What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is caused by recurrent inflammation of the small intestine. The digestive system can also become damaged, reducing its ability to absorb nutrients from food. (Shealy, 1996, p. 213) The symptoms may include pain, diarrhea, fever and a loss of weight. The end of the small intestine is the most frequent site. Some parts may remain only mildly affected. It affects most often young adults and those of the age of 60. Younger people are likely to be spasms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia. The small intestine is less able to absorb food. The anus may be affected as well, if the colon is affected, you may have bloody diarrhea. About 1/3 of sufferers develop fistula, which is an abnormal passageway and about 1/3 may have abscesses, either around the anus or within the abdomen. Other complications may involve conditions such as eye inflammations, severe arthritis and disorders of the skin. (Lavery & Sullivan, 1997, p. 255)
Current theories suggest that Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis have a genetic component, which is triggered to a greater or lesser extent by either infection, a hypersensitivity to antigens in the gut wall, an inflammation of the blood vessels that causes ischemia ( lack of blood supply to the tissues), and food sensitivities. The gene to be associated with Crohn’s disease has been bound, called NOD2. The NOD gene is only found in 10 – 15 % of people with Crohn’s disease. More research still needs to be done. (Lipski, 2004, p.262) A recent survey of German patients with inflammatory bowel diseases showed that over one third used complementary and alternative medicines—such as herbal therapies, homeopathy, probiotics, or acupuncture—to help manage their condition. Those who used boswellia extract, however, reported better results than those using other approaches. (LE Magazine March 2007)
What to do?
- Have you homocysteine level** have it checked regularly (blood test)
- Try to avoid coffee, alcohol, sugar, refined and processed food
- Avoid gluten (wheat, oats, rye, and barley), and milk and milk products
- Eat fresh whole foods – naturally high in soluble fiber such as lentils, beans, ground seeds, fruit, and lightly cooked vegetables.
- Eat ground flaxseeds or soaked flaxseeds
- Restore the good bacteria in the gut with probiotics (Holford, 2004, p. 451)
- Increase your intake of Vitamin A, B (especially B12 & Folic Acid), D, and Zinc
- Eat a wholefood diet with plenty of brown rice, fruit (stewed apples especially)
- Eat plenty of garlic or take garlic capsules
- Herbal Medicine (please consult practitioners): Slippery elm to reduce inflammation, alternated with astringent teas such as agrimony.
- Relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, and biofeedback can reduce stress
- Aromatherapy: Essential oil lavender is particularly beneficial
- Massage: Massage and regular exercise is very beneficial (Shealy, 1996, p. 213)
- Homeopathy (consult a homeopathic doctor or practitioner): Belladonna, Bryonia, Chamomilla, Colocynth & Magnesia phos. (Lavery & Sullivan, 1997, p. 255)
In addition to the recommendation above I recommend additional calcium, magnesium, Omega-3s, and drink water with electrolytes (especially after deep tissue massages or workouts).
**Homocysteine level: Homocysteine is produced from the amino acid methionine, which is found in normal dietary protein. The body naturally turns it into one of the two beneficial substances; these are called glutathione and a SAMe. If you don’t have optimal amounts of B vitamins in your diet, the enzymes that turn homocysteine into these beneficial substances don’t work well enough. (Holford, 2004, p. 137)
- Holford P. (2004). The optimum nutrition bible. Berkeley, California: Crossing Press
- Lavery K & Sullivan K. (1997). Alternative healthcare: A comprehensive guide to therapies & remedies. United States. Thunder Bay Press
- www.lef.org LE Magazine March 2007
- Lipski, E. (2004). Digestive Wellness: How to strengthen the immune system and prevent disease through healthy digestion. New York. McGraw-Hill
- Shealy C. N. (1996). The complete family guide to Alternative Medicine: An illustrated encyclopedia of natural healing. United States: Element Books Inc.