Diverticulitis: A Functional Medicine Approach with Dr. George Papanicolaou
Over 200,000 people per year are treated for diverticulitis, a painful condition in which small pouches in the colon, called diverticula, become infected. Symptoms of diverticulitis include nausea, fever, chills, loss of appetite, and constipation. While conventional medicine treatments for diverticulitis usually consist of antibiotics and surgery, Functional Medicine looks at a wide variety of things like microbiome diversity, dietary fiber consumption, gut health, inflammation, and more, to both prevent and treat this condition.
In this episode, Dr. Hyman discusses diverticulitis with Dr. George Papanicolaou. They talk about how lifestyle habits, such as a low fiber diet and elevated stress, can contribute to diverticulitis. They also share certain foods and supplements that are supportive and healing to the body.
George Papanicolaou is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is Board Certified in Family Medicine from Abington Memorial Hospital. He is also an Institute for Functional Medicine Practitioner. Upon graduation from his residency, he joined the Indian Health Service. He worked on the Navajo reservation for 4 years at the Chinle Comprehensive Medical Facility where he served as the Outpatient Department Coordinator. In 2000, he founded Cornerstone Family Practice in Rowley, MA. He practiced with a philosophy centered on personal relationships and treating the whole person, not just not the disease. He called that philosophy “Whole Life Wellness.” Over time as the healthcare system made it harder for patients to receive this kind of personal care Dr. Papanicolaou decided a change was needed. He began training in Functional Medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. In 2015, he established Cornerstone Personal Health—a practice dedicated entirely to Functional Medicine. Dr. Papanicolaou joined The UltraWellness Center in 2017.
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In this conversation, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Papanicolaou discuss:
- How overall fiber consumption has reduced over time
- What diverticula are and how they can progress to diverticulitis
- The symptoms of diverticulitis
- Risk factors for developing diverticulitis
- The difference between conventional medicine and Functional Medicine treatments for diverticulitis
- Using bone broth and clove tea to heal a flare up
- Why it’s a myth that you shouldn’t eat nuts and seeds if you have diverticulitis
- Suggestions for how to add fiber to your diet
- Supplements to support the body
- Case study of a 50-year-old woman with diverticulitis
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