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Fistula

General characteristics

General characteristics

A fistula is an abnormal channel or connection that forms between two organs or passageways (that would not normally be connected) or from an organ or passageway out onto the skin. Their most common cause is as a result of surgery but they can arise as a result of prolonged inflammation, from an abscess, from severe infection, erosive tumours, as a result of an injury or trauma or can be present at birth. Inflammation, tumour or abscesses can cause erosion of an organ or tissue leaving a hole. They are sometimes deliberately surgically created to drain pus or fluids from an organ.

There are three main types of fistulas; 'blind' fistulas are open at one end only;' complete' fistulas are open at both ends and connect to the external; 'incomplete' fistulas open onto the skin but are not connected to an internal organ or passage. Fistulas can form anywhere in the body but some common sites include anal or rectal fistulas from the anus or rectal passage to the skin, between an artery and a vein, from the gallbladder to the skin following surgery and uterus to bowel/intestinal fistula after a prolonged or complicated birth (common in less industrialised countries).


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid all refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar as these 'dead' foods encourage disease and weakening of the body and its repair and protect mechanisms.

Adopt a healing whole food diet, consume fresh fruit and vegetable juices and organic fresh fruit, grains and vegetables as these foods are healing and strengthening to the entire body so will encourage tissue repair and regrowth.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Goldenseal powder can be used to cleanse the area of any pus or infection and improve the health and strength of the affected tissues. Take a pinch of the powder in water 3 times daily. You can also add it to other more tissue healing formulas (such as the powder suggested below) to encourage the resolution of an infection and the cleansing of pus.

Yarrow has a general tonic action on the membranes and tissues. Take a tea using 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup, 3 times daily.

A few drops of barberry tincture added to other herbal teas or simply taken on its own ina little water can have a positive healing action on the mucous membranes and blood vessels in the area.

The strong tissue healers such as comfrey root and leaf, marshmallow root, slippery elm, lady's mantle, fenugreek seeds and marigold flowers can all be used to repair and re-grow damaged and missing tissues. Grind  a teaspoon of each of the dried herbs to a powder (or purchase in powdered form) using a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar and mix to a paste with water. You can apply the powder direct to the fistula opening if its on the skin or make the paste thinner with more water and take it as a drink, dividing it into 3 doses to take throughout the day. If you are drinking the mix, leave out the comfrey root...use just comfrey leaves instead. If there is infection, abscess or purulent fluid draining from the fistula then add a pinch of goldenseal and a teaspoon of yarrow to the paste mix. Without the addition of these, the fistula may begin to heal and trap pus, leading to the possibility of abscess formation at a later date.

Use echinacea tincture daily (1 teaspoon up to 4 times daily) to help the body deal with any underlying infection or to speed up the resolution of an abscess.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Ensure that you address the underlying cause of the fistula. If it arose as the result of a disease process try to heal that condition also, that way the likelihood of the formation of new fistula can be greatly reduced.

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