Excerpt from the newsletter of Interstitial Cystitis Association, USA:

“In August, 1994, Dr. Kristene E. Whitmore, Chair of Urology at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, and her partner Dr. David Gordon, started referring patients to Dr. Qingyao Shi for a study using Chinese herbs to treat IC symptoms. Dr. Shi, who studied medicine in China and is a licensed acupuncturist, worked for six months to perfect the best formula using twelve different herbs. She then initiated a long distance treatment program in which patients could order the herbs by mail. During the past two and one-half years, about 500 IC patients have used Dr. Shi's herbal formula. Twenty-five patients completed the study. "In our study all patients were diagnosed with IC by a physician and kept daily charts on pain, frequency, energy level, and emotional well-being, Dr. Shi says. Patients used one tea bag twice a day for six days, skipped one day, then started the, cycle again. "Depending on the symptoms, it takes three to four months to reach a maintenance dosage level," she notes. On the maintenance dosage, patients drink the tea every other week, then when symptoms are well under control, they proceed to long term dosage of one week a month. The herbs in Dr. Shi's formula include gardenia, licorice, dianthus, poria, rhubarb, rehmannia, cornus, alisma ginseng, dioscorea, clemmatis armandi polygonum aviculare, ligstrum, plantago seed, and milettia.

"After the third month, 42% of the patients reported a decrease in pain, and this is a very significant difference," Dr. Shi reports. In all, 82% of the patients experienced a decrease in bladder and pelvic pain. The average (media n) frequency interval before treatment was 30 minutes to one hour, which was defined as "high" frequency. After three months, 80% of the patients had decreased frequency. "We found a positive correlation between improvement in pain and a decrease in frequency," Dr. Shi says. Eighty-five percent of the study participants also noticed a return to normal energy levels, and 80% said that they had lower anxiety levels and less depression. According to Dr. Shi, "Overall, 52% of the patients now have symptoms that are well under control, and an additional 24% experienced some improvement. Four percent showed no improvement."

This study had a very good response rate, and no one dropped out because of side effects." Dr. Whitmore says. "This is an excellent therapy to pursue while using other treatments. In some cases people who improve using the tea can get off of many medications and can maintain themselves without having to worry about side effects."