Intestinal Obstruction

Intestinal Obstruction is the partial or complete blockage of either the small intestine or the colon.  Common symptoms of the condition include abdominal distention, spasms or cramping of the mid-abdomen, vomiting, and the inability to pass feces or intestinal gas.  In some cases, a partial obstruction can stimulate the intestines to secrete fluid which, in turn, causes diarrhea.  When an obstruction is present, it can trap intestinal gas and fluid in the abdomen, causing it to swell.

There are many causes of intestinal obstructions.  Some include scar tissue from previous operations, hernia, or a knotted, twisted intestine known as a volvulus.  Cancer is sometimes the cause, as is adynamic ileus: the failure of the intestines to transport food matter.  Food allergies and intolerance can lead to obstruction-like symptoms.  Although a skilled herbalist can remove some obstructions, it is important to consult with a physician in order to assess the risk of waiting for alternative therapies to take effect, since obstruction can lead to life-threatening conditions, such as perforation of the intestines or even gangrene.  Medical tests like X-ray, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy are conducted to assess the location of the obstruction.  When these procedures are not able to remove the obstruction, a tube may be inserted through the nose to remove intestinal secretions and air from the small bowel.  This is called nasogastric suction.  Surgery may be required if these methods are not successful.

Because serious complications can result from intestinal obstruction, you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience severe abdominal pain or the following:

  • Crampy abdominal pain that comes and goes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Swelling of the abdomen (distention)

A Case Study

A 30-year-old, HIV-positive patient showed signs of an obstruction although all conventional tests were negative.  He had many symptoms that included weekly episodes of severe cramping, diarrhea and vomiting.  These episodes lasted several hours and left him seriously fatigued.  Traditional Chinese diagnosis revealed his pulse to be sinking, weak and rapid.  His tongue was pale and had a thick white coating.  I prescribed this patient an herbal tea meant to tonify the spleen (8 ounces per day).  He was also prescribed Bovine Colostrum Complex (IgG 25% Lactoferrin 7.1mg/gm IGF).

The colostrum was administered for its immune strengthening properties.  It also binds and removes toxins from the gastrointestinal system.  After two months, the patient reported that the herbal tea combined with the colostrum reduced the severity of his weekly attacks.  His pulse was stronger and his tongue coating was noticeably less thick.  Follow-up therapy consisted of combining the colostrum with the following herbal combination:

  • Ailanthus cortex
  • Baked Astragalus root
  • White Ginseng root
  • White Atractylodes rhizome
  • Red Atractylodes rhizome
  • Poria sclerotium
  • Nine other herbs

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