Richard G. Petty, MD

Vitamin D and Interstitial Cystitis

I think that interstitial cystitis (IC) must be one of the most distressing of conditions to have, and it is certainly one of the most challenging to treat. Outside the United States, it is more often called painful bladder syndrome (PBS).

IC is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary from person to person and even in the same individual. It can vary from an experience of mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, to intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate (urgency), a frequent need to urinate (frequency), or a combination of these symptoms. Both may be severe: I’ve seen people who had to urinate every ten minutes. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women’s symptoms often get worse during menstruation, and some experience pain with vaginal intercourse. There is a good website provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), that is fairly up-to-date.

Because IC varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers believe that it is not one, but several diseases. There are clear links between IC and fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue, and probably many other illnesses.

There is good evidence that inflammation in one pelvic organ can cause pain in other organs that share some of the same nerve supply. Inflammation of the colon may make some nerves coming from the spinal cord hyper-excitable, which in turn makes nerves running to the bladder hypersensitive. Because the same nerve plexus connects with the ovaries and uterus, it is no surprise to learn that phases of the menstrual cycle impact the way in which inflammation in one pelvic organ can cause inflammation in another.

IC appears to be becoming more common, although that is always a risky comment, because it was undoubtedly not often recognized in the past. The old teaching was that it was only something that occurred in menopausal women, but it is now being diagnosed in men as well as women, and in people as young as their late teens.

The cause of IC remains unknown, though there have been many theories: infections, allergy, autoimmunity, neurological and genetic. There have been recent claims of the discovery of responsible genes, but hey would most likely be susceptibility genes, rather than causative. Otherwise why should the rates of IC genuinely seem to be increasing? What seems clear is that the normal mucus lining of the bladder wall is damaged.

Multiple types of treatment have been tried, from medication to pelvic floor exercise, to neurological implants and homeopathy and acupuncture. The report of anything new that may help is always welcome.

So I was interested to see a report from investigators in Milan on the efficacy using a molecule that has been attracting a lot of interest recently: vitamin D. The active form of vitamin D is known as calcitriol or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25(OH)2D3) that is manufactured in the kidney. Its in vivo biological effects include regulation of bone metabolism, control and modulation of the proliferation of cells and some aspects of the immune response. These characteristics have already led to therapeutic applications in osteoporosis, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and psoriasis. Many reports show beneficial effects of vitamin D in animal models of diabetes, organ graft rejection, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, lupus nephritis, and in asthma. Despite what you may have seen in some advertisements, just taking extra vitamin D does not help, and may make matters worse: they key is to have the right form of vitamin D, that can reach and affect the right areas of the body.

The Milan team used a vitamin D3 analogue (BXL628) in a mouse model of chronic cystitis. What they found was that a specific inflammatory marker in the blood went down with treatment, and at the same time histological analysis showed a decrease in edema and white blood cell (leukocyte) infiltration in the bladder wall. This and some other biochemical evidence of what is known as “mast cell degranulation,”  is very encouraging and strongly supports the potential therapeutic use of BXL628 in diseases such as human interstitial cystitis.

This is the kind of mechanism-based research that holds out enormous promise for everyone’s welfare and will help us in our goal of using science to inform the development of the next generation of treatment, health and wellness.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.


3 Responses to “Vitamin D and Interstitial Cystitis”
  1. Andrew van Oppen says:

    Dr. Petty,

    I suffer from IC and recently read your article “Vitamin D and IC” – in it you reference a vitamin D 3(BXL628) – is this available in the US? Should my Dr. know about this or is it new info? Can you email me your answer – Thank you.

  2. tiziana says:

    Hi there,
    is the Vitamin D you are talking about in the form of Viatamin D3 (cholecalciferol)?

    I’m also an IC surfferer.

  3. Richard Petty says:

    I did indeed email the first poster that very day with this:
    Vitamin D3(BXL628) is also known as Elocalcitol and is being developed by Bioxell. Here’s a link:

    I do not know the company personally, but as you will see, this Vitamin D3 analogue is still in development and some way off from being ready for scrutiny by the FDA and the regulatory authorities in Europe, Japan and the rest of the world.

    We just all hope and pray that the initial promise in the laboratory is translated into something which will help people in desperate need of help.

    The second comment is quite correct: the research is being done using a Vitamin D3 analogue.

    I wish anyone with IC the very best, and I shall continue to ask everyone I know about new research or new treatments. The condition is very distressing for sufferers and their families and frustrating for physicians and other therapists who do not often have that much to offer.

    Kind regards,


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