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Got a Sensitive Bladder? IC? Take Our Six Step Coffee Challenge

For newly diagnosed patients struggling with bladder or prostate symptoms, finding a hot drink that won’t cause more symptoms can be challenging.  Why?? Foods high in acid (i.e. green tea, black tea, coffees) create irritation in much the same way that acid poured on a wound on your hand would feel. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, stimulating more frequent urination and also causes urine to become more concentrated with urea and ammonia.

So, what can you drink? Here’s a six step hot drink challenge that we suggest to every patient. Start at Step One and slowly work your way down. If any of these trigger your symptoms, then stop and go back up a step. If, though, your bladder tolerates one well, then proceed to the next one and give it a try. Please note, however, that whenever you’re struggling with active symptoms, it’s best to keep your hot drinks mild and simple! (i.e. one through three)

Bladder Friendly Hot DrinksStep One: Hot water or milk!

You can’t go wrong with hot water and, as long as you’re not lactose intolerant, hot milk. If you need just a little bit of flavor in there, try some flavorings such as Caramel or Vanilla. We like the Flavorganics line of organic flavorings which contain fewer artificial ingredients than the more popular Torani brand of flavorings.

Step Two: Chamomile Herbal Tea

Yes, it’s an acquired taste but chamomile herbal tea is mild and flavorful! Stay away from chamomile and citrus blends though. Citrus is high in acid and much more irritating. We like the Stash Chamomile Nights tea though you can find many brands at your local grocery store or organic market. It should be just dried chamomile though! Be ware chamomile blends which often contain citrus! ICN Shop Herbal Teas Suggestions!

Step Three: Peppermint Herbal Tea

You might be surprised to learn that peppermint has been proven in research studies to reduce smooth muscle bowel spasms. We think it has a calming and soothing effect on the bladder as well. Peppermint does not work for patients struggling with GERD or esophageal reflux disease. Stash Organic Cascade Mint works great but, again, you can probably find several varieties at your own store!

Step Four: Rooibos Herbal Tea

Rooibos, aka “red bush” tea is grown in South Africa. Known for it’s mellow, rich flavor (both hot and iced) it’s a bit more challenging than chamomile or peppermint, but not as irritating as coffees or teas. We love the rooibos teas made by Stash and Davidson’s provided, of course, that they don’t have irritating ingredients. ICN Shop Herbal Teas Suggestions!

Step Five: Herbal Coffee

Made not with coffee beans, but with roasted barley, herbal coffee’s like Pero, Kaffree Roma or Cafix are definitely an acquired taste but lots of IC patients enjoy them for their morning cup of “joe.” They contain far less acid and are usually not caffeinated.

Step Six: Low Acid Coffee (The Real Joe, Mud, Java, Brew and Cuppa!)

If you’ve passed all of the previous steps and your bladder tolerates them well, then it’s time to try the real thing but there’s a catch! You need to try LOW ACID coffee. Low acid coffee beans are grown at lower altitudes. Acidity can also be reduced by the roasting process. The darker the roast, the lower the acid because the heat drives the chemicals out of the bean. Lastly, how your brew the coffee will also determine acidity. Using a cold brew process (i.e. The Toddy Coffee Maker) reduces acid levels as well. Don’t forget that you can use Prelief as well to reduce the acidity in that cup as well!

We love Simpatico Low Acid Coffee for its flavor and acidity level! This small company based in Holland MI has made the crafting of low acid coffee an art form.. with great flavors, mouth feel and satisfaction.


Of course, you can also reduce the acid of any drink you’re eating by using Prelief, an OTC acid reducing product. Get it here! 



By |2017-01-31T10:36:14+00:00March 24th, 2015|Diet & Food, Interstitial Cystitis Network Blog|Comments Off on Got a Sensitive Bladder? IC? Take Our Six Step Coffee Challenge

About the Author:

My Google Profile+ Jill Heidi Osborne is the president and founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network, a health education company dedicated to interstitial cystitis, bladder pain syndrome and other pelvic pain disorders. As the editor and lead author of the ICN and the IC Optimist magazine, Jill is proud of the academic recognition that her website has achieved. The University of London rated the ICN as the top IC website for accuracy, credibility, readability and quality. (Int Urogynecol J - April 2013). Harvard Medical School rated both Medscape and the ICN as the top two websites dedicated to IC. (Urology - Sept 11). Jill currently serves on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Panel (US Army) where she collaborates with researchers to evaluate new IC research studies for possible funding. Jill has conducted and/or collaborates on a variety of IC research studies on new therapeutics, pain care, sexuality, the use of medical marijuana, menopause and the cost of treatments, shining a light on issues that influence patient quality of life. An IC support group leader and national spokesperson for the past 20 years, she has represented the IC community on radio, TV shows, at medical conferences. She has written hundreds of articles on IC and its related conditions. With a Bachelors Degree in Pharmacology and a Masters in Psychology, Jill was named Presidential Management Intern (aka Fellowship) while in graduate school. (She was unable to earn her PhD due to the onset of her IC.) She spends the majority of her time providing WELLNESS COACHING for patients in need and developing new, internet based educational and support tools for IC patients, including the “Living with IC” video series currently on YouTube and the ICN Food List smartphone app! Jill was diagnosed with IC at the age of 32 but first showed symptoms at the age of 12.