Herbal Remedies and Superfoods for the Bowel

Take care of your bowel with the herbs and nutrients

| January/February 2000

One of the ironies of life is that in old age we often return to infancy. We may become helpless, dependent on our own children for care, and can't control our bowels or urinary functions. I've watched this happen in some families, and although it's embarrassing for both parents and children, why should it be? After all, the parents gave the same care to their children for many years, and it's only fair that this care be reciprocated.

I had a 75-year-old patient, whom I'll call Betty, who had problems controlling her bowels for about nine months. She had to wear a diaper and couldn't go very far away from a bathroom when she went out, severely limiting her ability to travel and explore new places, which she was fond of doing. She came into the clinic with a diagnosis of chronic colitis and was taking an eight-month course of a commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory, which her doctor said should relieve the symptoms.

After seven months or so, Betty started wondering why she should continue to take the medication if it wasn't working. Together, we looked up the drug and noted that one of the most common side effects was diarrhea. Besides, Betty told me that she had several kidney infections when she was young, and the drug was also mildly toxic to the kidneys. I was concerned because infections can weaken the kidneys and make them more susceptible to the toxic effects.

I checked Betty's pulse and tongue to assess the present condition of her internal organs and overall health status. She had a clean but very pale tongue, with little coating, and her pulse was thready and weak. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these symptoms indicate that she was suffering from deficiency of qi (vital energy), blood, and hormones. In other words, she was generally depleted and run-down. She told me that she had lost about thirty pounds and was quite a bit weaker than she had been seven months earlier. She felt like she was ``going downhill fast.''

Herbs can help soothe the intestinal tract and relieve inflammation

What I found sad was the care, or lack of it, that Betty was getting from her doctor. She couldn't get in to see him--he was booked for two months, and she didn't want to press the issue. Like many elderly folks, Betty accepted what her doctor said as gospel and didn't think to challenge his diagnosis or prescriptions. It took Betty many months to come to the conclusion that a better way might be accessible to her through natural medicine.

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