Diverticular Disease (Holistic)

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About This Condition

Adhering to a high-fiber diet is one key to keeping diverticular disease at bay. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Recognize the warning signs

    Seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms such as painful abdominal cramping, fever, and nausea

  • Diet right

    Help prevent the disease by eating a high-vegetable, high-fiber, and low-meat diet

  • Get moving

    Start a regular program of physical activity, such as jogging, to help prevent symptomatic diverticular disease

About

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

Symptoms

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.

Eating Right

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.

Recommendation Why
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. 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. In addition to helping prevent the disease, a high-fiber diet may also be useful as a treatment for diverticular disease.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?
Supplement Why
3 Stars
Fiber
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 study demonstrated a beneficial effect of fiber supplementation in people who suffered from abdominal pain and pain with bowel movements; whereas a second study indicated no improvement in these symptoms following fiber supplementation. Nevertheless, long-term fiber supplementation may protect against the complications of diverticular disease.

3 Stars
Psyllium
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.

2 Stars
Probiotics
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. It is not known whether other probiotic strains would have the same beneficial effect.
1 Star
Glucomannan
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. The amount of glucomannan shown to be effective as a laxative is 3-4 grams per day.

References

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.