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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Diverticular Disease (Holistic)
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
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.
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.
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.
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 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Review: 06-01-2015
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