Diverticular disease (diverticulitis and diverticulosis) can disrupt a patient’s life. There are medical and natural alternative treatments available to manage these types of conditions.
What are Diverticular Diseases?
In the colon and the large intestine, there may be small pouches that bulge outward, called diverticula. People with these pouches have diverticulosis. A low-fiber diet and aging are two of the causes of this condition. Many may not even have symptoms, or they may have mild cramping, constipation, or bloating. Often, diverticulosis is found during colonoscopies. Most patients can be treated with pain relievers and a high-fiber diet. For some people the condition worsens, leading the pouches to develop inflammation or infection. That disorder is called diverticulitis. Left side abdominal pain, chills, cramping, constipation, nausea, fever, and vomiting are some symptoms of diverticulitis. Blockages, bleeding, and tears can occur in serious cases of this condition. Pain relievers, antibiotics, a liquid diet, and possibly surgery, are typical treatments.1 The reason that a low-fiber diet can cause these kinds of digestive problems is that this type of nutritional deficit can lead to hard stools that are difficult to pass. The increased pressure could lead to a thickening of the colon, and parts of the colon may close off, further increasing the pressure. This may cause a herniation, where the inner lining of the intestines are pushed outward. The pouches or sacs that result from this herniation are diverticula. There may also be “an inflammatory component to the formation of the diverticula”.2 Other ways of diagnosing diverticulitis are blood tests, X-ray, or CT scans. In addition to medications and dietary changes, patients may use a heating pad, engage in relaxation techniques, get regular exercise, and drink a lot of water. Surgery could be recommended if patients don’t improve, if there is a bowel obstruction, or if patients develop a fistula or abscess.3 Other complications from diverticulitis include a perforation in the diverticula or peritonitis, where pus and stool leak from the perforation and cause inflamed abdominal tissues.4 Diverticulosis can persist for years, and “painful diverticular disease” might be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).5
Medications and surgery are not necessarily the only treatment options for patients. Alternative treatments, such as ones offered by chiropractors, would include dietary changes, such as the “diverticulitis diet”. In this, patients drink more water and eat more fiber, as noted earlier, but they also avoid seeds, popcorn, and nuts. Working on resolving IBS may help alleviate diverticulitis. Restoring “normal bacterial balances and chemistry to the GI tract” could improve these conditions.6 In the acute phase of diverticulitis, a liquid diet is recommended, while the high-fiber diet is introduced slowly. Oat bran, flax seeds, Bifido bacterium, B-vitamin complex, enzymes, garlic, L-Glutamine, and turmeric may also be recommended as part of alternative treatments. Besides boosting fiber and improving digestion, some of these supplements and foods can reduce inflammation.7 Colloidal silver, known as being “one of nature’s antibiotics” may also be suggested. Patients should avoid processed and “junk” foods, and they should exercise, in order to tone and strengthen abdominal muscles and improve digestion.8 Chiropractors would also work with the patients to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety, so that the condition is not exacerbated.9
Find out more about chiropractic care for digestive problems.