Category Archives: Alternative Therapies

Alternative Therapies for Colon Polyps

Colon polyps are small benign tumors that grow on the inside walls of the large intestine, usually in or near the rectum. They range in size from a tiny grape to a small plum. Some, known as familial polyposis, are inherited, but the cause of most colon polyps is unknown. They become more common after age 40; most adults eventually develop them. The majority of colon polyps remain small and cause no symptoms. Some times, however, they grow large enough to interfere with normal bowel function, causing a change in the size and shape of the stools, possible constipation or diarrhea, bleeding (which mayor not be visible in the stool), and abdominal pain. A more serious concern is that some colon polyps contain cells that are or may become cancerous. This almost always happens in familial polyposis and is common if there are many or recurrent polyps. Thus, early detection and removal of colon polyps can help prevent colon cancer.

Other Causes of Rectal Bleeding

Many conditions produce rectal bleeding, including infection, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis, and certain intestinal parasites.

Diagnostic Studies And Procedures

Even in the absence of symptoms, any one over age 40 should be screened annually with a digital rectal examination to check for growths in the lower rectum. Everyone over age SO should have sigmoidoscopy every three to five years. For this procedure, a hollow viewing tube is inserted into the rectum and lower sigmoid part of the bowel. If abnormalities are detected, or there is a history of familial polyposis, a more extensive diagnostic procedure called colonoscopy is done. The instrument used is similar to the sigmoido scope but has a much longer flexible tube that enables the physician to examine the entire colon. If any polyps or other suspicious areas are observed, a small tool can be inserted through the scope to take a biopsy sample. Diagnostic studies may also include a barium enema, in which a chalky substance is inserted into the colon to make it more visible on X-rays. A CT scan or MRI may be ordered if a suspicious growth is found.


Medical Treatments

Small, benign polyps that are causing no problems do not necessarily require surgery, although most doctors will recommend their removal because they may harbor cancer cells. Small polyps can be taken out usually with the sigmoidoscope or colonoscope, a procedure called polypectomy. Larger polyps may be removed by laparotomy, which involves making a small incision in the abdomen and inserting a special surgical scope through which a section of the colon can be removed. When confronted with a case of familial polyposis, many doctors recommend a colectomy, or removal of the entire colon, because these polyps almost always develop into a particularly lethal form of colon cancer. This surgery is major and often requires the creation of a stoma, an opening in the abdomen to provide a new exit for fecal waste. However, a portion of the small intestine is sometimes used to take over normal bowel function .

Alternative Therapies

There is no substitute for polyp removal, but alternative therapies may help to reduce their recurrences.

Nutrition Therapy

Many physicians and naturopaths believe that the development of colon polyps that may lead to colon cancer can be limited by a high-fiber, low fat, and low protein diet, which promotes healthy bowel function. Such a diet emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains instead of meat, and promotes rapid movement of food through the digestive system, thus reducing the growth of bacteria and chemical compounds that may enhance polyp or cancer growth. Of particular value may be oat and rice bran, as well as foods high in vitamins A and C. Some nutritionists also recommend supplements, particularly of beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), calcium, and vitamins C and E.

Self Treatment

Colon polyps cannot be self-treated, but you should pay attention to any changes in your bowel functions that might indicate a problem. In addition, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that everyone over 40 have an annual stool test for hidden blood. This can be done at home, using a kit available at pharmacies or from some ACS chapters. A small sample of stool is smeared on a guaiacimpregnated card to detect enzymes found in hemoglobin, a major component of blood. Unfortunately, dietary factors, such as the recent consumption of red meat or iron supplements, often produce false test results, so be sure to follow instructions carefully. If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be performed.

Self Treatment

Self treatment remains the most effective way of giving up smoking. About 95 percent of smokers who quit do so on their own, usually abruptly, or cold turkey. Relapses are common, however, and most people make several attempts before quitting for good. To improve your own chances of success, make a systematic plan for stopping, beginning with an analysis of why you continue to smoke and a list of alternatives. For example, many women won’t give up smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight. Joining an exercise class can help prevent weight gain and provide other health benefits as well. Self treatment is not recommended during the detoxification stage of overcoming substance addictions. After this initial phase, however, self treatment is the key to success. The goal of counseling, for instance, is to help strengthen a person’s emotional resources so that he can overcome the urge to resume previous behavior. This does not mean, though, that one must go it alone; there are dozens of support and self help groups ready to help.

Self Treatment

This 12 Steps

  1. Admit we are powerless over that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly ask Him to remove our short comings.
  8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, admit it.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him.
  12. Having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, and trying to carry this message to others and practicing these principles in all our affairs.


Healing Images

Guided imagery, also referred to as waking dream therapy, uses mental pictures to fight disease and produce other desired effects. Until recently, imagery was practiced mostly by psychiatrists. A celebrated example was the 14 year old boy whose tic was permanently cured by Sigmund Freud through imagery the only complete cure described in all of Freud’s case studies, and the only one in which he used this method. Today, both alternative and conventional health professionals are teaching imagery to patients who have a variety of ailments, everything from stress related headaches to cancer. In simple terms, imagery attempts to enlist the brain to play an active part in healing. For example, the Simonton Imagery Process encourages cancer patients to imagine the positive effects of radiation on cancer cells, and to enjoy the feeling of control that comes from being in touch with the body. It is thought that this psycho logical involvement strengthens the patient’s immune system.

Healing Images

Dr. Gerald Epstein, a professor of psychiatry at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, has outlined dozens of imaging exercises in a book on healing visualizations. He describes one patient who credited her image of a broken bone knitting itself back together with healing her fractured wrist in three weeks instead of the anticipated three months. Epstein concedes that the rapid healing may have been a coincidence, but he believes he has witnessed similar results in too many other patients for coincidence to be the sole explanation. People who are perfectly well can also benefit from imagery. For example, many athletes, dancers, and musicians resort to imagery to improve their performance; actors sometimes draw upon it to overcome stage fright or help remember their lines.