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QUESTION: We've been doing wonderful (me: O, husband :A) on the Eat Right Diet. My chronic colitis is very nearly under control. What I would like to ask you is for some sort of a plan by which I can pre-empt any further outbreaks. In the past my gastroenterologist would use high doses of steroids. I would like something better. Any ideas, and thanks for your hard work and dedication!
ANSWER: One plant medicine you may benefit from is Atractylodes, an important and great energy (Chi) tonic which is famous for regulating the digestive functions and as a powerful energy booster. This tonic variety of Atractylodes is known as "White Atractylodes." It is widely used in China by athletes and martial artists, and in weight control programs. It has a mild diuretic action. Atractylodes may be used by anyone wishing to increase vitality. I've had some success (based upon a suggestion by my colleague Bronner Handwerger, ND) that Atractylodes in high doses may have a positive effect as a premptive therapy in the early stages of a colitis flare-up.
In traditional Chinese medicine Atractylodes has been shown to act on the stomach and spleen. It can be used to stimulate appetite, and stop vomiting and diarrhea. It is a diuretic and has been used for edema, fatigue, spontaneous sweating, fever and chills. It has been used in pregnancy for morning sickness and restless fetus. It "tonifies the Spleen and benefits the Qi: used for Spleen or Stomach Deficiency patterns with such symptoms as diarrhea, fatigue. lack of appetite, and vomiting. Strengthens the Spleen and dries Dampness: used for digestive dysfunctions from the Spleen Yang failing to rise, with loss of its transforming ability and subsequent accumulation of Dampness."(1) Studies show that Actractylodes root has anti-inflammatory compounds which probably work by inhibiting pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis. It appears that the polysaccharides in the root are responsible for the immune modulating activity.
Atractylodes can be a hard herb to locate. Many health food stores can order it, or you can check out any number of herbal suppliers on the Internet.
1. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Materia Medica, Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, Eastland Press, 1986