Crohn’s Disease

Crohns Disease

 

Crohns disease is an inflammatory disorder that leads to severe ulceration of the diges- tive tract. This disease generally occurs in the last portion of the small intestine (ileum) and the beginning of the large intestine, but it can occur in any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohns disease can affect the small intestine alone (35 percent), the large intestine alone (20 percent), or both—the last portion of the small intestine and the large intestine (45 percent). There may be just one ulceration or several, and they may skip areas of the digestive tract. When these ulcerations heal, they can leave behind scar tissue that narrows a portion of the gastrointestinal passageway.

As its sufferers know, symptoms of Crohns disease can be exceedingly unpleas- ant. The most common symptoms include intense abdominal pain and chronic diar- rhea, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Other common symptoms include nausea, mouth and anal sores, fatigue, and a general sense of malaise. Crohns can also lead to other disorders. The chronic diarrhea prevents the absorption of vital nutrients, with malnutrition as a frequent result. Persistent bleeding within the intestines can cause anemia, which only compounds the existing fatigue and the nutritional deficiencies. People with Crohns may also develop fistulas, abnormal tunnels that connect one part of the intestine to the other, or even to other organs. Sometimes the scar tissue is so thick, it partially or completely obstructs the bowels, a dangerous condition that is always a medical emergency.

The onset of Crohns disease usually takes place during adolescence or young adult- hood, with most cases occurring before age thirty-five, although it can affect the elderly, too. In some cases, the disease strikes once and never returns. For most people, however, Crohns is a chronic condition that may flare up every few months or every few years. The condition must always be taken very seriously—indeed, the symptoms make it hard to ignore—and sufferers must be under the care of a good doctor, preferably a gastroenterologist with experience in treating the disease. If Crohns is left untreated, the bowels may eventually stop functioning altogether. Yet natural medicine has a lot to offer for people with this disease, and many find that they can keep the disease under control with a comprehensive natural approach, as described in this chapter.

As with many other intestinal disorders, no one is entirely sure what causes Crohns disease. Crohns disease is rare in “primitive societies that follow diets based on whole, unprocessed food. In fact, the disorder was practically



 

Warning Signs of Bowel

Obstruction

 

An obstructed bowel is a medical emergency. Crohns sufferers are espe- cially vulnerable to this disorder, because the scar tissue from ulcerated areas can partially or completely block the intestine. The classic indicators  of bowel obstruction are vomiting and abdominal pain and distention.  If you experience these symptoms, get med- ical help at once.

unheard of in the United States until the middle of this century, when consumption of refined and chemically treated products skyrocketed. Food allergies—which tend to afflict societies that rely on unnatural foods—are also thought to play a significant factor in this disorder, as are free radicals, which, again, are best counteracted with good nutrition. Dietary therapy is a crucial component of any treatment plan for Crohns disease. Good eat- ing habits will prevent many of the secondary disorders, like malnutrition and anemia, which Crohns can cause; better yet, it will address the underlying problem. Although no one can offi- cially claim a cure for this disease, many sufferers will testify that dietary changes have successfully eliminated their symp- toms. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of the role that diet plays in this disorder.



It is critical that digestive function also be improved with this condition. Increased intestinal permeability is an issue that needs to be addressed. As well, flora imbalance (dysbiosis) and undiagnosed intestinal infection from parasites, harmful bacteria, or yeast need to be tested and treated. Lifestyle is very important as well. Smokers are more likely to have Crohns disease, and stress can be a powerful factor in the devel- opment of, as well as the recovery from, this disease.

For severe, acute flare-ups, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other med- ications. The goal, though, is address the underlying causes with natural therapy so that you can heal the digestive tract and decrease the susceptibility to future attacks. Even if more aggressive measures are needed, the treatments described here can still reduce your suffering significantly.

 

 



SYMPTOMS

 

Abdominal pain

Chronic diarrhea

Gas

Loss of appetite

Weight loss

Nausea 

Fatigue

Malaise

Mouth and anal sores

Headaches

Low-grade fever

Anemia

 

 

 



ROOT CAUSES

 

Diet high in fatty and refined foods and low in fiber

Food allergies

Free radicals

Nutritional deficiencies

 

 

Stress

Increased intestinal permeability

Intestinal infection

Poor lifestyle choices, such as

smoking and drinking alcohol

 

 

 

 

Testing Techniques

 

The following tests help assess possible reasons for Crohns disease:

Stool analysis—flora  balance, possible infection,  degree of inflammation

Food allergy test—blood  or electrodermal

Vitamin and mineral analysis—blood or urine for nutritional  deficiencies

Stress hormones—DHEA,  cortisol

 

 

TREATMENT Diet

Recommended Food

Good nutrition is important for everyone, but people with Crohns must be especially diligent about eating wholesome meals. Its best to buy fresh ingredients (organic, if possible) and prepare them yourself.

Protein deficiency is common in people with Crohns. Incorporate quality protein



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

study that reviewed  the

A diets of people  with Crohns disease and ulcerative  colitis found that the risk of Crohns disease was

highest in people  who had a high sugar intake. The same study also reported  that the consumption of fast foods twice a week tripled the risk of this disease.

sources into your diet, such as organic chicken, legumes, turkey, and fish, for two meals a day. Soy is also an option unless you are sensitive to it.

Homemade soups and broths are excellent. These meals are liquefied and easy to digest. Use a variety of fresh vegetables and quality protein sources, as described pre- viously. This is particularly helpful during the time of a flare-up.

Juices are ideal for Crohns sufferers, because they require little work from the digestive system and their nutrients are easily absorbed. Drink vegetable juices every day. Cabbage juice is particularly effective in healing ulcerated areas.

Eat a cultured product like kefir or, if youre not allergic to dairy, live unsweetened yogurt every day. A deficiency of friendly intestinal bacteria is common in Crohns patients.

Make proper hydration a priority. Drink at least one glass of clean water every two waking hours. Youll replenish the water lost to diarrhea, and youll also help your bowels regulate themselves.

 

Food to Avoid

Consumption of refined carbohydrates is strongly associated with Crohns disease. Eliminate white flour, white rice, and both white and brown sugars from your diet. Almost all packaged products are made with at least one of these ingredients, so read labels carefully.

Foods that are high in saturated, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated fat will irritate your gastrointestinal tract and make diarrhea even worse. Avoid red meat, as well as any fried or greasy foods.

Many people with Crohns disease have undetected food allergies; when they remove the allergens from their diets, the disease often completely disappears. To determine if a food or foods is causing your problem, read the Food Allergies section and follow the elimination diet that accompanies it. Dairy and wheat are common trig- gers for people with this disorder.

Be careful with high-fiber foods such as wheat bran, as it is too harsh for some peo- ple with this disease. Slowly increase fiber-rich foods in the diet.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and spicy foods. Although these prod- ucts dont cause Crohns disease, they irritate the gastrointestinal system and can make your symptoms worse.

Limit the use of fruit juices, which commonly irritate the digestive tract of people with this condition.

 

Detoxification

 

If you have Crohns, chances are that your body has been exposed to toxic quantities of refined carbohydrates, fats, and possibly food allergens. Give your system a rest by going on a three-day juice fast. Drink a wide variety of juices, broths, and herbal teas, and try to include cabbage juice as well.

 

Super Seven Prescriptions—Crohns Disease

 

Super Prescription #1    Aloe vera

Take 14 to 12 cup three times daily or as directed on the container. Aloe soothes and heals the lining of the digestive tract.

Super Prescription #2    DGL licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Chew 1 to 2 capsules or take 300 mg of a powdered form twenty minutes before each meal.



Super Prescription #3    Fish oil

Take a total daily dosage of an enteric-coated fish oil product containing at least

480 mg of EPA and 360 mg of DHA, spread out over three times a day. Fish oil reduces inflammation.

Super Prescription #4    Homeopathy

Use a combination digestive upset or cramping formula for the acute relief of symp- toms, as directed on the container. Otherwise, see the description in the Homeopa- thy section for the most indicated remedy.

 

 



Super Prescription #5    Enzymes

Take 1 to 2 capsules with each meal. They aid in the digestion of food and are essential for all the metabolic activity in the body.

Super Prescription #6    Glutamine

Take 1,000 to 3,000 mg three times daily on an empty stomach. This amino acid is involved in the healthy turnover of cells that line the digestive tract.

Super Prescription #7    Probiotic

Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms daily. It supplies friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus. A product contain- ing Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic has proved to be helpful for diarrhea asso- ciated with this condition.

 

 

General Recommendations

 

Peppermint tea is an excellent tonic for Crohns sufferers. It reduces nausea, relieves abdominal pain, and has a calming effect. Use with caution if you have reflux problems.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) will help reduce intestinal inflammation. This herb can be taken as a tincture at 4 to 6 cc three times a day.

Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is a traditional remedy for bowel disorders. Its high in mucilage, a substance that helps calm the intestines and reduce inflammation. Take

400 to 500 mg three or four times daily, or use 3 to 5 cc three times daily.

Cats claw (Una de bato) has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Take 500 mg three times daily.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) oil can be taken for an infection that accompanies Crohns disease. Take 500 mg of the capsule form three times daily or as directed on the container.

A high-potency multivitamin will supply a base of nutrients to guard against defi- ciencies that are common with this condition.

An antioxidant formula will reduce free radicals, which are often higher in peo- ple with Crohns disease. Take as directed on the container.

Take a sublingual form of vitamin B12 and folic acid, to improve energy levels. Chlorella, spirulina, or a greens formula will provide chlorophyll and other nutri-

ents that promote digestive health. Use with caution, and slowly increase the dose to make sure they are not irritating.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) has a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit. Take

1,200 to 1,500 mg of standardized extract containing 60 to 65 percent boswellic acids two to three times daily.

 

Homeopathy

 

Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After

percent  after one year, while those taking a placebo had a 59 per- cent recurrence rate.



you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consul- tation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.

Arsenicum Album is for burning pains in the abdomen that are made better in a warm environment or with warm drinks. The person feels anxious and restless.

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is the remedy for sudden abdominal pains and a fever that has a throbbing or burning pain. The symptoms are worse with motion.

Colocynthis is for sharp, colicky pains in the abdomen that feel better with pressure. Ignatia (Ignatia amara) is for spasms of the digestive tract that come on after

emotional stresses.

Magnesia Phosphorica is for cramping abdominal pain that is better with warm applications and worse from pressure.

Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for cramping pain. The person is irritable and chilly.

Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) can be taken if rich, fatty foods give you diarrhea and if your symptoms are worse at night.

Sulphur can be taken if you are awakened by diarrhea thats urgent and explosive. Burning pain is often present, which feels better with cold drinks. The person may crave spicy foods and alcohol.

 

Acupressure

 

Work Stomach 36 to increase your bodys ability to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream.

Improve the strength of your colon by working Large Intestine 11.

If you suffer from painful abdominal cramps, use Spleen 16.

Conception Vessel 6 will ease diarrhea and gas.

 

Bodywork

 

Massage

To ease pain in the stomach and the intestines, try an abdominal self-massage. Lie down in a comfortable place, bend your knees, and use the flat of your hand to press against the skin of the abdomen gently but rmly. This technique also encourages good digestion. If you like, you can use the antispasmodic oils suggested in the Aromather- apy section.

For stress relief, its hard to beat a full-body massage. You or your partner can also practice some effective home-care techniques for stress reduction, like a neck or a foot rub.

 

Reflexology

See pages 686–687 for information about reflexology areas and how to work them.

To regulate peristalsis, work the colon.

Work the liver area to encourage detoxification. For stress relief, stimulate the solar plexus.

 

Hydrotherapy

Constitutional hydrotherapy is excellent for improving circulation and enhancing the healing of the digestive tract. It can be used for acute bouts of Crohns disease and for long-term prevention.



Aromatherapy

Chamomile and lavender are antispasmodic oils that relax abdominal cramps. Dilute some in a carrier oil and use in a massage, or add a few drops to a warm bath. Each oil is also a pleasant stress reducer.

Ginger will soothe an upset stomach. You can use it in a bath, a massage, or a warm compress. If you like, you can combine ginger with chamomile or lavender for a highly potent effect.

 

Stress Reduction

 

General Stress-Reduction Therapies

Anxiety and tension play a significant role in every bowel disorder, and Crohns is no exception. Since the disease itself usually causes further stress, its important to make time every day to relax. Note that any stress-reduction technique is likely to help.

 

Bach Flower Remedies

 

If none of the following suggestions apply to you, consult the chart on pages 648–650 to find the remedy best suited to your individual needs. Once you have chosen a rem- edy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.

If you are prone to panic attacks or high levels of anxiety, keep a bottle of Rescue Remedy on hand. It will help calm you down in an emergency and keep the emotional problem from affecting your intestines. Rescue Remedy is also useful when you have an acute attack of the disease itself, as it can stave off the tension thats often produced by extreme physical distress.

Vine is for people whose strong drives and ambition lead to intolerance of others. If you have suffered much and are bitter and resentful as a result, Willow will help

you regain an appreciation for life.

White Chestnut helps to quiet minds that are plagued by constant, repetitive worries. Mimulus will help people who are plagued by very specific fears.

For a more generalized anxiety, caused by fears you cant name, take Aspen.

 

 

Other Recommendations

 

If you smoke, it is important that you break the habit. And everyone with

Crohns disease must avoid smoky rooms.

Since intestinal bleeding is a real danger in Crohns disease, always check your stools for signs of blood, especially if it looks like tar. If you see any, call your doctor at once.

Exercise promotes bowel health and also helps bring stress under control. Take a thirty-minute walk every day, or find some other aerobic activity you enjoy enough to perform regularly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.