Crohn’s disease is a long-term inflammatory bowel disease that is known to impact the lining of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease typically causes inflammation along with scarring in the intestine, accompanied with abdominal cramping and pain. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but treatment can help manage the symptoms (1). Doctors tend to begin treating Crohn’s with medication, but many people are today turning towards natural treatments for easing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Also known as alternative or complementary treatments, these natural treatments fall outside of the typically prescribed mainstream medications. Some natural treatments are known to provide relief from Crohn’s symptoms to quite an extent, while others have not shown much effect.
Natural Treatments for Crohn’s Disease
Let us take a look at some of the commonly used natural treatments for Crohn’s disease.
Probiotics Benefits Crohn’s Disease(2, 4, 6)
There are many types of ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria present in your gastrointestinal tract, which help with the process of digestion and also protect the body against the ‘bad’ bacteria. When you take antibiotics or if you suffer from any illness, then the level of these good bacteria go down and you are not able to protect yourself as before.
In such instances, doctors often recommend consuming probiotics, which are living microorganisms that act like the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are found in many types of foods and you can also take probiotics in the form of supplements. Just how beneficial probiotics are depend on the location and the stage of Crohn’s disease. While some strains of probiotics work better in one person, they may not provide the same benefits in others.
Scientists have discovered many strains of probiotics that look promising for Crohn’s patients, including bifidobacterium, but still, more research is required to fully understand how probiotics work and help provide relief in Crohn’s symptoms. Yogurt is known to be one of most common sources of probiotics(3), but the issue for Crohn’s patients is that they are generally sensitive to dairy products and are unable to tolerate dairy products well. Some other foods that are known to contain probiotics include: Kombucha, Kefir, Sauerkraut and Kimchi.
If you suffer from Crohn’s disease and you are considering taking probiotics, then it is recommended that you consult with your doctor first.
Prebiotics Good for Crohn’s Disease(5, 6)
While almost everybody has heard of probiotics, many people are unaware of prebiotics. Prebiotics function as food for probiotics and for the bacteria present in the intestines. When you add prebiotics to your diet, you boost the functioning capability of the normally present intestinal bacteria. Using prebiotics in combination with probiotics is known to increase the efficiency of probiotics even further. However, studies have not found any real evidence to show that adding prebiotics to your diet help with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, but at the same time, they are unlikely to cause any harm. Prebiotics are basically non-digestible carbohydrates and are typically found in: honey, bananas, whole grains, artichokes, garlic and onions.
Biofeedback helpful in treating Crohn’s Disease(6)
A form of relaxation therapy, biofeedback allows you to see how your body is responding to pain, with the help of a machine. You are then better capable of learning how to control your responses to the following: body temperature, brainwaves, perspiration levels and blood flow. Over a period of time with regular biofeedback therapy, you can learn to better manage your pain and muscle contractions associated with Crohn’s disease.
However, there is no scientific evidence to show that biofeedback therapy helps in relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Fish Oil for Treating Crohn’s Disease Naturally(6)
Fish oil has been used for many years now to treat many types of health conditions. Fish oil is especially known to boost cholesterol health and studies suggest that it can benefit people suffering from Crohn’s disease as well. This is primarily due to the rich presence of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. These omega-3 fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and also decrease the severity of Crohn’s symptoms.
In fact, a study in 1996 had found that patients who are taking fish oil were much more likely to remain in remission from Crohn’s symptoms as compared to those who were taking a placebo. It is recommended that you consult your doctor before you start taking fish oil supplements due to the fact that if you are also taking blood thinners, then high doses of fish oil supplements may cause bleeding problems.
Acupuncture, Natural Treatment for Crohn’s(6)
Acupuncture is a traditional and very ancient practice that makes use of thin needles that are inserted at specific points on the body. It is believed that acupuncture stimulates the brain to release endorphins and also balances the area where the needles are inserted. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones and are known to block pain. Endorphins also strengthen the immune system and help you fight off infections.
There is no scientific evidence to show that acupuncture helps with Crohn’s disease, but many people have reported feeling some relief in their Crohn’s symptoms after trying acupuncture therapy.
Botanical and Herbal Treatment: Natural Treatment for Crohn’s(6)
There are many botanical and herbal treatments available that may help provide relief from the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. These options include: peppermint, aloe vera juice, chamomile and slippery elm bark.
It is again recommended that you discuss with your doctor before you begin taking any botanical or herbal treatments. This is because some herbs may have a dangerous interaction with the current medications you are taking or they may also be having certain negative side effects associated with them.
Bowel Rest helpful in Crohn’s(7)
If you are experiencing a flare-up of your Crohn’s symptoms, then it might help you to consume a liquid diet for some time, in order to allow your digestive system time to reset. This can last for a couple of days to a few weeks even. During this time you can drink plenty of special fluids that will ensure that you are getting all the required nutrients and allow the inflammation in your gut to heal as well. However, a bowel rest is not to be done by yourself. It is best to have a doctor to guide you along this process.
Yoga for Treating Crohn’s Naturally(8)
Yoga is a gentle practice that focuses on breathing and postures that allows the entire body to relax, which in turn helps manage Crohn’s symptoms naturally. This is a very important factor for Crohn’s disease patients, as high levels of stress is known to trigger a flare-up of Crohn’s disease symptoms and also worsen the severity of your symptoms. Apart from yoga, any form of exercise, in fact, can help relieve stress levels and also help your intestines function normally. Research has shown that yoga is an effective activity to include in your Crohn’s treatment plan, but begin the routine when you are not experiencing a flare-up.
Before trying any natural remedies for Crohn’s disease, it is always a good idea to discuss the same with your doctor. While some therapies may work well with any of the medical treatments you currently are on, others may have a dangerous interaction with your present medical treatment.
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