Crohn’s disease is often confused with other inflammatory bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, thus making it difficult to diagnose. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease is characterized by an inflammatory reaction throughout the entire thickness of the colon and bowel wall. This inflammation can penetrate deeply into the affected organ, causing pain and diarrhea.
Symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding (which may lead to anemia), weight loss, malabsorption syndrome and nutritional deficiencies. The onset of Crohn’s disease is typically between the ages of fourteen and thirty. Cases of this disorder tend to be 2-4 times more common in Caucasian whites than non-Caucasian, and 4 times more common in Jews than non-Jews.
Crohn’s disease is typically experienced as flair-up, with attacks occurring every few months to every few years. Over time, if the disease is active, bowel function can gradually deteriorate, with the risk of cancer increasing by 20 fold.
Scientists believe that chronic imbalances in the intestinal flora set off a chain of events that, in the end, damages the intestinal mucosa. This theory is strongly supported by the parallel in the number of cases of Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel disorders and use of antibiotics over the last 50 years. In turn, it has also been found that the incidence of Crohn’s disease is higher in cultures consuming a “western diet”, while it is virtually non-existent in cultures consuming a more primitive diet. Studies also reveal that patients with Crohn’s disease were found to be individuals who habitually ate, prior to the onset of symptoms, more refined sugar, less raw fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber when compared to their healthy counterparts.
While the exact causes of Crohn’s disease is still unclear, there is much that can be done to lessen symptoms and even put this disorder into remission. The goal for treatment of this disorder is to control inflammation, correct nutritional deficiencies and relieve symptoms such as pain, diarrhea and rectal bleeding.
Recommendations for Wellness
1) An elimination diet, such as Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet have been shown to reduce the symptoms experienced within 3 – 12 weeks.
2) Avoid sugar, both white sugars, and the sugars contained in white flower, white rice etc.
3) Keep a food/flair-up journal. Identify foods you are eating, or your emotional state just before and during a “flair-up”. In time, you may find a pattern forming
4) To reduce intestinal inflammation and begin the healing process, try products such as UltraInflamx – by Metagenics, Robert’s formula – by Phytophamric, or aloe vera juice.
5) Flax seed or fish oils (Omega 3 Oils) have been known to greatly reduce the inflammatory process. If you find you have a hard time digesting them, try freezing the gel caps before taking them.
6) Extra vitamins and minerals are important at this time, especially if you are not absorbing nutrients correctly. Incorporate a liquid meal replacement (one that is loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein, and low on sugar!) into your diet as well as taking a high quality vitamin and minerals supplement. Try to find one that is in a gel casing or capsule.
7) Find a good mineral supplement such as Alfalfa, barley greens, liquid chlorophyll or colloidal minerals. Many of these come in a powdered form that you can mix with water or juice.
8) Because of blood loss due to rectal bleeding, and the anemia associated with it, incorporation of additional iron is important. Look to find an herbal iron alternative, especially one that comes in liquid form for better/easier assimilation. If you decide to look to a single herb, Yellow Dock would be my choice. (Consult with your health care provider before introducing additional iron into your diet.)
9) Starting a program of re-inoculating the intestinal tract with Friendly Bacteria, namely lactoacidopholis can enhance recovery and restore bowel function to normal.