Treating Crohn's Disease Without Medication

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How to Treat Crohn’s Disease Naturally with Home Remedies

Five Methods:

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the intestines. It causes symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, intestinal ulcers, weight loss, and blood in stool. The cause of this disease is unknown but it is often hereditary and linked with other problems affecting the immune system. There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therefore the goal in treating Crohn’s is to prevent the flare-up of symptoms.


Altering Your Diet

  1. Avoid or limit your intake of dairy products.As sufferers of Crohn's disease are prone to inflammation of the intestines and diarrhea, it is better to limit your consumption of dairy products - especially if you are lactose intolerant.
    • This is due to the fact that lactose found in dairy products is not easily digested by the intestines causing stomach pain, inflammation and diarrhea.
    • Examples of dairy products include: butter, milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  2. Eat low-fat foods.It is not advisable to eat foods that are rich in fat. This is due to the fact that most foods that contain fat are harder to digest.
    • Fat will just pass through the intestines without being digested, thereby worsening inflammation and diarrhea. That is why you need to cut down foods that are high in fat and stick to a low-fat diet.
    • Examples of low-fat foods include: low-fat yogurt, cereals, oats, lean meat, tuna, lean beef, chicken meat without skin, white fish, cottage cheese, egg whites, dried beans, lentils, and boiled potatoes.
  3. Follow a moderate-fiber diet.In most people, following a high-fiber diet is good for overall health, however eating a lot of fiber-rich food is not advisable for people with Crohn's disease. This is due to the fact that high fiber foods can induce bloating, making diarrhea worse. Try to eat small meals and include a small amount of soluble fiber with every meal, such a serving of vegetables or fruit with a lean protein source and a small amount of brown rice.
    • Some sufferers will tolerate some high-fiber foods better than others, so it's a good idea to observe which foods are causing your symptoms and to adjust your diet accordingly.
    • Avoid foods that are labeled "high-fiber."
  4. Eliminate gas-forming foods from your diet.Since bloating is a symptom of Crohn’s disease, it is better to avoid foods which increase your body's production of gas as these types of food can aggravate your bloating.
    • Excess gas can irritate the inflamed intestine causing more abdominal pain and bloating. Examples of gas-forming foods to be avoided are: cabbage, broccoli, beans, alcoholic drinks, and soda.
  5. Eat several small meals rather than a few large meals each day.Small meals are more easily digested than larger ones. Therefore, eating smaller meals can reduce the chances of acid rebound.
    • The stomach usually produces large amounts of gastric acid when large amounts of food are eaten. This will then result in increased gastric irritation within one to three hours of eating due to the remaining gastric acid in the stomach.
  6. Always stay hydrated.It is important to avoid dehydration, especially when experiencing diarrhea. Severe dehydration is dangerous, so replacing lost fluids and electrolytes is very important.
    • Drinking water is essential for your overall health and bodily functions. It is recommended that you drink water in between meals to avoid dehydration.
    • Drinking 8 to 12 glasses per day is recommended.
  7. Avoid hard foods.Try soft/liquid foods
    • If you have a narrowing, which is likely with Crohn's then eat soft foods so it can digest without much pain.

Taking Supplements and Natural Remedies

  1. Use slippery elm.This herbal remedy is usually used as a home treatment for digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease.
    • It is classified as a demulcent, which is a substance that defends the irritated and inflamed smooth muscles of the digestive tract, promoting its recovery and healing.
    • The therapeutic range of slippery elm is 60 mg to 320 mg a day. The slippery elm powder can be mixed with a glass of water and can be taken 3 to 4 times a day.
  2. Take marshmallow.This is not the same marshmallow that kids love. It is a medicinal perennial herb that is used to treat ailments of the stomach and the intestines, such as those caused by Crohn’s disease.
    • This herb is classified as a demulcent like slippery elm, which protects the inflamed tissues and facilitates their recovery. At the same time, it is also an emollient (a substance that provides lubrication) which soothes the mucous membranes of the digestive system.
    • This herb is taken as a tea by steeping 2–5 grams (0.071–0.18 oz) of dried leaf or 5 grams (0.18 oz) of dried root in a cup of boiling water. The tea is then strained and allowed to cool. It can be taken 3 times a day.
    • However, marshmallow is to be avoided if you have diabetes, since it can increase blood sugar levels. It might also interfere with other drugs taken orally so it is best to take it one hour after taking other oral medications.
  3. Include turmeric in your diet.Turmeric is a spice that is closely related to ginger. It is found in abundant amounts in curry.
    • Research has shown that Crohn’s disease patients who took turmeric reduced their symptoms and lessened their need for other medications.Therefore, due to the strong anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties of turmeric, it has been used as an herbal remedy to treat Crohn’s disease.
    • The usual therapeutic dosage of turmeric is 1 to 2 grams (0.035 to 0.071 oz) per day. Increasing your consumption of food such as one serving of chicken curry or curry rice is enough to meet your daily intake of turmeric.
  4. Take folic acid and iron supplements.Folic acid and iron must be naturally present in our body at normal levels to ensure that our body is producing the healthy blood cells needed to distribute adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients to other organs in our body.
    • Unfortunately, people with Crohn’s disease naturally steer clear of cruciferous vegetables and nuts, which are rich sources of folic acid and iron.
    • A good remedy would be to take an iron + folic acid supplement of 60 mg of iron and 400 micrograms of folic acid in a tablet at least once a day to supplement your deficiency of these minerals.
  5. Increase your intake of vitamin D.Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with Crohn’s disease and may worsen the symptoms if you already have the disease. This is because vitamin D serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that acts to normalize the function of our digestive system.
    • The best source of vitamin D is sun exposure (at least 15 minutes a day) because sun exposure acts as a catalyst to synthesize vitamin D in our body.
    • Vitamin D supplements are also available by taking at least one gel capsule of 1000 IU of vitamin D supplements a day to prevent the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Making Lifestyle Changes

  1. Avoid drinking alcohol.Drinking alcohol has many detrimental effects on the body and having Crohn’s disease only provides another reason not to drink it. This is due to the fact that alcohol has a depressive effect on the digestive system.
    • Alcohol also contains acetaldehyde which is toxic for the body. This toxin irritates the stomach lining and intestine.
    • It also increases gastric acid production, which worsens symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
  2. Avoid certain substances that can cause gastric irritation.Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the stomach and intestinal linings. Therefore it is important to avoid substances that irritate the digestive system further. Examples of such substances include:
    • Cigarettes:The nicotine found in cigarettes increases gastric acid production that irritates gastric lining. When too much gastric acid is produced, the mucus normally found in the stomach (that serves as protective layer) is damaged, causing stomach and intestinal ulcers.
    • Spicy foods:Capsaicin is found in chili peppers, which are used as spices in food. Capsaicin is an irritant which causes a burning sensation when eaten. It also causes irritation to the esophageal and stomach linings.
    • Caffeine:Caffeine may cause increased gastric acid production leading to delayed healing of stomach ulcers. Examples of caffeine-containing substances are coffee, tea, and sodas.
  3. Manage your stress levels.Stress can cause a flare-up of Crohn’s disease, as stressful situations can trigger symptoms of the disease.
    • Whenever the body is under stress, the immune system is overactive – calming yourself down helps to limit the worsening of symptoms.
    • The normal digestive pattern changes whenever a person is under stress, stomach activity is affected causing slower absorption and increased gastric acid production. Stress can be managed through relaxation techniques.
  4. Perform regular exercises.Exercise helps to relieve tensed muscles and anxiety.. Swimming, jogging, bicycling, and running are all recommended forms of exercise for sufferers of Crohn's disease. Doing exercises 3 to 4 times per week for 30 to 45 minutes can provide great relief.
  5. Do breathing exercises.Deep and slow breathing can help to relax tensed muscles. Try inhaling through your nose slowly for up to 5 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for up to 7 seconds. You can do this several times per day - it is best done during the morning and evening.
  6. Spend time doing things you enjoy.Engaging in recreational activities can help you to avoid dwelling on your health issues. You can go shopping, watch television programs, surf the internet or just simply spend time with your loved ones. This can bring comfort and relief especially if you are currently on a stressful situation.

Using Complementary and Alternative Treatments

  1. Experiment with biofeedback.Biofeedback is an alternative treatment method for patients suffering from diseases relating to the immune system. Crohn’s disease is sometimes triggered by an overly sensitive immune system which causes severe inflammation in the small intestines as well as generalized abdominal pain.
    • Therefore, biofeedback could be an effective method in controlling the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. In this method of treatment, the patient is usually hooked to a machine that transmits electric signals to gain a feedback of the body’s responses to the sent signals.
    • This information regarding our body’s feedback is used by the doctor to adjust the frequency and intensity of the electrical signals to be sent in future treatments. The machine then converts these signals to cue the body on a better reaction and response with regards to the abnormalities the body is currently experiencing.
    • The theory behind biofeedback is to allow the body to adapt better and to heal faster the natural way in combating Crohn’s disease. The frequency of the sessions depends on the physician as to the extent of the disease and depending on the severity of your symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
  2. Try treating with acupuncture.Acupuncture has its origin in traditional Chinese medicine. With acupuncture fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain key locations around the body.
    • The acupuncturist determines the key anatomical areas where the needles are to be inserted. This promotes the body’s release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), helping to control the pain and inflammation in the digestive system.
    • By stimulating the body’s natural healing processes and defenses, the acupuncturist aims to boost the body’s immune system in fighting off infection and inflammation, as well as to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
    • Experiment with acupuncture sessions at least once a month to see if the symptoms of Crohn's disease improve.
  3. Consider homeopathy.Homeopathy is a special branch of alternative medicine where diluted substances derived from plants, animals, and other substances are used for the treatment of certain diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. In Crohn’s disease, homeopathic treatment is highly individualized depending on your symptoms.
    • Consult a homeopath regarding homeopathic treatment for Crohn's disease.

Using Non-Natural Treatments

  1. Take medications that alleviate symptoms.There is no medication that can be used to directly treat Crohn’s disease. Medications are used in the context of treating the symptoms rather than curing the disease. The following medications are used in managing the symptoms:
    • Sulfasalazine:This medication that treats inflammation caused by gastric and intestinal irritation.
    • Prednisone:This is a corticosteroid medication that also treats inflammation.
    • Azathioprine:This is an immunosuppressive medication that works by blocking synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins that interfere with cellular metabolism, thus preventing inflammation.
    • Ampicillin:This is an antibiotic that is used in treating bacterial growths in the intestine and stomach.
  2. Understand that in severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.For severe cases of Crohn’s disease, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery is done if symptoms do not respond to any natural or medical treatment. Surgery does not cure the disease rather it removes area where there is bleeding, blockage, inflammation, ulcers, or abscess.
    • However, it usually takes more than one surgery as there are high chances for recurrence. Common surgical procedures that are performed to alleviate Crohn's disease are ileostomy and intestinal resection surgery.
    • Ileostomy is a surgical procedure commonly performed in patients with Crohn’s disease. It is a surgical opening of the small intestine which brings the end part of the intestine to the surface of the stomach. This procedure is usually done if all of the large intestine is affected.
    • Intestinal resection surgery. There are other cases where only the affected part of the intestine is removed. The diseased section is cut out and the healthier parts on either side are connected. Ileostomy is not necessary when intestinal resection surgery has been performed.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    I'm having really bad pains, and it's 12 a.m. What can I do to relieve the pain? I took Tylenol and it still hurts really badly.

    Naturopathic Doctor
    Dr. Degrandpre is a licensed naturopathic physician in Washington. She received her N.D. from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.
    Naturopathic Doctor
    Expert Answer
    You can try some hot compresses-- this can help some people.  Take a towel and soak it in hot water (you can add Epsom salts to the water if you want).  Wring out the excess water and place the hot towel over your abdomen.  You can use a heating pad placed over the towel to keep it warm.  You can also try gently massaging your abdomen with castor oil.  The castor oil is anti-inflammatory and the massage may help with the pain.
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Sources and Citations

  • Blumenthal, M. (2000). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Monographs. USA: Integrative Medicine Communications.
  • Gilman, J. et. al. (2006). Determinants of Vitamin D Status in Adult Crohn’s Disease Patients. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. pp. 889 – 896.
  • Jonas, W.(1996). Healing with Homeopathy: The Doctor’s Guide. New York: Warner Books. pg. 200.

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