Cinnamon and Other Strategies for Overactive Bladder and Urinary Urgency
Overactive bladder and urinary urgency are increasingly common as we age, and cinnamon can reduce it when applied as a patch. This article will discuss this and other natural strategies for overactive bladder, or OAB.
What is overactive bladder?
Overactive bladder occurs when the urge to urinate is enough to interfere with our quality of life, yet does not cause incontinence. Incontinence, of course is when urination cannot be controlled.
Sometimes overactive bladder is associated with nocturia – frequent urination at night.
Overactive bladder occurs in as many as a quarter of men and up to 43 percent of women in some countries, notably in the United States. It occurs more frequently with age. Often the condition worsens with age too, and can result in incontinence.
Some evidence has indicated that overactive bladder is often associated with type 2 diabetes. A 2019 study (Zhu et al. 2019) found that overactive bladder tends to worsen faster in type 2 diabetes patients.
As we’ll discuss, there are multiple natural treatments that have shown success with this condition.
Cinnamon patch and overactive bladder
The Chinese medical classic Zhu Bing Yuan Houlun from the Sui Dynasty of the late 6th Century prescribed cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum) for bladder conditions including nocturia and urination urgency.
It has therefore been frequently prescribed by Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors over the centuries, for conditions related to incontinence and overactive bladder.
Researchers from the College of Pharmacy at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University (Chen et al. 2020) tested a cinnamon treatment on 66 patients with overactive bladder. The group was comprised of 40 women and 26 men.
They gave half the patients a cinnamon patch and the other half were given a placebo.
The patches were applied to the skin over the bladder region. The positioning corresponded with four acupuncture points over the bladder. These were in the centerline over the pelvis area (see diagram). Below we will discuss research on acupuncture for overactive bladder.
The researchers first tested each patient using the OAB symptom score (OABSS) index. This indicates the severity of the condition. They were also tested for patient perception of bladder condition (PPBC), urgency severity scale (USS), and post-voiding residual urine (PVR) volume.
The patients were treated for four weeks, with cinnamon patched applied for four hours every other day. They were tested at the beginning and end of treatment, and at the two week interval.
The two groups had average scores relatively the same at the beginning of the treatment. At the end, the cinnamon patch group had significantly better scores on average compared to the placebo group.
Reductions in OABSS scores averaged 9.70 for the cinnamon group and 6.33 for the placebo group. The patient perception scores (PPBC) were also more reduced for the cinnamon treatment, (3.36 to 2.15). The urgency severity scale scores were also significantly reduced in the cinnamon treatment, 2.67 compared to 1.64.
The researchers concluded:
“Compared to a placebo, treatment with cinnamon patch might be considered an effective and safe complementary therapy for overactive bladder. Further studies employing a positive control, different dosage forms, larger sample sizes, and longer treatment periods are warranted.”
What is a cinnamon patch?
A patch is a small sachet containing the herb. It is moistened and laid on the skin. In this case, the positions of the patch were over the bladder region, center of the sacrum.
The cinnamon patch they used contained 1.5 grams of raw cinnamon powder with 1 gram of corn starch and a little water (which creates skin absorption).
Sounds pretty complicated. However, this method can be duplicated simply with the use of a traditional herbal method called a poultice, or a compress.
A poultice or compress is made by putting herbs into
For sure this could be made easily at home with a poultice, which means to just take the cinnamon with a little water and mix it into a mash and between two pieces of cloth or a couple of layers of gauze.
The cloth or gauze can then be pressed onto the skin and held there for a few hours.
The poultice or compress could be laid on the skin while laying down or reclining. Or it can be adhered with a little tape if moving around. It is placed between the belly button and the pubic area, over the bladder region.
Testing for a skin reaction first is important.
Cinnamon has also been shown to help reduce blood pressure and helps control blood glucose according to other research when taken internally.
Other herbs for OAB
A number of other herbs have shown evidence of also reducing overactive bladder when used internally. Some of these have undergone research and others have only been used in traditional treatments.
Let’s discuss the ones that have some scientific research behind them:
Gosha-jinki-gan: This TCM herbal formula contains Rehmanniae radix (5.0 gram), Achyranthis radix (3.0 gram), Corni fructus (3.0 g), Moutan cortex (3.0 g), Alismatis rhizome (3.0 g), Dioscorea rhizoma (3.0 g), Plantaginis semen (3.0 g), Hoelen (3.0 g), processed Aconiti tuber (1.0 g), and Cinnamomi cortex (1 g).
A number of studies have found this formula reduces urinary urgency. A study of 44 women with OAB reduced urinary frequency and bladder control. Another study of 30 men showed similar findings.
Ganoderma lucidum or reishi mushroom, has been shown in studies to reduce prostate size and urinary frequency in men. A study of 50 men showed IPSS scores were significantly improved after 8 weeks of treatment.
Lab research has shown promise for capsaicin from chili peppers, horsetail herb and cornsilk, but no human studies have been done using these for overactive bladder.
Acupuncture for overactive bladder
Traditional Chinese Medical doctors have also found that acupuncture is successful in reducing overactive bladder symptoms.
A review by medical researchers from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (Zhao et al. 2018) investigated acupuncture treatment for overactive bladder. They analyzed 10 clinical studies that were randomized and controlled, and included 794 patients.
The researchers found that electroacupuncture treatments reduced 24-hour nocturia frequency and reduced OAB symptoms. They also found it increased the quality of life for the patients treated and compared to sham treatments.
Pelvic floor muscle training
Other research has found that especially for women, pelvic floor exercises can significantly reduce overactive bladder.
A number of studies have confirmed that pelvic floor training is extremely helpful for women and children. It is often considered a “first-line treatment” for women.
Chen LL, Shen YC, Ke CC, Imtiyaz Z, Chen HI, Chang CH, Lee MH. Efficacy of cinnamon patch treatment for alleviating symptoms of overactive bladder: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2020 Oct 12;80:153380. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2020.153380.
Zhu Y, Zhu Z, Chen J. Risk factors associated with the progression of overactive bladder among patients with type 2 diabetes. Int J Clin Pract. 2019 Nov;73(11):e13395. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.13395.
Chughtai B, Kavaler E, Lee R, Te A, Kaplan SA, Lowe F. Use of herbal supplements for overactive bladder. Rev Urol. 2013;15(3):93-6.
Zhao Y, Zhou J, Mo Q, Wang Y, Yu J, Liu Z. Acupuncture for adults with overactive bladder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Feb;97(8):e9838. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000009838.
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