What is diverticular?
Diverticular disease is far more widespread and problematic than most of us realize. According to a report published in the journal Gastroenterology, it is the 8th most common outpatient diagnosis, with close to 3 million cases recorded in 2010 alone. In 2012, diverticulitis related hospital admissions cost us an estimated $2.2 billion. Although once regarded as an affliction of the elderly, it’s becoming increasingly common in younger adults. This makes awareness about diverticulitis prevention and management particularly important.
Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches (diverticula) that form in the intestine get inflamed and cause painful symptoms. Diverticulosis or the presence of such pouches is often asymptomatic, but it progresses to diverticulitis as a result of inflammation or infection. Management of the condition requires medical treatment as well as changes to diet and lifestyle. Natural remedies for diverticulitis can be particularly helpful at relieving symptoms and reducing dependence on drugs. Here are some notable natural treatments.
Causes of diverticulitis
Symptoms of diverticulitis
- Vomiting Nausea
- Abdominal tenderness
- Pain in the stomach can last for several days on the lower side
of the abdomen.
When to see a doctor
Seek medical assistance whenever you have constant, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and fever.
What is a home remedy for diverticular disease
Aloe vera is so often touted as being a remedy for almost every condition that you can’t be blamed for being skeptical. When it comes to diverticulitis, however, aloe may offer considerable relief. Aloe works indirectly to relieve diverticulitis through its immune-modulating effect on healthy gut function. The plant’s extract may also help promote regular bowel movements by inhibiting pathogenic bacteria. Known for its anti-inflammatory effects, aloe can reduce gut inflammation, reducing diverticulitis symptoms of both constipation and diarrhea. Aloe may also have an antispasmodic effect on the gut, reducing spams and cramps during periods of inflammation.
Marshmallow Root Tea
Popular as an ingredient in various herbal remedies, marshmallow root has been used to treat a variety of respiratory and digestive health conditions. While more research is needed, studies so far have been promising. The root extract was found to offer protection against the formation of some types of peptic ulcers in an animal study. Researchers hypothesize that this protective action may be linked to the presence of antioxidants and an antihistamine effect. A study published in 2010 lends more support for the use of marshmallow root as a natural diverticulitis treatment. It suggests that aqueous extracts and polysaccharides the herb can relieve gut inflammation and irritation. The mucilage content of the root is believed to form a protective barrier along the gut’s mucosal lining. The root extract may also encourage tissue regeneration. These features make marshmallow root tea a promising remedy for diverticulitis.
Make yourself a bone broth with some vegetables thrown in for added nutrition. Bone broths are regarded as healthy because of their high content of essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Aside from the nutritional value, these nutrients also stimulate healthy gut function. Bone broths are more importantly a good source of collagen and amino acids such as glutamine, glycine, and proline. They can support wound healing and restrict bacterial inflammation through their stimulating effect on macrophages and lymphocytes.
In the context of gut health and diverticulitis management, coconut oil may come in handy because of its high content of 12-carbon lauric acid. It accounts for around 50% of the fatty acid content in coconut oil. A medium-chain triglyceride, this fatty acid is broken down into a substance called monolaurin through digestion. Monolaurin has been found to exhibit antibacterial properties and can, therefore, help inhibit the buildup of pathogenic bacteria. This reduces gut inflammation and can provide relief from diverticulitis symptoms. Researchers found that it could help fight not just bacterial pathogens, but also viruses and fungi.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There’s been a surge in the popularity of apple cider vinegar worldwide, as it’s been associated with a range of health benefits. While apple cider is a healthy addition to your diet, the benefits are often exaggerated. However, in the case of gastrointestinal disorders like diverticulitis, apple cider vinegar can be particularly helpful. It can help to control gut bacterial balance through the antimicrobial effect of acetic acid. Acetic acid may also help indirectly to improve immune function through its effect on pH levels.
Ginger is closely related to spices like turmeric and cardamom, and it’s just as impressive. A root or more appropriately rhizome, ginger is one of the most valued herbs in traditional medicine. It’s been used in remedies to treat indigestion, nausea, the flu, and common cold, among other conditions. Its strong fragrance and flavor can be attributed to the presence of natural oils, with gingerol being the most notable. This bioactive compound is responsible for most of the therapeutic effects of ginger. These include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help to treat diverticulitis.
In many individuals, diverticulitis symptoms flare up as a result of inflammation. Reducing inflammation is, therefore, the key to relieving diverticulitis. This is where turmeric comes in handy. The once exotic spice has been highly regarded for millennia on the Indian subcontinent, where it is revered as both therapeutic and spiritual. It remains an important ingredient in Ayurvedic medications to this day. Because of its popularity and purported health benefits, the spice has been closely studied for decades and the results are encouraging. Several studies show that curcumin, the main bioactive ingredient in turmeric, has strong antioxidant properties that can help in the management of chronic inflammation diseases. In addition to reducing gut inflammation associated with diverticulitis, turmeric may also promote healing of inflamed tissue in the digestive tract.
Garlic is just as popular as ginger and turmeric not just in cuisine, but also in folk medicine. Most noted for its heart health benefits, garlic could also help provide relief from diverticulitis. Containing a variety of compounds, especially organosulfur compounds like allicin, garlic is believed to provide antimicrobial and hepatoprotective benefits. Although the exact mechanism of action is not understood, garlic could offer protection against diverticulitis by reducing the risk of inflammation associated with gastric infections.
There is a lot of contradictory information on the role and importance of fiber in a diverticulitis diet. The effect of high or low fiber intake can vary significantly among diverticulitis patients. That said, barley is a great source of fiber with minimal risk of ill effects. This is because studies show that barley’s functional ingredients, such as saponarin, chlorophyll, polysaccharide, and flavonoids, can enhance immune function, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy gastrointestinal function. Barley is, therefore, the safest food to add to your diet to improve fiber intake without increasing the risk of inflammation and diverticulitis symptoms. What’s great about barley is that it can be used in a variety of ways, making it easy to include in any diet.
Wheat bran is another promising remedy for diverticulitis. Normally stripped away from wheat as a useless byproduct, it’s rich in plant compounds, minerals, and dietary fiber. Although it is not a laxative in itself, wheat bran does help with the passage of stools; the high fiber content increases water absorption, softening stools and easing their passage. This type of fiber is thought to be more effective at relieving diverticulitis as compared to the fiber found in fresh fruits and veggies. Although more research is needed, a study that appeared in The British Medical Journal showed that a low-sugar diet along with wheat bran brought about an improvement in patients. Over some time, it could even help normalize bowel movements and restrict abdominal discomfort
Slippery elm has a history of use in folk medicine by Native Americans. The herb was used to treat common conditions like cough, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal disorders. Some studies suggest that the herb may also be therapeutic in the treatment of IBD, most likely on account of its strong antioxidant effects. Slippery elm is believed to have a soothing effect on tissue inflammation in the gut. Regarded as a demulcent, it protects the lining of the gut from inflammation and allows it to heal.
Regarded by some experts as a functional food, flaxseeds may have an important role in a diverticulitis diet. Their high content of insoluble fiber with a high water binding capacity bulks up and allows for easier passage of stools when dealing with gastrointestinal conditions such as constipation, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. At the same time, the soluble fiber content of flaxseeds delays gastric emptying and encourages the optimal absorption of nutrients. Ideally, you should consume at least 15 – 20 grams of ground flaxseeds a day.
Best known for its effects of relaxation and promoting sleep, chamomile is also believed to be helpful in the prevention of numerous lifestyle diseases. Researchers are closely studying therapeutic applications in the management of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Most of its health benefits are attributed to the high antioxidant content. Some studies suggest that chamomile has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that could help in the management of diverticulitis symptoms triggered by gut inflammation. One study found that chamomile tea consumption could even lower the severity of menstrual cramps.
In recent years, there has been growing awareness about the role of gut microbiota in immune function and inflammation. Pre and probiotic foods have therefore become increasingly important. They can help to fight gastric inflammation and lower the risk of digestive diseases by decreasing intestinal lining permeability. Some of the best natural sources of probiotics would include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and tempeh. Adding such foods to a balanced diet can help restore a healthy balance of gut microbes, lowering inflammation. Prebiotics include foods with a specific type of fiber such as oats, bananas, legumes, and beans. They promote the growth of probiotic bacteria.
Although there’s a need for more research on the efficacy of licorice extract for diverticulitis, some studies suggest that it may help. Deglycrrhizinated Licorice Extract lowers the risk of diverticulitis symptoms by its effect of promoting healthy gastric function. It does this by strengthening intestinal mucosal lining through the release of secretin. It also suppresses inflammation and has been shown to provide relief from symptoms of dyspepsia.
While these diverticulitis remedies may offer relief, you also need to make changes to your regular diet and lifestyle. Follow a diverticulitis diet that raises dietary fiber intake from foods like fruits, grains, vegetables, and beans. While increasing fiber intake, you should also consume more water and stay physically active. Consult your health care provider or a dietician for a specialized diet plan that will work best for you. If you are a smoker, it would also be a good idea to kick the butt because of its association with a higher risk of complications.