Digestion Health, Part 1: Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS
Believe it or not, your digestive system is essentially a long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your other end. It has one purpose — to extract nutrients and energy from the foods we eat. Your digestive organs — esophagus, stomach and intestines, etc., are simply modifications of that tube. This system is very efficient as long as it is functioning normally. Many children and adults, however, suffer from a malfunction of their digestive system. In fact the three most common conditions affecting intestinal function that I see in my practice are; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. Although not exactly the same, they all have a great deal in common and escalate in severity.
Crohn’s disease, the most serious, is a very chronic and long-term ulceration of the digestive tract. It usually extends though the wall of the intestine and involves all layers of your “digestive tube.” Ulcerative Colitis, on the other hand, mainly involves only the internal layers called the “mucosa” and the “submucosa.” IBS is even lesser on this scale. Patients affected by these conditions can suffer chronic diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramping, severe pain, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of weight, malabsorption, malnutrition, headaches, etc. It has been noted that Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis increase the risk of colon cancer by as much as 20 times. This can also be said for IBS to a certain degree. If left untreated, bowel function slowly deteriorates and can be life-threatening. Definitely conditions that should be avoided at all cost!
The most common medical treatment for these conditions is anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmotic medication, surgery, diet, counseling, etc. While sometimes necessary, this type of approach does not really deal with the cause of these problems, mostly the symptoms.
As a doctor of chiropractic, I see these conditions in a different light. One needs to remember that we are dealing with human beings, not simply their intestines. Our approach recognizes that difference.
Many people, for instance, are surprised to learn that the body is a self-healing and a self-regulating organism. In other words, it is designed to heal itself and regulate its own functions. You probably have not given this much thought, but you are on “auto-pilot.” For an example; the cells in your digestive tract deteriorate continuously, and are replaced by brand new cells doing the same function. This is normal and is controlled by your internal “auto-pilot” - your own nervous system.
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