If you have digestive problems, you don’t need to suffer silently. There, I said it.
Having been in practice for over 30 years, I have found that a majority of patients have some type of digestive problem, but few are willing to talk about it. It seems that we can talk about cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and just about any other health condition, but one of the most common conditions is a taboo subject. Digestive problems are not only uncomfortable and sometimes can cause embarrassment; they have a direct link to your overall physical and mental health. We spend billions of dollars each year to attempt to cover up the symptoms of digestive problems, but very few doctors talk about correcting the cause of the problem or avoiding the things that often cause the problem. Digestive disorders can often snowball from mild discomfort all the way to cancer. Let’s talk about the causes of digestive disorders, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, belching and acid indigestion, and what we can do to help the body return to normal.
As with all health conditions, stress can make all health conditions worse. Stress causes the muscles in the entire body, including the colon, to tighten. When muscles tighten, the blood supply and nerve supply to the muscles is pinched. This reduces the flow of blood to the muscles and interferes with the nerve control of muscles. Most patients with digestive disorders report that when they are under stress, especially mental stress, the symptoms are exacerbated. The most common treatment is to suppress the symptoms with drugs. This approach can lead to the condition progressing because the patient does not feel the symptoms, so they are less cautious and do things that make the problem worse.
If you experienced a muscle spasm in your leg, you would consider a qualified doctor to massage, treat and relax the muscle. If the muscles in your colon spasm, the same treatment is oftentimes very effective. I have found that abdominal massage has helped treat the cause of many digestive disorders. In fact, this condition is so common that I will often perform 10-15 abdominal massages on patients in a single day in my office.
All digestive conditions are not caused by spasms of the colon, but many are. Some digestive disorders can be caused by a condition known as a hiatal hernia. When a patient has this condition, the stomach will push into the diaphragm, a sheet of muscle that divide the upper and lower halves of your body. This is another type of muscle spasm. In this case, I have found a very effective treatment is to manually pull the stomach back down and away from the diaphragm.
Pinched nerves in the spine must also be addressed. If a patient has a pinched nerve in the spine that controls a portion of the digestive system, the messages coming from the brain down the spine and out the nerves to the organ are not being transmitted properly. When this is the case, the organ cannot function normally. Most pinched nerves that control organs are caused by bones in the spine being misaligned. Studies have shown the weight of a feather on a nerve can cause the nerve to lower its ability to transmit nerve impulses by as much as 80%! If a patient has a pinched nerve, it must be corrected in order for the other forms of treatment to be fully effective. Not all pinched nerves hurt. 90% of your nerves do not transmit pain impulses. This means you do not need to feel pain to have a pinched nerve. Only a qualified chiropractor can determine if you have a pinched nerve and properly correct it.
There are foods that can also irritate a digestive condition. The most common foods are dairy and wheat. Other foods that might not be good choices for folks with these conditions are spicy foods, vinegar (except for apple cider vinegar), aspirin, eggs, corn, chocolate, yeast, coffee, meat, alcohol, sugar, soda (especially cola) and citrus fruits. The easiest way to determine if you are sensitive to a certain food is to totally avoid that single food for 5 days. On the sixth day, eat that food and see if you have a flair-up. If you have an exacerbation, you need to avoid this food. Many times, as the digestive system heals, you can go back to eating some of these foods,
There are also foods that help the digestive system heal. Aloe vera juice has a long history of being used for helping the body heal. It is recommend to drink 4 ounces at least once a day, but twice a day works even better. Smaller meals help to allow the digestive system to heal. Eat 4-5 meals a day, and the meal should not be larger than your fist. If you can handle raw fruits and vegetables, that is the best. In more advanced cases, certain raw fruits and veggies will cause pain. In this situation, eat cooked fruits and veggies and slowly introduce raw fruit and veggies back into the diet. Juicing fruits and veggies is always a good idea and even more important if you can’t handle the raw fruit and veggies. One 8 ounce glass of fruit juice a day and two 8 ounce glasses of vegetable juice consisting of a good variety of green vegetables including, but not limited to, celery and spinach.
By doing these steps, most patients report very good results and are very happy to get their lives back.