Article by Angela Haldane
Q. What are the best natural ways to approach Crohn's disease?
A. Crohn's disease is a severe form of colitis which involves chronic inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract. It usually occurs at the end of the ileum (where the small intestine joins the large one). It is regarded as an auto-immune disease. Women who use the contraceptive pill have 2.6 times more risk of developing Crohn's and smokers are 3 times more likely.
Excessive consumption of sucrose (in the form of refined table sugar) has been implicated as a possible cause, and 80 percent of patients who adopt a sucrose-free diet achieve an improvement in symptoms after 18 months.
An allergy test is worthwhile. Studies show that, as well as sugar, other food intolerances such as dairy products, wheat and yeast can exacerbate symptoms. Find out what foods are aggravating for you.
By avoiding food intolerances, you can keep yourself longer in remission. Many cases of Crohn's require prescription medication, along with dietary adjustments and supplementation of nutrients that support the intestinal mucosa, such as glutamine, slippery elm, aloe vera and apple pectin – which is combined into one practitioner product, available from your naturopath.
People with Crohn's disease are often found to be deficient in folic acid, vitamin A, selenium and zinc as many suffer from poor nutrient absorption, which is secondary to the disease itself. A good multivitamin powder is beneficial to counteract this.
Fish oils are useful for their anti-inflammatory effects – you may need to take 3-6 capsules daily.