* How do you cure an anal fistula when it becomes deep seated?
Is there any way that diet can improve healing, and what topical ointments can you use to keep away repeat infections without resorting to strong antibiotics?
>> Healing an anal fistula is a long and slow process, and what works well for one person may not work for another. It is important to feel at ease with your chosen health professional or, in some cases, team of health professionals. Ayurveda, homeopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine are all modalities worth considering.
A Naturopath will often combine aspects of many different modalities to tailor a specific healing program.
Working with a nutritionist is a good start, since diet can improve healing. If the fistula is associated with an intestinal disorder, such as colitis, Crohn’s, IBS, etc., then ensuring that your diet is free of any foods which may cause an inflammatory response is important. Working together with a nutritionist will ensure that you are getting a nutrient-rich diet whilst avoiding trigger foods.
Sugar, alcohol, and processed foods should be eliminated, since these contribute to bacterial growth and prevent healing. Nuts and seeds are not recommended. Not only will getting your diet right help to provide the optimal environment for the fistula to heal, it will also contribute to the success of any surgical procedures you require.
Hygiene is key in keeping the area clean and preventing infection. Many people find that a bidet is an absolute must, so that you can flush the area well after each bowel movement. Some natural practitioners recommend daily enemas — again, this is something worth discussing with your health professional. Using a stool softener is a good idea.
Sitz baths are a simple method that you can use at home to keep clean, and an effective way of introducing healing oils to clear or prevent infection. Tea tree, frankincense, and oregano essential oils are all great for dealing with any abscesses that may form, and can be used together with the bath or as part of an enema routine.
Ideally, you should be taking a sitz bath each morning and in the evening.
As far as topical preparations go, I would suggest medicinal honey, which is particularly effective in treating infection associated with ulcers, cavities, depressions, fistulas, and abscesses. Active Manuka honey is more effective than hydrogen peroxide against the seven most common bacteria responsible for infection, including MRSA. Researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine in Cardiff studied the effects of active manuka honey in treating MRSA present in leg ulcers and found it was completely eliminated from the wound, and the wound healed quickly.
Active Manuka honey has what is known as a UMF rating. UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor, and the higher the rating, the higher the potency. The rating is established through a standard laboratory test for antibacterial activity. A rating of 10 is equivalent to a 10% phenol (carbolic) solution.
Comvita offers a strong Active Manuka honey with a UMF rating of 18+, equalling at least a 18% phenol solution — around four times greater than standard antiseptic solutions.
ManukaCare 18+ Cream from Comvita contains 100% manuka honey with an 18+ UMF rating. It is available from health stores where a 60g tube costs €17.65. It is best applied at least three times daily, using sterile gloves to minimise the risk of introducing infection. Comvita also have honey with a UMF of 20, 25, and 30 — the stronger, the better — so if you see these available in a health store they are worth the expense.
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