Diverticular Disease (Holistic)Skip to the navigation
About This Condition
Recognize the warning signs
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms such as painful abdominal cramping, fever, and nausea
Help prevent the disease by eating a high-vegetable, high-fiber, and low-meat diet
Start a regular program of physical activity, such as jogging, to help prevent symptomatic diverticular disease
About This Condition
Diverticular disease is a condition of abnormal pouches in portions of the colon.
High pressure inside the intestine may cause these outpouchings (called diverticula) to develop in areas of weakness within the wall of the colon.1 The development of these pouches is called diverticulosis. Rarely, diverticula may also occur in the stomach or small intestine. When the pouches become inflamed (often as a result of bacterial infection), symptoms such as cramping pains, fever, and nausea can result.2 Such an infection (called diverticulitis) is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention. Diverticular disease becomes increasingly common as people age and is a malady of 20th-century western society, primarily due to the consumption of a low-fiber diet.3
People with diverticular disease may or may not have abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, and tenderness or pain, especially along the lower left side of the abdomen. When there is an active infection, there may also be fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Obesity may be associated with increased severity of diverticular disease.4 Studies have yet to be conducted to determine if weight loss decreases signs and symptoms of diverticular disease in patients who are overweight.
Physical activity, specifically jogging or running, has been reported to protect against symptomatic diverticular disease.5 While the reason for its positive effect is not known, exercise is associated with reduced symptoms of a variety of other diseases of the colon.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
|Focus on fiber||
A high-fiber diet been shown to both prevent and treat diverticular disease.
Dietary factors influence the frequency and severity of diverticular disease recurrences. A diet high in fiber has been shown to be protective against diverticular disease.6 One study of food intake revealed a 50% increase in incidence of diverticular disease in people eating a diet high in meat and low in vegetables relative to those eating a high-vegetable and low-meat diet.7 In addition to helping prevent the disease, a high-fiber diet may also be useful as a treatment for diverticular disease.8
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
20 grams daily, plus extra fluids
A fiber supplement may improve constipation related to diverticular disease.
In people with diverticular disease, a fiber supplement may improve constipation. The results of double-blind of fiber supplementation for diverticular disease have been mixed. One study9 demonstrated a beneficial effect of fiber supplementation in people who suffered from abdominal pain and pain with bowel movements; whereas a second study10 indicated no improvement in these symptoms following fiber supplementation. Nevertheless, long-term fiber supplementation may protect against the complications of diverticular disease.11
7 grams daily in water, followed by a second glass of water
A preliminary trial found that psyllium, a good source of fiber, was effective in relieving the symptoms associated with diverticular disease and constipation.
A preliminary trial of the herb psyllium supports the use of this type of fiber in relieving the symptoms associated with diverticular disease and constipation.12
Refer to label instructions
In a double-blind study of patients with diverticular disease in remission, supplementing with a probiotic significantly decreased the number of people who suffered a recurrence of symptoms or a flare-up of acute diverticulitis.
In a double-blind study of patients with diverticular disease in remission, supplementing with a probiotic significantly decreased the number of people who suffered a recurrence of symptoms or a flare-up of acute diverticulitis. The probiotic used in the study contained 24 billion Lactobacillus casei subsp. DG organisms, and was taken the first 10 days of each month for 12 months.13 It is not known whether other probiotic strains would have the same beneficial effect.
Refer to label instructions
Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber. One study found that people with diverticular disease had reduced symptoms after taking glucommanan.
Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber that is derived from konjac root (Amorphophallus konjac). A preliminary clinical trial found that approximately one-third to one half of people with diverticular disease had reduced symptoms of diverticular disease after taking glucommanan.14 The amount of glucomannan shown to be effective as a laxative is 3–4 grams per day.
1. Halphen M, Blain A. Natural history of diverticulosis. Rev Prat 1995;45:952-8 [in French].
2. Thompson WG, Patel DG. Clinical picture of diverticular disease of the colon. Clin Gastroenterol 1986;15:903-16.
3. Ozick LA, Salazar CO, Donelson SS. Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of diverticular disease of the colon. Gastroenterologist 1995;6:55-63 [review].
4. Ozick LA, Salazar CO, Donelson SS. Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of diverticular disease of the colon. Gastroenterologist 1995;6:55-63 [review].
5. Aldoori WH, Giovannucci EL, Rimm EB, et al. Prospective study of physical activity and the risk of symptomatic diverticular disease in men. Gut 1995;36:276-82.
6. Handler S. Dietary fiber: Can it prevent certain colonic diseases? Postgrad Med 1983;73:301-7.
7. Manousos O, Day NE, Tzonou A, et al. Diet and other factors in the aetiology of diverticulosis: an epidemiological study in Greece. Gut 1985;26:544-9.
8. Elfrink RJ, Miedema BW. Colonic diverticula. When complications require surgery and when they don't. Postgrad Med 1992;92:97-8, 101-2, 105, 108.
9. Smits BJ, Whitehead AM, Prescott P. Lactulose in the treatment of symptomatic diverticular disease: a comparative study with high-fibre diet. Br J Clin Pract 1990;44:314-8.
10. Ornstein MH, Littlewood ER, Baird IM, et al. Are fibre supplements really necessary in diverticular disease of the colon? A controlled clinical trial. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;25:1353-6.
11. Leahy AL, Ellis RM, Quill DS, Peel AL. High fibre diet in symptomatic diverticular disease of the colon. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1985;67:173-4.
12. Ewerth S, Ahlberg J, Holmstrom B, et al. Influence on symptoms and transit-time of Vi-SiblinR in diverticular disease. Acta Chir Scand Suppl 1980;500:49-50.
13. Tursi A, Brandimarte G, Elisei W, et al. Randomised clinical trial: mesalazine and/or probiotics in maintaining remission of symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease - a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study.Aliment Pharmacol Ther2013;38:741–51.
14. Papi C, Ciaco A, Koch M, Capurso L. Efficacy of rifaximin in the treatment of symptomatic diverticular disease of the colon. A multicentre double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1995;9:33-9.
Last Review: 10-23-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.