You suffer from Crohn’s, Colitis or IBS but feel like you have a pretty good handle on your symptoms. Of course you have to admit you have the occasional slip ups, but you know yourself well enough to get back on track. Yes, you know that gluten leaves you miserable and switching between constipation and severe diarrhea. But this time… on your vacation to Italy with its glorious pasta and pizza… you couldn’t help yourself.
It’s always important to visit your doctor on a regular basis, particularly when your symptoms get uncontrollable. However, if you know your body and how it responds, you may want to try some natural symptoms to curb your post pizza struggles.
Though there is no cure or quick fix for Crohn’s, natural methods can help ease your pain. While bouncing back from those vacation blues, and following the advice of your physician, become your own detective and experiment with our top 8 Nori recommendations for natural treatment to decrease crohn’s disease symptoms.
- Rebound from food blues (pay attention to diet)
- Give good bacteria some fiber-rich food
- Use the anti-inflammation angle
- Consider some helpful herbs
- Test the rest (bowel rest and sleep)
- Time for enzymes
- Eat neat (small portions)
- Drink up
- The Ultimate Crohns Disease Treatment Program
- Crohn’s Disease Treatment
- What is Crohn’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
- Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
- What causes Crohn’s disease?
- Medicinal Herbs for Crohn’s Disease
- Body-Mind Medicine
- The Ultimate CROHN’S DISEASE Program
- How to get the Ultimate CROHN’S DISEASE Program
- Use Coupn “CROHNSBONUS” & get Colonaid included absolutely FREE
- What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Rebound from food blues (pay attention to diet)
After the vacation (or holiday, celebration, or slip-up) the best thing you can do is to stop eating the food that caused you trouble. Say that pizza and pasta was the aching mistake; cut it out. If you experience cravings for the food, ask yourself if the extra slice is really worth another week of diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Typical sensitivities and irritants to beware of include:
Give good bacteria some fiber-rich food
You can have up to 4.5 pounds of bacteria in your digestive system, with the good ones wanting to create a harmony of health with you. These communities are called your microbiome, a bacterial fingerprint that is unique to you. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, the balance of good to bad bacteria may be off balance. Restoring this homeostasis may help improve your symptoms.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are found in the foods you eat or through supplements. They can help improve digestion and certain strains have shown they help reduce symptoms of Crohn’s. Its best to aim for food sources first, since they contain other nutrients as well and because supplements quality can vary.
Food sources of probiotics include:
- Yogurt (if you have a dairy sensitivity, avoid it)
But just as important as probiotics (the bacteria themselves), prebiotics stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Think of them like fertilizer or food that helps the healthy bacteria grow.
Some prebiotic sources include the following:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
Note: go slow with prebiotics sources, particularly if you are experiencing a flare-up since they contain a lot of fiber which can worsen some symptoms.
Use the anti-inflammation angle
Giving your body more of the anti-inflammatory foods and less of the inflammatory foods will help combat free radical damage and encourage less overall inflammation. Keep in mind that there are certain foods such as nuts and seeds that are helpful for inflammation but not for Crohn’s. Its most important to listen to your body and consult your physician.
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
- Virgin olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, and collards)
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines)
- Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges)
Note: again use caution with raw fruits and vegetables due to their high fiber content. To play it safe, cook them thoroughly.
Foods full of polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3, can promote healing. Results from studies are varied on whether or not omega-3 will help relieve Crohn’s symptoms, but since it has been linked to reducing inflammation, its worth giving them a try. Just make sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nut and seed oils (such as flaxseed, chia seed, and walnut oils)
- Plant oils (such as soybean and canola oil)
- Grass-fed butter
Consider some helpful herbs
The majority of alternative therapies aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Here are some benefits of herbs. Proceed with caution and speak with a physician or nutritionist in order to find a pure and good quality product.
- Aloe vera juice: calming effects may help digestion and improve immunity. Start slow as aloe vera can cause diarrhea.
- Slippery elm bark: protects irritated tissues and promotes healing.
- Turmeric: anti-inflammatory properties. Learn more about how to increase these properties.
- Glutamine: amino acid that helps with intestine function. Best to be taken on an empty stomach.
Test the rest (bowel rest and sleep)
If you’re having a flare-up, its may be helpful to follow a liquid diet in order to give your system time to rest and re-set. With a doctor’s help, you’ll drink fluids that ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need while allowing the inflammation in your gut to calm down. In addition to bowel rest, aim to get extra sleep, go slow, minimize stress and intense exercise, and take naps as needed. Allow your body time to heal.
Time for enzymes
Bromelain is an enzyme that is naturally found in pineapple stems. This along with proteolytic enzymes help break down protein sources such as eggs, meat, and dairy. Lipase helps break down fatty foods such as high fat meats, oils, and avocado. Amylase helps break down carbohydrates. Digestive enzymes also include lactase which helps break down milk sugar. You may consider a digestive enzyme to help support your digestion.
Eat neat (small portions)
Try not to overload your system. If you want to avoid a flare-up or get better faster, avoid large portions. When you eat smaller meals, it puts less stress on your digestion. It can help prevent gas, bloating, and cramping and allow your digestive enzymes to do their job. Aim for smaller, more frequent meals and avoid distractions or stress while eating.
Particularly if you had a bout of diarrhea, you’re at risk for dehydration so it’s very important to drink enough water. Have water be your go-to, then add in electrolyte based fluids such as broth or coconut water.
When you drink, go slow. Taking big gulps can bring air into the digestive system, causing more gas and discomfort. Aim to have liquids in between meals so you don’t get too full when you eat and drink. Steer clear of the carbonated and sweetened beverages like soda. The bubbles and fructose (fruit sugar) can cause gas and bloating.
This article has been written by Lisa Booth, registered dietician and nutritionist, and co-founder of Nori Health. Content is based on her professional knowledge, and our collection of 100+ scientific research study papers.
The Ultimate Crohns Disease Treatment Program
Crohn’s Disease Treatment
Being one of the most painful and difficult digestive complaints to treat, Crohn’s disease is a growing problem worldwide. It can be confused with Ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and gastric ulcers.
If you are suffering from it you may find yourself quite despairing when looking for treatment solutions. This is because the cause and cure alike are almost a complete mystery to modern medicine. Crohn’s disease treatment is seen as an attempt to reduce symptoms, while a Crohn’s disease cure has still not been discovered. The time has now come to open up your options.
Today I will share with you the holistic view, covering food, herbs and mind-body medicine giving you a new ray of hope. Many people have completed our program and reported success at relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
The key to healing is to make the complex simple, and this is what I will aim to achieve.
Simple natural solutions may require a little effort but can be well worth the reward.
Life’s journey is all about learning, growing and ultimately healing,
Get our recommended program for Crohn’s disease on Amazon
What is Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic relapsing inflammatory bowel disease. It is characterized by a transmural granulomatous inflammation (ulcers) which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly the ileum, colon (small and large intestine) or both. It affects 1 in 500 – 700 of the population.
Its prevalence has continually increased over the past 50 years with the highest incidence being reported in northern Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America
It usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere within the Gastro-intestinal tract from the mouth all the way to the anus. The condition starts as small ulcers in the lining of the gut and these early ulcers are called “aphthous” ulcers. These are similar to mouth ulcers.
It’s more common between the ages 15 – 40 and in people who smoke. It can also run in families. It was observed that in Canadian and New Zealand populations, females are 10–30% more likely to acquire the disease than males, whereas males with CD are reported as up to three times more likely in Japan and Korea. (6)
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
Crohn’s disease symptoms vary in intensity over time and depend on what part of the Gastro-intestinal tract is affected. Because the disease stems from inflammation deep in the intestinal wall called granulomatous inflammation (see diagram) and often results in ulceration. Crohn’s disease symptoms can be wide-reaching.
The most common Crohn’s symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain with passing stool
- Persistent, watery diarrhea for more than 4 weeks
- Blood and mucus in stools
- Swollen gums
- Weight loss
- Increased Human DNA in feces
Less common Crohn’s symptoms (35% of patients)
- Mouth Ulcers
- Peripheral joint pain and swelling
- Erythema nodosum (fatty inflammation below the skin)
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Eye Inflammation
Very Rare Crohn’s symptoms
- Pyoderma gangrenosum (necrotic leg ulcers)
- Sclerosing cholangitis (bile duct inflammation)
Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis
No single definitive diagnostic investigation exists for the diagnosis of CD. Full ileocolonoscopy with biopsies is currently the most widely used diagnostic investigation for Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis.. (6)
Ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI can all be used, but a cross-section analysis of all three is most conclusive giving up to 90% accuracy.
Capsule endoscopy is a relatively new, simple, noninvasive imaging technique that is gaining recognition for small bowel exploration. The investigation involves consumption of a disposable, small, wireless camera within a capsule which passes through the gastrointestinal tract allowing direct visualization of the mucosa. A meta-analysis comparing the diagnostic yield of capsule endoscopy to other imaging modalities found an increased diagnostic rate of 15% over the other methods. (6)
Perinuclear anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (pANCA) and anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) have been found in CD patients and the identification of these markers can help differentiate CD from ulcerative colitis where diagnosis remains ambiguous. (6)
What causes Crohn’s disease?
According to modern allopathic medicine, the cause of Crohn’s disease is a complete mystery. All they know is that it’s an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
Why would the body do this?
Obviously, there must be something going on with the gut tissue that the body identifies as foreign to the body’s healthy tissue and is worth mounting an attack on. Some kind of toxin, irritant, allergen, pathogen, bacteria, or other invading microbe is what most commonly triggers an immune response.
The bacteria Helicobacter pylori can be detected in the oral mucosa or ulcerated lesion of some patients with recurrent aphthous (ulcers) like those seen in Crohn’s disease. (2)
Those who suffer from CD have chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract Crohn’s disease may involve the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum or the mouth. Because the generation of pANCA and ASCA antibodies occurs most likely from an abnormal response of the intestinal mucosal immune system to intestinal flora there appears a direct link between gut flora/microbiota.
When the gut microbiota is out of balance and overpopulated with negative bacteria like Helicobacter pylori the immune system will be activated to attack the invader, eventually becoming confused thus beginning to attack the intestinal lining itself. This will trigger a cascade of immune activity eventually resulting in the autoimmune attack.
The common sense approach would be to support healthy gut microbiota, reduce inflammation and encourage healing of the intestinal wall, supporting healthy immune responses and knocking back Helicobacter pylori.
Let’s look at how we can do this holistically using natural foods and herbs.
Corticosteroids are widely prescribed for the induction but not the maintenance of remission due to increasing resistance over time, patient dependence and adverse side effects with long-term use. Anti-inflammatory 5-aminosalicylate drugs also have a long history of use but have failed to bring remission or prevent relapse over time. (6)
Immunosuppressant drugs are the other primary option for the conventional pharmaceutical approach.
None of these approaches appear to address the underlying cause of the problem or promote any actual healing of the intestine, leaving surgery as the last resort.
This is where foods and herbs come to the rescue as they really have the power to heal.
We will start with food.
Crohn’s Disease Diet Gut microbiota disturbances are associated with intestinal inflammation and antibiotic use. Antibiotic exposure is associated with increased dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance), whereas dysbiosis decreases with reduced intestinal inflammation. Fungal proportions (especially Candida) increased with disease and antibiotic use. Dietary therapy can have rapid effects on microbiota composition distinct from other stressor-induced changes and effectively reduces inflammation. Findings reveal that dysbiosis results from the independent effects of inflammation, diet, and antibiotics and this has shed new light on Crohn’s disease treatments. (7) A high dietary intake of fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and meats have both been associated with an increased risk of Crohn’s disease, while a high fiber and fruit diet has been seen to be protective. (6) Too much fat, especially processed trans-fats has shown to be inflammatory. Little is known about the responses of microbial life to environmental stressors. Similarly, it is unknown whether dysbiosis resulting from inflammation is rapidly reversible. Patients with Crohn’s disease are often exposed to antibiotics and dietary changes which are likely to affect the microbiota, but the influence of these factors and their interactions with each other are not completely understood. Dysbiotic Crohn’s disease is associated with increases in specific fungi including Candida Albicans, prior antibiotic therapy and a higher concentration of human DNA in feces. (7) It would, however, suggest the combination of probiotics (Obligate Anaerobes) and an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal diet and herbs could promote long-term healing of Crohn’s Disease. See the diagram below. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense. It’s a little scientific and complex, but in a nutshell, let’s say this. A good Crohn’s disease diet plan will include lots of healthy micro-organisms to populate the gut, such as fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
Crohn’s disease diet plan. Foods to avoid:
- The types of foods that can make diarrhea and gas worse such as the brassicas, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, and too many beans or chickpeas;
- Excessively high-fiber and roughage foods such as bran, beans, nuts, and seeds;
- Too much fatty, greasy or over-cooked fried foods;
- Processed, dehydrated packaged foods; cereals, crackers, crisps, nachos, tacos, and biscuits
- Foods from the nightshade family including potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums and especially avoid smoking tobacco. Cayenne pepper, on the other hand, is allowed as it can effectively reduce ulcers, pain, and inflammation because it knocks Helicobacter pylori.
- Gluten-containing foods; bread, pasta, pastry, cakes, muffins, buns, bagels, and slices.
Studies give strong support to the role of tube feeding, showing efficacy similar to corticosteroids and better improvements in growth and mucosal healing. it has been suggested that tube feeding might be used not only to achieve but also to maintain remission. Of course, this might work if you are bound to a hospital bed, but what if you want to continue with your normal active life. It would appear that the easier food is to digest the more your gut will be allowed to heal. Smaller meals of easily digestible fruits and vegetables and a lot of liquids will encourage healing. (9) Foods to eat more of on the Crohn’s diet:
- Coconut milk & oil: Results of one study with rats showed that coconut milk and water had protective effects on the ulcerated gut wall. Coconut milk produced a stronger percentage (54%) reduction in the ulcer size than coconut water (39%). It is my recommendation to use coconut milk often and to cook with coconut oil also. (17)
- Manuka Honey: Results of one study with rats indicated that Manuka honey is effective in the treatment of chronic ulcer and preservation of mucosal glycoproteins. Its effects are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (18)
- Citrus fruits: Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Citrus fruits derivatives and their bioactive compounds against Helicobacter pylori, gastric carcinoma, and urease activity, suggesting that, either alone or in combination with antibiotics, they could represent useful sources to help eradicate Helicobacter pylori and avoid gastric ulcer relapse. (19)
- To help ease symptoms, try eating soothing healing foods such as stewed apples with cinnamon, avocado, salmon, brown rice, porridge, vegetable soups/broths, and plain unsweetened yogurt;
- Probiotic foods such as kefir, plain yogurt, sauerkraut
- Intake of fiber from fresh vegetables and fish have shown to reduce the risk of developing CD (8)
- Eating smaller servings of food more frequently throughout the day rather than large meals; and
- Drink lots of water.
Culinary and digestive herbs you can eat often on the Crohn’s diet:
- Mixed herbs
These herbs all anti-inflammatory, help improve digestion and control gut microbiota. Try adding these herbs in vegetable soups, mild curry or stir-fry.
Medicinal Herbs for Crohn’s Disease
Favorable results have been widely found from the use of herbal and plant products in inflammatory bowel disease. (12)
- Aloe vera juice in large doses (50ml 2-3 times daily) will help with healing and give a reduction in pain. One study demonstrated that the Aloe Vera inner gel expresses antibacterial properties against both susceptible and resistant Helicobacter pylori strains. (1) Subjects with genetic susceptibility to this infection may benefit from Helicobacter pylori eradication treatment with respect to Aphthous ulcers. (3) In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 44 hospital outpatients with mild to moderately active Ulcerative Colitis were randomly given oral Aloe Vera gel or placebo, 100 mL daily for 4 weeks. Oral administration of aloe vera produced a clinical response more often than placebo; it also reduced the histological disease activity and appeared to be safe. (10, 16)
- Slippery Elm bark either in capsules or mixed with warm water (2.5gm twice daily) will also help with healing. Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity. (4)
- Licorice; The anti-ulcer activity of licorice was found to be similar to that of common anti-ulcer drugs. (12) Another study showed that licorice is as effective as bismuth in H. pylori eradication. (11)
- Golden Seal: Berberine an alkaloid found in Golden Seal, is an alternative medicine for treating bacterial diarrhea and intestinal parasite infections. Recent studies suggest that berberine exerts several other beneficial effects, including inducing anti-inflammatory responses. (14)
- Wormwood: There was a steady improvement in CD symptoms in 18 patients (90%) who received wormwood in spite of tapering of steroids. After 8 weeks of treatment with wormwood, there was almost complete remission of symptoms in 13 (65%) patients in this group as compared to none in the placebo group. This remission persisted until the end of the observation period that was week 20, and the addition of steroids was not necessary. (15)
- Herbal bitters blended in liquid forms (2.5 ml before meals) such as goldenseal, wormwood, gentian, androgrpahis, milk thistle, dandelion, globe artichoke, and Gymnema will all help strengthen the entire digestive system and help reduce excess negative bacteria and inflammation.For example: “it is long known that the bitter constituents stimulate the gustatory nerves in the mouth and increase the secretion of gastric juice and bile, thereby promoting appetite and digestion” (5)
- Herbal teas can also be beneficial for reducing pain and encouraging healing and these include chamomile, peppermint, ginger, and ribwort.
- A combination of as many of these remedies as possible would be suggested if you want to see results quickly. Natural treatments often bring about gradual healing over a period of months, so keep on track and allow yourself the time to heal properly. It’s worth it to get a long-term result that could last a lifetime.
All of the above herbs are included in our Ultimate Crohn’s Disease program See Below
There is a powerful link between the brain and the gut. Called the brain-gut axis it comprises a neural-neuroendocrine circuit between the brain’s hunger-satiety and hormonal reward systems in conjunction with the gut microbiota, which regulates our emotions and food-decision making. However, the consumption of high-sugar and high-fat diets have overridden this energy/pleasure circuitry to the point of addiction. (13) Addiction, depression, and anxiety can all be linked to this gut-brain connection or disconnection. You may feel worried, embarrassed, or even sad and depressed about having a bowel condition and you may, therefore, be having a psycho-somatic (mind-body) influence. The gut-brain connection is well documented and is, therefore, a major consideration. Addressing negative attitudes and beliefs and learning to curb these influences can have a profound impact on any health condition, but especially those relating to the intestine. This is because the intestine acts as our emotional brain and our emotions can be affected by our beliefs and attitudes. Read more about Probiotics and the Gut-Brain connection You have a powerful mind and the healing effects of positive thinking should be used whenever possible. Try meditation, reading and perhaps some type of social activity that involves an emotional support network of kind friends. Energy healing, massage or other relaxation technique would be well worth investigating. learning and practice. Find something that resonates with you and take the plunge. Read more about meditation I hope this has been helpful and has given you new hope in your search for solutions. Check out the Ultimate Crohn’s Program below. With a little time and effort, you can potentially say goodbye to Crohn’s. Find out more about the Ultimate CROHN’S DISEASE Program below. Brett Elliott ®
The Ultimate CROHN’S DISEASE Program
Follow the Ultimate Herbal DETOX for one month while following as many of the other recommendations above as you can. You will receive a recipe booklet with dozens of suitable recipes. The Ultimate Herbal DETOX also contains the herbs Aloe Vera, Cayenne, Golden Seal, Licorice, Slippery elm, Milk thistle, Dandelion, and Wormwood.
After completing the one month plan you can follow up with another month of Colonaid capsules taking 4 capsules daily. During this part of the program, you should consume 100 ml of high-quality Aloe Vera Juice daily.
Repeat the program again in 6 months then once a year thereafter as prevention.
How to get the Ultimate CROHN’S DISEASE Program
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Contains: Wormwood, Cloves, Wormwood plus Cascara, Slippery Elm and Psyllium husk.
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What Is Crohn’s Disease?
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Jump to: Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Can Crohn’s disease be cured? | Coping with Crohn’s disease
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disorder that’s characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. (The other main form of IBD is called ulcerative colitis, which can cause similar symptoms and is sometimes mistaken for Crohn’s.) Although Crohn’s can affect any area in the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, the inflammation usually occurs in the ileum, or the end of the small intestine.
First described by Burrill B. Crohn, MD, in 1932, Crohn’s disease affects an estimated 780,000 people in the United States. The disorder may be partly genetic: It tends to cluster in families and is also more common in certain ethic groups, like Eastern Europeans.
Crohn’s disease vs. ulcerative colitis
There are two main types of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both are chronic (i.e., long-term) diseases that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, triggering symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. It’s thought that both forms of IBD are caused, in part, by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Together, they affect an estimated three million adults in the United States, or 1.3% percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the two conditions also have important differences and need to be treated in varying ways. Here’s how to tell them apart:
Occurs in any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but usually affects the ileum, the end of the small intestine
Occurs in the large intestine (colon) and rectum
Appears as patches of inflamed areas
Appears as a continuous stretch of inflammation, often from the rectum into the colon
Extends through multiple (or all) layers of the gastrointestinal wall
Extends to the innermost layer of the colon lining
As many as three in four people with Crohn’s disease may require surgery, in which part of the GI tract will be removed
As many as one in three people will need a colectomy, or the surgical removal of the colon
Affects men and women equally
Affects men and women equally
Diagnosed at any age, usually between the ages of 15 and 35
Diagnosed at any age, usually between the ages of 15 and 30
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Experts aren’t entirely sure what causes IBD, but they suspect that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may be to blame. One of the causes of Crohn’s disease may be a “sensitive” immune system, which mistakes harmless bacteria for dangerous pathogens, triggering long-term inflammation and other GI symptoms.
RELATED: 20 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts
Genetics are thought to be a culprit as well: People are 5% to 20% more likely to develop Crohn’s disease if one of their close relatives also has the condition; the risk is also higher among people of Eastern European descent, and particularly among Ashkenazi Jews. Recently, scientists have found that people with variations in the NOD2 gene—which is responsible for producing a protein that helps protect the body against viruses and bacteria—are more likely to have a form of Crohn’s that affects the ileum.
Although stress and an unhealthy diet could exacerbate the disease itself, neither will cause Crohn’s. However, because Crohn’s disease is more common in urban areas and developed countries compared to rural areas and underdeveloped countries, researchers believe a person’s environment may be partly to blame too.
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Crohn’s disease symptoms
The signs of Crohn’s disease can overlap with those of other conditions, including not only ulcerative colitis, but other GI disorders like stomach ulcers, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and colorectal cancer. The symptoms can affect any part of the GI tract—from the mouth to the anus—although Crohn’s disease most commonly occurs in the end of the small bowel (the ileum). Here are some of the most common Crohn’s disease signs:
- Diarrhea. One of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease is diarrhea, or bouts of loose, watery stools that occur more than a few times each day. (In some cases, the diarrhea can be bloody.) Because our bodies lose more fluid in loose bowel movements than solid ones, diarrhea can cause dehydration.
- Abdominal pain. The inflammation from Crohn’s disease can trigger cramping and pain in the abdomen, the area between the chest and the groin.
- Nausea. People with Crohn’s disease can experience nausea, or a queasy feeling in their stomachs that may lead to vomiting.
- Weight loss. Crohn’s disease can trigger nausea and stomach pain, both of which can cause a loss of appetite. Plus, people might cut back on the amount of food they eat in the hopes of avoiding symptoms like diarrhea.
- Anemia. The inflammation from Crohn’s disease can cause anemia. Anemia is characterized by a lower-than-average number of red blood cells in the body or a lower-than-average amount of hemoglobin, an iron-packed protein that helps shuttle oxygen from the lungs to the tissue, in the cells themselves. The end result: The blood isn’t providing enough oxygen to the rest of the body, causing breathlessness, fatigue, and more.
- Skin changes, including nodules. Up to 10% of people with Crohn’s disease will develop skin reactions including erythema nodosum (painful, tender bumps), pyoderma gangrenosum (red bumps that become open sores), and aphthous stomatitis (mouth sores), according to a 2016 study in the United European Gastroenterology Journal.
- Arthritis. Joint pain is the most common non-gastrointestinal complication of IBD, affecting up to one in four people with the condition, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Three different types of arthritis appear in people with Crohn’s disease of any age: peripheral arthritis (which affects the major joints of the arms and legs), axial arthritis (which affects the lower spine), and ankylosing spondylitis (which also affects the spine but can lead to eye, lung, and heart valve inflammation).
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How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?
There’s no specific Crohn’s disease test, per se. Rather, doctors diagnose the disease by using a combination of lab tests and imaging procedures, including endoscopies and colonoscopies. A blood test can determine whether a person has a low red blood cell count (which could signal anemia) or a high white blood cell count (which could indicate inflammation), while a stool test will help detect inflammation and rule out infections with similar symptoms to Crohn’s disease like C. difficile and E. coli.
RELATED: 13 Best Foods for Crohn’s Disease
Other tests using tiny cameras affixed to long, narrow tubes can help diagnose Crohn’s disease while ruling out ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and cancer. These include colonoscopies (in which the tiny camera, or endoscope, is used to examine the rectum, colon, and ileum), an upper GI endoscopy (in which an endoscope is inserted down the esophagus and into the stomach), and a capsule endoscopy (in which a capsule that contains a tiny camera is swallowed, and images of the digestive tract are transmitted to a receiver).
Lastly, doctors can use a CT scan (computed tomography), which can create images of the digestive tract, to diagnose Crohn’s disease and check for possible complications.
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Crohn’s disease treatment
There are many different treatments for Crohn’s disease, including medication and surgery. There’s no one type of treatment that will work for everyone, however; instead, a doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms and run tests before deciding which option may work best for you. Although there are many types of medications available, up to 75% of people with Crohn’s disease may one day need surgery. Common IBD treatments include:
- Aminosalicylates (5-ASA). Usually prescribed for people with a mild or moderate type of Crohn’s, these medications—which include sulfasalazine, mesalamine, olsalazine, and balsalazide— work by decreasing inflammation in the lining of the GI tract. Although they aren’t specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Crohn’s, they can help prevent a flare-up, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
- Corticosteroids. Prednisone and methylprednisolone help treat the inflammation in moderate or severe Crohn’s disease by helping to suppress the body’s immune system. Because they can trigger both short- and long-term effects, people shouldn’t use them continuously.
- Immunomodulators. If aminosalicylates and corticosteroids haven’t helped quell the inflammation, doctors may prescribe immunomodulators, including 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP), azathioprine, cyclosporine, and methotrexate. These medications also work by suppressing the immune system and may take several weeks or months to start working.
- Biologics. For people who haven’t responded to other forms of Crohn’s disease treatment, doctors may prescribe newer medications called biologics, which target certain inflammation-causing proteins in the body. These drugs include adalimumab, certolizumab, and infliximab.
- Small bowel resection. People with severe Crohn’s or those who develop an obstruction in the small intestine (from, for example, the accumulation of scar tissue) may need to undergo small bowel resection surgery to remove part of the intestine. Doctors can perform this procedure by laparoscopic surgery, which involves making small incisions in the abdomen and removing the problematic area with the help of a tiny camera. They can also perform open surgery, in which one larger incision is made on the abdomen to remove the affected part of the intestine.
- Subtotal colectomy. Also called a large bowel resection, this surgery is performed in people who have severe Crohn’s, an obstruction, or a fistula (a kind of abnormal “tunnel” or connection between two parts of the body, like the anus and surrounding skin). In these instances, a portion of the large intestine is removed, either by laparoscopic or open surgery.
- Proctocolectomy and ileostomy. Proctocolectomy surgery removes the entire colon and rectum. Ileostomy is a surgery that creates an opening in the abdomen (called a stoma) from a part of the ileum (the lower part of the small intestine) to the outside of a patient’s body. Waste is then eliminated through the stoma rather than through the anus. A removable ostomy pouch will connect to the stoma to collect stool outside of the body.
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Can Crohn’s disease be cured or reversed?
There is no Crohn’s disease cure. However, with the right treatment, people with Crohn’s can experience months or years of remission, which means they experience no symptoms. Medications, which can help prevent the immune system from flaring up, not only help ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, but also allow the digestive tract to heal. Surgery also isn’t a cure for Crohn’s disease. Although it can reduce the symptoms and conserve parts of the GI tract, about 30% of people who undergo surgery will see a return of their symptoms within three years, and up to 60% will see a return of their symptoms within 10 years, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
There are also many available treatments for the complications of Crohn’s. For example, some people may develop fistulas, which are treated with antibiotics or surgery, while abscesses can be drained with a needle or during surgery.
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Living with Crohn’s disease
Diet can play a role in how a person manages Crohn’s disease. While there is no one type of Crohn’s disease diet—and a food that triggers symptoms in one person may not trigger any in another–there are some general tips for eating wisely with Crohn’s. Experts recommend that people who are living with Crohn’s disease keep a food diary, where they can record what they eat and what types of symptoms they experience afterwards.
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To avoid triggering GI symptoms, people with Crohn’s may want to eat smaller meals more frequently and drink more liquids. It may also help to decrease the intake of insoluble fiber, especially during a flare; found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable skins, insoluble fiber can draw water into the gut and cause bloating, gas, and cramping. Other foods to avoid include butter, heavy cream, and carbonated drinks.
Some people also say that a low-FODMAP diet can help relieve these symptoms. FODMAPs (the acronym stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are certain sugars that are poorly absorbed by some people. FODMAPs can be found in some fruits and veggies, dairy, legumes, and artificial sweeteners, among other sources. Because a low-FODMAP diet can be complex, experts recommend consulting with a dietitian about what you can and cannot eat on the plan. A doctor or dietitian may also recommend supplements for people with Crohn’s disease who aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals through their diet.