Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are 2 types of autoimmune inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that affect various parts of the gastrointestinal system. Alongside with mainstream medical treatment, both these conditions can be co-managed with naturopathic treatment to bring about a reduction in symptoms and better health outcomes for people suffering with IBD.
Crohn’s disease generally affects the distal ileum (last part of the small intestine) or the colon. Common symptoms that people with Crohn’s may experience include chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss. Remissions are common with Crohn’s disease and surgery may be required at times, if obstruction occurs.
Ulcerative colitis usually begins in the rectum and as it develops, it affects the mucosa of the colon, sometimes spreading to the entire colon. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include attacks of bloody diarrhoea with mucus present, strong defecation urgency and lower abdominal cramping. Other symptoms that may occur include fatigue, fever and weight loss. As with Crohn’s disease, remissions are common.
Naturopathic management of IBD
Although naturopathic treatment can be used to successfully manage IBD, it must be noted that as with other autoimmune conditions, naturopathic treatment may take up to 12 months or more with ongoing naturopathic care and flare ups may still occur from time to time. Naturopathic treatment of IBD addresses these conditions from various angles in order to treat the whole person.
Firstly, intestinal inflammation needs to be reduced and the microbiome balance restored, as well as intestinal permeability corrected. This may be achieved through the use of specific herbal medicine, nutritional supplements and probiotics, as well as dietary modification to support the healing process. This step also ensures that the digestive function is improved in order to aid the body to more effectively break down and absorb nutrients from our diet. Secondly, the nervous system must be supported in order to reduce stress, fatigue and to increase psychological resilience. This can be achieved with a combination of herbal medicine and lifestyle modification such as exercise, meditation, or hypnotherapy/counselling. Finally, ensuring continuity of treatment and compliance with prescriptions will help to ensure that patients are giving their bodies the best chance to heal.
Through the use of an integrative approach alongside your mainstream medical treatment, naturopathic treatment can yield effective results for patients with IBD.
If you would like to find out more about naturopathic treatment at Shift Clinic, or if you would like to book an initial diagnostic and assessment session with one of our naturopath, please call Shift Clinic on 07 3367 0337.