ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Crohn's and Colitis - A Natural Approach

Updated on April 2, 2012

The Gastrointestinal System

Discussion

Crohn’s disease and colitis are very complex problems, and the full story of their causes is not known. There is a basic difference between Crohn’s disease and colitis, in that Crohn’s disease usually involves full-thickness inflammation of the intestinal wall, whereas colitis affects mostly the surface. Crohn’s disease affects mostly the small intestine, but can occur in the colon.

It is important to distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease and another disorder with very similar symptoms, known as coeliac disease. This is a disorder caused by a specific allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat and rye, and the only known way of dealing with it is to completely avoid eating gluten in any form.

Crohn’s disease and colitis, along with coeliac disease, are potentially very serious problems. They can lead, if untreated, to severe malnutrition, life-threatening internal bleeding and peritonitis. Accordingly, Crohn’s disease and colitis should be attended to by a professional. This does not mean, however, that you can’t help yourself.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease are unexplained weight loss, abdominal gas and bloating, anorexia, extreme fatigue, mild fever, intermittent diarrhoea, and abdominal tenderness. Many of these symptoms are associated with poor nutrient absorption. Symptoms of colitis include abdominal cramps, mild abdominal tenderness, fatigue and diarrhoea. Both problems, especially if severe, can lead to anaemia and sometimes obvious bleeding. These two problems are partially caused by the ulceration of the intestinal wall that is often present in Crohn’s disease and colitis.

Causes of Crohn’s disease and colitis are not known for sure, but the likely culprits are infectious agents of various sorts, dysfunction of the immune system, dietary factors, and most recently the MMR vaccine has been implicated in Crohn’s disease and colitis. This last possible cause is probably the most controversial.

For a little more detail about these various causes of Crohn’s disease and colitis:

Causes of Crohn's disease and colitis

Infections

Various types of infectious agent can lead to symptoms of irritable bowel disease. They include viruses, fungi such as Candida albicans,, various parasites such as protozoa such as Giardia and worms, and bacteria. The bacterium Bacteroides vulgaris is particularly implicated in Crohn’s disease.

Immune dysfunction

It is likely that immune system disturbances are involved in Crohn’s disease and colitis, in a similar way to its involvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation for no normal reason is usually indicative of the immune system being disturbed. It ought to be noted that inflammation is a normal part of the immune system working properly; for example, when the body is dealing with a cut in the skin and in the process fighting off the bacteria that get in through the cut, the area normally becomes inflamed. The problem arises when the inflammation arises without any real cause for it.

Dietary factors

There is a great deal of evidence that dietary factors are a major contributory factor to Crohn’s disease and colitis. One interesting fact is that Crohn’s disease and colitis are virtually nonexistent in people consuming “primitive” diets and much more common in people consuming a typical Western diet high in animal protein, refined carbohydrates and artificial additives and low in fruit and vegetables. One specific additive has been found to be particularly involved; carrageenan (E407) is a seaweed-derived gum often used as a thickener and/or setting agent in commercial jellies, ice cream, salad cream, bottled sauces and soups. Carrageenan is a particularly good culture medium for the bacterium Bacteroides vulgaris, which is a known contributor to Crohn’s disease and colitis.

One particular fruit that can actually be a problem (usually thought of as a vegetable) is tomatoes, which contain an irritant toxin called solanine. For this reason, tomatoes make many inflammatory problems worse including Crohn’s disease and colitis.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids, or imbalance between the two types, can lead to inflammation in general and Crohn’s disease and colitis in particular; typical Western diets are deficient in omega-3 and contain excessive omega-6 fatty acids. In general, omega-3 are anti-inflammatory and omega-6 tend to promote inflammation. Despite this, the body needs some of both. The easiest way to get more easily available omega-3 EFAs is to consume oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and herring. There are plant sources such as walnuts and linseed, but the body finds using these more difficult.

Nutrient deficiencies both cause and are caused by Crohn’s disease and colitis. The main nutrients involved here are vitamin A and zinc, along with the amino acid L-glutamine, but most of the vitamins and minerals are involved to some degree. An easy way to get enough of most of the micronutrients is to take a good, high-strength, comprehensive multivitamin/mineral regularly.

Treatment

Because the causes of Crohn’s disease and colitis are many and varied, natural therapy for them is also quite complicated. However, it falls into three general classes; diet, supplements and botanicals.

Diet

The dietary changes necessary to help deal with Crohn’s disease and colitis follow from the earlier discussion of dietary causes. To summarise:

· Avoid artificial additives as far as possible. This means, essentially, reducing as far as possible processed food in the diet.

· Avoid sugar and other refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread.

· Reduce consumption of land animal protein, particularly red meat. This is because red meat in particular contains arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation.

· Avoid or reduce consumption of foods known to have issues with sensitivity in humans. These include cows’ dairy products, citrus fruit, tomatoes and wheat products including bread.

· Avoid or reduce caffeine-containing drinks such as cola, coffee, black tea and chocolate.

Supplements

· L-glutamine: This amino acid is needed in large amounts for the immune system and also for regeneration of the intestinal wall. For supplemental use, 10-15 grams (2-3 heaped teaspoons) of the powder per day are needed, between meals.

· Multivitamin/mineral supplement as previously discussed.

· Vitamin C 2000 mg per day in divided doses. For this purpose, non-irritant forms such as calcium ascorbate or Ester-C are used.

· Digestive enzyme supplement.

· Probiotics; typically 2-4 capsules per day.

Botanicals

· Aloe vera juice has gummy components (mannans) that have been shown to soothe inflammation and promote healing of skin and mucous membranes. Aloe vera juice low in aloin should be used; aloin is a component of part of the aloe vera leaf (not normally found in a well-made juice) that has strong purgative and irritant effects.

· Goldenseal and Oregon grape (which have very similar active constituents) are soothing to the intestinal wall and also strongly anti-bacterial.

Boswellia serrata is strongly anti-inflammatory; unlike many anti-inflammatory drugs which actually inflame the gastrointestinal tract, it can be used to help soothe inflamed intestines.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)