Colitis, Ulcers, IBS, and GI Problems: Natural Therapy

A NATURAL HEALING VIEWPOINT ON COLITIS, ULCER, AND OTHER GI PROBLEMS 

Your digestive tract is well over twenty feet long. If you were to flatten out just your small intestine, its total absorptive area would be half the size of a basketball court. 

This is an important bit of real estate. 

Naturopaths tend to annoy medical specialists by looking at gastrointestinal (GI) problems such as colitis, ulcers, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome and even Crohn's disease as manifestations of the same two problems, just in different places. These two fundamental causes of most GI disorders are systemic toxemia (a polluted body) and malnutrition. This means one is taking in too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right ones. 

Persons with GI troubles simply must stop doing things that hurt their guts. Smoking, alcohol, coffee, meat, food additives, and stress must be systematically eliminated. If a person is not willing to stop doing things that hurt, there is a greatly reduced chance of success with things that help.  I need add nothing about why drinking and smoking harm your digestive system. Coffee drinking and meat eating, though, are often allowed by doctors unwilling to stop those habits themselves. But one has to confront even the popular, little vices if doing so can save big suffering.  Persons who move towards vegetarianism and away from coffee will not be disappointed. 

I may not make a lot of friends with this article, but these are the facts, ma'am: a near-vegetarian diet has important advantages. It is high in bulk, high in vitamin C, and high in carotene vitamin A. A vegetarian diet is cheap and low fat.  And incidentally, there are fewer dishes to do. 

The lining of your entire digestive tract is made up of epithelial tissue. Epithelial cells are "skin" cells. Your skin covers both the outside and the inside of your body. You might think of yourself as a sleeping bag: there is an outer waterproof covering and an inner, softer lining. Since epithelial tissue is very dependent on vitamins A and C for its health and integrity, and since a diet high in fruits, sprouts and veggies is quite high in these vitamins, you can see the vegetarian's advantage. The additional bulk of a veggie diet makes stools softer and easier to pass. Pressure is reduced inside the colon and straining to have a bowel movement is eliminated. Persons with very sensitive intestines can temporarily juice their vegetables and even put their salads through a blender if necessary. This tastes a lot better than it sounds, and is an extremely gentle and digestible way to instantly improve nutritional status. Fruits and especially vegetables are so high in carotenes that supplemental vitamin A is not needed if you are juicing.  Carotene vitamin A is non-toxic. 

Years ago, one of my naturopathic textbooks was entitled Everybody's Guide to Nature Cure, by Dr. Harry Benjamin. At the time, I resisted the way he began practically every treatment the same way: with a fast.  His advice has withstood the test of time.  Persons with GI troubles often get the most relief by just shutting down the digestive system for a while. A few days fasting gives the body a chance to rest and repair.  Naturopaths believe, and anatomical evidence confirms, that given this chance the body will take advantage of it. 

Earlier I mentioned that your intestinal tract is lined with epithelial cells. These cells, called enterocytes, are replaced by your body every three to five days (Williams, Nutrition and Diet Therapy, 7th ed, page 29). This suggests that a fast of similar length would best enable the reconstruction. If I were going to work on Chicago's sewer system, I'd shut it down first. And, I'd certainly keep it shut down until the repair was done. How could it otherwise be done properly? Fasting is simply a temporary and logical measure. 

While it is possible for some people to fast on water alone, I think this is unnecessary. Equally good results will be obtained (with greater comfort) by vegetable juice fasting. One might argue that juice fasts are ideal because they provide the healing vitamins A and C. The minimal carbohydrate content of vegetable juices promotes normal blood sugar levels, provides electrolyte minerals, and prevents ketosis. And, vegetable juice fasting feels remarkably GOOD and it WORKS remarkably well. (You may want to read my article entitled "How To Juice Fast" for some helpful pointers.) 

To give you an idea of the therapeutic potential of vegetable juices, consider the work of Garnett Cheney, M.D. He had 100 peptic ulcer patients drink a quart of raw cabbage juice daily. The patients reported dramatically less pain, and X-ray examination confirmed faster healing time. There was no other change in their diet, and they did not have drug therapy. 81% of the patients were symptom-free within one week; over twothirds were better in just four days. Average healing time for patients given standard hospital treatment was over a month. (Cheney, G: "Vitamin U Therapy of Peptic Ulcer," California Medicine, vol. 77, number 4, October, 1952)

Dr. Cheney used cabbage juice to also treat gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. He clearly was onto something, which he called "Vitamin U" (for ulcer) for lack of a better name. Today, the cabbage family (cruciform) vegetables including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, are finally being recommended to help prevent diseases including cancer. Dr. Cheney was getting therapeutic results in four days with cabbage juice OVER FORTY YEARS AGO! Do we really have to wait for orthodox medical approval of vegetables?

I know of people who have utilized cabbage juice along with vegetarian diet and fasting to heal all forms of gastrointestinal diseases without drugs and without surgery.  One person even cured her untreatable rectal bleeding with cabbage juice. The attending physician confirmed her excellent but unexplained progress, asking her what she was doing. She told the doctor of her diet and about cabbage juice. His response was, "No, that couldn't be it." 

Supplemental vitamin C is very valuable to help heal lesions and inflammation all along the GI tract. Thousands of milligrams in divided doses are necessary for best results. Enough "C" should be taken to improve the condition, but not so much as might cause excessively loose bowels. A non-acidic or buffered vitamin C is ideal, because it will not irritate the digestive tract. Calcium ascorbate or an esterfied vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) both work well. 

Some organized form of stress reduction is essential for digestive system health and healing. Whether it is prayer, meditation, yoga, music or another approach, what matters most is if you will actually learn how to relax efficiently and take the time to do it every day! 

That goes for juicing, too. What is the best juicer to buy? The one you will USE! If you don't want to begin juice fasting just yet, you can certainly begin by adding some cabbage juice to your diet. Just a glass with each meal plus one more equals a quart a day. Can you sweeten it? To quote Curly the Stooge: "Why, soitenly!"  Remember Mary Poppins' advice about that spoonful of sugar, and do what it takes to be healthy. 



- Saul, A

REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL READING: 

Sidorov, M. 7 Steps to Health

Cheney G. Prevention of histamine-induced peptic ulcers by diet. Stanford Med Bull. 6:334, 1948

Cheney G. Rapid healing of peptic ulcers in patients receiving fresh cabbage juice. Calif Med. 70:10, 1949 

Cheney G. The nature of the antipepticulcer dietary factor. Stanford Med Bull. 1950 Aug;8(3):144-61.

Cheney G. Antipeptic ulcer dietary factor. American Dietetics Assoc. 26:9 September, 1950.

Cheney G. Vitamin U therapy of peptic ulcer. Calif Med. 1952 Oct;77(4):248-52.

Cheney G. Vitamin U concentrate therapy of peptic ulcer. Am J Gastroenterol. 1954 Mar;21(3):230-50.

Cheney G. The medical management of gastric ulcers with vitamin U therapy. Stanford Med Bull. 1955 May;13(2):204-14.

Cheney G, Waxler SH, Miller IJ. Vitamin U therapy of peptic ulcer; experience at San Quentin Prison. Calif Med. 1956 Jan;84(1):39-42.

Pauling, Linus: How To Live Longer and Feel Better, Freeman, 1986, revised 1996, pages 112-113 

Stone, Irwin: The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease, Grosset and Dunlap, 1972, Chapter 21.

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