There is nothing worse than suffering from all sorts of unpleasant symptoms related to stomach disorders. Just going out to eat with friends can become a nightmare when you have to make a mad dash to the bathroom because of abdominal pain and diarrhea. If you are one of the thousands of people who experience uncomfortable and embarrassing side affects after eating don’t wait to see your doctor. You may be suffering from Crohn’s Disease or a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall, a condition that has become increasingly common in Western countries in the past few decades. Most cases start between the ages of 15 to 35 years and affect men, women and children. Patients with Crohn’s Disease struggle with severe stomach cramps and feel as if they have completely emptied their insides of everything they have eaten within the past 24 hours. And that’s just one of the unpleasant symptoms.
Crohn’s Disease is considered to be the most common of similar colon related diseases known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Unfortunately, many people explain their frequent spells of diarrhea as just part of what they ate for lunch or dinner rather than seeking a professional’s advice.
I have to tell you that living with Crohn’s or IBD can be both physically and emotionally debilitating. What many people don’t realize is their discomfort may not be due to something they are doing or eating but rather what is happening within their own immune system.
Normally white blood cells are there to help fight infection but in the case of Crohn’s your immune system becomes dysfunctional and can’t tell the difference between good substances and foreign invaders. The result is swelling and pain somewhere along the digestive tract that leads to chronic inflammation. This overactive immune response is called an autoimmune disorder.
How Do You Know You Have IBD?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above there is only one way to know for sure if you have IBD or Crohn’s Disease. There are a number of tests that will determine your condition and the severity of your problem.
One of the most prevalent symptoms of Crohn’s Disease is bleeding. Doctors will test for blood in the stools, check for signs of anemia which could be an indication of internal bleeding. Other tests include an upper GI, or gastrointestinal series, which is an x-ray process that reveals abnormalities in the intestine.
Doctors might also decide to do a colonoscopy which is procedure that examines the inside of the large intestine by a device hooked to a TV or computer monitor. This allows the doctor to see internal bleeding during the examination or any inflammation that exists. Additional x-rays of both the upper and lower intestines are sometimes needed depending upon the results of the colonoscopy.
Living With Crohn’s Disease
There is no known cure for Crohn’s Disease therefore it is important for you to know how to manage your symptoms. Your doctor will decide which treatments are best for you depending on how severe and where the inflammation is located.
One area of particular concern is correcting vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. Eating a healthy amount of calories, vitamins, and protein is important to avoid malnutrition and weight loss. Others treatments include controlling bleeding, inflammation, and relieving the pain and diarrhea. Methods usually involve the use of drugs, nutritional supplements, surgery or a combination of all three.
There are a variety of drug treatments for Crohn’s disease but may produce side effects. The most common are drugs containing mesalamine or those containing corticosteroids. Antibiotics may also be prescribed for infection when it occurs.
Herbal Treatments and Diet May Relieve Symptoms
There are many herbal recommendations for treating inflammation of the bowel and to relieve the symptoms of cramps and diarrhea. Always consult your doctor when considering any herbal remedy or supplement to ensure that you are choosing ingredients that help to improve your condition.
• An herbal anti-inflammatory option is White Willow which does not have common side effects that the other drugs produce.
• Another treatment involves taking 1 dessertspoon of Slippery Elm Powder mixed with yoghurt, mashed banana or cold chamomile tea. Slippery Elm provides a protective lining to the mucosal lining of the gastro intestinal system and in 12 weeks will help heal an irritated lining.
It is also important to avoid foods that spark the symptoms of IBD. Although fatty foods are to be kept to a minimum, fish oil and flax oil are highly recommended. Your diet must be healthy and non-irritating consisting of natural products whenever possible. Because Crohn’s Disease and IBD can cause certain vitamin and protein deficiencies, an increase in supplements is recommended. This includes vitamins A, folic acid, B12, C, D, E and K as well as Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Certain herbs may also provide relief from stomach disorders.
• German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – German Chamomile has antispasmodic and analgesic properties. This plant has long been used in natural medicine against insomnia, painful digestive spasms, and in the treatment of diarrhea, stomach ulcers.
• Probiotics – Probiotics are non-pathogenic living microorganisms involved in the proper functioning of the digestive system. Lactobacillus acidophilus acidophilus is one of the Probiotics; it is beneficial for the health of the intestinal flora. Without these small organisms, intestinal flora can be infected by many disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
• Aloe Mucilaginous Polysaccharides (AMP) – this is the most effective supplement that has an anti-inflammatory property, it regulates normal functioning of your intestine to prevent both diarrhea and constipation; it repairs the protective mucosa lining throughout the digestive system; it ensures healthy intestinal flora, and much more.
Although there is no known cure for Crohn’s the good news is treatments have come a long way. It is possible to stay comfortable and pain free most of the time so eating out does not have to be a nightmare. The most important part is making sure your problem is diagnosed correctly because the symptoms may be similar to other bowel disorders.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.