter muscles are controlled by voluntary type nerves. When our bladder expands because of the amount of urine stored in it, the traction on our bladder wall elicits a reflex of fullness. This reflex is an involuntary nervous system controlled function. In a state of bladder illness, we may experience a false fullness in the bladder, meaning that there is not enough urine in our bladders to warn the involuntary, or reflex response that gives us the urge to use the bathroom.

When the bladder illness is incontinence, there is the inability to control the urine, meaning the voluntary nerve and sphincter muscles are worn out. Kegel exercises are usually recommended to strengthen the sphincter muscles. Kegel exercises can also be practiced preventively to keep the bladder young. Practicing exercises where the body is inverted, such as shoulder stands, handstands, etc., helps the bladder to find its ideal home (posture), hopefully preventing a drop in the bladder (which occurs with age). The IC patient, who also suffers with incontinence, may not be able to practice Kegel exercises without setting off bladder spasms, or practice inverted positions without experiencing pressure in her/his bladder.

· What bladder problems are caused by spinal misalignment?

Chiropractic adjustment to the third lumbar (in the low back), for voluntary bladder function, and to the sacrum (the triangular shaped bone at the base of the spine), for the involuntary bladder function can help to balance overall bladder health. Yet, other vertebrae adjustments also help. For example, when the lumbar tree and sacrum cannot be adjusted, because of a malfunctioning of these joints, the chiropractor knows back-up mechanisms, such as to adjust the first vertebra in the neck and dorsal number three, the third vertebra in the middle back. These adjustments will also aid in balancing the bladder.

Similarly, when one has a pinched nerve in the lumbar tree spine area, where the voluntary nerves are located, one does not always suffer from bladder control function. In the IC patient, it is the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e., the involuntary fold of the bladder located in the sacrum), which causes the sense of constant fullness. Therefore, a ruptured disc that can affect the voluntary nerves (i.e., urine control) does not cause IC or influence the IC patient.

· How does bladder inflammation affect the surrounding muscles?

Bladder inflammation causes heat in and around the bladder. This often causes weakness around the muscles in the area of the bladder. These pulled muscles, or these affected muscles, also contribute to more frequent spinal misalignment and visits to the chiropractor. At the same time, the compartment that is designed to hold the bladder is always full in IC patients. Therefore, the blood vessels and nerve plexi, that are also located in the compartment, get pressure that can lead to chronic low back, hip and leg pain (even knee pain) that is also experienced with PMS.

The compartment for the bladder has three borders. In the front is the psoas (i.e., the groin muscle). In the back is the piriformis muscle (i.e., one of the deep lateral rotators that work the hip joint), and in the middle bottom is the sacroiliac joint (i.e. the involuntary nerve area).

· Why do so many IC patients experience upper body weakness and pain?

The upper body also suffers when there is a lot of bladder inflammation going on, as does the upper back. This is because the lower trunk blocks circulation from flowing effectively to the heart, and from the heart back to the toes.
* The vertebrae are the segmented bones of the spinal column.

All IC patients are unique in their symptoms, and respond to therapies differently. This column is not a recommendation for either chiropractic adjustments, or homeopathy. It is only intended to share information that may interest, educate, or help some IC patients. Please refer to our "Patient to Patient" book for more information on alternative therapies.

Exercise of the Month:

8. Lotus Rock

Starting Position:
Lie on floor with knees bent out to sides, holding hands loosely around toes

A. Hold starting position for a comfortable stretch time.
B. Gently rock side to side. Head rolls with movement. Rock six times

9. Lotus Rock II (Arms Out)

Starting Position:
Lie on floor with knees bent out to sides, holding hands loosely around toes Extend arms out and rest on inside of kneeds.

9A. Rock side to side. Head rolls with movement. Arms gently push out on legs. Rock six times

9B. Exxagerate rock, roll body over on to side and then onto bent legs. Stretch arms out on floor in front of body. This is one movement.

Avoid - Forcing positions, locking elbows and tensing shoulders.


About The Authors:
Gaye is an author and IC patient & support group leader who has been involved in IC work for years. In 1990 she published "Stretch Into a Better Shape" and produced a stretching and exercise video for IC patients in 1993. She is a specialist in Aston-Patterning movement and muscle re-education.

Andrew has over ten years of clinical and health care management position. He is currently the Administrator of Maison Hospitaliere, located in New Orleans. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Special Education, a M.A. of Health Adminstration, M.A. of Clinical Psychology.

They welcome your comments and feedback on their articles at: The Sandlers

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