Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune condition referred to as a type of irritable bowel disease. People with Crohn’s disease experience diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, and fatigue, and occasionally can also have skin rashes, anemia, and/or arthritis. Unlike ulcerative colitis (the other type of IBD), lesions can occur anywhere in the bowel, from mouth to anus. It is diagnosed with colonoscopy, endoscopy, and/or biopsy of the intestinal lining.
WHY DOES CROHN’S DISEASE OCCUR?
The cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t completely understood. People with Crohn’s disease have a genetic predisposition, and their gut lining may have become initially irritated by stress, eating inflammatory foods, and/or some medications such as the birth control pill and Accutane. The most important thing, from a treatment perspective, is that the disease process occurs when the body’s own immune system becomes skewed and starts attacking itself. Since the immune system is skewed toward Th1 (instead of Th2), there is an increased number of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines that are released in the digestive tract. It is this inflammation and immune system imbalance that is targeted with treatment.
HOW IS CROHN’S DISEASE TREATED?
Your Naturopathic Doctor will work to reduce the immune system’s hyper-activity, reduce inflammation, and re-balance Th1 and Th2. This is done with diet, lifestyle work, supplements, and herbs. In addition, your Naturopathic Doctor will use herbs and supplements to stop acute flare-ups, pain, and bleeding. Treatment can be initiated while you’re taking medications prescribed by your MD, or as an alternative therapy. Once your symptoms and immune system are under control, your ND will develop a long term diet plan that is safe for preventing flare-ups, as well as give you a plan to replenish the nutrients that you lost or weren’t absorbed during your flares.