Digestion 101: Structural Issues
How our digestive tract is structured can lead to various symptoms as we age. Often childbirth, injury, surgery or posture can all change the angles and positioning of our gut and the organs that are attached to our digestive tract. Issues such as cysts, tumors, hiatal hernia and even prolapses can be at the root of constipation, bloating, pain and abdominal distention. Cysts and tumors of the digestive system can be a reaction to pressure over time or to the presence of debris that does not move along with normal elimination. This is often the case in diverticulosis. Small diverticuli have formed to encase some offending substance that the intestinal tract has not been able to get rid of on its own. If these become infected or inflamed, you have a case of diverticulitis. This is also often the case with the appendix, which is a larger version of a diverticular pocket. It has one opening into the cecum area of the colon and releases a chemical disinfectant when food is released through the ileocecal valve. If, however this pouch collects too much debris or bacteria, particularly when constipation is a chronic concern, it can become infected and appendicitis begins. So, this pouching effect of the intestinal tract is the body’s way of protecting healthy tissue from the offending substance.
In fact, as was mentioned in Digestion: A Primer, the digestive tract is essentially a similar composition to the skin, and often we develop cysts in our skin. This is the case in cystic acne where bacteria is encased in an inflamed cystic pouch. In these cases, I recommend Dermatrophin PMG from Standard Process which helps to restore normalized immunity along the lining of the gut and the skin. It helps to heal damage and prevent inflammation. At the same time it is essential to cleanse the intestinal tract to encourage the removal of these trapped offending substances. In the case of diverticulitis and diverticulosis, there is a genetic propensity that makes it easier and more prevalent for the digestive tract to form pouches or pockets. I highly recommend regular cleansing of the digestive tract including colonic hydrotherapy to keep this condition from progressing and to prevent the formation of additional diverticuli.
Another structural issue is more common than people realize and that is hiatal hernia. Unfortunately these individuals face very few options at the doctor’s office except surgery. In fact, the most common cause of hiatal hernias is too little stomach acid. This creates excessive gas and bloating chronically with digestion, pushing the stomach upwards towards the diaphragm. After months of this, the muscles of the diaphragm weaken allowing part of the stomach to escape through the opening normally reserved for the esophagus.
The first thing is exercises to strengthen the muscles of the abdominal area to hold the stomach in place. Also Visceral Manipulation and Myofascial Release can help to reposition the stomach gently into its natural space. Added to this should be the concept of a slant board daily to take the pressure off the diaphragm and allow gravity to work in reverse.
Next, increasing stomach acid concentration with natural options such as digestive bitter herbs (Gentian, Globe Artichoke) and hydrochloric acid stimulants such as apple cider vinegar, Zypan food concentrate and Lactic Acid Yeast wafers will begin the much-needed process of restoring normal stomach digestion.
Often the structure and positioning of the digestive tract has been altered through abdominal surgery, childbirth or injury. Regular non-invasive bodywork techniques such as Visceral Manipulation and Myofascial Release can do wonders to restore normal positioning and release strained and displaced tissues. I also like to add Standard Process Ligaplex I and II which are nutritional formulas to help strengthen connective tissue which is essential to hold the abdominal structures in place.