Diverticular disease is a common digestive condition that occurs due to symptoms from diverticula. Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that form on the inner lining of the large intestine (colon).
The condition when these pouches form but cause no or few symptoms is called diverticulosis. However, when small pieces of stool (feces) get trapped inside the pouches, they become inflamed or infected and cause symptoms like lower abdominal pain and bloating.
When bacteria become trapped in the pouches and cause infection with severe pain then the condition is called diverticulitis. The pain is usually on the lower left side of the abdomen.
Other signs and symptoms are abdominal tenderness, nausea, gas or bloating, constipation or diarrhea, fever, chills, and loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can also cause rectal bleeding. It may cause complications like abscess, fistula, peritonitis, and intestinal obstruction in about 25 percent of people suffering from acute diverticulitis.
The exact cause of the formation of diverticula or the small pouches is not known. However, medical experts believe that a low-fiber diet can be the reason. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work much harder to push the stool forward. This can cause pouches to form in weak spots along the colon.
Plus, factors like smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, low fiber diet, high fat intake, certain medications, and a history of constipation contribute to developing diverticular disease.
Severe or recurring diverticular disease and diverticulitis may require prescription medication or even surgery. You can also try some simple home remedies and adopt some lifestyle changes to prevent and control this problem.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for diverticular disease and diverticulitis.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a very effective remedy for diverticular disease and diverticulitis. According to the World Health Organization, aloe vera contains laxative properties that help maintain normal intestinal flora, stimulate and promote bowel movement and removal of waste products. It also boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation and swelling.
Simply drink one-half cup of aloe vera juice three times a day for at least one month.
2. Slippery Elm
Due to its large mucilage content, slippery elm is another effective remedy for this problem. Being a demulcent, it protects irritated tissue, reduces inflammation and pain, and promotes healing.
- Mix one teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder in two cups of boiling water.
- Add one teaspoon of sugar and a little bit of cinnamon powder.
- You can drink one to two cups of this solution twice a day.
Marshmallow is a demulcent and emollient and so it is very useful in the treatment of diverticular disease and diverticulitis. It can soothe inflammation in the digestive tract and promote healthy bowel movements.
- Add 5 grams of dried marshmallow root to one cup of boiling water. Steep for five minutes and then strain. Drink this herbal tea three times per day.
- Another option is to add two tablespoons of dried marshmallow root to one quart of water. Let it sit overnight. The next morning, strain and drink the liquid several times a day.
Note: Avoid marshmallow if you have diabetes.
Licorice has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat diverticulitis naturally. It can reduce spasms and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Plus, it aids in adding bulk and softening the stool.
- Add one-half teaspoon of licorice root powder to a cup of water. Boil it for a few minutes and then strain it. Drink it 30 minutes before meals. Follow this remedy two or three times a day.
- You can also take licorice tablets (380 to 1,140 mg per day), but only after consulting a doctor.
Note: Those who have high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease or hypokalemia should take licorice under a doctor’s supervision.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms present in the human gut. Probiotics are generally “good bacteria” that help maintain the health of the intestines and aid in the digestion process.
- Probiotics supplements like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Saccharomyces boulardii can be taken daily between meals. The recommended dosage is 200 to 250 mg.
- You can also eat probiotic-enhanced foods like cultured yogurt or milk and soy beverages.
Lemon has antioxidant properties and helps adjust the body’s pH balance. Plus, lemon has high vitamin C that assists the digestive system in flushing unwanted materials and toxins out of the body. Lemon is also good for the immune system.
- Mix the juice of one lemon in a glass of warm water.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and a little honey to it and mix properly.
- Drink it on an empty stomach in the morning.
Flaxseed can also be used in the treatment of diverticular disease. The natural fiber present in flaxseed works as a bulk-forming laxative. This means it helps soften the stool and makes it pass through the intestine easily. Plus, flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation.
- Mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed in a glass of water. Drink it once before breakfast and again before going to bed.
- Also add ground flaxseed to cereal, yogurt, fruit and other healthy foods. You can use 15 gram of ground flaxseed per day.
Being carminative in nature, chamomile stimulates the digestive system and relaxes the stomach. This makes chamomile a good remedy for diverticular disease.
- Add two to three teaspoons of dried chamomile to a cup of hot water.
- Cover and steep for five minutes.
- Strain and mix in one teaspoon of honey.
- Drink up to three cups of chamomile tea daily.
Note: Chamomile is not recommended for those who are pregnant, taking birth control pills or blood-thinning medicines.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic and aids in digestion, hence it is considered a good remedy for diverticular disease and diverticulitis.
- Remove the skin of one garlic clove and mince it thoroughly before ingesting it. Have this three times a day.
- Alternatively, you can take two garlic capsules three times daily. Consult your doctor before taking garlic supplements.
Ginger’s soothing effect on the intestine is the reason it is highly recommended for the treatment of diverticular disease and diverticulitis. Ginger can help relieve intestinal gas, cramping and nausea associated with this problem. Plus, it can reduce the risk of diverticulitis by keeping the large intestine free from harmful microbes.
- Cut a two-inch cube of ginger root into slices. Simmer the slices in one cup of water on low heat for 10 minutes and then strain it. Sip the liquid before your meal. Drink up to three cups of tea per day, one before each meal.
- You can also take ginger capsules. Take at least 2,000 milligrams three times daily. Consult your doctor before taking herbal supplements.
- To relieve mild pain and cramps, apply a heating pad to your abdomen. You can also try relaxation techniques.
- Exercise regularly for 30 minutes to promote normal bowel function and reduce pressure inside the colon.
- Avoid drinking coffee as well as alcoholic beverages.
- Try not to strain during bowel movements. Do not rush and allow sufficient time.
- Cut back on red meats.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
- Avoid tobacco in any form.
- Avoid extremely hot or cold foods and fluids.
- Include more fiber-rich foods in your diet.
- Take vitamin B-complex supplements for proper digestion.
- Take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, 1000 mg on or two times a day after consulting your doctor.