To control colitis disease is tough work but you will get it under control, it’s an overhaul of the entire system. Lets take a look, first and foremost in dealing with the problem of living with a crazy colon is to realize that not only is the colon affected but all the rest of the food digestion canal, especially that below, namely, the rectum and anus. Equally important is the fact that the same things which have disturbed the colon in their passage through the food digestion canal have also been disturbing the upper portions of the food digestion canal, namely the small intestine, the stomach and the associated digestive glands, such as the liver and pancreas.
I mention this at the outset so that no one, least of all the patient, will take the narrow view that his ailment is limited to the apparent borders of its disturbance.
“What did I eat that gave me this ulcer?” said a patient of mine. “It is not so much what you eat,” I replied, “as to what is eating you,” knowing that he lived a harried existence.
Certainly it doesn’t matter how good the food is that a person eats if his mind is so disturbed that it interferes with the action of his digestive glands and intestinal muscles. What I have said with regard to ulcer is equally true with regard to the “nervous stomach problems,” which all too frequently is colitis disease.
With this in view we can logically divide our attempt to control the situation into two parts:
We can take care to put nothing into the food digestion canal which would irritate the colon or any other part of the food digestion canal. This latter statement is emphasized to remind you of the fact that the food digestion canal is a continuous tube, a disturbance in any part of which affects other parts of this same canal.
While a patient can do much for himself in both the matter of diet and medication, I strongly caution any person afflicted with colitis against experimenting in the practice of medicine, with himself as a guinea pig. Colitis is, in many instances, a very serious ailment; and even a mild case can be made serious by imprudent use of drugs.
I am sure every one would object if his doctor experimented upon him with new and untried drugs. If you agree to this, you will readily see how illogical it is for a layman, unaware of the dangers of drugs and unskilled in their use, to try on himself every new remedy about which he hears.
A free press permits the publication of all sorts of news items and so-called educational articles on health. Although I have no dispute with the freedom of the press, yet I challenge the advisability of uncritically accepting everything printed. There is an old adage, “Paper never refuses ink.” It is well to bear this in mind when reading stories in the popular newspapers, magazines or online of new drugs with astounding properties.
Above all, it is well to keep this principle in mind when contemplating the purchase of some of the advertised drugs and health foods. Consider that these advertisements are placed to bring profit to the seller of the advertised product. The advertising company’s interest in your welfare is negligible.
What has been said with regard to medicines holds also for diet. There is hardly an issue of the daily newspaper that does not contain some “guidance” as to diet. The reason why the word “guidance” is challenged here is that in many instances the author, usually the writer of a daily column, cannot justly claim experience and knowledge as an expert in nutrition. Furthermore, it is one thing to set up a perfect diet on paper, but quite another to contrive a diet which will meet your particular needs. It is true there are some general principles, which I will outline below; but bear in mind that the doctor taking care of you is the one who should supply the guidance and not newspaper columnists, magazine writers or online spinners of old wives’ tales.
Coming now to the second phase of the problem, namely the control of what is eating you. In practically no other disease is the attitude of the patient so important in the eventual control of the ailment. It has been said that willingness to be cured is halfway to health and in this ailment it is strikingly true. If a person really wants to get well, he will be willing to follow the prescribed colitis diet even though it is monotonous. He will be willing to take his medicines regularly even if it is inconvenient. And he will be willing to forego the dubious pleasure of a “pack a day” for the more certain comfort of health.
But attitude in these respects, important as it is, must go still further. A person who has allowed events in the external world to have such a destructive effect upon him must realize that nothing in an emotional sense can affect him unless he permits it to. What I am trying to convey is that we are largely able to control the effect of outside circumstances upon our feelings.
Naturally this is not absolutely so. If a gun is shot off in back of you, you quite surely jump. You would hardly be normal if you didn’t.
On the other hand, if a door slams and you jump, you certainly cannot claim to be normal. Or if a glass of milk is spilt and you fly into a rage and upset yourself, you are exaggerating the importance of the incident and doing your nervous system no good at all. Many times this exaggerated response to disturbance becomes a habit, a very bad habit, which will make it impossible to control colitis by anything but strong sedative drugs.
“But doctor,” said one of my patients, “a person can’t help his constitution, can he?” My answer was: “Yes you can, you can amend it.” This I assure you is what you have to learn to do if you are going to control colitis.
There are many excellent books written on poise, calmness, self-control and I assure you that it would be worth your while to spend some time reading these.
Strangely enough, the same person who complains most loudly about colitis disease is likely to be the one who will say: “I have no time to read these books!!” Yet he will probably spend hours reading the sports page or a magazine or some current gem of fiction. In these, he will find nothing but further sources of excitement, turmoil and distress. His time would be better spent with a book such as As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.
I know that it has been traditional with medical men to pooh-pooh the idea of controlling disease by thought. But honesty compels one to admit that here, at least, is one ailment in which the sensible control of thought can be of more value than all the medicines known.
Lest our Christian Scientist friends take this as an unqualified endorsement of their methods, I will add that mental healing is a part of the practice of medicine. As such it should be restricted to qualified practitioners of medicine, legally licensed.
This is for the protection of the public at large against unscrupulous healers who, however well intentioned, are capable of innocently causing damage. Take the case of a person who thinks he has colitis but who actually has an early cancer of the colon. Suppose he feels the whole thing is a matter which has been exaggerated in his mind and therefore “a matter of mind.” If he proceeds along this line and indulges in mental healing until the growth of the cancer gives rise to unmistakable symptoms, he has deprived himself of his one and only hope of cure of that deadly disease, namely early diagnosis.
I mention this so that no one will be so unwise as to postpone consultation with a duly qualified medical man in a case of colitis. Such a man alone can decide whether it is a matter of mind or whether there is something more material to deal with.
Colitis can be controlled, definitely so, though not by any wave of the hand or any magic drug. We have here an organ which has become deranged and, in the process, has disturbed the normal function of a large part of the internal nervous system. Naturally the correction of the condition is a slow process. Unfortunately very often a tedious process. The offending feature which caused the colitis must be removed. This is frequently accomplished by a correct diet.
Then the damage must be repaired. Here is where your friend, the doctor, can suggest remedies which will protect the damaged area and allow the body to repair itself.
The decisive feature, however, is the last, that of establishing a normal state of function in the internal nervous system. This can only be done by long-continued self-discipline. The diet must be observed; the medicines must be taken regularly; and one’s entire attitude must be made to conform to that ideal of internal serenity which allows the function of the body to perform its many duties without our conscious knowledge.
Foremost in this process is the establishment of a normal rhythm in the bowel. A definite time for bowel function must be selected. It should be selected at a time when nothing else interferes, that is when nothing else demands one’s attention.
Having selected a certain time, the patient should present himself for the occasion regardless of whether he has the “urge” at that time or not; and regardless of how many other movements he has had during the day. If there is no movement, the patient should use a small rubber bulb syringe filled with tepid water. If this is injected into the rectum, it will immediately bring on a desire.
If the practice is maintained day after day, you will be agreeably surprised to see in how short a time the bowel will accommodate itself to the new habit time. It will be entirely possible to have one effectual movement each day instead of the many fractional and ineffective movements.
Naturally you will have to get some help in this matter from your doctor. He can suggest the manner in which this very desirable condition can be brought about.
The next thing is to be regular in the remainder of your habits insofar as this is possible. Regularity of habit makes it unnecessary to give much thought to these matters. Relieved of the necessity of these thoughts and decisions, the mind is relieved of some of the pressure tension of our daily activities. Thus, one source of disturbance to the internal nervous regulation of the bowel is removed.
Under no circumstances take laxatives and cathartics. These substances interfere with the proper digestion of the food and the normal rhythm of the intestinal muscles. As mentioned above, this matter of bowel function can be handled in a far more satisfactory and decidedly less harmful manner. If you were to see the many, many cases of “mucous colitis” which result from the abuse of the colon by the continued use of purgatives and laxatives, I am sure you would agree that they have no part in the matter of treatment.
Here is still another matter of mind which, I feel, can be eliminated by correct understanding. I have seen more than one person work himself into a state of nervous anxiety by reading the advertising copy of some cathartic or laxative manufacturer. Indeed through this source of misinformation, I have seen people who literally thought that if they didn’t have a bowel movement every day, they would burst or suffer some other equally grave misfortune. Since, frequently, the remedies they took to overcome the constipation actually aggravated the trouble, their state of mind became extremely disturbed.
Colitis disease victims are naturally more interested in the workings of their internal organs than other people. I have heard them criticized as being hypochondriacs, but who wouldn’t be concerned by constant rumblings or gurgling in the inner recesses of one’s anatomy, all accompanied by a feeling of distress. My own opinion is that such self interest is entirely natural. Certainly it is as natural as the active interest an automobile driver shows when a rattle develops some place in the frame of the car he is driving.
Certainly it is prudent to pay attention to these warning signals. I can blame no colitis victim for being self-centered. However, while I am deeply sympathetic with people with colitis and their problems, I also feel that anything they would do to improve their frame of mind would be a step toward the control of their ailment. Thus instead of fretting and fuming, let them assume a more stoical attitude of “well you have to stand a certain amount of this,” and proceed to forget it.
If you are taking the prescribed medicines regularly, faithfully following the proper diet, and keeping your mind happy, it will only be a matter of time until the bowel will come back to normal and the disturbing symptoms will disappear. Written By: J. F. Montague, M.D., Continue Reading: Treat The Care . . . (of Colitis)