Inflammatory Digestive Tract Disorders
By Julie Aikens

 

With irritable bowel syndrome, the large intestine or colon is not functioning properly. Instead of having regular muscular contractions, the colon is irregular and out of sync. Mucus and toxins build up in the digestive tract causing gas, nausea, vomiting, bloating and frequent bowel movements accompanied by constipation and/or diarrhea as the body tries to rid itself of these poisons. A person with irritable bowel syndrome may also suffer with anorexia, anxiety, depression and severe headaches.

It is believed that 1 in 5 Americans have irritable bowel syndrome. As scientists have searched for the cure, they have been unable to locate physical signs of disease in the bowel tissue. Rather, this disease seems to be caused by stress and food intolerances. It may also be connected to the overuse of antacids, laxatives or antibiotics.

Studies show that there is a strong connection between this disease and stress. People with irritable bowel syndrome often have higher levels of nervousness and depression. If you have IBS, work to discover what brings stress to your life. Keep a diary of the situations that cause you stress and look for patterns. Meditation, counseling and biofeedback are all ways in which you can relieve stress. Exercise has also been proven to relieve stress, especially if you do something you enjoy like taking the dog for a walk or playing tennis with a friend.

About 2/3 of the people with irritable bowel syndrome also have food intolerances. Studies show that the body does not respond to these food allergies through the immune system, so having an allergy test might not give you accurate results. Rather, it is best to watch which foods or drinks bring on digestive problems and eliminate them from the diet.

Milk and dairy products, gluten, as well as wheat are foods to which people are commonly allergic. Try eliminating these first. Changing your diet to include more fiber can also help relieve irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber bulks the stools and helps the body to have regular bowel movements. Include foods in your diet such as bran, whole (organic) grains, fruit and vegetables.

As you work to remove the stress and foods which are causing digestive distress, you can also take herbs which will speed the healing process. Following are herbs which help remove toxins from the bowel, soothe bowel inflammation and regulate and tone the bowel.

The bark of the slippery elm tree has been shown to be a good remedy for those with IBS. It is a mucilaginous herb which pulls water into itself becoming slippery, thick and pasty. This pulling action draws congested toxins from the bowel. Because slippery elm becomes bulky, it helps to regulate elimination and its slippery consistency is soothing to the inflamed intestinal walls. Slippery elm is very mild and is an excellent form of nutrition for people who are having trouble digesting other types of food. Slippery elm can also be made into a tea and used as an enema.

Aloe#1 is another plant which can help calm inflammation of the bowel. Sipping the juice throughout the day helps to soothe the irritated mucous membranes of IBS. This juice also is a bulking laxative that can help normalize bowel function.

Chamomile and valerian have an antispasmodic effect on the gastrointestinal tract. They calm intestinal cramps, expel gas, tone the stomach and relieve pain.

INTESTINAL SOOTHE & BUILD is a combination which helps IBS. It contains the mucilants slippery elm and marshmallow which become soft and bulky when combined with water and help to relieve the irritated intestinal tissue and regulate bowel movements. Plantain, rosehips and bugleweed are included because of their astringent effects which work to tone the bowel. Chamomile relieves inflammation and soothes nervous conditions which can cause constipation.

CLT-X works to calm the inflammation of the digestive system. It contains the mucilants slippery elm and marshmallow to pull toxins from the digestive tract and relieve constipation. Dong quai and wild yam are included for their anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger calms indigestion.

BOWEL DETOX absorbs toxins and irritants from the digestive system. It contains the following: psyllium which is a bulk laxative, algin to absorb heavy metals, bentonite clay which pulls irritants from bowel pockets and tightens bowel tissues and chlorophyll to control stool odor. Take this combination with plenty of water to avoid constipation.

To relieve the symptoms of IBS try ginger. It expels gas from the colon and calms indigestion and nausea. Charcoal can also be used to relieve gas and bloating, but it is not recommended that it be taken daily because it may absorb other nutrients. If you have been suffering with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, you will want to take Mineral Chi Tonic to help replace the trace minerals lost from your body. Dandelion can help you replace lost electrolytes.

Ulcers

Doubled over in pain, drinking milk or taking an antacid is how you might find someone who says, “I have an ulcer!” One in 10 Americans will find themselves dealing with this painful disease.

Peptic ulcers are found in the stomach or duodenum (the first section of the small intestine just below the stomach). Ulcer pain occurs because part of the mucous membrane of the stomach or duodenum is being eaten into by the digestive secretions.

Ulcers are characterized by intense stomach pain. The sufferer may also experience heartburn, nausea and/or anemia. Because eating neutralizes the stomach acid, food intake temporarily stops ulcer pain, but the pain returns once the food is digested.

digestion

Doctors have long gone by the theory that too much stress is the main cause of ulcers. Stress causes the stomach to churn and the acids to increase to such high levels that the stomach begins eating itself. To solve this problem doctors first suggest taking antacids. Antacids reduce the acid in the stomach and relieve pain, but they may cause kidney stones, heart and kidney problems, calcium and phosphorus depletion and/or aluminum accumulation in the brain that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Doctors may also prescribe drugs such as Tagamet and Zantac for ulcer treatment. These drugs have an antispasmodic effect and they suppress stomach acid production. These drugs successfully relieve the pain, but they also have serious side effects. By increasing estrogen levels, they can cause sexual dysfunction and breast development in men, PMS, endometriosis and uterine fibroids in women. Patients on any of these medications must be on them long term or the ulcers will return.

New scientific studies on ulcers and their treatment show that stress may be only part of the cause. A spiral bacteria, Heliobacter pylori, is almost always found in persons who have ulcers and seldom found in those who don’t. By killing this bacteria, ulcers are commonly relieved. This bacteria survives in the stomach acid by living in the protective lining and producing an enzyme, urease, which neutralizes the stomach acid.

With a blood test from your physician, you can discover if you are infected with these ulcer causing bacteria. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics to treat this infection which also can have serious side effects.

There are several lifestyle habits that may increase your ulcer risk. Studies show that diets low in fiber, smoking, regular intake of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and regular drinking of alcohol, coffee or caffeinated drinks can cause ulcers. Food allergies may also be the cause of ulcers and if this is the cause the ulcer will continue until the food is eliminated. Try an elimination diet.

Besides changing your lifestyle to remove stress and other factors which may cause ulcers, there are also many herbal products available which can ease the symptoms and help the stomach to heal. Because ulcer symptoms are similar to those of gastric cancer, be sure to consult with a physician before trying the following natural forms of ulcer therapy.

Licorice root (in whole form) is an anti-inflammatory and has long been used historically in the treatment of ulcers. Licorice strengthens the stomach lining by increasing the number of mucus secreting cells. Because the use of licorice extract brought on extreme edema and heart failure, many people were scared away from using licorice, but licorice in its whole form or as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) causes no side effects and is highly effective in treating ulcers. In one study 40 patients with severe duodenal ulcers prevented surgery and relieved all ulcer pain and symptoms by taking 3 to 4.5 grams of licorice daily for 8 to 16 weeks.

GASTRO HEALTH is a product designed specifically to help ulcers by killing Heliobacter pylori. It contains licorice in combination with the antibacterial herbs cloves, inula and pau d’arco.

PLS-II contains slippery elm and marshmallow, mucilants which pull toxins from the digestive tract, soothe digestive inflammation and strengthen mucous membranes.
Goldenseal fights infection while fenugreek helps relieve digestive upset.

LYMPH GLAND CLEANSE blends echinacea, goldenseal, yarrow and capsicum to fight infection and reduce inflammation.

Capsicum is (surprisingly) good for ulcers because it stimulates the protective mucus-forming membranes of the stomach. It is also high in vitamins and minerals needed for healing. Sources:
The Body System’s Approach To Natural Healing by Steven Horne (Payson, UT: Tree of Light Institute, 1995).
Discover Natural Health by Andrew H.Y. Kim (Panaroma City, CA: Kim’s Publishing, 1988)
The Doctors Book of Home Remedies by Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books (Emmaus, PA: Bantam Books, 1991).
An Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael T. Murray N.D. and Joseph E. Pizzorno N.D. (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1990).
Herbal H-p Fighter Handout by Nature’s Field.“Herbal Treatment for Ulcers” by Paul Bergner and Sharol Tilgner, N.D. in Medical Herbalism (May-June 1991).
Neal’s Yard Natural Remedies by Susan Curtis, Romy Fraser, Irene Kohler (New York, NY: Penguin Group)
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1997).
“Squatting for the Prevention of Haemorrhoids?” by Christine Eimmer, Brian Martin, Noeline Reeves, Frances Sullivan in Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients (October 1996).
The Swiss Nature Doctor’s Home Treatment of Common Ailments by Dr. A. Vogel (New Canaan, CN: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1990).

This information is for educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified health practictioner for all serious or persistant illness. Copyright © 1999 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028, Roosevelt, UT 84066. This material may be printed from this database (in single copies only) for educational purposes only (not for resale) provided it is not altered in any way.
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