I had a walk down memory lane last week when one of my aunties on this page reported the hospital diagnosis of her abdominal pains. I restrained laughter not because DIVERTICULAR was an inconsequential intestinal problem but because it reminded me of my first year in secondary school at Ibadan boys high school in 1963. The motto of the school was, I believe still is DOMINI OPERA PRO BORNO PUBLICO…working with the lord for the public good. Pardon my translation if it is below the mark. That’s where I am heading. I hated Latin and often disappeared from the Latin class through the window into the adjourning botanical garden. Unlike English, Latin is all about conjugations. Thus, MENSA in Latin is not always STABLE as in the English language. Like a chameleon, it changes form in a sentence as in…mensa, mensae (plural), menstruum, mensis, mensas. Then, there was the equally chameleonic AGRICOLA (farmer) which could evolve into Agricolae, Agricola, Agricolis, Agricolam, Agricolas. This was a language too complex for the brain of a thirteen-year-old. Inevitably, I had to relocate to Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, driven in spirit by the motto CUM CHRISTO PROGREDERE, the french for forwarding WITH CHRIST.
Where Am heading is, like Latin, doctors have a penchant for making our health challenges sound larger than they are and probably frighten us into submission before the altar of medicine in which they are the chief high priests. That is why the doctor may rattle that my auntie’s challenge is the three-legged…Diverticular, Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis. Should we start dodging or fleeing?
This disease is named from the verb TO DIVERT. Thus, it means a group of diversions, the singular being diverticulum. As the intestine flows downwards from the stomach to the anus, it is possible under pressure for it to recess or to regress at various points into sacs or pouches. An example I always liken it to is the trouser pocket. The diverticulum forms under a process called DIVERTICULOSIS and can be complicated by another called DIVERTICULITIS, which is more of the inflammation aspect. Diverticular may develop in any part of the intestine but more commonly in a portion of the colon called the sigmoid colon. This is the Continuation of the descending colon from about the pelvic brim which ends up as the recruiter.
Diverticular forms when pressure mounts on weakened spots in the bowel. Pressure may be mounted or increased by waste, gas or liquid, especially during straining to evacuate waste. Often, the would-be patient could have been constipated or maybe have suffered from “dry stool”. Senior citizens are more at risk, perhaps because their bowels have seen many days and maybe because the tissues are not well maintained with high-grade nutrition. Many people experience no symptoms such as pain or bleeding or cramping. Bleeding from diverticular arises when small blood vessels near them are injured. In diverticulitis, an infection of diverticular gives rise to inflammation. This may arise when bacteria-laden waste impacts the site, causing blockage or infection.
As Dr Robert Atkins puts it in his DR ATKINS VITA NUTRIENT SOLUTION:
“Problems like constipation and diverticulitis, the painful condition where the mucus membranes of the large intestine become inflamed, are unknown in cultures that consume a diet low in sugar and high in fiber. Yet these problems, once present, need more than a sugar-free diet to be treated effectively. For constipation, I recommend the foregoing fibre and beneficial bacteria regime plus the following “Beneficial bacteria one to three teaspoons√Flax seed oi, One tablespoon√Magnesium oxide 250-1,000mg√ Panthetine 600-900mg√psyllium husk, one to two tablespoons√Vitamin c 3 to 6 grams taken with 12 ounces of water√ Bentonite powder 2-4 teaspoons in 8 ounces of water√ Those with constipation should also exercise regularly and have their thyroid function checked. Drinking 8 ounces of water a day is also important. Finally, make sure to check for an overgrowth of candida which can also often cause constipation”.
Diverticulitis may present as diarrhoea or constipation, tenderness or painful cramps in the lower abdomen, chills or fever. When diverticulitis gets out of hand, with the sacs and pouches, not only infected, bigger and bursting, and releasing toxic faecal matter into the abdominal cavity, the end results maybe death. In the infected abdominal cavity, PERIONITIS may occur. This is a painful infection of the abdominal cavity which may cause abscesses, intestinal blockages. When the intestine is this infected, tissue scarring may develop. This may lead to partial or complete blockage of the intestine which may require surgery to clear. Fistulas, too, do occur as a compliment in diverticulitis. These are abnormal connections between two organs or an organ and the skin. The latter is experienced by many people in Nigeria in the form of anal fissures or fistulas.
Every year, more cases of Anal Fistula are reported in Nigeria. It is not clear if this is related to population growth, nutritional carelessness, if not stupidity, and other causes. As the number of cases rises, this condition, which is like a sibling or cousin of Diverticulitis, has become big business in medicine, especially surgery. The challenged person needs to know that his or her anal fistula is a tunnel which connects an infected gland in the anus to the skin around the anus. This may give an insight into how many people may have neglected the care of the anus for many years. Many people merely clean up with tissue after a bowel motion. Few follow up this routine by lathering the anus with soap, washing it clean water and then anointing or dabbing it with oil. Many people who experience anal fungal infections do not know they can do this until I tell them I prophylactically do so. There are many oils which can do the job. They come from onion, clove, garlic, neem, avocado, carrot, radish, grape seed, marigold, amla, wide oregano, and many others.
In this kind of fistula, there is pain and swelling around the anus. Thus, some challenged persons may not tolerate a tube insert for organic enema coffee to flush the liver and the intestine. Such persons may fare well, nevertheless, on proprietary cleansing formulas. In this bracket are Cleanse, Colon Cleanse, Intestinal cleansing and weight control, organic sulphur, Goldenseal root, calamus root and the likes of them.
Inside the anus are small glands which produce fluid and mucus for lubrication and other purposes. Sometimes, they may become clogged like the rest of the digestive tract and even other parts of the body. Infection may follow the clogging and produce an abscess. Some of such abscesses may grow into a fistula. Other possible causes, though less frequent, are tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, trauma, cancer and, as already stated, diverticulitis.
Pain comes with the inflammation. There is swelling around the anus. Detestable is a foul-smelling discharge or bleeding through the tunnel. This may soil undies, cause faecal odour to ooze from soiled undies to external clothing. Some challenged persons wear pads over the opening or try to contain the outflow with a hint treated with antimicrobial medications. Painful Bowel motion and urination may be experienced. Sometimes, fever comes along, too.
Doctors say the way out is surgery, simple or complex. In simple fistulas, hospital admission may not be necessary. Where it is not too close to the anus, the doctor may cut through the skin and muscles around the tunnel, in a bid encourage healing from within to the outside. In some cases, a plug may be inserted to close the fistula. As some fistulas are complicated, the doctor may introduce a tube called the section into the fissure to drain the abscess before surgery. Many doctors clinics abroad offer these services. But their patients often worry about life after the surgery. They wonder about what could happen if pubococcygeal nerves are damaged during the surgery as sometimes happen during haemorrhoid surgery. For such nerve and muscle damage may affect penile health and erection. They worry about this in the light of cultural believe that whatever happens to the anus will affect the penis. First, who defecates who does not urinate, however little? The Yorubas will say the chicken which defecates but does not urinate will have itself to blame. To confirm these believe there have been cases in which surgical correction of haemorrhoids in men have led to impotence. In this, there are muscle and nerve connections between the pelvic floor which controls male and female organs and the anal sphincter muscle.
Nigeria is now in a season which predisposes many of us to diverticular aid with its kith and kindred. The weather is hot. We are all sweating more, losing sodium, other electrolytes and water. That makes us weak and thirsty. To quench the thirst, we go for sodas(soft drinks) and plain water, hardly thinking of how to replace lost sodium. We also lose small amounts of calcium and magnesium when we sweat. Sodium losses may make the nerves and muscles to cramp. Pulping bottle after bottle of water does not mean the body will hold the water. It is sodium which helps us to hold the bulk of water in our bodies. Running short of sodium in this season, avoiding table salt to stem hypertension and related heart problems and not consuming enough soluble fibre means the stool may become harder and impact on intestinal tissue to cause diverticular, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, anal fissures(fistula) and related problems. So, it is advisable to add a pinch of sea salt, say Hilimaya salt, to every fifth glass or so of water consumed. Consumption of soft drinks does not solve any problem. Rather, it increases the solute content of the blood which becomes solvent deficient, and sluggish in motion with unpalatable consequences for health.
Sufferers of anal fistulas hold out against surgery for the fears already expressed. They like to know if there are natural solutions. Doctors say none exist. Even where some natural remedies have shown potential impact in clinical observations, the conclusion always is “inconclusive evidence”. But we do have some success stories some of these stories hover around MSM, wild Oregano oil, Neem oil, Garlic oil, Coconut oil etc.
This natural substance,(Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) is widely distributed in nature. Present in animal and human tissues and in plants, especially green leafy vegetables, it is most abundant in raw milk. It is a great cleanse and tissue builder, especially when taken with large amounts of Vitamin C. MSM is best known for overcoming inflammation and arthritis.
In the treatment of anal fistula, doctors prescribe antibiotics which are altered in composition and impact in the digestive system before they reach the abscess sites. Doctors also drain the abscess and pump in drugs to kill germs and prepare the grounds for the healing process to take over.
In-home and other MSM healing studies, about one-quarter teaspoon of it added to about 250mls of water is massaged across the belly and painful sites to take the substance into the body, unaffected by digestive enzymes. It is also taken orally. As some people claim they react to sulphur, their problem has been attributed to chemical sulphur compounds and to not the nutritional sulphur of MSM. In fact, the suggestion that raw onion be eaten on empty stomach in the morning and before retiring to bed, on the ground that the juice clears congestions, is due largely to the fact that organic sulphur is the main substance in onion which works those wonders. The nutrition industry has taken the matter over from here and given us pure nutritional organic sulphur food supplements that may be constituted by as high as 98% organic sulphur. This organic sulphur brand is now available in Nigeria.
In crohns forum.com, we are told: MSM is the chemical bond between proteins. When old cells die and new cells are formed, they need the flexible bond MSM provides for the skin to bend. Without it, you get wrinkles, cracking skin, scar tissue, hardening of arteries and emphysema. They are all Vitamin C and MSM related. You need lots of Vitamin C to build new flesh. A deficiency in Vitamin C and MSM leads to strokes, heart attacks, varicose veins, spider veins, chronic nose bleeds, bruising, weak veins and arteries. MSM plays a major role in healthy body functions. MSM is needed by the body for healthy connective tissues, and joint function, proper enzyme activity and hormone balance along with the proper function of the immune system. “It has been found through supplementation that MSM improves many health problems. Here are just a few…allergies(pollen and pet), food allergies, asthma, emphysema, lung dysfunction, migraine, headaches, sinusitis, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, skin problems syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome diabetes, cancer, lupus, interstitial cystitis, sclerodermas, stomach and digestive tract problems, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, heartburn, hyperacidity, circulation, cell osmosis and absorption.
These include, but are not limited to, DSMO, garlic oil, coconut oil, wild Oregano oil etc. The traditional method of delivering them to the abscess sites is by infusing them into cotton wool or lint and placing it over the injury site in the hope that tunnel will “inhale” it and invaginate it to the abscess. In some cases, healing is observed. In other cases, healing is much effective when the doctor has sucked out the abscess and provided a means for delivering these oils directly to the inflamed organs.
What’s the bottom line action to challenge and even to reverse diverticular, diverticulosis, diverticulitis and anal fistula? Let’s start with fistula. It belongs to the region of the body which Eastern medical philosophers call the FIRST CHAKRA. This chakra (please check the internet) reminds us to reorder inner life, which, ultimately, is the governor of outer life or physical health.
The other three challenges occur in the region of the SECOND CHAKRA. These, too, should not fail to remind us that healing is best from inside, outwards. Problems of the second chakra have to do with the misunderstanding and misuse of the conception of power to control other people. When that governance is not possible, the annoyances, bitterness and hatred which follow deem energy of the second chakra. This is because these unhealthy emotions occur in the spirit, which is the breath of life for the physical body, and that virulent part of the spirit cannot power organs in the second chakra region. This conception can explain premature ejaculation, uterine fibroids, infertility etc.
Outwardly, we can talk about co-operation with natural rhythms. As elimination is at its peak from 4 am to 12 noon, heavy meals should be avoided at this time. The body may welcome the heavies between 12 noon and 8 pm, and engage in the absorption of digested nutrients between 8 pm and 4 am. Interferences with these rhythms may cause constipation and other digestive problems. It is like asking the body to do what the environment has not prepared it to do and pushing it into another model, or lumping two schedules together! what grave confusion! When two modes jam, the body either does each one-half way, or does one and abandons the other, or does none at all or tries to do both and ends up doing both incorrectly.
We should differentiate natural foods from artificial foods. These days, white flour is added to all sorts of “swallow” foods for bulk. The components have different digestion rates! While whole wheat (it has been genetically modified) and white flour (it has no fiber) foods such as bread are to be avoided, So are white sugar products. They cause mucus build-ups and blockages. White flour bread on the glycemic index of foods releases its sugar faster than cube sugar!
Irish potato releases sugar faster than sweet potato! Margarine and fried foods cause blockages throughout the body, overstretching the liver in particular and delaying transit time in the intestine. Greens are meant to be an important factor in the diet. (See LET’S DRINK GREEN, THE EARTH IS NOT GREEN FOR THE FUN OF IT, in www.olufemikusa.com).
As we age, we should aid the various organs with herbs specific to them. There are too many of them that space does not permit to be mentioned. So, I will mention only the combination of organic sulphur and high dosage vitamin c and, of course, turmeric, curcumin, ginger, bitter kola, onion, garlic, orange peel, plantain peel, banana peel, milk thistle, Jerusalem artichoke, carqueja, golden seal, probiotics, dandelion… The list is endless.