Managing Crohn’s disease can be exhausting and tiring. This disease affects people of all ages, including children and adults. With symptoms like swelling of the tissues in the digestive tract, abdominal pain and frequent bowel movements, the condition can cause significant sleep disturbances and reduce the overall quality of life.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation research shows that about 780,000 Americans are currently living with Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure that permanently addresses these symptoms, but with the right medications, remedies, and lifestyle choices, it is possible to get relief.
About Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a type of condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, but is more prevalent at the lower end of the small intestine near the part that joins with the large intestine. The condition can happen either in continual form or in isolated areas and can affect not only the inner mucosal lining but also the full thickness of the bowel wall. It can widen blood vessels, cause the loss of fluid in the tissues, or form various swellings.
Crohn’s disease can arise at any age, affecting people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. However, younger people are at higher risk with about 10% new cases arising every year in children. Various treatments minimize and control the symptoms, but there is currently no official cure for Crohn's disease. Some ethnic groups are particularly vulnerable to Crohn’s disease diagnosis, and the risk significantly increases for those with a history of the disease in their family.
There are many similarities between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which is another form of IBD. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis differ in a way that in Crohn’s disease, inflammation can extend into the muscle wall and affect any part of the digestive tract. On the other hand, ulcerative colitis occurs only on the surface of the colon lining.
To date, the cause of Crohn’s disease has not been discovered. Still, studies and evidence show that several environmental factors along with imbalances in intestinal microorganisms, genetic predisposition, and immune dysregulation could be responsible for this disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Any part of your small or large intestine can be involved in Crohn's disease. It may involve multiple segments or be continuous, and affect people of all ages. In a few people, the condition is only diagnosed in the colon, which is a part of the large intestine.
Signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease can vary from mild to severe. The symptoms usually develop gradually, but may also come suddenly without any prior warning. The symptoms may be constant, or they can come and go every week or month. Some of these symptoms typically include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
- Mouth sores
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Pain near or around the anus due to skin inflammation (fistula).
Daily Lifestyle Activities to Treat Crohn’s disease in a Natural and Simple way
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but some tips and remedies are available to control its symptoms. It is possible to keep these symptoms under control by following some of the remedies given below:
Ease your GI with diet plans
When you’re having the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, food can feel more like an enemy than a friend. A saying from the Old Hippocrates best fits this scenario, saying, “Let food be thy medicine.” While there’s no hard and fast rule in Crohn’s disease diet, professionals offer these tips for your convenience:
- Eat 4–6 small daily meals.
- Avoid overloading your GI with 2–3 feasts.
- Drink lots of water during and between your food intake.
- Keep your food simple and light (for example, try grilling the fish instead of frying it).
- Limit your consumption of caffeine, lactose, alcohol, and spices.
- Take fiber when you’re having symptoms of a Crohn’s flare up.
Be organized and stress-free
Have you noticed how mental stress can often lead to headaches or upset stomachs? This proves that there is a strong connection between mind and body. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation recommends mind-body therapies to help you live with Crohn’s disease. Following are some of the ideas:
- deep breathing
- gentle stretches
Keep away from the triggers
There are certain things that are known to stimulate a Crohn’s attack. By steering clear of these triggers as much as you can, it is possible to reduce the frequency of flare-ups and keep yourself healthy.
Following are a few known triggers you should try to steer clear of:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
- cigarette smoking
- stress, strain, and tension
- consider talking with your local naturopathic physician to see if they can help you determine your personal triggers. Each person is an individual and they can help set you up with a treatment plan that’s geared directly to you.
Have a Feast of Fish oils
Fish oil contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which is why experts and specialists mostly commend it for people diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s. Research done in 2014 suggested that fish oil could help lower symptoms of Crohn’s. Another similar study in 2019 proposed that omega fatty acids are helpful for soothing IBD and Crohn’s. Fish oil can interact with some prescription medications so talk with your doctor about the right dosing for you.
Crohn’s disease can disturb the balance and stability of good and bad bacteria in your gut. With increased amounts of harmful bacteria, you can get everything from bloating, diarrhea or painful constipation.
As you know, for proper digestion, a balanced gut is extremely critical. Hence, as a patient of Crohn’s disease, try to take probiotic supplements or consume probiotic-rich foods like:
Probiotics can particularly help people feel better in the early stages of the disease.
Add Some Prebiotics as well
Prebiotics are an excellent food source for your gut's healthy bacteria and should be included in the daily diet to offer backup to the good gut bacteria.
A little 3-week study of people with Crohn’s acknowledged that an intake of 15 grams of oligofructose and inulin (2 prebiotics) daily could lead to a noticeable reduction in Crohn’s disease symptoms. More research is required on it, but this little study seems encouraging. You can improve your probiotic intake with these prebiotic-rich foods:
- whole grains
- Jerusalem artichokes
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the turmeric plant, possesses anti-inflammatory powers. Since Crohn’s is an inflammatory condition, taking curcumin can help calm down the irritated intestines. Research has also shown that curcumin or turmeric plants could be very important in slowing down GI inflammation.
A study of Crohn’s patients in various hospitals in Japan was done in 2020, which concluded that taking 360 milligrams of curcumin per day for 12 weeks can lead to the remarkable healing of anal lesions. This is an achievement for anyone living with IBD.
Up Your Bromelain intake
Bromelain is a natural group of enzymes found in the stem and fruit of pineapples.
Some folks take bromelain supplements to calm their sensitive stomachs or relieve their diarrhea. Research studies performed on these enzymatic groups are also promising, but unfortunately, many studies have been done on animals, not humans.
Thunder God Vine
There are many names related to the Thunder god vine, like the thunder duke vine and Tripterygium wilfordii. This herb can be a helpful remedy for Crohn’s disease and its supplements have been known to help Crohn’s disease patients avert relapses after surgical intervention. As the research on the use of this herb is so delicate, it’s essential to consult with your doctor about taking this herb for Crohn’s disease.
Aloe vera Input!
Aloe vera is always known to be cool, fresh, and soothing. It is commonly understood as a topical gel used to treat sunburn and is well known for calming psoriasis and eczema. but how does it deal with Crohn’s disease? Recent research on animals has proposed that rectal application of aloe vera extract can reduce inflammation and promote healing during a Crohn’s flare-up. Dr. Danielle’s Gut Assist also contains aloe vera as well as other great ingredients to help soothe and heal your gut lining.
Try Using ACV
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a cure for many conditions, from dandruff to warts, but did you know that it can also provide benefits for Crohn’s disease? While it may not cure this disease or soothe its symptoms, this type of vinegar can boost good gut bacteria and lower inflammation levels. These effects, in turn, may help ward off nasty Crohn’s flares.
Much research has been done on using essential oils for improving health, but only some of these studies correlate their use for Crohn’s disease treatment. However, some people swear by using these oils to relieve their symptoms through aromatherapy or massage. Some common types of essential oils to use for symptomatic relief include the following:
- Patchouli: Animal research performed in 2017 has concluded patchouli oil, fortunately, settles down the inflammation related to digestive problems such as colitis and ulcers.
- Lavender: Recent research revealed that lavender oil is beneficial in reducing inflammation and controlling the damage related to colon tissue. We also know that lavender can also ease the stress, strain, and anxiety levels which are common Crohn’s triggers.
- Peppermint: Experts believe that peppermint oil can slow down IBD-related GI problems.
As with other natural remedies, consult your doctor before adding essential oils to your treatment plan.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can penetrate the digestive region and cause uncomfortable symptoms. If you believe you suffer, or do have Crohn’s disease, make sure to work closely with your physician. While there is no known official cure for Crohn’s, there are treatment plans that can be tailored specifically to you that can greatly reduce or prevent flares and symptoms. It is vital that individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease stick to proper nutrition and medication regimes; even when things appear to be going well. Find a local naturopathic physician in your area today to take back control of your health and well-being.