An Entry-Level Natural Approach to Crohn’s Disease

An Entry-Level Natural Approach to Crohn’s Disease

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PHOTO: JORDAN KRAVITZ

Strong cramps in the abdomen make it hard for you to follow your normal routine. You can’t seem to keep your energy up, and your weight just keeps going down. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can be painful and scary.

Fortunately, a little information can go a long way in alleviating these negative symptoms.

What Exactly is Crohn’s Disease?

Named after Dr. B.B. Crohn, who identified it in 1932, Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that attacks the digestive tract.

Literature says that genes are a factor in 20% of cases of those who develop Crohn’s, and people of European descent have the highest rates of this disease. Symptoms most often emerge between the ages of 18 and 27, and can also occur in those over 50. The disease affects men and women equally.

While the exact cause of the disease is unknown, Crohn’s flare-ups are closely related to high stress levels and particular dietary choices, as food plays a key role in gut inflammation, and therefore, in Crohn’s symptoms. Since it’s an inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s and its symptoms are highly affected by the ingestion of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories (such as Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, and even Aspirin).

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

Many cases of Crohn’s can go undiagnosed for months, or even years. When more glaring symptoms appear, they can often start slowly with gnawing stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, fevers that come and go, and the feeling of being tired or weak. Later symptoms can be severe and can include chronic and sometimes bloody diarrhea, canker sores in your mouth, and anal fistulas.

The good news is that a lot of new information on effective management of Crohn’s through diet has emerged in the last few years. Dr. Ronald Hoffman has recorded great success in treating patients with Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet, while Dr. Josh Axe’s Healing Diet, of which he reports great success, shares strong similarities to SCD.

The Crohn’s Disease Diet

A strong correlation has been made between the alleviation of Crohn’s symptoms and certain foods. Berries, almonds, and avocados are gentle on the system and are each a powerful source of important vitamins and minerals. Moderate amounts of grass-fed beef, organic eggs, and wild-caught fish are great sources of protein and healthy fat.

Since Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease, you’ll want to avoid foods that are hard on your gut. This includes most grain products, sugar in all forms (except honey), and most dairy – the exception being properly fermented yogurt and cheese. When possible, olive oil, coconut oil or ghee can substitute for butter, which is a dairy product that’s not easily tolerated by everyone.

Everyone’s digestive system is different, so be sensitive to the needs of your own body and to the effects of certain foods. Generally, cooked food rather than raw is gentler on the stomach. Many also find that bland food is gentler than spicy.

Crohn’s Disease Supplements

Many Crohn’s patients have low levels of vitamins K, B1, B2, B3, and B12, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, biotin, folic acid and selenium. Imbalances in zinc, copper, and iron are also common.

The following items can help alleviate Crohn’s symptoms, whether taken by supplement or by simply adding them to your diet:

  • Probiotics
    A high-quality, live probiotic will support your immune system and digestive health, as well as promote the absorption of minerals like calcium and vitamins B12 and K2. Probiotics can also help your gut process gluten and lactose.
  • Slippery Elm
    This natural supplement can calm Crohn’s flare-ups. Slippery elm reduces inflammation, calms the stomach, and helps heal irritated tissue.
  • Curcumin
    This natural anti-inflammatory is a compound contained in Turmeric. Research suggests that it may help in the prevention and treatment of Crohn’s and even colon cancer.
  • L-Glutamine
    This amino acid sustains the growth and function of the intestines and is best taken on an empty stomach.
  • Multivitamin
    A real food multivitamin can help you maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals. Avoid cheap multivitamins with added starch, sugar, and coloring.
  • Vitamin C, Zinc and Magnesium
    These are all vital to a balanced, healthy body; however, taking them in pill-form may irritate your already tender intestines. Drops or even IV treatments may be a better choice to jumpstart your intake.

Crohn’s Disease Essential Oils

From reducing stress to correcting nutritional deficiencies, essential oils can do amazing things whether used with a diffuser, by application, or through ingestion. Just check the labels to help you decide on the method of application.

Two essential oils are especially effective in alleviating Crohn’s symptoms8:

  • Frankincense
    This tree extract speeds up your digestive enzymes and improves digestive health. To take internally, add one to two drops of 100% pure, non-perfume oil to eight ounces of water or a tablespoon of honey.
  • Lemongrass
    This plant extract relieves gas and has anti-inflammatory properties. Adding one to two drops of lemongrass oil or infused lemongrass water to your tea or soup can help with stomach pains, nausea, and diarrhea.

Crohn’s Disease Lifestyle

Supplements, essential oils, and changes in diet can bring about many positive effects that’ll calm and support your body, but there’s even more you can do: Exercise, sleep, meditation, and simply making sure your day has moments of pleasure are all effective in dealing Crohn’s symptoms.

Seeking balance in all areas of your life will help you to focus on your health and stay on the balanced path. A less stressed lifestyle brings higher immunity, less inflammation, and a better quality of life.

You’re Not Alone

More than 1.4 million people live with Crohn’s disease in the U.S. alone, and more information about living with IBDs and Crohn’s is available every day. With that said, keep in mind that your body and your needs are unique: What may work for Timmy down the street might not work for you, so pay attention to what your body is telling you as you experiment with solutions.