Prelief, Calcium Glycerophosphate and Interstitial Cystitis
Last year there was great excitement at Tiny Pioneer when Desert Harvest announced that they were going to be making a calcium glycerophosphate supplement. For those of you who don’t know, there is a supplement called Prelief that lots of people with interstitial cystitis use. It claims to remove up to 95% of the acid from food and drinks without affecting stomach acid levels, meaning that those who experience flare ups of bladder pain as a result of ingesting acidic foods can find some relief. Hence, one supposes, their choice of brand name! The fact it acts on the food and not the stomach means it does not compromise the digestive process and can be safely taken by people with low stomach acid.
A while back, I was asked if I’d consider adding Prelief to our product range so that people in the UK could access it more easily. I did look into this, but after speaking with the company, I wasn’t convinced they were a good fit for Tiny Pioneer. It wasn’t that they told me anything negative about their product or ethos, so I don’t want to put anyone off using Prelief or cast any aspersions about the brand. However, when I trade with a business, I like to get clear answers to certain questions and I like to get the sense that the owners are passionate about what they do. It’s also essential for me that they produce and sell in an ethical, honest, compassionate way. At the time of writing this, I have corresponded with and spoken to people at the top of each of the brands we stock and I’m satisfied that they are doing good things in the world. I have to be sure of that before I can feel comfortable becoming a stockist and sometimes businesses are just too large or too corporate to be able to provide those sorts of reassurances – it’s no sleight on them, they just have bigger fish to fry than a Tiny Pioneer, I’m sure!
I never did go ahead and stock Prelief, but while researching the product I found out that its active ingredient is calcium glycerophosphate. I was therefore delighted when, a few months later, Desert Harvest said they were going to start production of their own calcium glycerophosphate supplement! It hit our shelves in early 2018, but of course I didn’t have the chance to try it before we put it on sale – and anyway, I didn’t actually think I needed it. Much as I love researching for my readers, I can’t be taking things I don’t need just to road test them for you all!
During the lovely summer we’ve had this year though, I’ve developed a partiality to tomatoes. I hated them as a child, became lukewarm to them in my early twenties, and now I’m a proper grown up I don’t mind them at all. There are lots of foods you grow into, I think! It’s been so hot this year that I’ve been eating lots more fruit and salad than usual and I’ve become quite fond of adding tomatoes to meals – they’re such a quick and easy way to get an extra one of my five a day in. For the most part my bladder is extremely forgiving about what I eat (in part because I follow a strict and very healthy diet every day), but tomatoes do seem to aggravate it a bit. Nothing spectacular – I can just feel like my PGAD is flaring, or like I’m ever so slightly cystitis-y a few hours after eating them. It doesn’t normally matter, because I don’t usually cook with tomatoes or eat salad every day, but it’s been so warm lately that I’ve been eating different meals to normal.
I decided it was a good opportunity to road test the Desert Harvest Calcium Glycerophosphate, which also contains a small amount of their freeze-dried aloe vera to help with absorption of nutrients and for extra bladder benefits. I tried it a few weeks ago and have used it several times now. To cut a long blog short, I can confirm it works really well – if I take a capsule around the time I eat tomatoes, I’m fine! I was very impressed with the results.
The one worry I have with calcium glycerophosphate is whether people will use it irresponsibly. In my opinion, if you have a bladder or bowel condition, the very first thing you should be doing is cleaning up your diet and lifestyle to ensure it’s as health-promoting as possible. I do worry that people will use calcium glycerophosphate to eat and drink unhealthy things and trigger foods whenever they like in the hope of absolving themselves of any responsibility for their overall health. I really urge you not to use it for those purposes. However, if you find that a whole range of fruits and vegetables can exacerbate your symptoms to the extent that you’re on an unhealthily restricted diet, or if you’re having a big flare up and can’t seem to eat or drink anything, I believe calcium glycerophosphate could be an invaluable resource. I think it would also be brilliant for those occasions where you have to eat out and you might be forced to relax your usual diet rules, or on holiday, where you might not be able to make your usual meals. Or just so you can stick an occasional tomato in your salad!
Calcium glycerophosphate need not just be used to reduce the acid content of food and drinks. It can also be used to correct calcium deficiency in the way that other forms of calcium supplements can. Aside from its oft cited role in bone formation and maintenance, calcium is also essential for blood clotting, muscle contraction (and that includes your heartbeat!) and nerve function. Vegans, those with osteoporosis and people with inflammatory bowel disorders may find it difficult to obtain enough calcium in their diets. Calcium deficiency has been linked, among other things, with various autoimmune diseases, bone weakness, muscle weakness, memory loss and confusion. Desert Harvest’s Calcium Glycerophosphate therefore represents an option for those simply wanting a little extra calcium in their lives!
Please note that it is entirely personal choice whether you use the calcium glycerophosphate or Desert Harvest’s other calcium supplement – the Calcium and Vitamin D3. Some people prefer one and some people prefer the other. If you have impaired kidney function, you should speak to a medical professional before supplementing with calcium or magnesium as blood levels of these minerals are controlled by the kidneys. It is often recommended that if you take a calcium supplement you also take equal amounts of magnesium (preferably at a separate time) to avoid constipation and to assist with the absorption of the calcium.
So there you have it: there is now an easily obtainable alternative to Prelief available in the UK and the EU for those of you who want it, and I can confirm that I have personally tried it and have been happy with it! It’s free from all common allergens, is Kosher, is free from preservatives, is cGMP compliant and is suitable for vegans. It also contains organic, freeze-dried aloe vera which may assist with absorption and be soothing to the bladder and digestion. Finally, it’s made by a nice, family owned business that doesn’t test on animals and that is passionate about improving the lives of those with pelvic pain disorders. Sounds good to me!
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