Today I have had the pleasure of speaking with one of IC's best kept secrets,
Matia Brizman, M.T.O.M., L.Ac. D.Ac & C.H. of BOMA-Med in Los Angeles. Matia
is a very gifted Doctor of Acupuncture and practitioner of Chinese medicine. She
is a truly amazing woman who has dedicated her life to helping people with
chronic illnesses. She specializes in the areas of the colon and the bladder and
has treated many IC patients successfully over the past six years. I am grateful
to Matia for giving me the opportunity to educate IC patients about her
treatment methods and beliefs and for allowing me to spread her words of hope to
others. I had the pleasure of speaking directly to Matian and can testify to the
fact that she is truly a special person, a caring woman who radiates positive
energy and hope. I am glad that Matia is on our side in the battle against IC.
Hi Matia, thank you for taking the time out to speak to me today. I have
heard so many great things about you from your patients.
Thank you Camille. First I would just like to say that I think your web site is
great and I think you are doing a wonderful thing for people.
Thank you Matia. OK, let's begin with a brief description of Chinese
Chinese medicine has been effective for the treatment of illness for
thousands of years and has consequently been gaining popularity in this country
since President Nixon "brought it over" during his time in office
after having experienced his own treatment during his visit in China, having
fallen ill at that time.
It is a system of medicine based on the premise of checks and balances. Balance
must be maintained in order to prevent or treat disease. This balance is not as
simple as yin and yang, although they are the root. It is a quite complicated
system in which each organ must be balanced and in good
"communication" with different aspects of each other organ. It is
quite deep, and quite complex, and in my own humble opinion, profoundly
There is so much more to be said about Chinese medicine that can't possibly be
covered in this interview. For more information one can go to http://orientalmedicine.com/index.html
A lot of patients are very skeptical about using Chinese medicine for IC
since they are told it is too strong for them and that they can get hurt. Do you
believe that to be correct?
First, I should say that although many may think that it is too strong, more
most likely have been told or are under the impression that it is ineffective
for the treatment of IC. Secondly, I think that all patients seeking treatment
for any disease should be well informed about the treatment that they have
chosen to undergo and the doctor who is administrating the treatment. One should
carefully weigh his or her options prior to commencing any treatment.
Chinese medicine is an invaluable modality for many illnesses, yet despite this
fact, as in Western medicine, there are doctors whom are more appropriate to see
for specific diseases. There is an unfortunate misunderstanding that all the
people in the world practicing Chinese medicine have equivalent abilities.
Because of this, if someone seeks treatment through Chinese medicine and it does
not work, they assume the medicine is ineffective. They seldom assume they
sought out a doctor with inappropriate experience to their specific illness. In
Western medical treatment, if you do not get help, you do not criticize the
medicine, you change doctors!
For these reasons, I think any patient should be skeptical since they can get
hurt in the wrong hands. Chinese medicine is based on the premise that there are
many different treatments for the same disease. In other words, individuals with
the same disease need to be treated differently. There is not one neat little
answer that is "out of the box". This is especially true for IC
patients. The more I treat IC the more I realize that there are so many
different possibilities of treatment for each patient.
A Chinese doctor lacking experience with this specific disease would treat the
patient based upon symptoms, which sound very much like those we have been
trained for in Chinese medical school (known as Lin Syndromes, all kinds of
bladder disorders). If one follows those principles precisely without the
advantage of experience with this disease, you may make the patient much worse.
Another problem I have found is that some people practicing Chinese medicine
sometimes go against its principles and they try to practice using one answer
for all diseases. This will never work. Hence, these are the kinds of problems
one may experience when seeking treatment for IC with Chinese medicine.
I am certain there must be many wonderful people practicing Chinese medicine who
are doing great work. What I would recommend is asking if they have had
experience with IC specifically and if so, how much. Ask what they are
specializing in. If they specialize in this disease, then give it a try. It is
normal for one to seek the top specialist in any field of medicine when seeking
treatment. It should be no different in this case.
So it is safe to say you do not recommend IC patients treat themselves?
Absolutely not! I never recommend patients treat themselves, for IC or any other
illness. A patient trying to use natural methods to treat oneself can be very
dangerous. Just because it is natural does not mean it is safe. The general
public has a very misguided understanding of alternative medicine in that there
is an assumption that if it does not help it can't hurt. This is the furthest
thing from the truth. Guidance is definitely required by someone who has had the
professional medical training to assess and monitor the patient closely.
You mentioned that when you first began practicing on patients with IC you
were not too successful in their treatments?
Yes that is true. There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning but with
much tenacity, eventually I was able to unlock the treatment methods that would
effectively treat the IC patient. In order to learn how to treat IC I did a lot
of detective work. I began to understand the ailment and I began to see that I
had to develop my own treatment methods. I realized that the traditional methods
for treatment of urinary diseases according to Chinese medicine were inadequate
for the treatment of IC. So I combined a traditional Chinese medical
understanding and a modern physiological understanding of the condition and
merged them together to form my own treatment methods for IC. Eventually I began
to unlock the disease and started to make a lot of progress and I am still
making progress to this day. I hope to continue to do so in the years to come.
It is my goal to make the treatment faster and easier and to be able to
anticipate what each patient is going to require ahead of time before
administering treatment. Since IC is a very complex disease I have a long way to
go but that is my goal.
So it is safe to say that there is a lot less trial and error with IC
patients today? Also, how do you go about treating new patients?
Yes there is a lot less trial and error. When a patient walks into my office I
sit with them for at least an hour and go over their total history. Then I take
what we call in Chinese medicine the pulse and tongue. After assessing the needs
of the patient I start off with a regimen that is fairly conservative since the
IC patient is so sensitive and then I build from there. Since I have acquired a
great deal of practice and knowledge in mixing herbs and placing needles for
many IC patients over the years about 70% of those patients do well right from
the beginning. With other patients I have to do some adjustments to get the
right treatment for them. I stay in very close touch with new patients. I keep
the lines of communication open and stick by them until we get it right. I am
always available to my patients, even in my off hours. I am very much a part of
the lives of my patients until they improve to the point that they don't need me
I know that you use acupuncture as part of your treatment methods for IC
patients. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how it works?
When patients are in town I always recommend acupuncture because I think it is
an invaluable treatment asset when done "properly". Properly means
consistent with my methods. So, I ask that long-distance patients refrain from
acupuncture, as I then have no control over the treatment methods of the other
acupuncturist. So acupuncture done in accordance to specific treatment methods
is a great help and will facilitate healing. Other treatments with different
applications and approaches can actually increase the pain and worsen the
The insertion of acupuncture needles when placed at certain points and in
particular combinations can stimulate the body's healing process in many ways.
However, the needles must be placed with the same amount of precision that the
herbs and supplements must be combined. Treatments that are inconsistent with
the patient's needs can actually make the patient feel worse and stimulate them
in the incorrect way. This, however, is true for all illnesses, not just IC.
Do you recognize that there are other diseases involved with many IC patients
and if so how do you treat or address those other diseases?
There are many typical illnesses that accompany IC and there are also many that
are not typical to the IC patient but which must also be addressed. Let me
be more clear. Some common conditions, which come with IC are:
These conditions are common because they are associated with the constitutional
condition of the patient. It is not a mistake that these conditions so often
come together. They are connected and tied in ways that are understood through
Chinese medical diagnosis. Hence, as the IC is treated, typically the other
problems are addressed as well.
In addition to these problems, the human condition being what it is, there are
often other problems to contend with simultaneously. These could include such
things as hypotension (low blood pressure), herpes simplex virus, panic attacks,
or more serious conditions. When these kinds of problems are present during the
treatment of IC, all problems must be taken into consideration for effective
treatment to take place.
Have you ever treated any patients with severe IC or patients who have had
IC for many years successfully?
Yes I have. Sometimes these patients may take longer to improve due to
"layers" of complications or the length of time that they have the
disease however sometimes they do not.
Do you believe bacteria and yeast are connected to IC?
Many of my patients have yeast and bacteria but many do not. However, let me
back up and say that just because someone does not test positive for yeast and
bacteria does not mean that they don't have it. So I always treat at least a
little bit for it. I have had patients get better though with very minimal
treatment for yeast and bacteria.
What do you think causes IC? It is all speculation I know but I would love to
have your views.
There is a very long and involved answer to this question in terms of Chinese
medicine. I will keep my answer brief here because to explain anything about
Chinese medicine requires a lot of conceptual explanations first, and I think I
will bore most people before they finish the first paragraph.
So, Basically, I think that IC is a combination of problems occurring
simultaneously caused by:
1. Weakness in the bladder and the kidneys, and the colon on a constitutional
2. Intestinal health imbalances eventually effecting the body systemically to
the point where pathological bacteria and or yeast have penetrated the tissues
of the bladder as well as other areas of the body. When bacteria and or fungus
(yeast) gets into areas of the body where it does not belong it causes
pathological tissue irritation and this, I think leads to the ulcerations and
subcutaneous bleeding that urologists are looking for in diagnosis. Where there
is any amount of tissue change, there will be pain as a result. In addition, the
yeast or bacteria themselves congesting the urinary system and compromising
tissue will create additional urgency, burning and discomfort.
I think these are the two basic problems. However, how they manifest themselves
through Chinese medical diagnosis may be very different. For example, If you
have a weakness in the kidney "system" according to Chinese medicine,
your disease could manifest in a lot of different ways. You could have menstrual
problems, bowel problems, heart problems, etc… all because of weak kidneys.
So, what happens is IC patients all have the basic problems in common, but
manifest the disease differently and require different treatments to feel
Some patients have a strong weakness and need more support, while others need
more bacteria or yeast killing treatment. Some patients need more attention on
regulating blood flow because disruptions have taken place over time. Changes
need to be made to support the progress that the body is making as the process
continues until the patient is no longer in treatment.
Other complicating factors are all of the treatments that patients have
undergone prior to the time that I see them. The installations and the
medications can add on to the layers of problems that the patient manifests.
In my work, I try to clean out the urinary system of pathological material,
rebuild the kidneys, bladder and tissues, and re-establish proper energy and
blood flow simultaneously. At the end, a balance is restored.
I think that these problems come about through:
1. Imbalanced eating habits. Such as overuse of alcohol, sugars, carbohydrates,
etc. This weakens the immune system and allows inappropriate growth of
2. Overuse of antibiotic therapy, which kills your good bacteria and therefore
throws off the balance of health in the gut allowing bad bacteria or yeast to
3. Use of certain kinds of prescription drugs, which can cause an unlimited
number of imbalances including immune suppression and dysregulation of energy
flow which, in itself, can cause disease.
4. Inappropriate use of natural or prescription bowel cleansers or laxatives or
other colon therapies which further weaken the immune system of the bowel and
encourage the downward movement of bacteria into tissues outside the colon.
5. Incorrect use of natural supplementation for many conditions which can also
transfer yeast and/or bacteria into the bladder from the colon.
Why are you so passionate about what you do and why have you devoted your
life to bladder and colon diseases?
Several years ago I was very, very sick and there was little that Western
medicine could do for me. I was left feeling hopeless with nowhere else to turn.
So I turned to Chinese medicine. When Chinese medicine helped me regain control
over my life I vowed that I would be dedicated to helping others. I had a
lucrative and successful career in another area but I quit and decided to go to
school to learn how to practice this type of medicine. Giving people their lives
back is what I live for. I love to take someone who has tried everything and
can't get better any other way and heal that person. Again, giving people their
lives back is what I live for.
What is the difference between Western and Chinese medicine?
I think it is important for us to remember that there is not one answer that is
right for anything in life. It is always important to establish the appropriate
solution for the appropriate problem. It is no different with medicine. It seems
however, that many of us want only one of these medicines to have validity and
this is where I think misunderstanding comes to play.
There is no replacement for Western medicine when it comes to many things.
Things such as miraculous surgical techniques, ER procedures, incredibly
advanced diagnostic capabilities, prosthetic limb replacements, vaccinations,
and more. I myself would not be alive today without the life-saving gift of a
particular surgical procedure.
However, for many other ailments especially those of a chronic nature, I think
Chinese medicine is more efficient and appropriate. By recognizing these chronic
ailments through a different system of diagnosis, conditions are treated with a
quite different approach with the idea of correcting the problem whereas Western
medicine would treat that same problem with drugs, which only manage the
symptoms. This is the fundamental difference between Western and Chinese
medicine in the treatment of certain ailments. Some might say that there is
nothing wrong with the management of symptoms since it is easy and it usually
ends the suffering quite expeditiously. Yet, there can be many side effects that
the body is subjected to with drug management whereas with Chinese medicine
there are none when administered correctly.
I think the perfect world in medicine will be when medical doctors and
alternative doctors of all kinds will be able to co-exist and guide patients
back and forth and route them to the appropriate caregivers as necessary.
IC is known to be an "incurable disease" yet you say that you
can help people. What makes you think that you can?
First let me start off by saying that one of the principles of Chinese medicine
is that illnesses are simply imbalances, which once addressed will be corrected.
This is a fundamental difference between Western and Chinese medicine. There, of
course, is controversy on this issue in our field because there are
practitioners with very different levels of conviction. I have known many
practitioners who have expressed absolute horror and disbelief in some of the
things that I have endeavored to treat and I know just as many who treat other
illnesses, which I would be too frightened to even think of treating. I would
say, however, that I am among those with an immense amount of conviction and
belief in this philosophy. Although I cannot effectively treat all diseases, it
is my opinion that there are effective treatments for all diseases and finding
the appropriate person qualified for this task is the obvious challenge.
I think we are as capable as the amount of limitations and constraints we place
upon ourselves in our lives.
How many IC patients have you treated?
I have treated many patients from 1995 when I was in my internship to
present. I started practicing on my own in 1996. I have been strongly building
my practice since 1996 and now I see about 65 patients per week of which about
60% are bladder related.
What are your suggestions for long-term, continuing lifestyle?
I think health is greatly misunderstood in our culture. We are of a society that
is under the impression that sitting in front of the television, eating chips
and drinking alcohol on a daily basis is fine. Somehow we have created this
illusion for ourselves that we do not have to take any responsibility for our
health and that our body should be able to sustain itself with the terrible
things that we put in it. I do not subscribe to this theory and I think if one
does not correct certain abusive behavioral patterns one's general state of
health with always be poor.
Now, this is not to say that one can not resume eating and drinking many things
that they were required to abstain from during treatment, however, moderation
and balance is key to the perpetuation of long-term health.
I teach my patients about health and longevity because I want them all to live
out extraordinarily long lives. I think all human beings would live many years
beyond what they currently do if the common abusive habits that are so
acceptable in our society were simply, not so acceptable! If a person adheres to
this theory, a healthy body will support him or her through a long and happy
You are based in Los Angeles. Are you able to treat IC patients long
Yes, I treat patients long distance. I have enough experience now where I can
take the patients history over the phone and mix the right herbs for them.
However, it may take longer for the patient to get better without the
acupuncture. I must also add that I highly suggest that the long distance
patient not go to anyone else for acupuncture. If the needles are not placed in
accordance with the treatment I am administering, they can be way too strong and
can lead to more harm than good.
Is it true that most health insurance does not cover Chinese medicine?
Some years ago that was true but not so today. 95% of our patients are covered
by health insurance. Most of our patients have to pay only small co-pay or a
percentage of the bill.
One more question for me personally before we finish. Since you have seen my
website I am sure you are aware that I feel that there is a possibility I got my
IC by taking birth control pills. Birth control pills = yeast = toxic body =
bacteria = IC. Sometimes that just sounds totally nuts to me but I can't help
but feel that there is some sort of connection. Do you think that I am crazy?
I think that synthetic hormone supplementation is absolutely unhealthy. I very
much believe that this kind of medication can cause poor health and disease.
The idea of chemically controlling the body at all unless there is absolutely no
other choice is beyond my comprehension. The pill is meant to synthetically
control our menstrual cycles by altering our natural hormone fluctuations.
Whenever you go against what is meant to be in the body you have created an
imbalance. Wherever there is an imbalance created many more will follow.
For every action there is a reaction. This is a simple law of physics, so to
think that you can put something in your body to cause unnatural physiological
effects and that there will be no other unwanted effects from altering what is
otherwise natural is at best naïve.
Furthermore, I have treated patients whom I believe became ill because of the
pill. I can not prove this theory. I can only share my experiences.
Additionally, it is my impression that, if there are yeast and or pathological
bacteria in the body that they will be fed off the hormones we put into our
bodies. This is partly why IC symptoms are worse during ovulation and
menstruation, because of the high load of hormonal activity during those times.
Basically, I believe that we need to work with the body at all times so as to
maximize its efficiency instead of synthetically controlling it in any way,
which will only serve to weaken it at best and create illness at worst.
There is a great book to read on this subject for all of us women no matter
what age. It is called "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause,
by Dr. John R. Lee and Virginia Hopkins. This is wonderful information for all
women. There is also a book out now that is written by the same authors for
younger women specifically. The book is called "What Your Doctor May Not
Tell You about Pre-menopause, Balance your Hormones and your Life from Thirty to
Fifty". Get the books!
I am glad to hear that I might not be crazy after all. I know that a lot
of my friends who take the pill do not want to get off of them and have no
intentions of doing so no matter what happened to me or what I think. However,
at the very least, I still try to urge them to take acidophilus, anti- fungals
and to keep their immune systems healthy while taking the pill. I also encourage
them to take breaks and not stay on them six years straight like I did. There
are many women who see problems with yeast as vaginal and no more then that,
just like I once did. If there is a possible risk involved I feel that the
people I love should at least be aware of it.
Matia, thank you so much for your time. I am so glad you are on our side.
Please don't ever stop doing what you are doing.
Good day, Good night and Good health everyone!!!!!!!!
For more information about Bomamed please see their website at
www.bomamed.com. Or contact them at 310-231-3300.
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