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Can Functional Medicine Treat Diverticulitis?

Can Functional Medicine Treat Diverticulitis?

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Tuesday, June 13th, 2023
Can Functional Medicine Treat Diverticulitis

Understanding Diverticulitis

Definition and Causes

What is Diverticulitis? Can Functional Medicine Treat Diverticulitis? Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when minor, bulging pouches called diverticula that form in the colon become infected or inflamed. These pouches, also known as diverticulosis, typically develop due to weak spots in the colon wall that give way under pressure from the passing of stool. Trapping of fecal matter in the pouches often causes diverticulitis, which leads to infection and inflammation.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

The symptoms of diverticulitis can vary from mild to severe, depending on the extent and severity of the inflammation. However, some common symptoms of diverticulitis include abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting. More severe cases of diverticulitis can lead to complications such as abscesses, perforation of the colon, and fistulas.

Treatment Options

Conventional treatments for diverticulitis typically involve antibiotics to clear the infection and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, it might require surgery to eliminate the problem in situations where the condition is severely affected part of the colon. However, using alternative treatment options in conjunction with or as an alternative to conventional treatments.

What is Functional Medicine?

Definition and Principles

Functional medicine takes a holistic stance on healthcare, emphasizing the discrimination and treatment of the root cause of medical issues addressing the underlying causes of chronic diseases rather than treating symptoms. The body functions as an interconnected network of systems based on the principles of personalized medicine and systems biology. Diverse methods and approaches are utilized by functional medicine practitioners, including specialized testing, nutrition and lifestyle interventions, and natural remedies, to help patients achieve optimal health.

How Functional Medicine Differs from Conventional Medicine?

Functional medicine differs from conventional medicine. Unlike conventional medicine, it seeks to address the root cause of disease. Functional medicine professionals adopt an individualized healthcare treatment method, recognizing each patient’s unique needs. Additionally, functional medicine emphasizes the importance of lifestyle factors, such as a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and stress management, in promoting health and preventing chronic diseases.

Role of Functional Medicine in Treating Chronic Diseases

Functional medicine effectively treats various chronic diseases, including autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders. By addressing the underlying causes of these diseases, functional medicine practitioners can help patients achieve long-term, sustainable improvements in their health and well-being.

Functional Medicine Approach to Treating Diverticulitis

  • A. Diet and Nutrition

Diet and nutrition play an essential factor in preventing and treating diverticulitis. A fiber-rich diet can help contain the development of diverticula and reduce the risk of inflammation. In cases of diverticulitis, a low-fiber diet may be recommended during the acute phase, followed by a gradual increase in fiber intake. In addition, functional medicine practitioners may recommend probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to improve gut health and reduce inflammation.

  • B. Lifestyle Changes

Factors related to one’s lifestyle, such as stress, insufficient physical activity, and poor sleep, can all contribute to the development of diverticulitis. Functional medicine practitioners may recommend stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Regular exercise can also help improve gut motility and reduce the risk of diverticula development. Finally, getting enough sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene can help improve overall health and reduce

  • C. Supplementation

Functional medicine practitioners may also recommend certain supplements to support the treatment of diverticulitis. Probiotics, for example, can help improve gut microbiome health and reduce inflammation in the colon. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones in fish oil, have many health benefits. Studies have shown that it can lessen inflammation and help people with diverticulitis have fewer flare-ups. In addition to these supplements, functional medicine practitioners may also recommend other supplements to help support overall health and lower inflammation throughout the body. These may include vitamin D, magnesium, and curcumin.

  • D. Stress Reduction

Stress can exacerbate symptoms of diverticulitis and may also contribute to the condition’s advancement. Functional medicine practitioners recognize the critical role of stress reduction in overall health. Therefore, they may recommend various techniques to manage stress. These techniques may include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or other mind-body therapies. In addition, stress reduction can help reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system, which may help prevent flare-ups of diverticulitis.

  • E. Gut Microbiome Optimization

The gut microbiome is an essential part of staying healthy. When the microbiome is upset, it can cause long-term health problems like diverticulitis. Functional medicine practitioners may therefore focus on optimizing the gut microbiome to treat diverticulitis. It may involve dietary changes, such as increasing the intake of prebiotic and probiotic foods, as well as supplementation with probiotics and other supplements to support gut health. Functional medicine practitioners may also recommend other strategies to optimize gut health, such as reducing stress and avoiding antibiotics.

Overall, while conventional medicine may focus on treating the symptoms of diverticulitis with medications and surgical interventions, functional medicine takes a more holistic approach to the condition. Functional medicine practitioners aim to support overall health and reduce the risk of flare-ups and complications from diverticulitis by addressing underlying factors such as diet, lifestyle, and stress.

Evidence for the Effectiveness of Functional Medicine in Treating Diverticulitis

The use of functional medicine to treat diverticulitis is still a new field of study, and more studies are needed to figure out how well it works. But there are signs that functional medicine is an excellent way to treat diverticulitis.

Clinical Studies

One study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) reduced symptoms in patients with diverticulitis. Therefore, functional medicine practitioners often recommend this diet to reduce inflammation and support gut health.

Another study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition found that combining probiotics and prebiotics reduced inflammation and improved gut barrier function in patients with diverticulitis. Therefore, functional medicine practitioners often recommend probiotics and prebiotics as part of their approach to treating diverticulitis.

While these studies support functional medicine’s effectiveness in treating diverticulitis, more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal approach for treating the condition.

Patient Case Studies

In addition to clinical studies, functional medicine practitioners often rely on patient case studies to evaluate the effectiveness of their approach to treating diverticulitis. These case studies may involve patients who have tried conventional treatments without success or who have experienced significant improvements in their symptoms after adopting a functional medicine approach.

For example, one case study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases reported on a patient with recurrent diverticulitis who was successfully treated with dietary changes, probiotics, and stress reduction techniques. Due to this treatment approach, the patient experienced a significant reduction in symptoms and could avoid surgery.

Testimonials and Anecdotal Evidence

While testimonials and anecdotal evidence are not considered as vital as clinical studies or patient case studies, they can still provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of functional medicine in treating diverticulitis. Many people with diverticulitis have reported significant improvements in their symptoms after adopting a functional medicine approach.

For example, some people have said that their stomach pain, bloating, and constipation improved after a low-FODMAP diet. Others have reported improvements after taking probiotics or making other dietary and lifestyle changes.

While testimonials and anecdotal evidence cannot be definitive proof of the effectiveness of functional medicine in treating diverticulitis, they do suggest that this approach is worth considering for people with the condition looking for alternative treatment options.

More study needs to determine how well functional medicine works to treat diverticulitis. However, evidence suggests this method may help reduce symptoms and improve overall health. Functional medicine practitioners try to improve overall health and lower the risk of complications from diverticulitis. They pay attention to food, lifestyle, and other factors that can cause or worsen diverticulitis.

Integrating Functional Medicine with Conventional Medicine for Diverticulitis

While functional medicine can offer a holistic and personalized approach to treating diverticulitis, it is essential to note that it should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine. Instead, the two approaches can complement each other in providing the best care for patients.

Coordinated Care and Communication

Coordination and communication among healthcare providers are vital when integrating functional and conventional medicine for diverticulitis. It can involve sharing medical records and treatment plans and regularly checking in with each other about a patient’s progress.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Functional medicine can also incorporate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to support conventional treatments. For example, acupuncture and massage therapy can help relieve pain and stress associated with diverticulitis. At the same time, herbal remedies and probiotics may help to lessen inflammation and improve gut health.

Long-Term Management and Monitoring

Functional medicine can also play an essential role in managing and monitoring diverticulitis. Functional medicine can help prevent future concerns and improve overall health and well-being. It addresses underlying factors such as diet, lifestyle, and stress. Regular check-ins with a functional medicine practitioner can also help ensure the patient is on track and addressing any new issues promptly.


In conclusion, diverticulitis is a condition that can significantly benefit from a functional medicine approach. Functional medicine can help relieve symptoms. It improves general health and well-being by getting to the root of the problem and tailoring treatment to the person. At the same time, more research is needed to fully evaluate functional medicine’s effectiveness for diverticulitis. However, this approach’s growing interest and success suggest that it holds promise for many patients. Furthermore, by integrating functional and conventional medicine, healthcare providers can provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to treating diverticulitis and other chronic conditions.

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove