- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Alternative Cures for Crohn's Disease
Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory disorder of the GI tract.
If you have never heard of Crohn’s disease, it’s because it is considered rather in relation to other diseases. Some 500,000 Americans have this disease. The cause remains unknown though there are correlations that typify Crohn’s Disease. What is this debilitating disease? Crohn’s disease, named after American gastroenterologist Burill Bernard Crohn, who first diagnosed it, is an inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It can extend from the mouth to the anus, though it commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum. The inflammation can be transmural (passing through walls of organs) and it can produce fistulas that can extend deep into the lining of organs as well. It is this inflammation that produces abdominal pain, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, it can be difficult to diagnose. Whereas Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the top layer of the lining of the large intestine, Crohn’s disease may involve all layers of the intestine and there can be sections of the bowel that are unaffected.
Complications from Crohn’s Disease
Having Crohn’s disease may produce a host of other problems. Since inflammation of the intestine can thicken walls with swelling and scar tissue, the affected section can become narrow. It can also produce sores and ulcers that can tunnel through surrounding tissues such as the bladder, vagina or the skin. The areas around the anus and rectum are often involved too. These tunnels, called fistulas are breeding grounds for infection. Though fistulas can be tamed through medication, in some cases, surgeries may be required.
Crohn’s patients may experience other complications such as arthritis, skin problems, inflammation in the eyes or mouth, kidney stones, gallstones, diseases of the liver and biliary system.
Although some of these problems can be resolved by treating the infection in the digestive system, some have to be treated separately.
Doctors have used many different conventional means to treat Crohn’s disease with varying degrees of success. According to Mayo clinic, these include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, laxatives, pain relievers, nutritional supplements such as iron and B-12 vitamins, calcium and vitamin D and even surgery.
As you can see, most of the conventional treatments use synthetic drugs to address the problem. If you’re looking for alternative methods to treat this problem, check these out. Always consult your doctor before trying any of these methods.
Although there is no firm evidence to blame food for the cause of Crohn’s disease, what you eat may affect your GI tract and since, it’s compromised with Crohn’s disease, foods play a crucial part in helping alleviate symptoms. Certain foods can aggravate inflammation while others serve to ameliorate symptoms.
Your GI tract may have a problem breaking down milk sugar (lactose). Either go easy on them or use an enzyme product, such as Lactaid, to help to digest lactose.
Low fat foods are not just good for the waistline, they are also good food options for Crohn’s patients. Why? Fats are difficult to digest and can make your diarrhea worse. Watch out for these trouble makers: butter, margarine, creamy sauces and fried foods.
For most people, fiber is the magic to a good diet but for people with Crohn’s disease, fiber can spell trouble. The inflamed intestines may have a hard time digesting it, giving rise to diarrhea, gas and pain. If you love vegetables, try steaming, baking or stewing them. Avoid vegetables in the cabbage family such as broccoli and cauliflower. Ditch nuts, seeds and popcorn as well.
Some foods are inherently “gassy” and we’ll name some culprits, so you know: beans, cabbage, and broccoli. Other problem foods include citrus fruits, spicy food, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate and soda.
Calcium and vitamin D.
According to MedPub, Crohn’s disease can reduce bone density. To boost bone mass, include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Crohn’s disease can interfere with nutrient absorption due to limited diet or troubled spots on your GI tract. Check with your doctor and asked if you need a multivitamin or mineral supplement.
WebMd reported that a certain gut bacterium called F. prausnitzii may make a good probiotic treatment for Crohn’s disease. Researchers pointed out that even though it didn’t kill bacteria, it exerted anti-inflammatory effects on the GI tract, thereby reducing symptoms.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, Kimchi and Miso.
The National Institutes of Health lists 24 current studies on the effects of turmeric and its chief active component, curcumin. Such studies raise the question of which is better to take: whole turmeric, generally used as a powdered spice with food; or curcumin, which is usually taken as a supplement? Each has been shown to have health benefits, but unless you have a specific condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, I favor using turmeric (especially in cooking) rather than taking curcumin pills.
Health benefits of Cat's claw
Herbs can be a useful complement to traditional medicine. However, since medical evidence is lacking, herbs should be taken with the supervision of a health care provider. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, certain herbs have been used traditionally to treat Crohn’s disease:
- Slippery elm.
Acts as a demulcent, meaning it protects irritated tissues and promotes healing.
Acts as a demulcent and emollient (soothes mucous membranes).
This active ingredient found in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cat’s Claw
Also fights inflammation
Boswellia or Indian Frankincense is often combined with glucosamine to relieve joint pain.
Acupuncture has a long history of use in Chinese medicine to treat many illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disease. According to PubMed, a report studying the outcome of acupuncture and moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) on Crohn’s disease patients showed that it is effective in treating mild to moderately active CD.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Imagine inhaling 100 percent oxygen at pressures 2 to 3 times higher than atmospheric pressure in an enclosed chamber. That’s the premise for the use of hyperbaric oxygen(HBO) therapy. By forcing oxygen into tissues in hyperbaric chambers, patients will have higher oxygen content in their blood stream. Higher levels of oxygen can promote healing to inflamed areas, grow new blood capillaries and get rid of toxins, free radicals and germs. HBO therapy has been used to treat a number of medical ailments. PubMed reported that HBO therapy is effective in treating perianal Crohn’s disease (where tissues around the anus are affected), especially in cases where patients are not responding to traditional medications such as local medication, salicylates and corticosteroids.