Diverticulitis can cause cramping and pain in the lower left region of the abdomen.
The large intestine can develop small pouches that bulge out like little sacs and these are called diverticula.
As we age, the bowel develops more and more diverticula and then this is called diverticulosis.
In fact, by the time we reach the age of 80, 100% of all people in the western world will have diverticulosis. 10-20% of people with diverticulosis will develop diverticulitis.
What causes diverticulitis according to western medicine?
From a western medical perspective, it is not known why these little sacs become inflamed and then develop into diverticulitis but it is thought that a western style diet heavy in unrefined foods may be a contributing factor.
What causes diverticulitis according to traditional Chinese medicine?
Chinese medicine says that where there is blockage of energy flow, there is pain. When there is a fixed location of a pain, there will also be inhibited blood circulation in that area. A famous contemporary Chinese medicine physician, Yan De-Xin who specializes in geriatric diseases, believes that blood blockage is the major contributing factor in all aging diseases and diverticulitis is no exception. In particular, when the micro circulation of blood vessels in the intestines becomes inhibited, a sharp stabbing like pain can arise. The other major factor to take into account with aging, is that according to Chinese medicine, the spleen can become weak. Chinese medicine says that if the spleen can’t function properly impurities can sink down and accumulate in the lower part of the body.
Are there other signs and symptoms associated with diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis per say can have bloating and constipation and if the sacs become severely infected, then fever , nausea and vomiting may also occur. In Chinese medical terms, depending on the cause, other associated symptoms such as tiredness, insomnia, lack of appetite and shortness of breath may also be present.
What are the best acupuncture points to treat diverticulitis?
There are many acupuncture points that could be selected to address the pain associated with diverticulitis. In addition, other acupuncture points that improve blood circulation or increase spleen function may be added. We ask Scott Pearson who works from the Newtown Acupuncture Centre, opposite Wellington Hospital if he has any favorite acupuncture points for diverticulitis. “It is always important to palpate acupuncture points for sensitivity because if they are tender, it can mean that these points are appropriate for the condition. In many cases I find that the Stomach 37 and Stomach 39 points on the outside of the lower leg are tender in diverticulitis and patients respond well to their needling“.
What Chinese herbs are used for diverticulitis?
Many Chinese herbalists believe it is mistake to use strong purgatives to move the stool in cases of diverticulitis. Some of the common over the counter herbal remedies for diverticulitis contain herbs like aloe and senna and according to Chinese medicine, these purgatives can damage the digestive energy which is exactly what we don’t want to do. If the digestive spleen energy is weak, a Chinese herbalist may prescribe codonopsitis as one of the ingredients of a formulation. In other cases, herbs like red peony root may be added to address inhibited blood circulation issues. There are in fact hundreds of herbs that may be used in the treatment of diverticulitis.
Some of the members of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists, now also known as Acupuncture NZ, have done additional extensive training in Chinese herbal medicine. It is usually an extra 3 years of study to become proficient in prescribing Chinese herbs.