Diarrhea in Oncology

Diarrhea is a very common and often difficult to treat problem in the context of oncology. It is typically associated with a weakened life organization in the intestinal tract, expressed in regeneration disorders of the intestinal mucosa due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy or after bone marrow transplantation (GvHD). Diarrhea also occurs with infections which are more common in the context of a weakened immune system.

Among the chemotherapies that most frequently cause diarrhea are irinotecan and 5-fluorouracil. The causes of diarrhea after chemotherapy are manifold: motility, secretion and resorption disorders may all play a role. Diarrhea is also very common with the tyrosine kinase inhibitors commonly used today, such as imatinib. 

(Other causes, such as short bowel syndrome or pancreatic insufficiency, which also occur frequently in oncological patients, will not be considered here.)

A special form is diarrhea after rectal resection, which is difficult to influence and which develops due to the lack of reservoir function, something that often restricts the patient’s social activities in the long term. High doses of loperamide are often required, in many cases also Tinctura opii.

An increasingly diminished intervention of the soul body is expressed in accelerated intestinal passage and hypersecretion, which are often also accompanied by painful tenesmus in cases of physical damage (e.g., mucositis). The soul body no longer has a proper formative effect in the area of the weakened life organization and subsequently does not reach the physical level adequately either. There is a disturbance in the breathing equilibrium between the upbuilding resorption processes and the degenerative processes of secretion and movement.

The therapeutic approach

The therapeutic aim is to support upbuilding life processes and strengthen the structuring forces of the soul body in the area of the intestinal mucosa. The ‘I’-organization should be called upon to integrate and harmonize the exaggerated activity of the soul body. 

 

Research news

Yarrow liver compresses in cancer patients and their effect on the autonomous nervous system    
Liver compresses are frequently used in Anthroposophic Medicine for cancer treatment and are believed to have an energizing effect. In a randomized pilot study, the influence of this external application on the autonomous nervous system was now evaluated. For this study, heart rate variability was measured in metastatic cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and suffering from cancer-related fatigue (CRF). A total of 20 patients (10 per group) were available for analysis. The results show that yarrow liver compresses led to increase sympathetic activity during the day in the intervention group, while increased parasympathetic activity was observed in the control group, which received no external application. The study is published open access: 
https://doi.org/10.1177/15347354221081253
Previously in 2021, Georg Seifert´s research group had demonstrated that liver compresses reduced (CRF) in this clinically relevant range. The current study clarifies the correlation.
https://doi.org/10.1186/s13014-021-01757-x


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