Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease for which the cause is not known. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract but usually manifests in the lowest part of the small intestine. There is a familial link so often someone else in the immediate family will also be affected.
Crohn’s Disease causes inflammation which extends into the lining of the intestinal wall, causing crampy pain, inhibited absorption of nutrients, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite and weight loss. Diarrhea is also a common symptom of Crohn’s due to the poor absorptive ability of the inflamed lining.
For definitive diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease it is essential to get tests run from a doctor and/or medical center. It is often difficult to determine between Crohn’s and other Inflammatory Bowel Disorders such as Ulcerative colitis or Irritable Bowel.
Medical treatment for Crohn’s usually involves corticosteroid therapy to deal with the inflammation, immune modulating therapy and surgery for recurrent intestinal obstructions (due to inflammation).
Naturopathic treatment for Crohn’s is also aimed at reducing inflammation. We also look at relieving symptoms of Crohn’s and correcting nutritional deficiencies, all of which help to keep Crohn’s Disease in remission.
A naturopath may recommend Fish oils to aid in reducing inflammation from Crohn’s, and also extra-intestinal manifestations such as arthritic inflammation. A study undertaken in Italy showed that people who took fish oils were less likely to have outbreaks from their Crohn’s then those who didn’t. After a year over half who took the fish oil remained symptom free from Crohn’s Disease.
Following an Acid-Alkaline diet is excellent for good health and for inflammation reduction. Chemicals produced in the blood from inflammation can cause damage to joints and provide a feeling of dullness and ill-health. To aid in staying in remission from Crohn’s avoiding alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, dairy and other mucus forming foods can aid in lessening the inflammation. These are all acidic and inflammation causing foods. Include loads of non-acidic fresh or cooked vegetables, drink plenty of fresh, filtered water and herbal teas.
Avoiding or minimizing stress is an essential step to maintaining remission from Crohn’s Disease. Our digestive system is intrinsically linked to our nervous system, and any stress will be felt throughout the GI tract. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety caused by and contributing to Crohn’s outbreaks.
Other ways of minimizing stress, and Crohn’s outbreaks are getting regular exercise, getting sufficient sleep, lots of laughter, and identifying sources stress and avoiding them!!! Any type of change – whether good or bad can cause stress, and make Crohn’s susceptible to flaring up. Getting support from others affected with Crohn’s can be a great stress release and give some now ideas as to how to make lifestyle adjustments that make Crohn’s stay in remission.
There are many treatment options, including diet options, herbal therapy and lifestyle choices that can make living with Crohn’s easy and comfortable. For more information consult your Naturopath or Medical Herbalist.
Stephanie Young is a renown Naturopath and Medical Herbalist; she has practiced in the field of complementary medicine for 8 years.