The following is a conversation I had with Dr. Ron Mariotti about the whether the colon can heal from chronic laxative abuse. Dr Mariotti was my Visceral Manipulation™ (levels 1-5) instructor. I continue to learn from him through his generous sharing of information. He is a natural teacher and skilled therapist who is passionate about understanding the human body and helping others improve their Visceral Manipulation™ skills. Seriously, I’m in awe at this man’s proficiency and generosity. If you’re in the Seattle area, make an appointment!
I asked Dr Mariotti if Visceral Manipulation™ could increase colon motility in someone who’s enteric nerve cells were destroyed through chronic laxative abuse and if the enteric nerve cells could be restored. What prompted me to ask, was that I had read in The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine (1998) by Michael D. Gershon, M.D. that in autopsies of chronic laxative users that they found the enteric nerve cells were destroyed.
Dr Ron Mariotti:
“I love this question. Thank you very much for asking it because it brings up an entirely larger topic about what it is we are actually doing with our hands and what kind of changes we can make.
I love the quote from Jean Pierre; “You do more than you know.” I think about all the patients I’ve seen over these years I’ve been in practice, or my patients who have been told by some “specialist”; that nothing can be done to change their situation.
I think of all the patients who have been told that their sliding hiatal hernia’s will never improve, that their gastroparesis will never change, that their pain pattern they are experiencing is something they will “just have to learn to live with”.
It seems incredibly arrogant to make the statement that nothing can change after certain types of damage of been done.
Now, if you were to lose a limb it is seriously doubtful that you will be able to grow it back. However, the tissues of the body are incredibly resilient and capable of changing… especially the nerve tissue.
A couple years ago I had the incredible honor to give a discussion to the Australian Osteopathic Association. The topic of discussion was the neural plasticity of the gut. I ended up writing a paper on this which I’m hoping to have out to the public soon.
The whole topic of study was quite fascinating. You can always see those videos if you want by going on to my website and checking them out. [see link below]
But in a nutshell… yes, I do believe that things can change, and no, I do not believe that abuse of certain medications such as laxatives is going to irreparably damage the tissues to such a degree that they will not be able to recover.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this; but we have all seen patients who have “miraculously”; recovered in situations where they were told that nothing would ever change. To my mind that is just simply ludicrous. Everything changes! From one second to the next nothing is the same and isn’t that the thing that makes our wonderful life worth living, always giving hope where there seems to be no hope.
More specifically to your question…Jean Pierre teaches us how to work on the Cannon Bohm area of the colon. This area is the border between the areas of SMA [superior mesenteric artery] and IMA [inferior mesenteric artery] and the tissues they supplied. It lies very close to the splenic flexure…maybe a bit medial from this along the transverse colon. It’s a site on the transverse colon that also marks the boundary between the proximal and distal territories of the autonomic nervous system.” Treat this and see what happens. You might be very surprised!!”
Dr Mariotti’s website: Visceral Synergy
Dr Mariotti’s lecture (video) Neuorplasticity, the Gut, and the Role of Visceral Manipulation in the Osteopathic Practice
To Find a practitioner trained in Visceral Manipulation™ visit the Barral Institute’s website.
Colon image credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc./cgteam