Alternative Treatments for Crohn's Disease
medicine is often used in conjunction with the terms “complementary medicine”
or “integrative medicine,” but they can actually mean different things. In
general, these are treatments outside the typical mainstream Western medicine.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
the term “alternative treatments” means you are using a non-mainstream,
non-traditional approach to treat an illness in place of conventional,
a good idea to talk to your doctor about any alternative therapies you are
considering. Some alternative therapies may work well in conjunction with your
medical treatments. Others may interact dangerously with your medical
treatments. Many alternative therapies are simply lifestyle changes that
promote general health and wellbeing.
gastrointestinal tract contains “good” bacteria, which help with digestion and
offer protection against “bad” bacteria. If you have taken antibiotics or have
an illness, you may not have a sufficient supply of the good bacteria.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that you can consume. They act very much
like the good bacteria in your gut.
have not been proven to reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and further
study is needed. They may be more or less beneficial depending on the location
and stage of the disease. Some strains might work for one person but not others.
If you decide to try probiotics, talk to your doctor first, and try to find a
product that is free of dairy because many people with Crohn’s disease are
sensitive to dairy products.
are nondigestible carbohydrates found in artichokes, honey, whole grains,
bananas, onions, and garlic. They are food for probiotics and for intestinal
bacteria. Adding prebiotics to your diet might improve the function of your
normal intestinal bacteria. Using prebiotics along with probiotics might make
the probiotics more effective.
Fish oil has long been used to promote cholesterol
health, but its benefits to Crohn’s patients have also been suggested. According
to a medical journal article in the Cochrane Database of System Reviews, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, have
anti-inflammatory properties. Since Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory
condition, a diet rich in omega-3s or omega-3 supplementation may reduce
According to a small study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine (NEJM),
patients taking fish oil were twice as likely to remain in remission as
those who took a placebo. (NEJM,1996). Talk to your doctor before starting fish oil
supplementation. Taking high doses of fish oil, or taking it in combination
with blood thinning medication, can lead to bleeding problems.
Acupuncture uses thin needles inserted into special
points on your body. It is believed that
this stimulates your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that
block pain. They may also strengthen your immune system and help fight
Biofeedback is a form of
relaxation therapy. With the help of a machine that monitors your body temperature,
perspiration level, blood flow, and brain waves, you are able to see how your
body responds to pain and learn to control these responses. Over time, you can
learn to manage your muscle contractions and pain.
Herbal and Botanical Treatments
Talk to you doctor before trying any herbal or
botanical treatments. Some can interact dangerously with medications you might
be taking. They may also have undesirable side effects. Some herbal and botanical
treatments reported to help ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- aloe vera juice
- slippery elm bark