Healthy Q & A: Natural Help for Diverticulitis

Q:  Where does diverticulitis come from and what can one do to help it?
A:  Diverticulitis happens when pouches known as diverticula form in the wall of the colon and then get inflamed or infected.   Diverticulitis can happen as a result of eating a low fiber diet, constipation and straining for bowel movements, or having a weakness in the colon or large intestine wall.  It is estimated that that half of all Americans age 60 to 80, and almost everyone over age 80, have diverticulitis.  It is a very common disease in developed nations like America, England, and Australia due to unhealthy processed food diets.

Studies have shown that a balanced, high fiber diet can help regulate the bowels and protect against a variety of health problems such as diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  There are also a number of supplements that have shown to be effective in treating and managing diverticulitis.  

Aloe vera juice can be especially helpful for diverticulitis since it has a healing and anti-inflammatory effect on the bowels.  Aloe vera is also effective at reducing constipation, a common problem and cause of diverticulitis.  

Another idea would be peppermint oil softgels.   Enteric coated peppermint oil (an enteric coating on a capsule or softgel is a special coating which prevents the softgel from opening until it reaches the intestines) is effective against diverticulitis in several ways.  Peppermint oil is soothing and calming to the intestines and colon, and can help relieve the stomach cramping that can come with diverticulitis.  Peppermint oil also helps to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, both problems people with diverticulitis face.

Finally I would recommend a fiber supplement in addition to a high fiber diet.  Fibers like psyllium husk or flaxseed meal add bulk to the stool and can work almost like a brush, keeping the intestines clear.  Drinking lots of water is also important to help to keep the small pockets or diverticula clear of waste deposits.