Monday, April 30, 2007

Fast way to heal

Can a liquid diet cure bowel disease? It helped one woman

Heather Auty-Johns, 48, had always enjoyed good health. But all that changed when she went on holiday to Florida in May 2004. Instead of a pleasant break Auty-Johns spent the two weeks feeling “really uncomfortable in my stomach and extremely tired”.
Back home in London, she went to her GP because on the first day of her holiday she had also started to pass blood from her bowel. Her GP treated her as an emergency, and Auty-Johns had a sigmoidoscopy, an examination of the lower part of the colon, followed by several colonoscopies, enabling doctors to look at the whole of her large intestine.
“These procedures were horrendous as my colon was so inflamed and sore. The bleeding was worse and I started to pass a lot of mucus. Some days I felt too scared to eat anything, as the pain afterwards was so intense. I felt drained and was going to bed as soon as I got home,” says Auty-Johns. Four colonoscopies later and over a year after the symptoms began, tests showed that her bowel was covered with ulcers. The diagnosis was ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine or colon. It is a type of auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. It seems only to affect those who are genetically susceptible, and the susceptibility is passed down in families. What triggers the condition is unconfirmed; it may be particular types of bacteria getting into the digestive tract.

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In January 2006 Auty-Johns, a human resources manager, was put in touch with Gina Shaw, a natural hygiene practitioner. Shaw explained that the recommended fasts could be juice-only or water-only, and that such fasting removed the body’s need to use energy for digestion. “This, along with complete rest, gives the body the opportunity to focus on detoxifying and repairing itself,” she says. “This works especially well on bowel diseases such as colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.”

Source - Times

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gut feeling for a good remedy

Targeting stress was key to curing a painful bowel complaint, says Emma Mahony

It wasn’t until Melanie Smith sought help from a homoeopath a year ago to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that she was able to look back on seven years of suffering and see it for what it was: stress-related. “Just discovering that I was pregnant, with the stress of a major life change, triggered a flare-up,” says Smith, 35, mother of two boys, 3 and 18 months.

Like many of the million sufferers in the UK, Smith was in the dark as to why she was afflicted until that realisation. But while the cause of IBS, the most common of all diseases diagnosed by gastroenterologists, is often hard to pinpoint, the symptoms follow a traditional pattern: swelling, soreness and bloating in the stomach, either constipation or diarrhoea, and occasional blood and mucus. The unpleasant condition had dogged Smith since the age of 27, but she had learnt to live with it while holding down a demanding job as a modern-languages teacher at a secondary school in Surrey.

Conventional medicine did not help. She visited her GP twice at the onset, and was referred to a specialist gastroenterologist, a surgical consultant and a medical consultant, as well as having a colonoscopy to check for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. “The colonoscopy showed inflammation,” Smith recalls, “but it was inconclusive and I found it an ordeal.” While IBS affects between 10 and 20 per cent of the UK’s population at any given time, treating it is not always effective. People with IBS have what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut, the brain and the autonomic nervous system that regulates the bowels, and anything from diet, levels of serotonin (the mood-controlling hormone) to emotional factors are cited as the cause.

Before she became pregnant four years ago, Smith had tried dietary changes to improve her symptoms, preparing fruit and vegetable juices. But as a vegetarian who ate some fish, she considered her diet to be good. At the same time, she was given medication prescribed by the hospital. “I had blind faith in my treatment,” she says, “and I didn’t see it as a long-term problem.”

That all changed after the pregnancy and birth of her first child. “I had been told by a GP that during pregnancy the condition can get better, but mine was bad throughout. Then, postnatally, I had a huge flare-up, and was prescribed a high dosage of steroids, which gave me steroid psychosis in which I ballooned up and I went a bit loopy.” Coming off the steroids, Smith began to question her treatment, particularly because she was seeing a lot of different specialists.

When she fell pregnant and gave birth for the second time a year later, the condition flared up again, and again she was prescribed steroids. “I thought that they must know what they were doing,” says Smith. But she had chronic diarrhoea, requiring about 20 visits to the bathroom day and night, and she started losing weight. “I was breast-feeding, but all I could do was lie on the sofa with my two-year-old reading, cuddling the baby, while my mother cooked and cleaned.”

Feeling deeply depressed, Smith agreed to a friend’s suggestion of homoeopathy. And so, seven months after the birth of her second child, she went to see Kate Mead, a London-based homoeopath, last February. Nothing could have prepared her for the transformation. “She looked washed out,” recalls Mead, who had worked in the NHS for ten years as an auxiliary nurse before qualifying as a homoeopath from the Contemporary College of Homoeopathy in Exeter.

Source - Times

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Aloe vera may treat battle wounds

The aloe vera plant could give trauma victims such as soldiers the fluid needed to stay alive until they can get a blood transfusion, a study suggests.
Rapid blood loss on the battlefield is hard to replace quickly and can lead to organ failure in wounded soldiers.

University of Pittsburgh scientists found juice from aloe vera leaves preserved organ function in rats that had lost massive volumes of blood.

They report their findings in the journal Shock.

Aloe vera has been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to sooth inflammation of the skin from things like burns.

Scientists have also been looking at its ability to treat internal inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Source BBC News

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Monday, September 30, 2002

Plant's healing powers tested

Millions of people could benefit from pioneering research at three south west Wales hospitals which are investigating the medicinal properties of a desert plant.

Neath, Morriston and Singleton hospitals are the first to trial aloe vera as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects around 20% of the UK population.

Source BBC News

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