(NaturalNews) There’s a reason “adult diapers” like Depends and costly prescription medications such as Ditropan and Detrol are multi-million dollar industries. According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), bladder control problems afflict about 25 million Americans -- and the uncontrollable leaking of urine can be such a miserable, embarrassing problem that it drives people to try not only side effect-laden drugs but even surgery. But now a new Loyola University Health System (LUHS) study shows therapy based on natural and ancient meditation techniques can train the brain to control the bladder without medication or operations.
The research findings, just published in the latest issue of the Journal of Urology conclude cognitive therapy which incorporates meditation-based deep breathing, relaxation and visualization is an effective management strategy for the strong and uncontrollable need to urinate frequently dubbed “urge incontinence”. That’s especially good news for women, who experience this kind of incontinence more often than men.
"The mind-body connection has proven to be particularly valuable for women suffering from incontinence,” said study investigator Aaron Michelfelder, MD, vice chair of Loyola’s division of family medicine and department of family medicine associate professor, in a statement to the media. "Cognitive therapy is effective with these women, because they are motivated to make a change and regain control over their body."
The research team studied 10 patients with an average age of 62. All had been diagnosed with overactive bladder (OAB), the sudden and unstoppable need to urinate. The research subjects listened to an audio recording with a series of relaxation and visualization exercises at home twice each day for two weeks. By tracking the number of times they accidentally passed urine daily before and after participating in the meditation-based therapy, the majority of research subjects were able to clearly see a dramatic improvement in symptoms. In fact, the number of weekly incontinence episodes decreased from almost 40 to 12.
This effective and natural treatment could be literally life-changing for many people with bladder control problems. The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health points out incontinence is far more than simply an inconvenience. It can cause rashes, skin infections and sores, difficulty sleeping, depression, low self-esteem and reduced social and sexual activity.
“Before entering this clinical trial, I saturated seven to eight pads a day and was afraid to leave home as a result,” research participant Anna Raisor, 53, revealed in the media statement. “Today, I am 98 percent free of leakage. The therapy has allowed me to successfully recognize the link between my brain and bladder to manage my incontinence and remain virtually accident-free."
Causes of incontinence include infections and tumors. But the most common cause is weakening of the pelvic floor muscles in women. "Nearly one in four women suffers from a pelvic floor disorder, which includes incontinence," Loyola study investigator Mary Pat FitzGerald, MD, urogynecologist, said in the media statement. "Cognitive therapy may play a vital role in a comprehensive approach to treating this disorder."
What’s more, another natural therapy – Kegel exercises that involve tightening and holding pelvic muscles, relaxing , and repeating the process several times a day – have been shown repeatedly to help women with incontinence. For example, a study published in the medical journal European Urology> concluded “incontinence of both stress type and with an urge component can be alleviated in most of the women with PFE (pelvic floor exercises).
Currently, women with bladder control problems are often prescribed medications. Although heavily advertised and promoted, many of these drugs have shown little efficacy but they’ve produced a long list of potentially dangerous side effects. For example, Ditropan ( sold as the generic oxybutynin) has been associated with severe memory impairment, difficulty swallowing, retention of urine, blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness and confusion . The newer incontinence drug Enablex (darifenacin), in a class of medications called anticholinergics, can cause dry mouth, constipation, indigestion, blurred vision, decreased sweating leading to severe heat prostration, and abdominal pain.