Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis – An Acupuncturist View

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What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticulitis affects the Intestines

Diverticulosis occurs when the wall of the large intestines become weak and begin to protrude sac-like pouches into the intestines. These protrutions are called diverticulum if it is a single pouch, and diverticula for multiple pouches. When these sacs become infected,
it becomes diverticulitis, due to fecal matter becoming trapped in between the sacs and causing infection.

It is a very common disease, being seen in more than 50% of individuals over the age of 601.

Diverticulosis may not show any symptoms until infection occurs. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Tenderness, usually on the lower left side of the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea/Vomiting

Complications could include holes in the colon, narrowing of the intestinal space, fistulas (pathway that opens up from one organ to another organ), and possible abscess(sac-filled pus).

Treatment for diverticular disease includes bed rest and diet changes if minor, but could also lead to antibiotics and surgery if infection occurs.

Certain foods are also to be avoided:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Coarse Grains
  • Popcorn
  • Dried Fruits

Diverticular Disorders and Acupuncture

There is limited research on Diverticulosis and Acupuncture, but the University of Maryland Medical center suggests that acupuncture may help with pain and other symptoms2.

Through a Chinese medicine perspective this condition would be associated with the transformation and transportation of nutrients within the body, or digestion and metabolism through a western medicine perspective. Once the infection occurs then we consider it a condition of heat invading the Large Intestines or heat in the blood. The goal would be to expel the heat causing element from the body and help the GI system (gastrointestinal). This can be done with acupuncture, herbs, diet, and exercise.

  • Eat warm foods and consume fluids at room temperature. This makes digestion much easier on the system. In Chinese medicine we believe that to help keep the metabolism and body functioning optimally that you should consume warm foods instead of constant cold foods and drinks. Obviously the weather is going to play a difference, so play it smart. In summer it is hot so it is normal to consume cooler drinks, but in the winter it is not recommended.
  • Try eating more soups. They are easier to digest and can be very healthy.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to create an ideal meal plan for you. An acupuncturist can also include Asian medicine nutrition in your diet regimen so that your body is getting the best foods and nutrients for your body.

There is no sure fire answer for treating diverticular disease, so it is important that you work with health care providers that really understand your personal situation. With some positivity and a good treatment plan you can really beat this condition and live healthy.

Consult your primary care provider for any kind of medical questions or if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of diverticulosis or diverticulitis.

References
1. Medicine.net. 2011. Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis) Causes, Symptoms, Diet, and Treatment Information at MedicineNet.com. http://www.medicinenet.com/diverticulosis/article.htm
2. University of Maryland medical Center – Diverticular disease. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/diverticular-disease-000051.htm
3. Diverticulitis. 2011. Pubmed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001303/

2 comments

  1. Kind of scary to think that fecal matter is being trapped in the intestines. I guess a good cleanse plus eating natural foods would be of help.

    I never had good digestion so I like the idea of eating soups.

    1. Yes who wants fecal stuck in their colon? If you’re aware of who Brock Lesnar is, the MMA fighter, he suffers from diverticulitis and had to get surgery in his Large Intestines. A high fiber diet can go a long way. A more serious condition would be familial polyposis syndrome, in which hundreds to thousands of colonic adenomas (benign tumor growth from a gland) develop which can leave you with colon cancer in your mid 30’s and a high chance of malignancy. However that is a inherited disease, but it’s just to give you an idea on how serious this condition can become if left untreated.

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