What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder often caused by a bacterial infection. It's a form of urinary tract infection that can result in discomfort and symptoms such as a frequent, urgent need to urinate, burning sensation during urination, and lower abdominal pain.

While it can affect individuals of any age or sex, it is more common in women. If left untreated, cystitis can lead to serious health complications, making early diagnosis and treatment essential.

How Does TCM View Cystitis?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers cystitis as a disruption of the body's natural harmony and balance. Unlike Western medicine, which often focuses on the infection, TCM looks at cystitis as a symptom caused by various patterns of disharmony such as Damp-Heat in the Bladder or Blood Stagnation.

The goal of TCM is to identify and correct the specific pattern affecting the individual, thereby alleviating the symptom through restoring the body’s energetic equilibrium.

Causes of Cystitis According to TCM

In the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, cystitis is often attributed to pathogenic factors such as Damp-Heat in the Bladder or Blood Stagnation in the lower abdomen. Damp-Heat can accumulate in the Bladder due to factors like dietary imbalances, environmental humidity, or a general imbalance in the body’s Yin and Yang. This leads to symptoms like burning urination and frequent urges to void.

Blood Stagnation, on the other hand, can be due to injury or chronic internal imbalances, and it may manifest as dark, cloudy urine or pain in the pelvic region. Addressing these specific causes is fundamental in TCM, as it informs the direction of treatment to not just alleviate symptoms but also to resolve the underlying energetic disharmony.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Cystitis

To address cystitis, TCM turns to formulas that can move and rebalance the body’s energies. For Damp-Heat in the Bladder, a formula like Ba Zheng San, which includes Qu Mai, is typically used to clear Heat and promote diuresis.

For patterns involving Blood Stagnation, herbs that invigorate Blood and break up Stasis may be employed, such as those found in Tao He Cheng Qi Tang. This formula, with Peach Kernels, works to alleviate the stasis and clear Heat, which can be fundamental in resolving pain and promoting the free flow of urine. The individual's presenting pattern guides the precise choice of formula, ensuring that the treatment is customized and effective.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address cystitis, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that clear heat and expel dampness
  • Formulas that clear heat from the organs
  • Formulas that nourish yin and tonify
  • Formulas that dispel summer-Heat and facilitate resolution of dampness
  • Formulas that warm yang and tonify
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation
  • Formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness
  • Formulas that clear qi-level heat

All "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness" recommended for cystitis

Formula Key herbs
Ba Zheng San Chinese Pink Herbs (Qu Mai), Knotgrass (Bian Xu)
Shi Wei San
Wu Lin San Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

All "formulas that clear heat from the organs" recommended for cystitis

Formula Key herbs
Dao Chi San Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao)

Acupoints for Cystitis

In TCM, acupuncture is utilized as an adjunctive therapy for cystitis, with specific acupoints chosen based on the diagnosed pattern. For Damp-Heat in the Bladder, points that clear Heat and promote fluid metabolism, such as Shuiquan KID-5, are selected.

For patterns of Blood Stagnation, points that stimulate blood flow and alleviate pain, such as Zulingqi GB-41, are targeted. Each acupoint serves a strategic purpose in the treatment plan, helping to address the pattern of disharmony contributing to the symptoms of cystitis and aiding the body’s return to a state of balance.

Explore below some acupoints used to address cystitis, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Kidney Channel
  • Gall Bladder Channel
  • Bladder Channel
Shuiquan KID-5

Shuiquan KID-5

1 cun directly below Taixi KID-3, in the depression over the joint space between the talus and calcaneus.

Zulingqi GB-41

Zulingqi GB-41

In the depression distal to the junction of the 4th and 5th metatarsal bones, on the lateral side of the tendon of extensor digitorum longus muscle of the foot.

Zutonggu BL-66

Zutonggu BL-66

In the depression distal and inferior to the 5th metatarsophalangeal joint, at the lateral border of the foot.

TCM Herbs for Cystitis

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address cystitis, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that drain dampness
  • Tonic herbs for blood deficiency
  • Herbs that warm the interior and/or expel cold
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Herbs that invigorate the blood
  • Purgative herbs that drain downward
  • Herbs that clear heat and purge fire and/or clear summer heat
  • Herbs that clear heat and dry dampness