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Diverticulosis is a rare condition in which small pouches form in the walls of the large intestine. These pouches or diverticula are bulging sacs that may be present with or without inflammation.
Diverticulosis can occur anywhere in the intestine but usually occur in the sigmoid colon – the part closest to the rectum. This condition may cause inflammation, perforation (holes in the wall of the intestine), stricture (narrowing of the intestine, fistula (abnormal connections between body parts in the pelvic region), and even bleeding. (1)
Diverticulitis is inflammation in the large intestine. It may usually be caused as a side effect of diverticulosis when one of the pouches gets perforated. (2) Diverticulitis can lead to many complications and is a serious condition.
Causes of diverticulitis:
- Eating inadequate amounts of fiber can lead to constipation. Straining while passing stool (due to constipation) can be a potential cause for diverticulitis.
- Certain medicines may cause diverticulitis.
- Changes in the microbiome of the intestines or an infection in the GI tract can also cause diverticulitis.
- Bacteria entering a pouch in the colon to form a colony may also lead to diverticulitis. (3)
Home Remedies for Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis may remain undetected for years without any symptoms but as soon as you develop diverticulitis or an infection, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach ache
- Diarrhea or constipation
Fortunately, there are some easy and effective preventive methods you can try to prevent diverticulitis and further flare-ups:
1. Consume a high-fiber diet
The American Gastroenterological Association suggests that people who are at risk of or have previously had bouts of diverticulitis should consume a high fiber diet. (4) Fiber may help soothe inflammation in the body. However, excess fiber can also cause gas and bloating.
You should try to attain a goal of 14 gms of fiber per 1000 calories consumed. Drink a lot of water along with it to improve digestion.
Some high-fiber foods are beans, legumes, whole wheat bread, brown rice, apples, bananas, pears, broccoli, beets, carrots, etc.
2. Follow a liquid diet
If you are suffering from a flare up, try to consume a liquid diet for a while and avoid solid foods. (5) Your doctor should be able to guide you on how to progress from a liquid diet back to your normal one.
A clear liquid diet should contain absolutely no solids such as: soups without any solids, clear juices like apple, grape, etc. without pulp. (Orange juice should be avoided).
You may slowly progress to low fiber foods as you get better. These include cooked fruits such as apples, cooked vegetables, dairy products, etc.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise helps increase blood flow to the intestines and improves digestion.
A 2009 study suggests that vigorous activity such as running or jogging can also decrease bleeding due to diverticulitis. (6)
4. Try consuming aloe vera
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and laxative properties. It can help improve digestion and removal of waste products from the body. It also boosts immunity and reduces swelling. (7)
Drink ¼ cup of aloe vera juice once or twice a day after consulting your doctor.
5. Turmeric intake can help
Turmeric contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient curcumin present in it is responsible for most of these effects. It is also being studied as a possible natural remedy for irritable bowel syndrome.
You can increase turmeric consumption by adding it to your food every day.
Some studies show that consuming 500–2000 mg curcumin extract everyday can help cure diverticulitis. (8) However, if you are consuming it in spice form, it is inadvisable to consume such large doses.
6. Slippery elm bark can come in handy
Slippery elm bark is a demulcent. It has anti-inflammatory properties, high mucilage content, which helps protect the irritated tissues and decreases inflammation. (9) It can be consumed as a liquid or powder for treating diverticulitis.
Mix 1 teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder with 2 cups of boiling water. Drink 1–2 cups of this remedy every day.
7. Use licorice root
Licorice root contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds which may help soothe the intestines. You can find it in the form of powder of liquid in the markets. They are also available as capsules.
Licorice tea is another popular way to consume it. (10) High doses can have adverse effects such as headaches, heavy menstruation, etc. so do not overdose on this remedy. Do not consume more than 30–70mg in a day.
8. Use flaxseeds
Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, etc., and are a great way to reduce inflammation in diverticulitis.
Research suggests that daily intake of 1 tablespoon flaxseeds contains 3 gms of fiber. However, consuming more than that can have mild interaction with some drugs. (11)
You can eat it in powdered form or as whole seeds.
9. Consume marshmallow root
Marshmallow root also helps induce bowel movements and has a high mucilage content that helps soothe inflammation in the digestive tract. (12)
You can boil 5 gms of marshmallow and drink it in the form of tea. Alternatively, you may consume 5 gms of powdered marshmallow. If you have diabetes, it is best to avoid it.
10. Drink chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea
Chamomile is a well-known anti-inflammatory and soothing remedy for any form of inflammation in the body. It is also useful in diverticulitis.
Chamomile can be consumed in the form of tea by boiling dried chamomile in some water. (13)
Note: Chamomile is not recommended for those who are pregnant, taking birth control pills or blood-thinning medicines.
11. Increase probiotic intake
Probiotics contain good bacteria that are similar to the beneficial bacteria present in our stomach. Consuming probiotic supplements and foods such as yogurt, kombucha, etc. may be useful in preventing diverticulitis. (14)
- You can consume 200–250 mg of probiotic supplements such as lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum, etc. after consulting your doctor.
- You can also increase the consumption of yogurt and other natural probiotics.
Prevention Against Diverticulitis
Here are a few preventive tips for diverticulitis:
- Avoid spicy and oily foods.
- Avoid red meat consumption.
- Exercise regularly.
Most-Asked Questions About Diverticulitis
How is diverticulitis diagnosed?
Diverticulitis can be diagnosed by:
- Abdominal CT
How is diverticulitis treated?
Treatment generally includes a course of antibiotics (eg. Cephalosporin, metrodinazole, etc.). Some cases may require surgery or endoscopy for treatment of bleeding. Dietary changes include consuming a high fiber diet.
Diverticulitis can be a mild condition or have serious complications in some people. If you have diverticulitis, it is important to consume a fiber-rich diet, follow the advice of your doctor and dietitian to avoid flare-ups.
If you have a flare up, seek medical attention immediately to avoid complications.
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