With aging comes potential diverticular disease. 1/3 of Australians over 45 have diverticulosis, and that increases to 2/3 for Australians over 85. Of this population 1/4 get diverticulitis, a painful disease that sometimes leads to hospitalisation.
For those who suffer from diverticular disease acupuncture and TCM are a great option for treatments. In addition to this we help with lifestyle advice, digestion, stress and easing the aging process to decrease risk of diverticulitis.
But what is diverticular disease？
Diverticulosis is a disease that affects the large intestine. Weaknesses in the wall of the digestive tract cause bulges or pouches to form called diverticula. It is most common in people over the age of 40. For a lot of people there are no symptoms and many aren’t aware they have it. Not everyone who has diverticulosis experiences diverticulitis.
There is no cure for diverticulosis or answers for what causes it. Although there is some discussion that genetics and a Western diet low in fibre could be factors.
For most people there are no symptoms of diverticulosis. However, some people can experience bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhoea. Acupuncture and TCM can help with these symptoms and it may help reduce progression of the disease.
By focusing on digestion, lifestyle factors and other contributors such as stress we can manage the diverticulosis. This may help prevent further damage from happening in the large intestines as well as decrease the risk of diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches of diverticulosis get infected or inflamed. To get diverticulitis one has to have diverticulosis.
In some cases diverticulitis can be a medical emergency and need hospitalisation. Diverticulitis is usually treated with antibiotics, painkillers and a short liquid only diet.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
Sharp abdominal pain, often on the lower left side
Constipation and sometimes diarrhoea
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Diverticular Disease
We treat diverticular disease like we treat other digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis. This means we focus on key areas such as digestion, inflammation, bloating and pain. This helps us get to the root cause of your problem.
In TCM pain is because of a blockage in energy flow. Blocked energy puts stress on the body, which can result in inflammation. Inflammation then triggers pain and other symptoms common with diverticulitis such as bloating.
Bloating often occurs with both diverticulosis and diverticulitis. It is very important in TCM to address bloating early as this can help stop conditions from becoming more acute. For example, with diverticular disease relieving bloating can stop other diverticula from forming and assist in faster recovery from diverticulitis.
To treat the symptoms of diverticular disease we：
Release qi (pressure) in abdomen to lower pain and reduce infection
Reduce damp heat (inflammation) to stop pain
Release pressure in the intestines to stop bloating
Boost organ function to improve digestive function
Regulate immune system to control bacteria growth
Digestion is very important in TCM and especially so in the case of diverticular disease. In addition to our acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments we provide lifestyle advice. This includes personalised diet, exercise and environmental tips to help with digestion.
We have several articles dedicated to digestion. For example you can read our 8 foods to boost digestion, the benefits of our gut detox and our guide to helping constipation.
The best advice is as soon as you notice changes in your digestion it is good to get medical advice and treatment. By treating a condition as it develops it reduces healing time and how bad it gets.
Support for Diverticular Disease
In summary, diverticular disease is prevalent in Australia and as you age your risk increases. Although people with diverticulosis often experience no symptoms, diverticulitis can be very painful and serious. We can help treat episodes of diverticulitis using acupuncture and TCM. But also by focusing on digestion and lifestyle as you age we could help decrease your risk of diverticular disease.