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Home > Research Department  > Health Concerns Articles > Crohn's Disease
    Health Concerns Articles  
CROHN'S DISEASE
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

RELIEF FOR CHRONIC BOWEL INFLAMMATION

A diet based primarily on vegetables and whole grains (especially brown rice) can often make a big difference for people with crohn's... supported by the right supplements.
DIFFICULT TO TREAT AND DIFFICULT TO ENDURE, CROHN'S DISEASE OFTEN RESPONDS WELL TO A CHANGE IN DIET SUPPORTED BY THE RIGHT NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS...

Crohn's Disease generally involves inflammation of the small intestine but it can affect any part of the digestive tract, along the entire tube from the mouth to the anus. It is one of the two main diseases covered under the term "Inflammatory Bowel Disease" (IBD). The gold standard diagnosis of Crohn's requires a colonoscopy, in which "skip lesions" are seen. These are deep ulcerations of the intestine that affect its entire thickness. As these ulcerations heal, they are replaced with scar tissue, which can lead to a number of complications.

Signs and Symptoms
Crohn's has symptoms that are very similar to colitis, including bouts of abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, bleeding and mucous in the stools as well as vomiting. For more information on colitis, please click here. These times of "flare" can be debilitating due to pain and frequent need to visit the washroom. They can also involve symptoms that aren't directly associated with the gut such as: fever, arthritis, skin rashes, fatigue, joint aches, and difficulty concentrating. Diagnosis of Crohn's disease must rule out other causes of cramping and diarrhea including acute infections, Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Complications
Because the inflammation of Crohn's involves the entire thickness of the digestive lining, it can cause holes to form in the intestine, which can then create fistulas (improper connections) between the digestive tract and other organs. This can create any number of problems, including anemia, intestinal blockage, and organ damage. The scar tissue formed by healing the full-thickness ulcers can also cause constrictions in the intestines known as "strictures" that can prevent the proper flow of food and feces through the digestive tract. These regions of scarring cannot absorb nutrients or water like the normal digestive tract, which eventually results in weight loss and nutrient deficiencies as well.

What you can do:

- TAKE ACIDOPHILUS
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT THE HEALTH OF THE INTESTINAL LINING (SEE BELOW)
- EAT VEGETABLES AND WHOLE GRAINS
- ELIMINATE WHEAT AND POTENTIALLY ALLERGENIC FOODS
- DO EXERCISES LIKE YOGA OR TAI CHI
- ENSURE PROPER NUTRITION WITH THE RIGHT VITAMINS
- USE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES TO CONTROL STRESS

DID YOU KNOW?
(CROHN'S FACTS)

- Crohn's affects more women than men.
- Gluten intolerance is thought to be the first stage of crohn's.
- Many people with crohn's also suffer from stress and depression.

Causes and Risks
There is no well-established cause for Crohn's disease, although theories still abound. One possible underlying cause of Crohn's disease may be an autoimmune reaction.  This is when the body's immune system accidentally attacks its own cells.  Other causes include low dietary fibre, high dietary sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, food allergies, stress, unresolved emotional conflicts, parasitic infection and antibiotic use. Also, smokers are twice as likely to be affected as non-smokers.

Conventional Treatment
Conventional treatment of Crohn's disease involves the use of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant medications.  Although these medications decrease the symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the problem.  They may also contribute to nutrient deficiencies.


Signs of nutrient deficiencies can include: clouded thinking, dizziness, hair loss, brittle hair and nails, flaking skin, and fatigue. Some medications have side effects associated with suppression of the immune system such as increased risk of bacterial and viral infections.

Dietary change is often the only way to completely resolve the symptoms.  Eliminate all processed and refined foods from the diet.  Also avoid any food that you are sensitive to.

Give your body a digestive rest and cleansing by going on a liquid diet for a few days.  Consume only alkalinizing juices such as carrot, apple, grape and pineapple. At the very least, eat a low residue diet.

Gradually add solid foods focusing on complex carbohydrates as a source of water-soluble fibre and vitamins and minerals.  Drink lots of filtered water to flush the intestines.

Consume fermented products like yogurt, kefir, quark, buttermilk, natural cheeses, tempeh, saurkraut to replenish the friendly bacteria that assist with nutrient digestion. If dairy is a sensitivity, avoid fermented dairy as well.

Food to consume: predominantly vegetarian diet, raw vegetables and fruits, whole grains, brown rice, potatoes, carrots, turnips, soy products and green drinks.  Use water-soluble fibres like chicory root, oat bran or apple pectin.  Broil or bake fish and meats instead of frying.  Steam vegetables lightly.

Mental-Emotional Connection

Many colitis sufferers will mention a stress, worry, and mental-emotional connection to their symptoms. Tackling the emotional aspects of colitis should also be a priority.  Reducing stress and increasing exercise promotes proper bowel functioning. For more information on stress reduction, please click here.  Abdominal massage and hydrotherapy can be helpful in the healing stages of colitis.

Supplements for Colitis

There exists a wide variety of supplements that can benefit colitis patients. It is very important to time them appropriately. Supplements that are beneficial during remission can be problematic during a flare. In general, treatments targeted at reducing Leaky Gut, can also significantly help to reduce colitis flares. See below for a step-by-step guide at repairing the gut lining.

REDUCING GUT INFLAMMATION
There are a number of supplements that can reduce gut inflammation, but some of the best are:

Fish Oil
This oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve mood, thin the blood, and reduce blood pressure. For more information on fish oil, please click here.

Boswellia
This herb is renowned for its ability to reduce systemic inflammation in the body. Although it has been most thoroughly researched for the treatment of arthritis, its use can be expanded to other inflammatory conditions. For more information on Boswellia, please click here.

Curcumin
Another herb that has been established for its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin (tumeric) can be added to your cooking or supplemented directly as a great way to reduce any inflammation in your gut. For more information on curcumin, please click here.

HEALING THE GUT
There are a number of supplements that can help to reduce inflammation and speed the healing of the gut lining.

L-Glutamine
This amino acid can be considered the single most important supplement for restoring the integrity of the gut lining. It is a major food source for the enterocytes, and providing food allows them to replicate and heal regions of damage. For more information on glutamine, please click here.

DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice)
Licorice is a soothing and healing herb that can soothe the intestinal lining directly and also acts to regulate the immune system and help calm any ongoing inflammation. For more information on DGL, please click here.

Demulcents

This class of herbs coat and protect the intestinal lining from any further damage. By protecting the lining, they give the enterocytes time to heal. Some examples are marshmallow, and slippery elm. For more information on marshmallow, please click here. For more information on slippery elm, please click here.

Preventing a Repeat Problem

Once the gut has been repaired, it is important to help it maintain its integrity after this intensive healing regime.  One important means of doing this is by supplementing a probiotic.  Probiotics help the body to properly digest food, and also protect against colonization with "bad" bacteria and yeast.  They can also help to reduce the immune response to gut contents, and thus help to keep the immune system in check.  For more information on the benefits of probiotics, please click here. In addition to preventative supplementation, diet and lifestyle changes are essential to maintaining periods of remission for as long as possible. Reducing or better coping with stress, eating well, and exercising are all essential to maintaining health in those suffering from Crohn's.

The following list of supplements can be used for preventing and treating Crohn’s disease.  Adult doses are given.  Start supplementation of one product at a time so that if any product is irritating it can be easily identified.  (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
green foods As directed on label Supports cleansing, digestion, and intestinal health.
colostrum 500-1000mg three times daily Helps repair damage to the intestinal lining.
DGL As directed on label Helps protect the intestinal lining from irritation.
L-glutamine 500mg two times daily, on an empty stomach, with water or juice only Provides fuel for cells in the absorptive surface of the intestines.
N-acetyl-
glucosamine
As directed on label Makes a barrier to protect the fragile intestinal lining and allows healing.
Vitamin B complex with extra folic acid and B12 100mg three times daily, add 1mg folic acid and 1000mcg B12. Essential for digestion and nervous system regulation.  B12 and folic acid help blood cell production.  Use a hypoallergenic formula.  Injections may be necessary if the intestine is unable to absorb the vitamins.
Free form amino acids As directed, twice daily on an empty stomach Pre-digested proteins that are easily used by the body.
Probiotics / Acidophilus As directed on label Helps to properly digest foods.  Limits harmful bacteria in the gut.  Enhances the immune system.
Aloe vera juice ½ a cup morning and night, 1tbsp daily for maintenance Heals the intestine, lubricates the intestinal lining and decreases pain
Also beneficial for
CROHN'S SUPPORT:
Multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene, iron, essential fatty acids, pancreatin, bromelain, chlorophyll, evening primrose oil, medicinal clay, aerobic oxygen, colloidal silver, quercitin, garlic, licorice root, enteric-coated peppermint, psyllium, slippery elm, dandelion, papaya and red clover.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2014.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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