Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies most often used to treat interstitial cystitis (IC) symptoms include biofeedback, diet-based therapies, herbal remedies, massage, yoga, and Pilates. CAM refers to health care systems, practices, and products that are not part of the conventional medicine treatment approaches.

Complementary vs. Alternative

  • Complementary: Practitioners use complementary medicine along with conventional medicine. Using the dietary supplement Prelief to reduce IC symptoms in conjunction with the conventional IC therapy Elmiron is an example of this.
  • Alternative: Practitioners use alternative medicine in place of conventional medical care. Using acupuncture alone to treat IC, with no other conventional therapies, is an example of using alternative medicine.

Herbs, Dietary Supplements and Biologicals

Many of the prescription medicines that doctors use today have their origins in these types of natural, plant-based substances. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers herbal remedies to be dietary supplements, not medicines.

Mind-body Medicine

Mind-body medicine focuses on how the mind and body interact. Examples of mind-body medicine used by people with IC include:

Massage, Manipulation and Body-based Practices

These types of therapies involved a hands-on approach, physically working with the body:

  • Alexander technique
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Feldenkreis
  • Massage therapy
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Reflexology
  • Trager psychophysical integration

Energy Medicine

Energy medicine leverages the concept that all people have subtle energy fields within them that they emit. Practitioners of energy medicine believe that a disturbance in these energy fields causes disease.

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Ayurveda
  • Biofeedback
  • Energy healing therapy/Reiki
  • Magnet therapy
  • Qi gong
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch

Revised Thursday, January 10th, 2013