Alternative therapies for Crohn's disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by the presence of inflammation, which can extend into all layers of the bowel wall, and clustered patches of ulcers. It can cause severe morbidity in the affected individuals and in most instances, patients suffering from Crohn’s disease are below the age of 35 years. Even at present, scientists are unable to explain the exact cause of the disease althoughgenetic predisposition, food habits as well as certain environmental factors have been linked with this disease. However, the side effects and the inability to maintain the symptoms consistently have made people try out alternative therapies for Crohn’s disease and this article hopes to describe several of these methods briefly.
A word of caution
Before discussing the alternative therapies for Crohn’s disease, it should be emphasized that not all alternative treatment methods are safe and that some could even make the condition worse. At the same time, certain alternative medications may interact with the usual treatment of Crohn’s disease and therefore the doctor should be informed of such medications beforehand. Furthermore, one should realize that none of these methods are scientifically proven to be effective against Crohn’s disease although some research has shown mixed results in relation to several of these methods.
For many decades if not for centuries, acupuncture therapy has been used to treat bowel inflammations and from recent times as a specific treatment for Crohn’s disease. In a recent study conducted by the researchers of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion concluded that acupuncture could bring relief from the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease while minimizing the inflammation that is going on in the bowel. However, expert acupuncture therapists should perform the technique, as they have to reach for the exact acupuncture points in order to achieve the best results.
The use of fish oils have long been known to physicians as anti-inflammatory although its effect on inflammatory bowel diseases remains controversial. One reason for this may be the inconsistent absorption of omega-3-fatty acids present in fish oils, which are considered to be the sources of anti-inflammatory effect. However, a team of Italian scientists was able to develop a tablet containing a unique formulation of omega-3-fatty acids that would increase the absorption and therefore the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil. While the researchers believe that this product can bring relief to many patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, it would take several more years before they can generate scientific evidence to back their claims.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria consumed through foods and other supplements while prebiotics are the natural ingredients found in high-fiber plant based foods. When combined, prebiotics have shown to increase the potential of the probiotics and therefore help replenish the normal bacterial flora in the gut more effectively. Once established, the normal bacterial flora could lessen the risk of inflammation taking place in the gut. According to experts, this could improve the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease although as with many other methods, this also lacks sufficient scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness.
Plant based therapies (Herbs)
Among the herbs that have shown to relieve symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease Boswellia, Cat’s claw, Tumeric, Slippery elm and Marshmallow are frequently used. While all these herbs have shown anti-inflammatory properties, there exact action remains mysterious than with any synthetic ingredient.
When looking at the above list, it is apparent that there are many varieties of alternative therapies, which can be used to treat Crohn’s disease although scientific evidence for their effectiveness is lacking in almost all instances.