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Peter lived a life of utmost misery. He dreaded mornings because they would always start with gas, pain and cramps in the lower abdomen and urgency to eliminate.

The events would then continue with bouts of diarrhea, which — in a typical day — were as numerous as 15.

Twice a month, he would end up in the emergency room. His stool was never formed, and it contained visible blood and mucous. Ultimately, Peter was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and was assured that his diet did not have anything to do with his disease. Wrong.

A dietary approach to the treatment of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and even refractory constipation is not widely accepted, but is common among physicians who apply the knowledge from numerous research discoveries relating to the intestinal disease.

One such doctor is Ronald L. Hoffman, who is recognized as one of America’s foremost complementary medicine physicians. Hoffman successfully treats his patients suffering from an intestinal disease by placing them on a diet that eliminates certain sugars and starchy carbohydrates. Hoffman’s patients not only have been cured from various intestinal diseases, but other conditions, such as muscle aches, stiff joints, full-blown arthritis, chronic skin rashes, psoriasis, generalized fatigue and spaciness — have been unanticipatedly alleviated as well.

Other physicians, who derived their knowledge from their own clinical experience, also use a highly specific diet successfully.

Dr. Sidney V. Hass, (1870-1964), a pediatrician, documented his experience in treating and curing more than 600 cases of celiac disease and cystic fibrosis of pancreas with a strict grain-free, lactose-free and sucrose-free diet. He called this diet the Specific Carbohydrate Diet; when his patients would follow this diet for a minimum of one year, they were then able to return to a normal diet with complete and permanent disappearance of symptoms. In Hass’ own words, “There is complete recovery with no relapses, no deaths, no crisis, no pulmonary involvement and no stunting of growth.”

Hass treated not only celiac disease in children but also other intestinal diseases. In 1958, Elaine Gottschall took her 8-year-old daughter — diagnosed with incurable ulcerative colitis — to Hass. At that time, Gottschall’s daughter’s condition was deteriorating. Before her visit with Hass, she was treated unsuccessfully with cortisone, sulfonamides plus other medical approaches; surgery seemed imminent. Hass placed her on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and in two years, she was free of symptoms. She returned to eating normally after few more years and has remained in excellent intestinal health ever since.

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Much evidence supports the hypothesis that the course of several forms of intestinal problems can be favorably changed by manipulating the types of carbohydrate ingested. Lactose has been implicated as a culprit in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and other types of intestinal disorders referred to as “functional diarrhea.” The removal of lactose from the diets of patients with these problems has resulted in remarkable improvement. (British Medical Journal, 1961, American Journal of Digestive Disease, 1971)

Dr. J. Ranier Poley of Eastern Virginia Medical School has shown a link between diarrhea and the inability to digest starch and disaccharide sugars. (Disaccharide sugar contains two molecules; table sugar is an example.) Poley found that patients who suffer from celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea and cystic fibrosis of the pancreas have an abnormally thick layer of mucous production by the intestinal cells. This thick layer of surface mucous prevents proper digestion and absorption of these starches and disaccharides.

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In a medical textbook “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” by Heaton at al., the authors reported the results of 20 worldwide studies on the eating patterns of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease prior to the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. They showed high consumption of bread, potatoes and refined sugar.

There is a popular notion, even among complementary medicine practitioners, that food allergies are the source of many gastrointestinal complains. I was one of them. This belief is based on the fact that dietary manipulation — such as eliminating foods that contain gluten and dairy — may produce positive results. By contrast, a more sophisticated theory — that it is not individual foods themselves that are the culprit but the byproducts of these foods that cause intestinal disturbances — is gaining popularity. This hypothesis was first set forth by Dr. J.O. Hunter in a “Lancet” article in 1991. Hunter theorized that intestinal food intolerances are not allergies but a disorder of bacterial fermentation. Now this hypothesis has been proven true.

Studies have revealed that in a healthy gastrointestinal tract, microbes live in a state of balance. In unhealthy intestines, certain carbohydrates are not digested and, therefore, not absorbed. They remain in the intestine, serving as food for microbes, encouraging their overpopulation. In diseased intestinal conditions, bacterial and yeast overpopulation produces toxic byproducts and mucous which, in turn, injure intestinal cells, causing malabsorption. The purpose of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is to deprive the microbial world of the intestinal food it needs to overpopulate. At that juncture the patient starts the road to recovery.

Remember Peter? Not being aware at that time of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, he decided to try a gluten-free diet. Four months passed after the start of his new regimen, and — even though he did not adhere to it exclusively — Peter no longer had intestinal pain and diarrhea; his stools were formed and had no blood or mucous in it; and, he did not have to seek help in the emergency room. In addition, Peter — who during his ulcerative colitis times suffered from severe headaches which would last for an entire week — no longer experienced them. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is stricter than eliminating the gluten itself, and it assures a cure from most gastrointestinal diseases. Turn to the Health section of the Journal in four weeks for details.

This column is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose or treat diseases. If you have a serious health problem, consult a competent health practitioner. Halina Hladysz of Rapid City is a certified Master of Holistic Healing, a natural health consultant, a clinical herbalist, a holistic nutritionist and a certified Cleansing Specialist. Contact her at health@rushmore.com or go to www.halina-health.com.

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