Brilliant Bicarbonate of Soda!
Following on from my first blog post where I discussed my experience with Liposomal Vitamin C, I wanted to write about what I did to relieve my symptoms during my cystitis flare up. Please bear in mind that I knew what had caused the flare and was certain that there was no infection. If there is ever any doubt about the presence of infection, I would recommend that you get checked out by a healthcare professional and treat the infection as well as its symptoms. Allowing infection to go unaddressed may lead to kidney infection, which is a more serious issue.
In the past when I have had cystitis, there has always been infection present and so I have never much bothered to treat the symptoms, just the actual infection. I’ve used antibiotics and D-Mannose to do this and since regularly using D-Mannose I have never had a bacterial bladder infection. (I feel most uncomfortable writing this, as if it is tempting fate somehow, but I feel I must be truthful!) I follow a very good diet, drink plenty of water, avoid processed foods and sugar, and don’t drink alcohol, so all the sensible lifestyle and nutritional practices are covered for me as standard.
This time, I knew there was no infection present and so I knew relief would not come once antibiotics or D-Mannose kicked in. This was a relief, because it’s always worrying to have an infection and I get concerned about my gut flora during and after antibiotics, but also troubling, because I didn’t know how to make the pain go away and how soon it would abate. Most people who have had cystitis know that a standard painkiller just doesn’t work on bladder and urethral burning. I’m not sure why that is, but for me it never even dulls it, though that did not stop me taking a dose anyway, just in the hope that it would! I presume that the mechanism by which the bladder pain signals are transmitted somehow work differently to a headache or a period pain. Perhaps I’ll read up about it sometime, but that will be something for another day.
Anyway, after I’d sat in a bath of cool water with some hypericum oil in (I’ll write more about this in another post more specific to persistent genital arousal disorder), I lay in bed drinking D-Mannose and did some Googling. I came across something I had heard of before, but had never tried, relating to alkalising the urine using bicarbonate of soda. In particular, mixing bicarbonate of soda with lemon juice seemed to get excellent reviews and although there were no hard and fast guides about how much to use, I decided to give it a try.
I started with half a level teaspoonful of bicarb mixed with around 200ml of water and a squeeze of lemon, and I drank it down fast. It tasted salty, but not unpleasant, especially with the lemon juice. Around 20 minutes later, I decided I was too sore to be cautious and I mixed a whole teaspoonful with a larger squeeze of lemon in another 200ml of water (ish) and knocked that back as well. I felt a bit nauseated afterwards, as I’d eaten quite recently before the attack started; obviously drinking an alkaline solution neutralises the stomach acid and interferes with digestion. In an ideal world I’d have waited a while, but I was in so much pain I barely cared about the digestive effects.
About twenty minutes after my second dose, the pain began to subside noticeably. I waited another twenty minutes or so and then took another half teaspoon with more lemon and settled down to go to sleep. Against my expectations sleep came and when I inevitably woke, bladder full to bursting, the wee only hurt a little bit at the end of the flow. I was amazed!
For the next three days, I put a heaped teaspoon of bicarb and the juice of half to one lemon in 500ml bottles of mineral water. I’d sip on this throughout the day, using up to three bottles of it a day, but trying not to do it too close to meals. I’d have a big dose in a morning, wait a while for breakfast, a big dose at night, and ease up before and after food. By Monday (I’d started with the cystitis on a Thursday and had started the bicarb early Friday morning), I was feeling much better, so I cut back on the bicarb-lemon mix. For a few hours I forgot to take any at all. And on Monday evening, I was feeling worse again, so from Monday evening for about another week, I really kept up the mixture. And then after about a week, I began to taper it off, because alongside this regimen I had also started doing things to actually heal the bladder inflammation. Again, I’ll write about these in another post sometime.
I really can’t believe what a difference the bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice made! I went from being in so much pain that I didn’t know how I’d get through the days ahead, to feeling comfortable enough to fall asleep in less than 90 minutes from my first dose. I doubt taking the mixture in such high quantities for very long is healthy, but when an attack strikes, I’m sure it’s healthier than allowing the inflammation to worsen and spending days distressed and sleep deprived.
I tried the bicarbonate on its own a couple of times, but I do feel the lemon makes it more effective somehow. It also makes the bicarb water fizz a lot, which is fun to watch, although give it a shake before drinking it to let some of the gas fizz away, or else you’ll get wind (in both directions!). I was a bit scared of trying the lemon, as I was worried it would further irritate the bladder, but it really was fantastic and I don’t know what I would have done without the mixture. If you’ve never tried it before, or if you’ve tried it in much lower doses (I saw some people only using one quarter of a teaspoon a couple of times a day) and it didn’t work, do consider trying it next time you’re in the throes of an attack!
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