Digestion | May 15, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Diverticular are described as pouches or sacs that develop from a weakened area of the bowel wall. It is a common condition affecting people in western developed countries by their middle or later age. Most occur in the sigmoid colon ( the lower, left section).These bulging sacs can worsen conditions of constipation, retain faeces, produce pain and become infected and inflamed (known as Diverticulitis).
Medical experts believe a lack of fibre in the diet and constipation may lead to diverticulitis. Without adequate fibre the stools harden and become difficult to pass. Straining during a bowel motion raises pressure within the intestine forcing part of the intestinal membrane to balloon outward through the muscular wall.
Some people may have diverticula without experiencing symptoms. Common symptoms include:
For some people the diverticulum may become inflamed and infected. This is known as diverticulitis. It is presumed this is caused by faeces and bacteria becoming trapped in the pockets.
Symptoms can include severe pain, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, bloating, indigestion, flatulence and fever.
Antibiotics are prescribed during times of infection and analgesics to provide pain relief and reduce fever.
A liquid diet is advised until symptoms subside. In severe cases surgery may be necessary to remove the affected portion of the colon.
Diverticulum can rupture causing a more severe possible life threatening infection called peritonitis. Bleeding from a diverticulum can also occur. If there is continuous infection and inflammation then scar tissue can form and thicken on the intestinal wall resulting in a narrowing of the intestinal lumen creating an obstruction.
Factors that increase the risk for developing diverticular disease include:
Other contributing factors may include:
People are advised to eat a fibre rich diet to stimulate peristalsis action of the bowel (the wave like action that propels food through the digestive tract).
Psyllium Husks (Plantago psyllium) contains around 85% mucilage, a soluble fibre that acts as a bulk laxative. Psyllium absorbs fluid and forms a gel like substance that can add bulk to the bowel as well as soothe and protect irritated tissue. Drink plenty of water when taking psyllium.
Three species, P ovata, P. psyllium and P. indica have been official medicines and P. ovata is approved by German Commission E for the treatment of constipation and irritable bowel.
Flaxseed / linseed has laxative, emollient and demulcent actions making it beneficial to include in the diet for long term affect. German commission E has approved its use for chronic constipation, irritable bowel, diverticulosis, enteritis and gastritis for inflammatory conditions. Seeds may be soaked or taken ground or whole with 1-2 glasses of water.
Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) a emollient herb containing mucilage that may help. No studies have been done on its usefulness for gastrointestinal conditions but its use has been popular for these symptoms of the intestinal tract with rewarding results.
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) has demulcent, emollient and vulnerary actions making it a useful herb for soothing gastric irritation.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic and mild laxative actions making it another suitable herb for its beneficial properties.
Garlic has antimicrobial activity that may be helpful in preventing infection. Allicin, an active ingredient from garlic, has been found to have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activities against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli. Raw crushed garlic contains the most allicin.
Echinacea angustifolia is a herb which has strong antimicrobial action and should be consideration for any gastrointestinal infection.
German Chamomile (Matricaria reticulate) is a herb with anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, spasmolytic, anti- microbial and anxiolytic actions. Chamomile is useful for any gastrointestinal conditions as it soothes irritation, relaxes the bowel and helps stop infection.
Probiotics are living organisms that can exert many health benefits to the bowel. These include increasing immune system activity, reducing inflammation and increasing IgA secretion (an antibody that protects the bowel wall).
The strain Escherichia coli Nissle1917 has a high level of evidence for use with diverticular disease. Other useful probiotics include Lactobacillus Rhamnosis GG, Saccharomyces cerevisiae var boulardii, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v lactobacillus reuteri MM53 and Lactobacillus acidophilus strains CUL- 60 CUL-21, Bifidobacterium bifidum (Lab 4) for use with antibiotic therapy.
Probiotic sources from food to consume in the diet include yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi.
Glutamine is an amino acid found in most protein foods especially dairy foods such as cottage and ricotta cheese. Supplementation can reduce inflammation, increase immunity and improve gut barrier function.
Omega-3 Fish Oil The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may help inflammatory issues and pain associated with divertular disease. Incorporate 2 -3 fatty fish meals in your diet weekly, or consider supplements.
According to Queensland government health, diet should include lots of natural fibre from food. Foods highest in fibre include:
Use a fibre supplement if diet if inadequate. Introduce fibre into the diet slowly to avoid any adverse effects and be sure to increase your intake of fluid especially water. Check with your health care provider before changing your diet or adding supplements to avoid any possible interactions. Some fibre product can block the absorption of certain medication.
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Sarris, J. Wardle, J; (2014) Clinical Naturopathy 2e, Elsevier Australia