Pierre Vreysen & Griet Hutsebauthealers

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chronic gastrointestinal ( GI ) disorders

Chronic intestine disorders and chronic stress


First a little ( classical ) explanation:

( taken from " Merck Manual of Medicine " – Second Home Edition, Bohn Stafleu van Loghum )  " Inflammatory bowel disease ( IBD ), which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis ( UC ), is a relapsing and remitting condition characterized by chronic inflammation at various sites in the GI tract, which results in diarrhea and abdominal pain. Although Crohn's disease and UC are similar, they can be distinguished in most cases: Crohn's disease involves the small bowel in 80% of cases, while UC is confined to the colon."

People come to our practice with functional GI disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS ), chronic diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, which are characterized by symptoms and not by a visible sign of disease or injury. Inflammatory GI disorders include Inflammatory Bowel Disease ( IBD ), Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis.

There is currently no cure according to mainstream medicine, and the same is true for our therapy. That is actually true for most chronic diseases: we cannot cure them. But the enormous benefit our therapy does offer, is that it helps infections to diminish partially to almost completely, it helps reduce flare-ups that come and go in frequency and strength and ensures further complications ( abscesses, fistula, bleedings, surgery, accompanying infection symptoms in the rest of the body, risk of bowel cancer, …) can more than likely be prevented. Usually we do succeed in considerably to spectacularly increasing the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic bowel infections. How much we can achieve, again differs from person to person, from body to body. Some people no longer have to rush from lavatory to lavatory thanks to our therapy, or no longer anxiously have to hide from their colleagues or boss that they have to go to the bathroom all the time. How come? Because their intestines gradually act up much less thanks to our weekly ( at first and later monthly ) sessions. Before turning to us many Crohn patients lead a life of isolation or keeping up appearances: they don’t want people to be aware of this all-terrorising ( their life, their relationship, their work ) and – as they see it – humiliating disease. Many people suffer from this disease in silence, because they consider it “ embarrassing ” or “ taboo ”. In addition to the physical discomfort this disease brings with it, it can also be emotionally draining.  


Practical experience: As is always the case, with Crohn’s disease and colitis ulcerosa it is crucial to avoid stress. It is often said certain people have a hereditary tendency to developing a disturbed immune system or one of the two intestinal disorders and that " stress has nothing to do with it ". Or the argument goes some people are oversensitive to certain nutritional substances. Of course these factors matter but we know from experience that emotional stress is a big and underrated culprit, and that its impact is highly underestimated. Many people become trapped in a vicious circle and no longer know how the stress in their lives relates to the disease. Was it the disease causing them all this stress or has their life-long stress over - activated the ( hereditary ) tendency to develop the intestine disorder? While we cannot measure or scientifically prove the following comment of one of our patients, we think her insight is remarkable: “ I know why I suffer from chronic intestinal disorder ... my first husband cheated on me and my current husband is doing the same, and I can no longer digest all this. "


In the book " La Solution Interieure " - the English translation " The Solution Lies Within " will be out in June 2010 - by Belgian surgeon and psychotherapist Thierry Janssen we can also read: " Nowadays it is also clear that the originating and developing of inflammatory intestinal disorders – hemorrhagic rectocolitis ( large intestine infection) or Crohn’s disease – depend on the patient’s mental state. (…) The infection forms an essential aspect of disorders influenced by stress and depression."


We often find it remarkable how accurate some people are in reading the many subtle but also less subtle signals their body transmits. Some people feel that every negative emotion or even every little blip in their spirit somehow translates into a nasty physical reaction somewhere in their body. They immediately realise that fear throttles them, that long lasting sorrow can pressurize their chest and that bowels are tremendously sensitive to stress. Who hasn’t passed some time on a toilet – literally sick to their stomach – just before an exam? The latter is of course very harmless. The problem arises when people no longer see their life as a challenge ( the way they used to when they were younger ) but as a chain of exams and obstacles, giving them a feeling ( sometimes imposed ) of having failed. Perfectionism and fear of failure are usually a factor in patients with intestinal diseases. Some obstacles are too much for the shoulders to carry or are weighing heavily on the stomach or bowels. A person should ( learn how to! ) stop turning his/her aura ( and consequently the physical body ) into a battlefield of destructive emotions. Why? Because one doesn’t solve problems by getting sick with worry, instead one creates even more problems ( and not just where health is concerned! ). To change a negative outlook on life obviously takes insight and courage but unfortunately many people do not make any headway: they keep hoping each problem ( " I don’t have the courage " ) or each unsolvable issue ( " I’m stuck with it " ) will eventually disappear spontaneously… until they let it shatter them to pieces, and their health with them.

In her book " Frontiers of Health: From Healing to Wholeness " the British physician Christine R. Page writes about Crohn’s disease: " Psychospiritually, these individuals are perfectionists, fastidious ( especially about cleanliness ), goal orientated, and determined " to get it right "! Fear is less of an issue in colitis, replaced by a self-sacrificing nature, where love and nurturing are denied in deference to high ideals." (…) " Only when we recognise that perfection is not something in the future but is present now and that " everything is perfect just as it is " do we start to enjoy the moment and appreciate the loving strength which is awaiting for us, if we only let it in. "

And about colitis ulcerosa we read the following in her book: " From a psychological point of view, my experience is that these individuals are sensitive with a highly developed intuitive and creative side to their nature ( even though this may not have been given the space to be expressed ). They are often perfectionists with a fear of failure and of criticism although they are commonly their most demanding task masters. Their family background usually reveals high ideals and strict controls which commonly lead to a deep-seated resentment towards those who activated the initial driving force. "  





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