Strictures or scar tissue that has built up to the point where the intestine is extremely narrowed, or a spasming length of intestine, or a volvulus (twist/kink in the intestine), or a diverticulitis flare-up. It is thought that mechanical blockage of a diverticulum, possibly by a piece of feces or food particles, leads to infection of the diverticulum. (Review article: management of diverticulitis Aliment Pharmacol Ther 26 Suppl 2, 67–76 2007 M. M. SZOJDA, et al)
What Can Help?
Long-term healing of diverticulitis and recurring strictures involves a 4-step process:
1. Healing inflammation and eliminating infection
2. Restoring a beneficial gut flora (good bacteria and reduction/elimination of bad bacteria, fungi, yeast, etc.) throughout the GI tract
3. Restoring intestinal tissue (tone, structure) and mucosal lining
4. Normalizing digestion, absorption (throughout the gastrointestinal tract) and defecation
Detailed instructions, explanations and dosages for each of these healing protocols are contained in my book, Listen To Your Gut. We also have an experimental protocol for dissolving scar tissue that you many want to try. For now, let’s look at a short-term strategy you can implement right away to bring relief and start you on your pathway to healing.
Note: In the case of strictures, if the scarring is severe, you also need to go a step further and implement strategies to directly soften the scar tissue; like craniosacral/visceral manipulation therapy, hot castor oil packs and DMSO.
To learn more about DMSO, take a look at my DMSO Protocol For Anal Stenosis or Rectal Strictures, watch my video with Dane Johnson regarding DMSO-based Protocols for Intestinal & Rectal Scar Tissue, and my blog post containing information about DMSO and safety cautions.
Resting & Flushing The Colon
For the best treatment and management of diverticular or obstructive GI disease, your diet should vary according to your symptoms. During good/calm times, it’s best to eat a diet that promotes easy digestion and absorption and tonifies the intestinal wall. But during a flare-up (diverticulitis or acute stricture), it’s best to consume a liquid, pre-digested diet to provide a form of bowel rest and flushing of the colon, to help prevent a blockage or obstruction from occurring. It is also easiest to heal infection or inflammation whilst on a liquid (but highly nutritious) diet.
When you are in a diverticulitis flare (the diverticula – pouches – are inflamed or infected) it’s ideal if you can immediately consume liquid nutrients only. By ingesting only liquids, you give your body the best chance to flush out the food particles that are stuck in the diverticulae and you also avoid causing an intestinal obstruction through the build-up of stuck food.
Additional substances, like wild oregano oil, aloe vera juice, probiotics and MucosaHeal can be used to eliminate the infection and heal inflammation during this time.
Eating During A Diverticulitis Or Stricture Flare-Up
There are three forms of liquid nutrition that work very well during diverticulitis or an acute (narrowed/inflamed) stricture:
1. Raw vegetable juicing – juice primarily vegetables, with only enough fruit added to make them palatable (or sweeten with stevia instead). Use a juice extractor (not a blender) so the fibre is removed.
2. Raw (unpasteurized) cow or goat milk – from pasture-fed animals only (not barn-raised and grain-fed). Read more about the raw milk diet and experiment, my raw milk healing protocol, and safety concerns surrounding raw milk.
3. Absorb Plus elemental shakes
4. Easily tolerated foods blended into shakes – more details here…
Each of these liquid nutrient sources are best when combined with homemade bone broths (Chicken, Beef, or vegetable broth). You can derive your nutrients from only one of these sources, or you can mix and match and combine them together.
If you consume raw vegetable juices, buy organic or ‘no spray’ produce and juice fresh every day (or freeze portions to consume later). Make sure you consume enough juice to provide you with adequate energy each day. Or, combine raw juicing with raw milk or Absorb Plus to add the protein and good fats needed for energy. Remember to use a juice extractor, so you consume only raw juice, not fibre.
You can find a raw milk supplier in your area by going to: www.RealMilk.com – just make sure the animals are pasture-fed only and the farmer tests regularly for pathogens.
Absorb Plus Elemental Nutrition for Diverticulitis & Stricture Flares
Absorb Plus is probably the easiest way to consume excellent nutrition during a flare. Since it was specifically formulated for people with all forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), it contains many substances targeted to calm inflammation and promote mucosal healing of the intestines, like:
- 1000 mg of L-Glutamine per serving – primary substance used to rebu48ild the intestinal mucosal cell lining and used for muscle repair and growth
- L-Serine – needed for proper metabolism of fats and fatty acids, aids in production of immunoglobulins and antibodies
- L-Threonine – helps maintain protein balance in the body, aids formation of collagen and elastin
- L-Cystine – aids in skin formation, helps heal burns and wounds, assists in the supply of insulin to the pancreas
- L-Aspartic Acid – increases stamina, protects the liver, aids cell function and RNA/DNA formation
- L-Proline – used in healing cartilage, strengthens joints, tendons and the heart muscle
- L-Tyrosine – aids function of pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands.
The ion-exchange whey protein in Absorb Plus also creates sustained increases in glutathione (a key antioxidant and antiviral) which creates resistance to a variety of diseases and carcinogens. Other components of whey protein isolate provide the following beneficial actions in the body:
- Alpha-lactalbumin consumption enhances tryptophan and immune function and reduces the stress hormone cortisol
- Tryptophan is used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. This is important because serotonin deficiency plays a role in the development of depression, anxiety, moodiness and insomnia
- Glycomacropeptides stimulate the hormone cholecystokinin, which is responsible for the release of pancreatic enzymes and the healthy contraction of the gallbladder and bowels
- Lactoferrin is an antioxidant that is also a powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent shown to inhibit the growth of E.coli, salmonella and candida in the gut. It also helps ensure the optimal use of iron in the body by binding to iron and preventing oxidation.
Whey protein is also an alkaline food, so it’s ideal for counteracting the usually hyper-acidic body pH levels of people with gastro-intestinal problems. If you have heartburn, don’t be surprised if it lessens or disappears after using Absorb Plus regularly – especially if you consume 3 or more servings per day.
Since Absorb Plus is 100% natural, most of the vitamins, minerals and trace minerals are natural-source extractions, the maltodextrin and fructose are certified non-GMO, the whey protein is lactose-free and cold-extracted – so the protein is not denatured, the amino acids are specifically targeted for gut inflammation and the flavors are certified organic – I think I can safely say that it is the highest quality elemental nutrition shake on the market.
If you’ve read the story of Absorb Plus, you’ll know that I originally formulated Absorb Plus to heal myself of intestinal hemorrhaging. When I was breastfeeding, I often used it whenever I was too tired to cook or I simply didn’t have time. Many of my readers use it for breakfast every morning, since it’s a great way to give themselves a healthy start to the day.
How Much Should I Take?
If you’re using Absorb Plus during a flare – or whenever you’re under stress, or likely to develop a flare – you should drink the number of shakes you require for your specific caloric needs each day.
Each Absorb Plus shake (blended with 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed flax or Udo’s oil) equals roughly 480 calories. Normal people usually require 15 calories per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 100 pounds, you need 1500 calories per day to maintain that weight. So you would consume three Absorb Plus shakes per day.
If you want to use this time to drop a few pounds, then you simply figure out how many calories you need to consume to maintain a weight that is 20 pounds less than your current weight – and consume the number of shakes needed to maintain that weight.
If you are malnourished or underweight, you can use this period of liquid nutrition to gain some muscle (healthy weight). In that case, you would take your ideal weight and multiply it by 20. So if you want to weigh 170 pounds, you need to consume 3400 calories per day; which is seven Absorb Plus shakes per day. If your infection is severe, or if you want to gain weight quickly, add another two shakes per day (so you would consume nine shakes per day).
How Long Should I Use Absorb Plus?
Ideally, it’s best to consume only liquid nutrition for entire duration of your flare-up. For some people, this means three days, for others, it means a few weeks. Since your diverticulitis or stricture flare-ups will depend on the severity of your disease, your environment (is it healing, or stressful?), other healing strategies or substances you are using, and your foundational level of health – your healing may be a lot faster, or a lot slower than someone else’s.
So, it’s best to listen to your own body and stay on Absorb Plus shakes for as long as your infection is acute and you are at risk of a blockage. It’s also best to alternate your Absorb Plus shakes with bone broths since the gelatin in the broth is very healing for the gut and the savoury soup provides needed taste variety.
How To Introduce Regular Foods Again
When you’re ready to introduce solid foods again, start with pureed foods and soups to gradually ease yourself back into solid foods. You may want to stay on a mix of Absorb Plus shakes and soft foods for an additional week or two, just to be sure you are well over the flare and give your body the best time/space for healing.
Then transition to low residue foods – see my complete diet of Low Residue Foods for all the details on what you should eat, and not eat.
Original post March 2011. Most recently updated August 2019.