As published in the March 2015 issue of Vitality Magazine
Digestion is the complex process of transforming the food we eat into energy needed for growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. This process also creates waste products which must be eliminated.
The digestive tract is a long winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. There are a series of muscles along its walls that coordinate the movement of food, while certain cells in the lining produce enzymes and hormones to aid in the breakdown of food. Along the way, the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas also get involved in the process.
The hundreds of chronic health problems that can result from a compromised digestive system range from simple ones like indigestion, to life threatening illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver. Other common ailments can include acid reflux, celiac disease, colitis, constipation, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, gallstones, gastritis, H-pylori, hemorrhoids, hepatitis, hiatal hernia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, and more.
While a nutritious diet is important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, our emotions, stress levels, and genetic blueprint also play a huge role in overall health. Homeopaths believe that unresolved emotions linger in digestive organs as an un-processed energetic block-age. When the body accumulates enough unprocess-ed ‘baggage,’ it reaches a breaking point – a point which is unique to each individual. As a result, the body’s digestive health begins to deteriorate.
Homeopathy is a gentle yet powerful healing modality that deals with the root cause of ill health. A homeopath looks at your life events, and your reactions to these events, to determine where your energy or life-force has stagnated. An individualized homeopathic remedy can unblock the stagnant energy and allow you to advance on your path to becoming whole.
Abdominal tenderness, swelling, and pain were some of the complaints presented by a thirty-five year old man diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. He also reported painful diarrhea, which was worse at night and in the early morning hours. Samuel reported feeling fatigued, a symptom which magnified around 4:00 pm in the afternoon.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease in which parts of the digestive system swell and develop deep sores, or ulcers. More commonly, the ulcers occur at the end of the small – and beginning of the large – intestines, but they can also occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease can be caused by an abnormal immune system response, but lifestyle and genetics may all play a role.
When first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Sam was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. But he had to discontinue the drugs shortly after commencement due to the side effects of nausea and headaches. While searching for natural solutions for his illness, a colleague encouraged Sam to give homeopathy a try.
As is customary in classical homeopathic treatment, a constitutional assessment is a prerequisite for effective homeopathic prescribing. As such, I gathered every detail of Sam’s symptoms: the triggers of the pain, the quality of the pain, the timing, and all accompanying symptoms. Since no two people will experience Crohn’s disease in the same way, it was important to understand Sam’s unique experience of this illness.
Aside from gathering the details of a given illness, a homeopath is also interested in how the patient sleeps, what foods they crave, and other aspects of their general nature. Therefore, Sam’s emotional health was discussed, together with his personality traits, temperament, and life challenges.
The combination of Sam’s physical symptoms and emotional characteristics pointed to the remedy Aloe socotrina. Please note that this remedy will not work in every case of Crohn’s disease. Homeopathic remedies are prescribed based on an individual’s unique combination of symptoms rather than on the disease label.
After taking the remedy for a period of 12 weeks, Sam’s abdominal pain and diarrhea diminished by 50%. He reported feeling calmer, happier, and much less fatigued. During the 12 months that followed, Sam reported only occasional flare-ups of the diarrhea and pain, at which time the remedy Aloe socotrina was repeated. This worked to eliminate discomfort and help the intestines continue to heal.
Similar to Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the colon. The difference here is that UC affects the large intestine only and the ulcers occur in the colon lining, whereas in Crohn’s disease the ulcers are deep and can penetrate all layers of the intestines.
One patient of mine, Cloe, had reached a point where her strategies no longer worked after five years of managing symptoms with restrictive diets, herbs, and supplements. In addition, her life had become more stressful after she was laid off from work and found herself falling behind on her bills. Bouts of bloody diarrhea alternated with periods of constipation, and severe bloating and cramping had become a way of life, despite restrictive diets and supplementation.
Furthermore, Cloe had become convinced that her boyfriend was unfaithful in recent months, and she developed extreme hatred and jealousy toward the ‘other woman’. On questioning her further, I discovered that Cloe could not substantiate her suspicions; all she continued to say was: “I just know it!”
These feelings of suspicion, together with the bowel symptoms and other characteristics, were indicative of the remedy Hyoscyamus. After five months on this remedy, Cloe reported feeling happier in her relationship, and she no longer had suspicions of infidelity. Her bowels were 80% better, and continue to improve.
Despite her best efforts to maintain a ‘clean’ diet, Cecilia had suffered with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for twenty years. She was a healthy omnivore, consuming no dairy or wheat. She didn’t drink alcohol or smoke anything, and she exercised regularly. Her only weakness was sweets. Her strong cravings made it impossible for her to stay off sugar completely.
Regarding symptoms, Cecilia’s bowels would move at least three times daily before she even left for work in the morning, and the bowel ‘attacks’ continued throughout the day. During the early years of her diagnosis, symptoms included diarrhea, alternating with constipation, and severe cramping pain. Over the years she had experienced bowel blockage from severe constipation. In more recent years, Cecilia has suffered with sudden attacks of diarrhea and cramping. In addition, she experienced bloating and discomfort after every meal, even on a healthy, restrictive diet that excluded sweets.
Upon reviewing her history, it became apparent that the commencement of the IBS coincided with Cecilia’s divorce twenty years earlier. After completing all of my investigation of her symptoms and life history, I prescribed the homeopathic remedy Kali carbonicum. In less than six months on the remedy, Cecilia was enjoying more energy and improved digestive health and bowel function.
Homeopathy works with the body’s own healing intelligence. It is based on the important fact that the human organism is always trying to maintain homeostasis; trying to heal and balance itself. For example, when we have the common cold and we cough up mucus, this is the body’s way of transporting the toxins out of the system in an effort to regain balanced health. In this case, a homeopath will prescribe a remedy to accelerate the expectoration of the mucus, thus working with the body’s own healing intelligence in order to restore balance.
Conventional (or allopathic) medicine treats the symptoms themselves, and thus assumes that, once the symptoms are gone (usually suppressed), the person is healthy. In contrast, homeopathy is based on the understanding that symptoms are important manifestations of the illness, and evidence of the body’s struggle to restore balance and health. Thus homeopaths look at the symptoms as critical guideposts to what is going on in the body, but are not the problem itself.
The classical homeopath is like a detective searching for clues that link physical symptoms and emotional upheavals in a person’s life history in order to find the correct remedy. This remedy can lead to the ‘unravelling’ of the stuck energy patterns and help the digestive organs, as well as the entire organism, to heal.
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