advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Bezoars: A Digestive Dilemma?

My mom (age 70) has developed a bezoar of undigested vegetable matter. She lives on high fiber foods such as kasha, nuts, vegetables and fruit, but her doctor says she can't have those foods any more. Is there any non-surgical way to break up or get rid of a bezoar, or to be able to eat her favorite foods without making things worse?  

A
Answer (Published 9/25/2009)

Bezoars are accumulations of particulate matter in the intestinal tract. They're pretty rare. The type you refer to is called a phytobezoar because it consists of undigested residues of plant fiber. Persimmons, because of their high fiber content, are notorious for causing bezoars.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Digestive Health - Digestive problems can be uncomfortable and impact your quality of life. Simple changes to your diet, lifestyle and supplement routines may help - learn more, and get your free, personalized vitamin recommendation today.

Most bezoars are found in young children and are usually accumulations of hair. Because they often cause no symptoms, we don't know how frequently they occur. But when symptoms do develop, they typically include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, early satiety, foul breath, and weight loss. Sometimes, the abdomen feels tender.

I checked with Gerard E. Mullin, M.D., associate professor of medicine and an integrative gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital on treatment of phytobezoars. He says the underlying problem is disordered gastric motility - the stomach doesn't empty itself normally. Dr. Mullin added that patients with this problem must avoid fruits and vegetables and keep fiber intake low to keep the bezoar from growing.

Treatment usually involves high doses of digestive enzymes or meat tenderizers (like Adolph's Meat Tenderizer) that contain papain, an enzyme that can help digest fiber. Sometimes, bezoars are removed via endoscopic manipulation, using a viewing device equipped with tiny forceps, which enables the physician to grasp and extract the bezoar through a swallowed tube.

After treatment, it's important to see a gastroenterologist to learn how to avoid future bezoars, Dr. Mullin said.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here