Vol. 4 No. 2 March, 2000
MERIDIAN INSTITUTE NEWS
Improvement in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional disorder of the intestines. Doctors refer to IBS as a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. However, doctors believe that people with IBS experience abnormal patterns of colonic movement. People with IBS usually have crampy abdominal pain with painful constipation or diarrhea. In some people, constipation and diarrhea alternate. The cause of IBS is not known, and as yet there is no cure. Often IBS is just a mild annoyance, but for some people it can be disabling.
Because the diagnostic category of “irritable bowel syndrome” did not exist during Edgar Cayce’s lifetime, there are no readings that use that term. Generally the term “colitis” was used to cover the full range of intestinal complaints involving the large bowel (colon). Cayce spoke of several causes of the problem, including spinal lesions and the after-effects of intestinal flu. The major aspects of Cayce’s therapeutic regimen included dietary changes, use of a tonic containing wild ginseng, wild ginger and pepsin, castor oil packs and colonic irrigations to cleanse the colon, and spinal adjustments.
Four people recently participated in a research project on irritable bowel syndrome at Meridian Institute. They came for a 10-day treatment/training program, went home to do the therapies, and returned for an assessment after six months.
Their compliance with the protocol varied, and this was reflected in their degree of improvement. Two people did an excellent job of staying with the diet and using the herbal tonic. They reported much improvement in their bowel symptoms and in their attitudes and emotions. Another changed his diet to some degree, but did not consistently use the tonic. He was, however, able to get some colonic irrigations. He reported some improvement in his bowel symptoms. The final person did not comply very well with the protocol, but did make some changes from her previous diet. She did not feel there was much improvement in her bowel symptoms, but that her overall health was better.
All four participants felt that they had had significant changes in their attitudes toward their disease, and were making progress in healing. One person who had followed the protocol faithfully and made excellent progress said, “I feel 90% better all over, really. It’s helped my emotional and mental abilities. When I was really bad, I couldn’t concentrate. It was making me kind of frantic, too. But now I really feel good.” The other person who was much improved said, “My life has taken a complete turn around for the better. I feel the IBS is much more manageable and I have a better understanding of IBS. I feel that a positive mind and attitude go a long way in recovery.”
The person who made some changes in his diet and was able to get several colonic irrigations noted, “It has helped to almost eliminate the pain problem I was having on my right side. It’s not completely gone. It still does get irritated from time to time, depending on what I eat and how I eat and how I feel. But it is a lot better. So I think the diet is a major step forward. It’s very helpful.” He also made major changes in his attitude toward his disease, “To help myself is the key word, and I think it should be emphasized.” Previously he had been looking at this illness “from the bad point of view that I don’t think I can get rid of it, but now I think I can get rid of it. It’s a whole different picture.”
Even the person who had the least improvement in her irritable bowel syndrome (and had least followed the protocol) felt that she had had some positive changes in her general health, saying, “I think that I have felt better, just kind of general overall. I’ve been better with my meditation. My attitude has improved. I’ve worked at my ideals. I do that most every day. The best thing I did was coming here for the 10 days, regardless of what happened after that. That was just a very super healing experience for me. I’m not talking about bowels, I’m talking about just living in general.”
MS and Parkinson’s Disease Follow-up
Meridian Institute research director Doug Richards is in the process of analyzing follow-up reports from participants in our multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease projects. We have tracked the progress of people in the projects in various ways for over three years. Some individuals returned for a follow-up weekend four to six months after beginning the projects. Others have been sending regular reports of their experiences. We received many favorable reports during the first year of treatment. (see Meridian Institute News, Vol.1, No. 3 and Vol. 2, No. 1).
Although not all of the participants have yet responded, Dr. Richards has noted some trends in the data. Most of the participants have not continued with the treatment protocols citing such reasons as the time involved, the lack of support people to do massages, and the cost of the wet cell supplies. In general they found the mental/spiritual focus very beneficial, but were still bothered by their disease symptoms. One man with Parkinson’s disease who was continuing to follow the protocol was very enthusiastic about his progress, saying:
“I am more optimistic because there has not been the progression of the disease that I feared would happen. At this point I have much more energy than I did at the time the experimental project started, and the tremor is under control.. I have been fortunate in that my wife and son have been diligent about seeing that I get the treatment and massage. I also get a full body massage once a week, and this seems to be very helpful. I do not see how anyone can handle this treatment by themselves, particularly if the disease is very far advanced.. I am quite carefree most of the time, and I am very busy taking care of a large yard with lawns, several flower beds and a vegetable garden. I am active in the local Rotary Club, the Arts Council and the local senior citizens center. I work at the senior center several days each month, and I just completed a three year term as board chairman. In short, I have been able to function much as a normal healthy individual, and as I mentioned before I sometimes forget I have the disease.”
What lessons have we learned from these projects? The results are encouraging evidence that the Cayce treatments can help people with neurological disorders. However, many months of treatment may be required before results are seen, and most patients find the treatment protocol hard to continue in the long term. Support is a necessity; nightly use of the wet cell followed by a massage is the core of the therapy. Those who were able to continue reported significant improvement. Our challenge now is to devise ways to help people continue with the Cayce treatments, so that we have a larger group to evaluate for long term results.
Manual Healing Diversity and Other Challenges to Chiropractic Integration
Getting the word out is important in any endeavor, and especially so in scientific research. The highest standard for communicating information in the field of medicine is peer-reviewed journal articles. Meridian Institute is committed to publishing in peer-reviewed journals. We will be keeping you informed of our peer-reviewed papers in forthcoming issues of this newsletter.
An article titled, “Manual Healing Diversity and Other Challenges to Chiropractic Integration” is scheduled to appear in the March issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT). JMPT, a peer-reviewed, Medline journal, is a leading forum for chiropractic and physiotherapy research and clinical application. The article was submitted by Meridian Institute staff, in cooperation with Daniel Redwood, a local chiropractic researcher and educator.
With the inception of the manual therapy project (Meridian Institute News, Vol. 1, No. 2; July, 1997) Meridian Institute has continued to explore and document basic research findings and clinical anecdotes. In March, 1999 we reported on a letter from Meridian Institute staff that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The letter protested the methodology and interpretations in a widely publicized asthma study that concluded that manual therapy was not an effective treatment for the condition.
The JMPT article provides a much more thorough discussion of the basic issues raised in the brief NEJM letter. Essentially, we observed that chiropractic researchers had used techniques closely resembling traditional osteopathic treatments as “sham” treatments intended to have no clinical effect. The positive outcomes in terms of decreased symptoms, decreased medication, and increased quality of life were simply classified as “placebo” effects. Some of the key questions raised in the JMPT article include:
- Will chiropractic be defined solely in terms of the high velocity/low amplitude thrust adjustment or in terms of the full spectrum of manual therapy techniques (including soft-tissue techniques used by the early osteopaths)?
- Can chiropractic provide efficacious treatment of systemic dysfunction (such as asthma) or will it be limited to the treatment of musculoskeletal ailments (such as back pain)?
- Will chiropractic research address the methodological pitfalls which result from a failure to recognize the diversity of manual therapy approaches?
- Will the common ground between chiropractic and other forms of manual therapy (particularly osteopathy) be recognized and utilized?
- Will chiropractors be viewed as doctors equipped to address a wide range of human ills or as specialists in advanced musculoskeletal physical therapy?
Because few modern osteopathic physicians in this country provide manual therapy, the role of chiropractic in the emerging medical paradigm is extremely important to persons interested in the application of the Cayce therapeutic approach.
Address requests for reprints of this article to Meridian Institute. An on-line version of the text is available on the Meridian website.