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« Back to Liver & Kidney Concerns Questions

Q: I have Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome. Can acupuncture treat IC?


Yes, acupuncture and Chinese medicine have a lot to offer in terms of treatment for Interstitial cystitis (IC) and relief from the discomfort of Interstitial cystitis (IC)

What is Interstitial cystitis (IC)?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary from case to case and even in the same individual. People may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate (urgency), a frequent need to urinate (frequency), or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women's symptoms often get worse during menstruation. They may sometimes experience pain with vaginal intercourse.

Because IC varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers believe that it is not one, but several diseases. In recent years, scientists have started to use the term painful bladder syndrome (PBS) to describe cases with painful urinary symptoms that may not meet the strictest definition of IC. The term IC / PBS includes all cases of urinary pain that can't be attributed to other causes, such as infection or urinary stones. The term interstitial cystitis, or IC, is used alone when describing cases that meet all of the IC criteria established by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).


IC symptoms include extreme pain in their pelvic area, frequency, low energy, and weakness in their lower back area and discomfort in the inner thigh area. This is a typical kidney deficiency.


1. IC patients are not all the same and fall into two different categories. 70 - 80% of them are cold IC patients. Their hands and feet are icy cold. They look pale. They donít want to drink a lot of water. They may feel relief after urination. Emotionally, they express more feelings of depression than anxiety. This is a group of kidney Yang energy deficient syndrome patients. The sign is their cold hands and feet.

2. About 20% of the patients are hot IC patients. Instead of icy cold hands, their hands and feet are kind of warm. They are thirsty and drink a lot of water. They may not feel empty or relief after urination. Emotionally they express more feelings of anxiety than depression. This is a group of kidney Yin energy deficient syndrome patients. The sigh is their hands are warm. This group of IC patients seems to have a more sensitive bladder. They are allergic to many things and even the basic nutrients make them flare up.


In Oriental medicine, the kidney is a place of storage of the congenital energy known as Qi. Its function is to excrete waste through the urine. The kidney is the original source of energy in the body for growth and function. It is not difficult to understand why IC patients are exhausted. The basic theory is that the kidney and bladder work as a pair in function. The kidney is the controller and the bladder is the executive organ. In Chinese medicine, chronic bladder disorders are due to kidney dysfunction.


The Chinese medicine explanation of IC symptoms is the following: Pain and burning are experienced because of the meridian blockage of both the bladder and kidney and thus the Qi can not flow through the meridian. The frequency is caused by the lack of power in the kidney which causes the bladder to be out of control. The discomfort in the inner thigh area is because this is the pass way of that meridian. The weakness in the lower back is on the location of the blocked meridian. The dizziness and ear ringing is because the ears are the opening of the kidney meridian.