Diverticulitis is quite a rare condition and many people, including doctors, haven’t even seen or heard of it in many Third World countries. But in the United States, the contrary is true. Here, nearly everyone over the age of 80 has this condition. Diverticulitis is characterized by the development of tiny pouches or sacs along the outer walls of the colon. These sacs, known as the diverticula, are seen in X-rays, but many people rarely have their abdomens X-rayed. As a result, many do not even know that they have the condition until it flares up and causes pain. So basically what happens is that the diverticula or sacs trap feces inside them causing an infection. Unfortunately, the condition is quite difficult to treat since it keeps recurring from time to time.
So let us try and understand the causes, symptoms, and home remedies for this mysterious illness called Diverticulitis.
Causes of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis, as stated before, is a mystery condition. Doctors are not sure why these tiny sacs appear along the colon. There are many theories and one of them is a lack of roughage or fiber in the diet. It makes sense why most Americans are susceptible to Diverticulitis; after the standard American diet mainly consists of white or brown foods made with refined or processed ingredients.
However, there are many folks who eat plenty of roughage but they still end up with these sacs. And then there are some who eat a lot of refined or processed food with little to no roughage who escape from developing this condition. In short; there is no definite cause for Diverticulitis. Some doctors believe that it could be an inherited condition; if your parent had it, then the chances of your having it increase significantly.
In any case, if you have Diverticulitis, then you need to know that it is a good-news-bad-news kind of situation. This means that it is rarely a problem for some people and can mostly be managed with dietary changes. However, the symptoms could flare up from time to time and could even aggravate with age. Some patients could require heavy doses of antibiotics as well as surgery for relief.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
Here are some of the symptoms of this painful and uncomfortable condition:
- Abdominal pain
- Tenderness in the lower-left abdominal area. Diverticulitis patients from East Asia tend to have tenderness or pain in their lower-right side of the abdomen.
Over time, the symptoms can worsen and could also lead to bleeding. If you notice blood in stools, please see your doctor right away. In most cases, your doctor will give you antibiotics to manage the infection. If there is a tear in the sac, surgery may be the only option. Most mild cases of diverticulitis flare-ups can be managed with dietary precautions, a round of antibiotics, along with some other home remedies.
Home remedies to manage diverticulitis
1. Apple cider vinegar
One of the best remedies to manage diverticulitis treatment without antibiotics is apple cider vinegar. Take apple cider vinegar three times a day, before meals. This will reduce inflammation and pain, prevent constipation, reduce diarrhea, and also curb nausea. Always choose raw, organic, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Add about one tablespoon to a tall glass of water (about 8 ounces) and drink it. If the taste is too sharp or acidic for you, sweeten it with a little honey. This remedy is also beneficial for managing diverticulitis pain after antibiotics.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a great Diverticulitis treatment without the use of antibiotics. Drinking aloe juice adds fiber and roughage and also provides an anti-inflammatory action to reduce pain. Mix concentrated aloe juice with some water and honey, and a bit of orange juice and drink it a couple of times a day.
3. Lemon juice
Lemon juice alkalizes the stomach so drink up a couple of teaspoons with half a glass of water, before meals.
Ginger prevents constipation and nausea and you can add it to your lemon water before meals to aid digestion, prevent gas, and also provide anti-inflammatory action.
5. Bulk up with fiber
Add a lot of roughage to your diet. You must avoid constipation at all costs. The average American only gets about 16 grams of fiber per day. So eat up more bran, cereals, and fruits and vegetables. Focus on whole grains and avoid refined and processed foods. Your doctor will also give you a list of diverticulitis foods to avoid. So follow the diet well. (For some hospitalized patients doctors reduce the fiber intake and sometimes even ask the patient to fast. After antibiotic treatment is completed, the patient may be asked to slowly add bulk or roughage to the diet to prevent constipation.)
6. Probiotic foods
Many patients do very well with probiotic foods that heal the gut microflora and replenish good bacteria that diverticulitis antibiotics may have eliminated. Drinking kefir, miso soup, and other probiotic drinks like Kombucha or kvass can help. Also, eat yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. It is important to ensure that these foods actually contain live and active strains of good bacteria such as the lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria. If possible, make your own yogurt, kimchi or sauerkraut at home so that you know for sure they contain live and active cultures. Of course, if this is too cumbersome, simply take a probiotic supplement.
7. Grapefruit seed extract
GSE or grapefruit seed extract curbs inflammation and many people claim that it provides symptomatic relief for diverticulitis. Take the product as mentioned on the product label.
8. Slippery elm
Add two heaped teaspoons of slippery elm powder to about 250 ml of warm water. Sweeten with organic honey and drink this tea before bedtime and first thing upon waking up. This will prevent constipation and also stop diverticulitis pain.
This fruit is extremely rich in fiber and is also an anti-inflammatory. Eat papaya for breakfast. You can also make a papaya shake by blending the fruit with almond milk, slippery elm, honey, grapefruit seed extract, aloe vera gel, and turmeric powder. Drink this shake for preventing constipation and regulating bowel movements. Papaya enzyme tablets are also available in case the fruit is not available.
10. Keto diet
Some patients do well on a Ketogenic diet when it comes to managing diverticulitis symptoms. Ketogenic (or Keto) diet includes 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. The fats to include are all healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds, and fatty fish. Also, eat low-starch vegetables. Many people report lower flare-ups on this diet. Always speak to a physician before making any dietary changes.
11. Tummy massages
Gently rubbing or massaging the abdominal area can give relief from pain. Use a handheld massage to ‘rumble’ around the stomach. This will get your bowels moving and prevent constipation and gas.
12. Compress/warm baths
Diverticulitis treatment without antibiotics also includes applying a warm, moist compress to the stomach. Heat reduces swelling of the diverticula sacs and curbs the pain. Place a hot water bag or a hot compress on the stomach several times a day for relief from pain and bloating.
13. Diverticulitis foods to avoid
Some doctors recommend cutting out wheat, beans, cow’s milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, and chocolate. These foods constipate the body and also cause inflammation.
We hope these 13 home remedies for diverticulitis help you manage this condition.