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The Bladder - Urinary Retention - by Susun Weed


Step 0.     Do Nothing


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



Step 1.     Collect Information


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.



Step 2.     Engage the Energy


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



Step 3.     Nourish and Tonify


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.



Step 4.     Stimulate/Sedate


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.)



Step 6.     Break and Enter


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.[1]




Bladder Star - Comfrey


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.





[1] “Urinary Symptoms and Prostate Cancer Treatment,” HealthNews, June 2004.

Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.


Visit her site  for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more or contact her at:

Susun Weed

PO Box 64

Woodstock, NY 12498

Fax:  1-845-246-8081

For permission to reprint this article, contact us at:


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 contained herein 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.




Browse the publishing site - Ash Tree Publishing - to learn more about her alternative health books.


Venture into the NEW Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Or Join the Forum! Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum - an open space for discussion. Make yourself at home, post a message or start a discussion. This place is for you to share your questions, concerns, and comments with other wise women like you. Take a moment to register and become part of the community. Enjoy!


Susun Weed’s books include:


Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year

Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $11.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

Healing Wise 

Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $17.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing


New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $16.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on menopause, visit the site.

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $14.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on Breast Health, visit Susun's Breast Health site.

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