As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my harshest symptoms, perhaps the one that is the most difficult to bear, is urethral burning. In this post, I'd like to share a homeopathic remedy that I believe puts a dent in this burning pain for me.
For me, the urethral burning started almost immediately after I began to experience pain from an abscessed Bartholin’s gland more than three years ago. After nearly a year, the painful cyst was discovered and removed, but the urethral burning remained. When my PT works internally around my urethra, it does increase the pain, but I don’t have any issues with painful urination or burning during urination. My PT and pain specialist say that urethral burning is one of the most difficult chronic pain symptoms to treat. One of the main reasons for this is that oftentimes, it’s difficult to pin point the cause of the burning and thus treat it appropriately. In upcoming posts I will get into much more detail about some of the causes and treatments of urethral burning in conjunction with pelvic floor dysfunction. In fact, just as soon as I get more details, I’m going to share with you a major breakthrough I had in PT last week regarding my urethral burning. I believe my PT has successfully isolated what is behind it! (Julie, my PT, did a wonderful job of explaining it to me, but at the time, I was in the midst of receiving therapy, so my brain didn’t absorb the info very well.)
In the meantime, I would like to share a homeopathic remedy for my urethral burning that I discovered while in the midst of that terrible flare. The remedy is aloe vera gel. I had read on a message board that many women with IC take aloe vera gel to soothe their bladder pain. From what I understand, aloe vera has an ingredient that is similar to the first lining of the bladder that is compromised by IC. Also, aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, analgesic, and anti-microbial agent. (From what I understand, one company, Desert Harvest, www.desertharvest.com, has done research on the effectiveness of treating IC patients with aloe vera.) Since the urethra is coated with the exact same mucosal lining as the bladder, I thought aloe vera might be worth trying for my poor urethra. As it turned out, it did indeed put a dent in the burning. During that awful flare, my urethral burning skyrocketed, and I believe the aloe vera gel helped to turn the volume down on the pain.
Now, I drink aloe vera gel regularly, and I believe it continues to dent the pain—not near as much as before, but I believe it still makes a difference. I buy a brand from Whole Foods called Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel. I tried aloe vera pills and juice and neither worked for me. I think the gel works best because it does a better job of adhering to the lining of the urethra. The texture of the gel reminds me of a melty jello shot—remember those!? Its a bit bitter and truthfully, isn’t very tastey; but, since my brain associates it with feeling better, I actually now crave the stuff! The brand that I use contains citric acid for “pH balance,” according to the back of the bottle. I understand that there are some brands that do not have citric acid in them. For those who have extreme sensitivity to citric acid, these brands might be a better alternative. Although citric acid is a known bladder irritant, for some reason, the citric acid in the gel doesn’t irritate my bladder or urethra. As far as dosage goes, I drink a small glass (I fill a rocks glass about halfway) about three times a day through a straw. The straw helps to get it down easily.
In my case, I know there is a specific cause behind my urethral burning—more on that in a day or so. I don’t believe the aloe vera gel reverses the cause of the burning, but I do believe it’s able to soothe the inflammation that is a result of the constant pain that is referred to my urethra. In other words, I don’t believe there is anything going on in my urethra to cause the pain, but that it is a referred pain from somewhere else. However, I believe as a result, the tiny organ is inflamed in its own right. It’s such a vicious cycle—a part of the body refers pain to another —the area hurts and becomes inflamed and then the inflammation itself causes pain, so there’s pain on top of pain. I believe the aloe vera juice is able to dent one layer of the piled on pain. I'm starting to learn that that’s how you heal from chronic pelvic pain, one layer at a time.
Here is a link to the brand of aloe vera gel that I use: www.lilyofthedesert.com. I originally purchased this brand because the clerk at Whole Foods told me it’s one of the few that have no artificial preservatives and additives and I like that it’s organic. The company sells a large and a small bottle of gel, I always buy the small bottle. I’ve tried the large bottle and for some reason the gel isn’t as thick as the gel in the smaller bottles, so it doesn’t work as well.
If urethral burning is a symptom that bothers you too, please let us know how you deal with it. And feel free to ask any questions you might have about urethral burning. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m blessed to have access to some pretty smart folks, and I’ll do my best to get answers for you! Sending you feel better vibes!
Hello, I read your post and I am so thankful that you shared your story. I am taking the Desert Harvest Aloe, as I too, have IC and I could not stand the burning anymore. I thought it was simply another UTI, but the culture always comes back either no growth or very small colony count. At any rate I noticed it working within two days of taking it. Are you on the IC network?