Crohn's, Colitis & IBS
This article brings you the topic that so many find difficult to breech. The state of your colon. The colon is often the most ignored organ in the body yet the most important to maintain. Many highly regarded practitioners will agree that all health starts and finishes in the colon, therefore making its function of primary concern. Let us first take a look at what the colon is responsible for.
The small and large intestines consist of resilient, hollow tubes that are approximately 26 feet long. All digested food enters the cecum through the ileocecal valve but if this valve becomes jammed, problems ensue. At the bottom of this is the appendix, which is typically surgically removed if infection and inflammation occur. Medically, doctors say that the appendix has no real function although more progressive theories consider the appendix necessary as it is a part of the lymphatic system. Without it, bowel function becomes compromised.
Digested food (chyme) passes into the cecum as a semi-liquid concoction that includes enzymes from the liver, pancreas and small intestine. It is here that friendly bowel flora performs its magic and completes the process of extracting valuable nutrition from the chyme. This material moves through the ascending colon, hepatic flexure and transverse colon to the splenic flexure via peristaltic action. What remains after this process is feces, which now moves into the descending colon. Any toxic material from the blood and lymph are also transported through the feces and out the rectum.
Optimal transit time depends on the initial input of roughage and on numbers of other conditions experienced throughout the process. How well did you chew your food, just how stressed are you, and how toxin-free was the food you ate? The characteristics of your stool upon arrival in the toilet bowel and how frequently it occurs is the ultimate indicator of food choices and organ health and is strongly indicative of potential trouble down the road. It is important to pay attention!
The colon is the sanitation department for the body. It is the sewage system that is typically very forgiving of our constant abuse. In his book called The Second Brain, Michael D. Gershon talks about the colon as being a second independent nervous system in the gut. It is a proven and generally accepted fact that there are neurotransmitters in the digestive tract therefore making this system entirely independent of the brain. Interestingly enough, the main transmitter of this independent system is serotonin, which draws a close connection between emotions and bowel dysfunction, especially in the case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
If we take a look at bowel dysfunction and disease, we can see a direct relationship between the nervous system and intestinal health. Stress alone causes interference with peristaltic action and the production and release of enzymes. Other factors such as chemicals, pollutants from air, water and foods, and spinal subluxations act as stressors and directly or indirectly affect our digestive function ability.
Simple trouble shooting uncovers the reasons behind bowel conditions. Read on.
Burril Bernard Crohn
Burril Bernard Crohn (1884 to 1983) was an American physician who spent his career immersed in the diseases associated with the intestines. Crohn's disease or Regional Enteritis, involves the distal portion of the ileum, and sometimes spreads to the colon. This chronic inflammation causes ulcerations and can affect anywhere between the mouth and the anus, involving the lymph glands and causing scarring in its path. On rare occasions the stomach acid will enter the intestines prior to being flushed and neutralized by the bicarbonate, therefore making ulceration a more significant possibility. Typically, Crohn's affects the last part of the small intestine. It tends to be chronic and recurrent and both genetic and environmental factors must be considered.
You can suspect Crohn's disease if you experience:
- loss of energy, appetite, weight
- fever, headaches
- excess fat in the stool (pale bulky floating stools)
- loss of blood
Any pain associated with Crohn's is generally in the area of the appendix, therefore is sometimes confused with an appendicitis attack. Complications of Crohn's disease may include bowel obstruction, bowel perforation, formation of pus collections, fistulae, cancer of the bowel and intestinal hemorrhaging. Any of these symptoms can extend and generate problems in joints, spine, eyes, liver, bile ducts, and cause abdominal distention, nausea and vomiting.
There are many similarities between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis but the primary difference is the degree of involvement of the intestinal walls. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the mucosa and sub mucosa, which are the two layers of lining closest to the mid passageway. Crohn's disease goes deeper and involves the muscular layer and connective tissue layer.
So what causes Crohn's disease? The cause is unknown and there is no conclusive evidence that infection is responsible. The exception is when the colon becomes irritated and narrowing or obstruction of the ducts draining into the liver occurs. The backup of debris and toxins provides the perfect breeding ground for bacterial infections. Contrarily, more than half the population is infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is part of the herpes family. CMV is present in 36% of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Crohn's patients consistently experience a deficiency in such minerals as calcium, copper, gold, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, sulfur and zinc. A Penn State study found vitamin D to be lacking with Crohn's disease. Vitamin C and E have also been identified as deficient in sufferers of this condition.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor. Over 4 million Canadian women alone have IBS. It is the most prevalent yet most misunderstood condition that medications fail to eliminate. It has become the catch phrase for whatever ails your intestinal region and is given such names as spastic colon, intestinal neurosis, mucous colitis, or spastic colitis. When the normal movement of food through the intestinal tract is interrupted, the accumulation of mucosal build up and toxic debris causes dysfunction that is littered with symptoms.
Unlike Colitis or Crohn's disease, there are no physical manifestations of the condition that can be observed therefore it can be classified as a functional disorder where the bowel becomes extra sensitive, especially under emotional duress. No pathological or tissue changes confirm its presence and the intensity of symptoms vary and include:
- Abdominal pain, cramping
- Constipation or Diarrhea, Bloating
- Rectal discomfort
- Head aches, Backaches
- Weight loss or gain
- Secretion of large amounts of mucus
Eliminating the possible infection of the protozoan called Blastocystis Hominis, from contaminated food or water is important. Parasites such as Giardia and Amoeba share many of the same symptoms as IBS and should be ruled out.
IBS is caused by such things as diet, lack of fiber, nutrient deficiency, antibiotic use, overuse of laxative, stress, nervousness, fructose intolerance, poor combination of foods, bacteria or viruses, or sugar over consumption. Large amounts of mucus form to create a buffer between the toxins and you. Some research indicates a strong relationship between emotional factors such as being abused as a child and IBS.
Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine (colon) involving the inner lining or mucosa typically leaving no segments of normal tissue. Consequently, mucous and blood often appear in the stool when damage has occurred in the lining but otherwise, most all symptoms of both Crohn's and IBS are shared with this similar condition. Mucus serves as a protective coating on lining walls.
Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic condition where ulceration can potentially perforate intestinal walls and become cancerous. It may involve the rectum, the last few inches of small intestine where food is moved to the large intestine, but is not isolated to this area.
One of the eminent dangers once the walls of the colon become affected is that Diverticulitis can develop. Enteritis and ileitis are other inflammatory processes often involved in Colitis. Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis and IBS exhibit a sodium and potassium ratio that is greater than 6:1 therefore manifesting an excess of inflammatory hormones.
Liver, Lymph, Bowel Connection
So what does the lymph system have to do with the function of the bowel?
If the bowel is congested, then the lymph fluid is unable to dump its accumulated debris in the colon. Lymph fluid is vital to all tissues in the body but easily becomes a thick mucoid substance, which can be seen as a petroleum-like matter in the feces. It is only when we become sick that any attention is paid to the lymphatic system.
This excess mucous engorges the nodes and results in stiff and achy muscles. The purpose of a fever therefore is to reduce the thick lymph fluid to a healthy state. Saturated bowel moves the filtering of lymph fluid to the liver where the toxins are released through the bile and then through the colon. Any back up of the bile results in nausea. Some researchers also draw a comparison between gallbladder health and the tendency toward IBS, Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is critical to keep all elimination passageways clear.
More About Bowel Health...
The colon is the site of toxin and body waste stagnation and retention. It requires more cleansing than any other organ. In order to normalize the function of the colon regardless of what label your symptoms take on, it is essential to pay attention.
Closely examine your diet.
Ensure that it includes natural live foods that are raw or steamed to suit your condition or as specifically recommended
Improve the bile secretion for proper intestinal elimination using specific enzymes
Check out your Thyroid efficiency.
- Thyroid plays a major role in all detoxification processes and strongly affects the intestines.
- If it is under functioning, normal bowel elimination is not possible.
- Keep minerals reserves up. Proper mineral balance eliminates cramping and other symptoms so that healing can take place.
We Are What We Eat
Anyone who realizes that there is a direct relationship between disease and their food intake is already ahead of the game! Vitality, energy, endurance, and well-being depend on the perfect biochemical state of our bodies. Food is the nourishment that provides the raw materials we need to maintain health and heal disease and supplements become the building blocks that assist the life force within. Extra fiber and Omega-3 oils along with potassium help heal and clear toxins from the colon. Friendly bacteria in Soil Based Organisms directly aid Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Aloe Vera specifically calms and soothes inflamed and ulcerated tissue within to quickly relieve and heal.
Everyone Needs to be Oiled
Omega-3 Fish Oil: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that pharmaceutical grade fish oil greatly reduced the pain of Crohn's disease, IBS, and Ulcerative Colitis. The test was done using a dose of 1 gram per day but Dr. Barry Sears highly recommends using 5 - 10 grams per day. He has seen that doing this for two weeks is very successful! Once pain is less or eliminated, reduce the dosage in small increments until pain reappears and adjust accordingly from there. Each person will find their own dosage level.
Water: on the other hand, is critical to health and elimination in particular. The Wellness Water Filter has been used in clinics in Japan for treating intestinal cancers and other such conditions. Because of this ionic restructured water, the cells are able to regain their integrity quickly and efficiently. The permeability factor ensures that hydration occurs at a deep cellular level, which is critical to bowel function. Visit our web site and download The Wellness Filter Facts Book for more detailed information on this amazing specialized water.