Crohn’s disease is a poorly understood condition that involves inflammation and strong pain occurring in any area of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease is usually diagnosed in young adults. However, it can develop at any age.
Causes for Crohn’s disease are not known. Studies suggest that there is a strong genetic component to it since the disease seems to be present in certain families. A study by Yang and colleagues found that people with Jewish heritage seem to be the ones more prone to develop the disease.
Crohn’s Disease & Diet
One of the main things that people with Crohn’s disease must be aware of is the influence of diet on his (her) condition. People with this disease cannot absorb nutrients efficiently so they must be very careful about what they eat. According to Podolsky 2002, one of the main recommendations for Crohn’s disease patients is to eat very small meals spread throughout the day (5 – 6 times a day).
There is no specific diet to follow but it seems that in each person with Crohn’s disease certain foods make things worse. For example, Drossman (1996) in the Handbook of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, explains that people with Crohn’s disease have trouble with dairy products (milk, cheese, etc), nuts, and fatty foods. Also, he mentions that a high-fiber diet, touted as a good diet for healthy individuals, is not a good thing for people with Crohn’s disease. Foods high in fiber may aggravate symptoms of the disease.
Herbal Alternatives to Alleviate Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
Some herbs (Mexican yam, fenugreek, slippery elm, tormentil, devil’s claw, and “wei tong ning,” a Chinese herb) have shown promising results in the treatment of Crohn’s Disease according to Langmead et al., (2002), but further study must be done in order to come to a firm conclusion regarding their efficacy in treating Crohn’s disease.
People with Crohn´s disease must seek medical advice (especially from someone trained in natural and alternative medicine) if they want to add herbal mixes to their traditional medical Crohn’s treatment. Also, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America is a valuable source of information on herbal remedies and about the disease in general. Educate yourself about alternative and natural treatments for Crohn’s.
H Yang, C McElree, M P Roth, F Shanahan, S R Targan, J I Rotter (1993) Familial empirical risks for inflammatory bowel disease: differences between Jews and non-Jews. Gut 1993;34:517-524; doi:10.1136/gut.34.4.517
Drossman, (1996). Irritable Bowel Disease. In “Handbook of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders”. Informa Health Care. Kevin Owen (editor)
Podolsky, D.K. 2002. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. New England Journal of Medicine Volume 347:417-429
LL Hill, JC Foote, BD Erickson, CE Cerniglia, GS … 2006. Echinacea purpurea supplementation stimulates select groups of human gastrointestinal tract … - Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 2006 - Blackwell Synergy
L Langmead, C Dawson, C Hawkins, N Banna, S Loo, … 2002. Antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease: an in … - Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2002 - Blackwell Synergy
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