I recently met a woman who told me that her urologist believes she may have IC. She had a bladder infection a couple months back, but after a round of antibiotics and negative UTI results, she still isn’t feeling quite right and the pain, frequency and urgency, while not as prominent, are still lingering.
She started taking D-Mannose 3 times a day and her symptoms began to subside.
This really got me thinking about D-Mannose’s role in the treatment of IC. This woman is by far not the only person to claim that D-Mannose has eliminated or reduced their interstitial cystitis symptoms.
Let’s take a closer look at this natural supplement and its application in the natural treatment of IC.
What is D-Mannose?
D-mannose is a naturally occurring simple sugar, closely related to glucose. It is found in cranberries, peaches, apples, other berries, and some plants.
It can be purchased in a supplement form, either as a powder or in capsules.
How does D-Mannose work?
Over 90% of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, which are found in normal gut flora in the intestinal tract, but do not belong in the bladder or urinary tract.
This is not the same strain of E. coli that can end up on our dinner plate from unsanitary food processing and cause severe illness.
A lingering or underlying E-coli infection is said to be one possible contributing factors in the development of interstitial cystitis.
The standard UTI tests can miss these low-grade infections, which may help explain why some women and men feel as if they still have a bladder infection even after a round of standard antibiotics and subsequent negative UTI results from their doctor.
Unfortunately for us, bacteria are smart and efficient.
The cell walls of E. coli are covered with tiny, sticky fingerlike projections (consisting of an amino acid-sugar complex, also known as a “glycoprotein” or “lectin”), that allow them to take hold of the inside of the bladder wall and urinary tract. When this happens, the bacteria is difficult to flush out via the urine.
D-mannose can stick to the E. coli lectins to a greater degree than the E. coli can stick to our human cells. Although D-mannose is a simple sugar, most of it is not metabolized and when a large quantity of D-mannose is ingested, almost all of it spills into the urine via our kidneys and coats the E. coli so it can no longer adhere to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract. At this point, they can be rinsed away through urination.
What is the correct dosage of D-Mannose for IC?
Although the average person with an acute bladder infection may receive a beneficial, medicinal effect by consuming large amounts of cranberry juice (naturally high in d-mannose), this is neither practical or safe for someone with IC.
With IC, you cannot tolerate acidic fruits. In addition, consuming large amounts of fruit juice results in consuming large amounts of sugar, which can feed unbeneficial yeast and wreak havoc on blood sugar regulation.
If you want to give D-mannose a try, you will have to use it in a supplement form, either as a powder or in capsules. I recommend the powder, as you can take in a greater amount at once and anything in powder/liquid form is usually more absorbable than in a pill form.
For IC, you can try 2 grams, 2-3 times a day and continue this for at least 2 months to see if there will be any benefit for you.
Possible side effects and precautions
Make sure that you purchase a product that is pure D-mannose without any cranberry or cranberry extract added to it, as cranberry is a notorious IC irritant.
The product that I currently prefer and recommend is by NOW Foods and comes in both powder and capsules. In my opinion, the powder is best because it is easier and more cost effective to consume a larger dose. It doesn’t taste like much of anything, just a mild, sweet taste.
Some people report diarrhea when ingesting over 2 grams at a time and if you have a very sensitive GI tract, you may experience this at even a lower dose. As with most supplements, I recommend starting out slowly and working your way up to the full dose.
There are no reported long-term side effects or consequences of taking D-mannose and it should not interact with other supplements or medications. As always, check with your doctor or health care practitioner before starting any new supplement.
Who might benefit from supplementing with D-Mannose?
- If you suspect you have an underlying or lingering e-coli infection (not detected by standard UTI test), you might want to consider D-Mannose.
- If you are prone to bladder infections in addition to your IC, D-Mannose may be able to help you manage this and reduce the frequency of UTIs you experience, or elminate the infection before it takes hold.
- If you are the type of person to get UTIs post-sex, D-Mannose may help you to flush out the bacteria before they take hold and cause a full blown infection.
While there is no official research that I am aware of proving that D-Mannose can be helpful in treating IC, there is anectodal evidence out there that suggests that D-mannose may be worth trying for interstitial cystitis. Some patients have reported significant relief and even complete remission from D-mannose supplementation.