Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease(IBD) or irritable bowel disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of the entire digestive tract especially in the last segment of small intestine called ileum and the colon part of large intestine, leading to symptoms like severe diarrhea and blood in the stool, fissures, abdominal pain and cramping, fever, mouth sores, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn disease can even lead to life threatening complications if proper treatment is not done on time.
Crohn’s disease can affect anyone at any age as it is completely unpredictable and chronic disorder. Diet, stress, weak immunity and genes plays an important role in making a person susceptible to Crohn’s disease. A combination of psychological, genetic and bacterial infection plays a key role in Crohn’s disease.
There is no known cure of Crohn’s disease in alopathic science they just advise antibiotics, steroids, immunosuppresants, etc that leads to various complications. But certain natural remedies, diet, therapies definitely help in managing the symptoms and in bringing long term remission for the patient. Natural treatment is also referred to as alternative, complementary or integrative methods.
Diet Changes for Crohn’s disease:
- People with Crohn’s disease react differently to different food groups depending on the level of intestinal inflammation that they are going through, the digestive enzymes produced by their bodies and the different medicines they are taking.
- Always eat well balanced diet as nutritious food is needed to manage the symptoms. It is highly recommended to eat smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day.
- It is recommended to limit dairy products, stay away from gassy foods and opt for low fat foods, low salt diet and low fiber food. Spicy and oily foods should be avoided completely. The patient should refrain from alcohol and limit the intake of caffeine.
- All processed foods, sugary foods or with artificial sweeteners, grains should be avoided as they inactivate the digestive enzymes and alter gut bacteria.
- To manage the flare ups, it is advised to stick to bland foods like dry toast, rice, eggs, bananas, applesauce, boiled chicken. A high fiber diet is helpful but during active stages of illness, raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts will irritate the digestive system, so they should be taken with care.
Probiotics and Prebiotics:
- Taking a good probiotic supplement is a good way to optimize the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut. This lowers the inflammation gradually. Probiotics include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and yogurt.
- Prebiotics helps in improving the function of normal intestine bacteria. They are found in artichokes, asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and oats.Both probiotics and prebiotics, help in the growth of healthy bacteria and combat bad bacteria.
- Daily intake of some herbs keeps the remission time longer and prevents flare ups. Some very useful herbs are listed below:
1. Curcumin (found in turmeric):
- Polyphenol Curcumin is the age-old remedy for any kind if inflammation in the body. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. The regular intake of turmeric in food, not only helps in managing the symptoms, but also reduces the flare ups.
- Aloe Vera, Ashwagandha and Boswellia are also very useful herbs and safe for treating symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
- Peppermint helps to relieve cramping associated with Crohn’s disease. It calms the stomach muscles and soothes the inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Slippery Elm is a demulcent which protects the irritated tissues and promotes their healing. It may be taken in the form of gruel. A spoon of slippery elm powder mixed with a spoon of sugar and stirred in boiling water is a good remedy to manage symptoms of Crohn’s disease. One may add some cinnamon for flavor. This can be taken twice a day during illness.
- Essential oils like Frankincense and Lemongrass are very useful in Crohn’s disease. They promote the secretion of digestive enzymes, increase the urine production and soothes the digestive tract.
- They relieve pain and help in diarrhea. A drop of essential oil is mixed in full glass of water and taken on empty stomach is a great remedy for Crohn’s disease.
6. Anti-diarrheal Medication
- Anti-diarrheal Medication pain relievers are often prescribed to control the symptoms. Iron supplements, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, Omega 3 fatty acids, glutamine and fish oil are also recommended for the patients.
- It is possible to live an active, normal lifestyle inspite of Crohn’s disease. One has to be prepared incase of emergency. It is always good to keep a kit (of things you might need in case of sudden attack), ready when you travel.
- Anxiety, stress, depression, poor sleep all triggers the inflammation. So, one needs to relax and try to stay stress free.
- Practicing Yoga, meditation and deep breathing is effective and helpful in faster recovery as it gives relaxation.
- It is recommended to do regular exercise to overcome the fatigue and it controls the flare ups . Long term fasting is also helpful.
- Quit smoking as it can trigger or flareup.
- Stay hydrated:Drinking herbal tea (caffeine free), bone broth and kombucha are great choices as they provide the needed water along with electrolytes, amino acids and probiotics to the body.
- One should only eat when one is hungry.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
- Women with Crohn’s have healthy pregnancies and babies, though they have a little higher risk of complications. The disease affects the sex lives of the patients as they feel less libido due to self-consciousness of the disease.
- Crohn’s inflammation may lead to ulcers in the digestive tract, it may scar and narrow the intestinal wall leading to blockage and may also lead to the formation of fistulas around the anal area. Crohn disease is a precursor for colon cancer. It may lead to skin disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, eye problems, and liver disease