Pumpkin seed oil

A study on 45 men and women who took an extract of pumpkin seed oil demonstrated a significant reduction in the degree of overactive bladder symptoms at 6 and 12 weeks. Symptom scores improved across all domains including daytime frequency, night-time frequency, urgency and urge incontinence1. While it is not entirely clear why pumpkin seed oil helps with bladder symptoms, it is felt to be from increased production of nitric oxide due to the high concentration of the amino acid, arginine, in pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also extremely healthy and are rich in anti-oxidants, magnesium, zinc, and fiber.

Gosha-jinki-gan (GJG)

This is a Japanese blended formula of 10 different herbs, which can have an inhibitory effect of bladder contractility, thereby reducing urinary urgency2. It has mostly been studied for nocturnal polyuria, a bothersome condition where you produce more urine at night and wake up several times at night to go to the bathroom. It is felt to decrease bladder sensation via receptors in the spinal cord.

Vitamin D

An interesting study published in 20193 compared 55 patients with overactive bladder to 129 healthy controls, and found vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in cases (80%) versus controls (34.9%). Depression and anxiety were also more common in cases versus controls.

Magnesium

A small placebo-controlled study showed significant improvement in urinary symptoms in 55% of the women taking magnesium. These women reported less urinary frequency, incontinence episodes, and waking up at night to urinate4. Magnesium acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, which may explain why it can be helpful in overactive bladder.

In addition to these, there are also some other nutraceuticals such as corn silk, marshmallow root, cleavers, and horsetail, which may help in overactive bladder due to their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. The nice thing about herbal remedies is that they are generally safe and well tolerated. But before you  start taking any supplements for overactive bladder, it is necessary to see a urologist or a urogynecologist to make sure that the overactive bladder symptoms are not being caused by acute or chronic urinary infection, interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), or from a neurologic problem. Once these other causes are ruled out, you can discuss and explore herbal options with your doctor.

While there are several nutraceuticals or supplements which are felt to help with bladder symptoms, I highlight these ones because they have the best quality information.

Pumpkin seed oil

A study on 45 men and women who took an extract of pumpkin seed oil demonstrated a significant reduction in the degree of overactive bladder symptoms at 6 and 12 weeks. Symptom scores improved across all domains including daytime frequency, night-time frequency, urgency and urge incontinence1. While it is not entirely clear why pumpkin seed oil helps with bladder symptoms, it is felt to be from increased production of nitric oxide due to the high concentration of the amino acid, arginine, in pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also extremely healthy and are rich in anti-oxidants, magnesium, zinc, and fiber.

Gosha-jinki-gan (GJG)

This is a Japanese blended formula of 10 different herbs, which can have an inhibitory effect of bladder contractility, thereby reducing urinary urgency2. It has mostly been studied for nocturnal polyuria, a bothersome condition where you produce more urine at night and wake up several times at night to go to the bathroom. It is felt to decrease bladder sensation via receptors in the spinal cord.

Vitamin D

An interesting study published in 20193 compared 55 patients with overactive bladder to 129 healthy controls, and found vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in cases (80%) versus controls (34.9%). Depression and anxiety were also more common in cases versus controls.

Magnesium

A small placebo-controlled study showed significant improvement in urinary symptoms in 55% of the women taking magnesium. These women reported less urinary frequency, incontinence episodes, and waking up at night to urinate4. Magnesium acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, which may explain why it can be helpful in overactive bladder.

In addition to these, there are also some other nutraceuticals such as corn silk, marshmallow root, cleavers, and horsetail, which may help in overactive bladder due to their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. The nice thing about herbal remedies is that they are generally safe and well tolerated. But before you  start taking any supplements for overactive bladder, it is necessary to see a urologist or a urogynecologist to make sure that the overactive bladder symptoms are not being caused by acute or chronic urinary infection, interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), or from a neurologic problem. Once these other causes are ruled out, you can discuss and explore herbal options with your doctor.