The Bladder - Urinary Retention

January 14th 2012 - Difficulty Voiding - Paruresis
copyright-Susun S Weed


Oops, that’s the problem. Seriously, though, relaxing deeply can open the valves. If it doesn’t, there may be an obstruction.


Because the prostate gland encircles the urethra (the tube that allows the bladder to empty), when the prostate is swollen, it becomes difficult to empty the bladder. The urinary stream may start and stop, be scanty, or feel urgent without much result. As much as a cup of urine may be retained even after “emptying”.

Trauma during, or from, childbirth, and after prostate or pelvic surgery, can also interfere with the ability to urinate.

If urination stops completely for several hours, treat as an emergency situation. Catheterization in sterile circumstances is life- (and bladder-) saving.


Homeopathic Zea mays is specific for retention or suppression of urine, and it is suitable for young, old, and in-between.


Dandelion, chickweed, and nettle are three good friends whose leaves and roots work together or alone to increase voiding ease and relieve retention. Go slowly, as they can increase urinary output. A drop or two of each tincture may be enough.


Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners view urinary retention/difficulty voiding as kidney yang deficiency and dysfunction of the Triple Burner. The modified TCM formula uses cinnamon bark to promote fluid flow, turkey tail mushrooms and dandelion as diuretics, astragalus to increase overall chi, peony root to replenish kidney yin and strengthen the bladder, licorice and dandelion roots to clear bladder heat, fennel seed to bring chi to the Lower Burner, and plantain seeds to clear heat from the Lower Burner and remove Triple Burner dampness.

Herbs traditionally used in tinctures to relieve urinary blockages of all kinds include parsley root, buchu leaves, juniper berries, and uva ursi leaves. Saw palmetto berries and pygeum are favorites for men with voiding difficulties, but all offer benefits to everyone. Depending on the severity of the problem, dropperful doses may be used 1-8 hours apart. (Do avoid capsules.)


If you have prostate cancer and urinary problems - such as a weak stream or difficulty voiding, then radioactive seed therapy (brachytherapy) “may not be ideal” as it often fails to relieve urinary problems and occasionally worsens them.


An herb that can improve muscle tone in the bladder, ease irritation in the bladder lining and ureters, heal all surfaces, counter inflammation, and create resilient health throughout the urinary system is a true bladder star. That’s comfrey - Symphytum.

I don’t use Symphytum officinale, which is often cited, and is associated with alkaloid-overdose of the liver. Instead, I use the comfrey from my garden, Symphytum uplandica x, also called “Russian” or “blue” comfrey. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone growing officinale, which is a small plant with yellow flowers. I strongly suspect that all the comfrey for sale in the United States in uplandica.

The allantoin in comfrey is a superb healer of mucus surfaces, such as those lining the bladder and ureters. It gives almost immediate relief to those with interstitial cystitis and works to counter urge incontinence and overactive bladders. Comfrey’s anti-inflammatory action relieves urethritis and prostate swelling, too.

The astringent tannins in comfrey help tone and tighten the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, countering stress incontinence. Comfrey also relaxes the detrusor muscle.

The lavish amounts of minerals, vitamins, and protein found in comfrey allow the body to engage in any repairs that are needed and may counter bladder cancer.

A sitz bath of the leaves or roots works well for those reluctant to consume comfrey. But, for best results, comfrey leaf infusion, a cup or two a day, gets my vote.

Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material in this article is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

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