Home Remedies and Natural Treatment for Diverticulitis Symptoms

Diverticulitis and diverticulosis are together called diverticular disease. Diverticulosis is when small pouches form in the lining of the colon. These outpouchings (diverticula) usually don’t cause any problems. But they can become inflamed (diverticulitis) and then lead to pain and other symptoms.

In some cases, a diverticulitis flare-up might be treated at home. But more serious ones will need to be treated in the hospital.

This article will address the ways in which a flare-up of diverticulitis might be treated at home with support from a healthcare professional. 

A clear liquid diet, including broth, may be recommended during a diverticulitis flare-up

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Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Diverticular disease usually doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms. However, if the diverticula become irritated, they could cause pain or other symptoms—called diverticulitis. Symptoms can be similar to those caused by other stomach problems, so it’s important to get symptoms checked by a healthcare provider.

The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis can include:

  • Abdominal pain (usually in the lower left, which might be constant or come and go)
  • Bloating
  • Constipation (hard, infrequent bowel movements)
  • Diarrhea (loose, watery bowel movements)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Mucus in the stool 
  • Urinary frequency

When to Get Immediate Help

The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis could be mild or serious. Reasons to seek medical attention right away include bleeding from the rectum, severe abdominal pain, the inability to keep any food down, or not being able to care for yourself at home.

Conventional Treatment

Diverticulitis is either mild enough to be treated at home with or without medications or serious enough to need treatment in a hospital. Milder symptoms might go away with some home treatments, but more serious symptoms or complications may need medication or hospitalization.

One of the first steps usually taken to treat diverticulitis is a change in diet. Switching to a clear liquid diet (juices without pulp, gelatin, broths, tea, coffee, and clear sodas) for a few days may, in some cases, be all that’s needed to start to feel better.

With symptoms that are more bothersome or concerning, antibiotics might be prescribed to be used at home, along with recommended dietary changes. Antibiotics are usually given for between seven and 10 days. After this time, the healthcare provider will decide if there’s a need to continue the antibiotics or do anything else.

For diverticulitis that’s severe or has complications, or for those who can’t care for themselves at home, treatment might be needed in the hospital. Antibiotics will be used, along with fluids given by IV (intravenous, a line into a vein), as well as other medications for pain or for complications.

Rarely, surgery is needed for diverticulitis. In one procedure, a section of the colon is removed, which is called a resection. The two healthy ends of the colon are connected together after the diseased portion is removed. 

The other surgery that may be used is colostomy surgery. A small section of the colon is brought through the wall of the abdomen. Stool leaves the body through this opening, called a stoma. An appliance is worn over the stoma to collect the stool.

Home Remedies

When diverticular disease is diagnosed, a healthcare provider may give some recommendations on how to prevent flare-ups of diverticulitis. There is not a lot of evidence on the best ways to prevent diverticular disease or diverticulitis. However, making some changes to diet and lifestyle may be part of managing the condition.

Follow a High-Fiber Diet

In years past, a low-fiber diet was recommended for diverticular disease. It’s now known that not getting enough fiber through foods may be part of why diverticula develop in the first place.

It’s not known exactly how much fiber may help avoid symptoms. However, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) recommends that adults eat between 20 and 30 grams of fiber per day.

Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods

There is not a lot of research to recommend a certain diet. However, one study tracked 46,418 men and their diet over a period of 28 years.

There were 18 foods and food groups included in the study: processed meat, red meat, organ meat, fish, other vegetables, refined grains, high-energy beverages, low-energy beverages, tomatoes, beer, wine, tea, coffee, dark yellow vegetables, green leafy vegetables, snacks, fruit juice, and pizza.

What the authors found was that an anti-inflammatory diet that included higher amounts of green leafy vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, coffee, tea, and lower amounts of red meat, processed meat, refined grain, and sugary beverages may help reduce the risk of diverticulitis.

Get Enough Physical Activity

It’s usually recommended that people get enough physical activity for their age and their fitness level. For preventing diverticulitis, there have been mixed results on studies that looked into a link between exercise and diverticular disease.

There are no specific recommendations, but it’s generally thought that exercise may be helpful in preventing some cases of diverticular disease.

Reduce Alcohol Intake

Drinking too much alcohol may increase the risk of diverticulitis by 2 to 3 times. Avoiding alcohol is usually recommended during a flare-up while eating a liquid or a low-fiber diet.

Avoid Red Meat and High Fat Foods

Eating red meat and processed meat may increase your risk of diverticular disease. Avoiding these foods may be recommended during a flare-up of diverticulitis. In one study, people who ate less red meat had fewer cases of diverticulitis.

During a flare-up, when a low-fiber diet or a liquid diet is used, avoiding high-fat foods may also be recommended.

Try Probiotics

There’s still not a lot of evidence either for or against the use of probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) as a treatment for diverticular disease. One study did show that people who took probiotics didn’t have fewer diverticulitis flare-ups. They did, however, have less bloating, pain, and fevers. 

Probiotics

The gut is full of helpful bacteria. However, it’s not known which types of probiotic bacteria people should be taking, either through foods or supplements, to improve health. For that reason, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before trying probiotics to get some guidance.

Herbs and Supplements

Fiber supplements may be recommended for diverticular disease—not during a flare-up of diverticulitis, but while the condition is not causing any symptoms.

It’s important to ask a healthcare provider which type of fiber supplement might be best and how much to take. Increasing the amount over time usually is recommended.

Some other herbs and supplements have been suggested for diverticular disease, including garlic, green tea, turmeric, ginger, marshmallow root, flaxseed, or licorice. It’s thought that some supplements may have anti-inflammatory effects.

Unfortunately, no trials have been conducted on these supplements to be able to say whether they have any benefit. Talk to a healthcare provider before trying any supplements.

Vitamin D has also been studied in terms of how it might be related to diverticular disease. There are not a lot of data available, but one study did show that people who had higher-than-average levels of vitamin D were less likely to need hospitalization for a diverticulitis flare-up.

Supplements and Herbs

Some supplements may be helpful in fighting inflammation or in managing symptoms. However, they won’t cure diverticulitis. It’s important to discuss the use of supplements and herbs with a healthcare professional, to ensure they won’t interfere with other treatments.

How to Treat Flare-Ups

The first step in managing a flare-up of diverticulitis is to see a healthcare provider for advice.

For uncomplicated diverticulitis, which means mild symptoms and no complications, treatment will likely start at home. A liquid diet may be recommended for a few days. A clear liquid diet includes juices without pulp, gelatin, broths, tea, coffee, and clear sodas. 

When symptoms start to get better, the diet can be expanded to include the soft foods found in a low-fiber diet. At this point, high fiber foods such as nuts, fibrous fruits and vegetables, popcorn, and seeds should be avoided. 

After doing well with a low-fiber diet, foods with fiber might be added slowly back into the diet as tolerated.

For more serious symptoms, antibiotics might also be needed in addition to changes to the diet. They could be prescribed and taken at home.

When the symptoms are more serious, hospitalization might be needed. Antibiotics, pain medications, and fluids are usually given through an IV. Other treatments might also be used, along with either complete gut rest (no food) or a clear liquid diet.

Complications of Diverticulitis

It’s important to treat a flare-up of diverticulitis. There’s a lot that can be done to treat a flare-up and prevent it from getting worse. 

Complications from diverticulitis can be serious and might include:

  • Abscess: A cavity in the body that fills with pus
  • Fistula: An abnormal connection between an organ and the skin or two organs
  • Intestinal obstruction: When the intestine is fully or partially blocked and stool can’t pass through it
  • Perforation with peritonitis: A hole in the intestine that can lead to stool spilling into the abdomen
  • Stricture: A section of the intestine that is abnormally narrowed

Summary

Diverticulitis symptoms can range from mild to serious. Less serious cases might be treated at home with conservative measures such as a change in diet. Cases that become complicated might need more intensive treatment with antibiotics, sometimes in the hospital.

A Word From Verywell

It might seem like there’s not a lot of direction in how to prevent or treat diverticulitis. It’s important to understand, however, that in the past several years, the way diverticulitis is treated has changed, especially when it comes to diet.

Increasing fiber and generally taking care of your health by eating and drinking inflammatory foods and alcohol in moderation may help. There’s not much evidence to know if supplements and herbs will help, but a healthcare provider can let you know if they are OK to try.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the risk factors for diverticulosis?

    The most prevalent risk factor for diverticular disease is age. The condition is more common in people over the age of 50 years. Other risk factors are less well understood but may include overweight/obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, and low fiber intake.

  • Can diverticulitis be cured?

    A flare-up of diverticulitis can be managed and will get better. However, the diverticular disease, which causes the diverticula, will still remain. Some people may have surgery for their diverticular disease and that may remove the diverticula. Still, recurrences are possible.

  • How can diverticulosis be prevented?

    It’s not yet understood how diverticulosis can be prevented. It’s thought that eating a diet with enough fiber, keeping physically active, eating red meat in moderation, and not smoking may all be helpful in avoiding diverticular disease.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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