Zoltan Rona MD MSc
A diverticulum is a small, pouch-like area in the large intestine. The appendix can be considered to be a particularly large diverticulum. When stool gets stuck in it, inflammation develops (appendicitis). Diverticula (more than one diverticulum) come about as a result of increased pressure needed to force hard, dry stool through the bowel when constipated. They do not cause symptoms unless waste matter becomes trapped in them. The diverticula can then get infected and inflamed (diverticulitis). Conventional doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for diverticulitis attacks in addition to pharmaceutical brands of psyllium seed products (e.g. Metamucil). This approach works for the majority of cases.
Diverticulitis is a completely preventable problem through natural means alone.
It is the end result of poor North American diets, the overuse of drugs (antibiotics, codeine, etc.) and alcohol and stress. Avoid sugar, white flour products, all animal products including milk and cheese, fried foods, coffee, tea, alcohol and processed foods. High in animal protein (dairy, fish, meat, etc.) diets are to be avoided. Cheese in particular is a poor choice for anyone suffering from diverticular disease. Get yourself food allergy tested to see which foods specifically cause you problems. Both temporal arteritis and high blood pressure can be linked to excessive consumption of animal products, salt in dairy, meat, cheese and food allergies. Tests to consider include the CDSA (Comprehensive Stool and Digestive Analysis) and the ELISA/Act blood test for food allergies.
If you tolerate grains, seeds and nuts well, leave them in your diet. If these give you problems in any way (bloating, gas, constipation, cramps, etc.), stay with only well cooked brown rice, fruits, vegetables, legumes and juices. Oat bran, psyllium seed powder, glucomannan, guar gum, prune juice, aloe vera juice and green drinks such as Barley Green, Green Magma or cabbage juice are good things to take on a regular basis. Periodic juice fasting is a very good idea, particularly when attacks occur. Follow the guidelines discussed in Klaus Kaufmann’s excellent book, The Joy of Juice Fasting available from Alive Books.
Herbal remedies that may be very effective for diverticulitis include alfalfa, cayenne, chamomile, echinacea, pau d’arco, goldenseal, garlic, red clover and yarrow. Essiac or Flor-Essence is a herbal combination which could help diverticular disease. The combination herbal digestive supplement, Swedish Bitters, also has remarkable soothing effects. Dairy free acidophilus supplements should be taken on a daily basis to prevent bacterial or yeast (candida) infections of the large bowel. These same herbal remedies are effective for the prevention and treatment of bladder infections. Consider also the use of buffered vitamin C or ester C as well as the amino acid, L-glutamine (6000 - 12000 mg. daily). Trapped gas and symptoms related to it can be absorbed/eliminated by charcoal tablets (e.g. Eucarbon). Have these on hand to prevent and treat embarrassing gas attacks if you are forced to follow a less than optimal diet at various social functions.
Reversing diverticulitis requires an unshakable commitment to healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Aside from a vegetarian, high complex carbohydrate, high fiber diet, supplements that promote healing include digestive enzymes (pancreatin, etc.), vitamin A, B complex vitamins, buffered vitamin C (ester C is best), vitamin E and essential fatty acids (flax seed oil, oil of borage, evening primrose oil or Efamol), high fiber supplement. A naturopath or doctor familiar with nutritional remedies can help you with a personalized program.
Products Dr. Rona has recommended to his patients