An overactive bladder is a condition where the bladder squeezes or contracts when it contains only a small amount of urine, causing a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control. This can lead to symptoms like frequent urination, nighttime urination (nocturia), and urinary incontinence or leakage. Overactive bladder affects around 33 million adults in the United States. While there are medical treatments available, some people look to natural remedies like herbal teas to help manage their overactive bladder symptoms. Certain teas contain ingredients that have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antioxidant effects which can help soothe bladder irritation and reduce bladder contractions. Here we will look at the research on different teas for overactive bladder and provide some bladder-friendly tea recommendations.
What Causes Overactive Bladder?
Overactive bladder is often idiopathic, meaning there is no identifiable cause. However, there are some factors that can contribute to overactive bladder:
- Bladder inflammation – This irritates the bladder and causes it to contract more frequently.
- Bladder stones or tumors – These can irritate the bladder wall.
- Nerve problems – Damage to the nerves that control the bladder can cause abnormal bladder contractions.
- Obstruction – Blocked urine flow from issues like enlarged prostate can cause bladder changes.
- Diabetes – High blood sugar levels can affect bladder nerves and function.
- Caffeine – caffeine is a bladder irritant and stimulant that signals the bladder to contract.
- Urinary tract infections – The inflammation from an infection can trigger the bladder.
Identifying and treating any underlying causes of overactive bladder is important. But along with medical management, avoiding bladder irritants and making dietary and lifestyle changes can also be helpful. This is where drinking certain herbal teas may provide some additional bladder relief and support.
How Can Tea Help an Overactive Bladder?
Many herbal teas contain plant-based compounds that have therapeutic effects on the bladder and urinary system:
- Diuretic effects – Help the body flush out excess fluids and reduce pressure on the bladder.
- Anti-inflammatory effects – Soothe inflammation in the bladder to reduce contractions.
- Antispasmodic effects – Prevent or reduce bladder muscle spasms.
- Antioxidant effects – Protect bladder cells from damage that can cause irritation.
- Antimicrobial effects – Fight bacteria to prevent UTIs that can worsen bladder control.
The specific active compounds in different herbal teas like flavonoids, terpenes, polyphenols, tannins, and volatile oils are thought to contribute to these beneficial effects on urinary tract health.
Some herbal teas may also simply have a mild diuretic effect to help flush the bladder and urinary system. Though keep in mind that strong diuretics can potentially make overactive bladder symptoms worse, so moderation is key.
Best Teas for an Overactive Bladder
Here are some of the top teas to try for overactive bladder relief:
Marshmallow Root Tea
Marshmallow root contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that coats and soothes mucous membranes. Animal studies show marshmallow has anti-inflammatory effects on the bladder. The mucilage may help protect the bladder lining to reduce irritation and frequency.
Chamomile is a popular herb used for its mild sedative, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show it can help relieve bladder and urinary tract spasms and inflammation.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins like EGCG. Animal studies show green tea exhibits bladder-relaxing properties and support bladder function.
Corn Silk Tea
Corn silk has been used traditionally as a diuretic. It may help flush the urinary system and soothe irritated bladders. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Lavender has relaxing, sedative properties that may help decrease bladder contractions and control urges. It also has mild diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Dandelion Leaf Tea
Dandelion leaf acts as a diuretic to increase urine output, helping flush the bladder and urinary tract. The leaves also have an antispasmodic effect.
Horsetail is a mild herbal diuretic due to its mineral content. One study found it decreased nighttime bathroom visits and increased bladder capacity in people with overactive bladders.
Buchu has been used traditionally in South Africa to treat urinary tract infections and inflammation. Studies indicate it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties.
Also called corn grass, couchgrass has diuretic actions to help relieve urinary irritation and flush the bladder. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds.
Are There Any Teas to Avoid for Overactive Bladder?
There are some teas that can potentially worsen overactive bladder symptoms or bladder irritation, including:
- Black tea – The caffeine in black tea can stimulate the bladder.
- Energy drinks – These often contain caffeine and other stimulants that irritate the bladder.
- Alcoholic teas – The alcohol can irritate the bladder.
- Strong diuretic teas – Dandelion, parsley, and juniper may aggravate frequency.
- Very acidic fruit teas – These can bother sensitive bladders.
- Chocolate or coffee flavored teas – Chocolate and coffee contain caffeine.
It’s best to avoid or limit caffeine sources like coffee, soda, and chocolate as these are common bladder irritants. And opt for moderate intake of mild herbal diuretic teas to avoid exacerbating urinary frequency.
How Much Tea Should You Drink for an Overactive Bladder?
There isn’t a universal recommended amount of tea for overactive bladders. The best amount can depend on the individual and the type of tea. Here are some general tips:
- Start with 1-2 cups of mild herbal tea per day and monitor effects.
- For diuretic teas, limit intake to 2-3 cups daily maximum.
- Drink at least 8 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid between diuretic tea servings.
- For sedative teas like chamomile, 1 cup 30-60 minutes before bedtime may promote sleep.
- Listen to your body and adjust as needed. Increase amount if tolerable or reduce intake if symptoms worsen.
Pay attention to your individual response. Some people find larger amounts of tea exacerbate urinary urgency or frequency. It’s best to start slowly and find your optimal tea intake. Combining a couple different beneficial herbal teas can give you a broader range of therapeutic bladder effects as well.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Help an Overactive Bladder
While herbal teas can provide some additional relief, making other positive lifestyle adjustments is also key to managing overactive bladder symptoms:
- Practice pelvic floor exercises
- Lose excess weight
- Eat bladder-friendly foods like berries, nuts, and pumpkin seeds
- Reduce fluid intake 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Limit bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, and acidic foods
- Use urinary urgency suppression techniques
- Use incontinence pads or protective garments if needed
Medical treatments like anticholinergic medication, Botox injections, neurostimulation, and physical therapy can also help control severe overactive bladder when combined with lifestyle changes. Don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider if home remedies are not providing sufficient symptom relief.
The Bottom Line
Overactive bladder causes uncomfortable and disruptive urinary symptoms that can negatively impact quality of life. While medical help is often needed, incorporating herbal teas like marshmallow root, chamomile, lavender, and green tea into your routine may provide additional relief by soothing bladder irritation and contractions. Just be sure to avoid teas that can exacerbate symptoms, and practice moderation since drinking excessive fluids can make frequency worse. Along with other positive lifestyle changes, herbal teas can be a beneficial complementary approach to controlling your overactive bladder. Monitor your individual response to find the most effective options for you.