Crohn’s disease is an auto-immune disorder and therefore the treatment protocol outline in the article Factors Involved In Auto-Immune Disorders And Effective, Natural Treatment Protocols should be followed as you feel is appropriate for your individual needs. When this information is combined with the article on treating Chron’s disease, you may decide to integrate Plant Sterols and Sterolins as an anti-dote to inflammation and correcting the immune system at some point in your regime.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, which can affect the whole of the alimentary tract from the mouth to anus. The inflammation extends through all layers of the gut wall in patches between normal tissue. Complications outside of the intestine can occur.
There are periods of remission, when patients are symptom-free, and relapses, when symptoms flare up. The cause of Crohn’s Disease is still unknown, but there is a hereditary tendency. Some cases are triggered by gastroenteritis and stress can cause flare ups.
It is believed that an immune reaction to bacteria in the bowel is an important factor in Crohn’s disease. Diet is a critical factor and dietary treatment often enables patients to heal their body naturally without the distressing side effects of prescription drugs. Many find relief when avoiding wheat, yeast and milk. (More on diet below).
- Diarrhoea – sometimes with blood
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- Weight loss
- Sores and abscesses around the anus, which have a discharge.
- Other possible symptoms (not involving the intestine) – ulcers on the tongue or inside the cheek, painful, inflamed eyes, painful, stiff or swollen joints, sore, red lumps on the skin
Natural treatments for Crohn’s disease.
Your gastrointestinal tract contains “good” bacteria, which help with digestion and offer protection against “bad” bacteria. If you’ve taken antibiotics or have an illness, you may not have a sufficient supply of the good bacteria.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that you can consume. They are found in certain foods or you can take probiotic supplements. They act very much like the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics may be more or less beneficial depending on the location and stage of your disease. Some strains might work for one person but not others.
Although yogurt is one of the most common sources of probiotics, many people with Crohn’s disease are sensitive to dairy products. Other foods that contain probiotics include:
If you decide to try probiotics, talk to your doctor first.
Prebiotics are food for probiotics and for intestinal bacteria. Adding prebiotics to your diet might improve the function of your normal intestinal bacteria. Using prebiotics along with probiotics might make the probiotics more effective.
Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates found in things like:
- whole grains
Fish oil has long been used to promote cholesterol health, but its also been suggested that it has benefits for those with Crohn’s too. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, may have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce Crohn’s symptoms. One study found that patients taking fish oil were twice as likely to remain in remission as those who took a placebo.
Talk to your doctor before starting fish oil supplementation. Taking high doses of fish oil, or taking it in combination with blood thinning medication, may lead to bleeding problems.
Vitamin D – which many researchers believe to be protective against cancer, heart disease and infections – is showing promise as a way to both prevent and treat Crohn’s disease. In a study conducted at McGill University in Montreal and published in 2010 in Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers confirmed that the incidence of Crohn’s disease is higher in Northern latitudes, and theorized that vitamin D from natural sunlight provides protective effects.
Researchers found that variations in special receptor genes for vitamin D are linked to a vulnerability to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, leading them to conclude that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to the development of IBD. The team expressed optimism regarding the obvious remedy – vitamin D supplements – noting that these are a “readily available, over-the-counter” option that can constitute a new “treatment avenue.”
This was not the first study attesting to the need for Crohn’s patients to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. According to a 2010 study presented by the American College of Gastroenterology, vitamin D deficiency puts IBD patients at greater risk for osteoporosis.
Zinc, a powerful antioxidant, plays a vital role in wound healing. UMMC states that this essential mineral may help to repair intestinal cells in people with Crohn’s disease.
But zinc may play a role beyond mere cell repair.
Crohn’s patients are susceptible to intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” – which can trigger relapse in patients in remission. In a study published in 2001 in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Crohn’s patients who had been in remission for at least three months – but who had experienced episodes of increased intestinal permeability on at least two separate occasions two months prior – were given zinc supplements three times a day for eight weeks.
Researchers found that the zinc reduced the lactulose/mannitol ratio, a marker of the disease, in the patients. 10 out of 12 participants maintained normal intestinal permeability; 11 of the 12 avoided relapse completely – leading researchers to conclude that zinc supplementation could resolve “leaky gut” in Crohn’s patients in remission, and contribute to maintaining the remission.