International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 977–982 | Cite as

Interstitial cystitis patients’ use and rating of complementary and alternative medicine therapies

  • Peter Gregory O’HareIII
  • Amy Rejba Hoffmann
  • Penny Allen
  • Barbara Gordon
  • Linda Salin
  • Kristene Whitmore
Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

The purpose of this study was to describe the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies among interstitial cystitis (IC) patients, patients’ perception of CAM therapies’ effectiveness, and the association of time since diagnosis with perceived effectiveness of these therapies.


In April 2009, the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) initiated an Internet-based survey on CAM. Respondents indicated whether they received an IC diagnosis and how long ago, whether they tried CAM, and who recommended it. On a 5-point scale, respondents rated 49 therapies. For respondents confirming a diagnosis, we used a chi-square goodness-of-fit test to assess which therapies were rated positively or negatively by a majority of patients who tried them. Using separate one-way analyses of variance, we assessed differences in mean perceived effectiveness among groups based on time since diagnosis and conducted post hoc tests, if necessary. Using chi-square tests, we explored the association of time since diagnosis with the use of CAM and the number of therapies tried.


A total of 2,101 subjects responded to the survey; 1,982 confirmed an IC diagnosis. Most (84.2 %) had tried CAM, and 55 % said physicians had recommended CAM. Of those trying CAM, 82.8 % had tried diet or physical therapy and 69.2 % other therapies. Of the therapies, 22 were rated positively and 20 negatively; 7 were inconclusive. Therapies patients perceived to be helpful included dietary management and pain management adjuncts such as physical therapy, heat and cold, meditation and relaxation, acupuncture, stress reduction, exercise, and sleep hygiene. Many therapies worked better for those diagnosed recently than for those diagnosed long before.


Randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to demonstrate which therapies may indeed control IC symptoms and help send research in new and productive directions.


Interstitial cystitis Complementary therapies Diet therapy Physical therapy modalities 

Abbreviations and acronyms


Analysis of variance


Complementary and alternative medicine


Interstitial cystitis


Interstitial Cystitis Association


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases



Supported by the Interstitial Cystitis Association.

Conflicts of interest



  1. 1.
    Hanno P, Dmochowski R (2009) Status of international consensus on interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome/painful bladder syndrome: 2008 snapshot. Neurourol Urodyn 28:274–286PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Theoharides TC, Whitmore K, Stanford E, Moldwin R, O’Leary MP (2008) Interstitial cystitis: bladder pain and beyond. Expert Opin Pharmacother 9(17):2979–2994PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Interstitial Cystitis Association (2010) Doctor’s forum: you’ve come a long way IC treatment. ICA Update, Summer, p 16–22Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. December 10, 2008Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shorter B, Lesser M, Moldwin RM, Kushner L (2007) Effect of comestibles on symptoms of interstitial cystitis. J Urol 178(1):145–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hanno PM, Burks DA, Clemens JQ, Dmochowski RB, Erickson D, FitzGerald MP, Forrest JB, Gordon B, Gray M, Mayer RD, Newman D, Nyberg Jr L, Payne CK, Wesselmann U, Faraday MM. American Urological Association (AUA) Guideline: diagnosis and treatment of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Preliminary IC/BPS clinical Guideline. Available via Accessed 14 Dec 2011
  7. 7.
    Payne C, Fitzgerald MP, Burks D et al (2010) Randomized multicenter trial shows efficacy of myofascial physical therapy in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS). Presented at: American Urological Association 2010 Annual Meeting, 29 May-10 June 2010, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hill JR, Isom-Batz G, Panagopoulos G, Zakariasen K, Kavaler E (2008) Patient perceived outcomes of treatments used for interstitial cystitis. Urology 71(1):62–66PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bassaly R, Downes K, Hart S (2011) Dietary consumption triggers in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome patients. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg 17(1):36–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Giordano J, Schatman ME (2008) A crisis in chronic pain care: an ethical analysis. Part three: toward an integrative, multi-disciplinary pain medicine built around the needs of the patient. Pain Physician 11(6):775–784PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Astin JA (2004) Mind-body therapies for the management of pain. Clin J Pain 20(1):27–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Trappe HJ (2009) Music and health–what kind of music is helpful for whom? What music not? Dtsch Med Wochenschr 134(51–52):2601–2606PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Whitmore KE (2002) Complementary and alternative therapies as treatment approaches for interstitial cystitis. Rev Urol 4(Suppl 1):S28–S35PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bologna RA, Gomelsky A, Lukban JC, Tu LM, Holzberg AS, Whitmore KE (2001) The efficacy of calcium glycerophosphate in the prevention of food-related flares in interstitial cystitis. Urology 57(6 Suppl 1):119–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Theoharides TC, Kempuraj D, Vakali S, Sant GR (2008) Treatment of refractory interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome with CystoProtek–an oral multi-agent natural supplement. Can J Urol 15(6):4410–4414PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Plotnikoff GA, Quigley JM (2003) Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis D in patients with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. Mayo Clin Proc 78(12):1463–1470PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Badalian SS, Rosenbaum PF (2010) Vitamin D and pelvic floor disorders in women: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Obstet Gynecol 115(4):795–803PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Missmer SA, Chavarro JE, Malspeis S, Bertone-Johnson ER, Hornstein MD, Spiegelman D, Barbieri RL, Willett WC, Hankinson SE (2010) A prospective study of dietary fat consumption and endometriosis risk. Hum Reprod 25(6):1528–1535PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Moayyedi P (2010) ACP Journal Club: probiotics improve symptoms in adults with the irritable bowel syndrome. Ann Intern Med 153(6):JC3–JC7Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hoesl CE, Altwein JE (2005) The probiotic approach: an alternative treatment option in urology. Eur Urol 47(3):288–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Martinez RC, Franceschini SA, Patta MC, Quintana SM, Candido RC, Ferreira JC, De Martinis EC, Reid G (2009) Improved treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with fluconazole plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. Lett Appl Microbiol 48(3):269–274PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Interstitial Cystitis Association (2010) Antiyeast treatment for IC: legitimate CAM or hopeful scam? ICA Update, Fall, p 14–17Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nickel JC, Kaufman DM, Zhang HF, Wan GJ, Sand PK (2008) Time to initiation of pentosan polysulfate sodium treatment after interstitial cystitis diagnosis: effect on symptom improvement. Urology 71(1):57–61PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    The ME Association. Managing my M.E. What people with ME/CFS and their carers want from the UK’s health and social services: the results of the ME Association’s major survey of illness management requirements. The ME Association 2010, Gawcott, UK. Available via Accessed 12 Dec 2011

Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Gregory O’HareIII
    • 1
  • Amy Rejba Hoffmann
    • 3
  • Penny Allen
    • 2
  • Barbara Gordon
    • 2
  • Linda Salin
    • 2
  • Kristene Whitmore
    • 1
  1. 1.Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive SurgeryDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Interstitial Cystitis AssociationRockvilleUSA
  3. 3.Pelvic and Sexual Health InstitutePhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations