Urinary incontinence puts a damper on your whole life. Drugs don’t always help…plus, they have daunting side effects. (Constipation, memory loss, reduced libido anyone?) Promising news: A new study found that urinary incontinence can be reduced—maybe eliminated—without drugs. How? With a combo of three well-known herbs that have been used for centuries in traditional medicine.

Australian researchers tested an herbal blend called Urox that is a combination of three herbs—Crataeva nurvala (common name, varuna), Equisetum arvense (horsetail) and Lindera aggregata (Japanese evergreen spicebush). The herbs have been used separately to treat urinary symptoms in traditional medicines for centuries and have long-established safety profiles.

For the study, 150 men and women who had urinary incontinence were given either a daily capsule containing 420 milligrams (mg) of Urox…or a daily placebo capsule that looked identical. Both groups took the capsules for eight weeks.

Results: The group that took Urox reported significant improvement. On average…

  • Those in the Urox group needed to urinate four fewer times during the day and two fewer times during the night than they had before the study. Meanwhile, there was very little difference (less than one fewer time on average for both day and night) in the need to urinate among those in the placebo group.
  • The Urox group had about two fewer episodes of urgency and two fewer episodes of incontinence per day compared with less than one fewer episode of either for the placebo group.

Even better: For 60% of participants in the Urox group, urinary symptoms returned to normal—meaning they no longer had symptoms of urinary incontinence—while this result was seen in only 11% of the placebo group. No significant side effects were reported for either group, although a small number of participants in both groups experienced transient diarrhea or urinary tract infections.

Naturopathic doctor Andrew Rubman, ND, medical director of Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines in Southbury, Connecticut, and author of the Bottom Line blog “Nature Doc’s Patient Diary,” commented that each of these herbs also is effective alone…

  • Horsetail has been a common remedy for incontinence and bed-wetting in Europe since Shakespeare’s time. The plant contains silica, which is anti-inflammatory and acts as an astringent in the bladder to “tone” the bladder wall, which helps restore normal bladder function.
  • Varuna is an Indian Ayurvedic medicine that increases tone and coordination in bladder muscle. It helps the bladder empty more completely.
  • Japanese evergreen spicebush is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedy for frequent urination and incontinence. According to TCM, incontinence and frequent urination are caused by “cold energy,” and this herb moves warm energy (“chi”) into the bladder to disperse the cold energy. But whatever the scientific reason, the remedy often works.

Urox is manufactured in Australia but is available in the US online for about $40 for a one-month supply. It should be noted that this study of Urox was funded by the maker of Urox, but Dr. Rubman points out that the study appears to have been conducted according to acceptable research standards, the researchers shared all their data and the study was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Want some more help with urinary incontinence? Read this.