Tummy troubles are the worst, aren’t they? And for people who suffer from Crohn’s disease, the specter of an upset stomach is constantly looming in the background. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that results in inflammation of your digestive system. Although any part of the digestive system, from your mouth to your anal passage, may be inflamed if you have this condition, it most commonly affects the lower end of your small intestine. Crohn’s disease typically causes diarrhea and abdominal pain. You might also experience symptoms like fever, weight loss, and bleeding from your rectum.
While it’s not clearly known what causes this condition, an abnormal reaction by your immune system may lie at the root of the inflammation. It might also have a genetic component as it has been found to run in families. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, though people with this illness do experience periods of remission and relapse. Conventional medicines and nutrient supplements are often prescribed to tackle its symptoms. Many natural remedies too can help you manage the illness better. Weigh in the following options with help from your doctor and get your condition on track!1
1. Modify Your Diet: Avoid Carbonated Drinks, Gassy Veggies, And High Fiber Foods
Certain foods and beverages may irritate your digestive tract and exacerbate symptoms if you have Crohn’s. Since all people don’t react in the same manner to certain foods, it’s important to keep a food journal to track what could trigger your symptoms. Here are some dietary tips that are typically helpful:
- Spicy foods, carbonated drinks, fatty foods, and dairy products may be “trigger” foods that cause symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea. Avoid these to manage symptoms better and to give your intestines time to heal.
- High-fiber foods such as vegetable skins, popcorn, nuts and veggies like broccoli, beans, and cauliflower can cause gas. The main culprit here is thought to be insoluble fiber which is difficult to digest and causes gas and bloating. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, can help lessen diarrhea by absorbing water in the gut. Many foods contain both kinds of fiber but peeling and cooking fruits and vegetables as well as removing seeds reduce the content of insoluble fiber. And refined grains have less insoluble fiber than whole grains.
- Having large quantities of food can make it tougher to digest. So eat smaller meals more frequently rather than 3 large meals in a day. Also, remember to drink sufficient fluids.
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco may ease symptoms.
Work with a dietician to ensure your nutritional needs are met when you modify your diet. Your nutritionist will also recommend foods that fortify your body. For instance, oxidative stress, caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants that can counter them, is thought to play a major contributing role in Crohn’s disease. 2
2. Drink Lemongrass Tea
Lemongrass is a fragrant herb typically used in Asian cooking that has many medicinal properties. And it might help those with Crohn’s too. When your body is injured or fighting an infection, your immune system gets activated and triggers an inflammation. It sends a flood of white blood cells to the problem area to protect your body. However, if you have a chronic inflammatory condition such as Crohn’s disease, the inflammation persists and white blood cells end up acting against healthy tissues. But citral, a compound present in lemongrass, can suppress certain white blood cells known as lymphocytes which have a role in inflammation.5
Steep a few stalks of lemongrass in boiling water and make a refreshing and healing tea. Have this every day. Remember to cut off the roots, remove any leaves, and bruise the base of the stalks gently at the base before steeping.
3. Have Fish Oil
Omega−3 fatty acids present in fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties which can help people with Crohn’s disease. A one-year study found that taking 2.7 g of fish oil daily more than doubled the chances of remaining in remission. Get in fish oil through fatty fishes such as herring, salmon, and mackerel. Talk to your nutritionist to explore if you should have a fish oil supplement.6
4. Take Psyllium And Probiotics
Probiotic or helpful bacteria can tackle a range of conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and vaginal infections. And it turns out that by populating your gut with these “good” bacteria, they can help with Crohn’s disease too. One study treated people suffering from Crohn’s with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria as well as psyllium. Psyllium is a kind of fiber which has prebiotic activity. That is, it encourages the growth of probiotic bacteria in your gut. It was found that the combination of prebiotic fiber and probiotics significantly reduced index scores which measured both inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease.
Probiotics are naturally present in fermented foods like yogurt but do remember that different strains of bacteria have different effects. So if you’re planning on getting a healthy dose of probiotics from food, check the label for the bacteria it contains.7
5. Have Pineapples For Bromelain
Bromelain is a mix of enzymes present in pineapples that helps break down proteins. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies have found that it can ward off proinflammatory cells which play a part in gut inflammation.89
Snacking on pineapples may help ease the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease. But since they contain both insoluble fiber and fructose, some people may not tolerate pineapples well. If you find that pineapples trigger symptoms, bromelain supplements can be considered instead.
6. Add Turmeric To Your Diet
Curcumin, a compound present in turmeric, is known to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A small study found that treating with 360 mg of curcumin thrice a day for a month, followed by treatment with the same amount four times a day for a period of 2 months, resulted in an improvement in Crohn’s disease. Incorporate turmeric into your daily cooking, be it soups or curries. You can also brew yourself a soothing cup of turmeric tea.10
7. Take Indian Frankincense Extract
Ayurvedic preparations containing the gum resin of Indian frankincense or Boswellia serrata have been traditionally used to deal with inflammatory diseases. Studies have shown that this remedy can result in a remission rate which is similar to that from conventional therapy. Compounds known as pentacyclic triterpene acids present in Boswellia serrata are known to have anti-inflammatory effects and may account for its beneficial effects.11 12
Standardized extracts of the gum resin of boswellia are available. However, it should not be used continuously for more than 8 weeks as it can be harmful. It’s also a good idea to speak to a doctor before using this remedy if you are on any medication as it can interact with some medicines.13
8. Drink Marshmallow Tea
Marshmallow is another remedy that can help people with Crohn’s disease. But we’re talking about the herb Althea officinalis here, not the sugary treats that you toast over campfires! This herb helps by soothing the mucous membrane lining your digestive tract.
Make a marshmallow tea by steeping 2–5 gm of the dried leaf or root in a cup of boiling water. Have a cup of this healing tea thrice a day for relief. Do keep in mind though that this remedy is not suitable for diabetics. Also, since marshmallow can interact with lithium as well as other medicines, consult your doctor if you’re on any medication.14
9. Try Homeopathic Remedies: Podophyllum, Mercurius, And Veratrum Album
Your homeopathic doctor will suggest an appropriate remedy for Crohn’s based on your individual constitution. Factors such as your emotional, psychological, and physical makeup will be taken into account. Some remedies that might be suggested include:
- Podophyllum is used for those with explosive diarrhea which gets worse after eating and leaves you fatigued.
- Mercurius is used for bad smelling diarrhea which may be accompanied by blood streaks. This remedy may be appropriate if you also experience body temperature changes and feel fatigued after bowel moments.
- Veratrum album is used for watery diarrhea along with bloat, stomach cramps, exhaustion, vomiting, and chills.
10. Give Acupuncture A Shot
Acupuncture has traditionally been used to treat inflammatory bowel disease in China. One study administered 10 acupuncture sessions over a period of 4 weeks to people with Crohn’s disease. They not only experienced a reduction in an index that measured the intensity of Crohn’s disease but also found that the treatment improved their quality of life and general well-being. Moxibustion, a process during which heat is applied by burning herbs at acupuncture sites, may also be used by certain acupuncturists while treating this condition. However, be sure to consult a certified acupuncturist to explore this option.15
|↑1||Crohn’s Disease. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Alzoghaibi, Mohammed A. “Concepts of oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in Crohn’s disease.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 19, no. 39 (2013): 6540.|
|↑3||Crohn’s disease. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑4||Diet, Nutrition, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.|
|↑5||Watanabe, Chikako, Ryota Hokari, Shunsuke Komoto, Chie Kurihara, Yoshikiyo Okada, Hisayuki Matsunaga, Koichi Takebayashi et al. “Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) ameliorates murine spontaneous ileitis by decreasing lymphocyte recruitment to the inflamed intestine.” Microcirculation 17, no. 5 (2010): 321-332.|
|↑6||Belluzzi, Andrea, Corrado Brignola, Massimo Campieri, Angelo Pera, Stefano Boschi, and Mario Miglioli. “Effect of an enteric-coated fish-oil preparation on relapses in Crohn’s disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 334, no. 24 (1996): 1557-1560.|
|↑7||Fujimori, Shunji, Atsushi Tatsuguchi, Katya Gudis, Teruyuki Kishida, Keigo Mitsui, Akihito Ehara, Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, Yoshihisa Sekita, Tsuguhiko Seo, and Choitsu Sakamoto. “High dose probiotic and prebiotic cotherapy for remission induction of active Crohn’s disease.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology 22, no. 8 (2007): 1199-1204.|
|↑8||Ke, Fei, Praveen Kumar Yadav, and Liu Zhan Ju. “Herbal medicine in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.” Saudi journal of gastroenterology: official journal of the Saudi Gastroenterology Association 18, no. 1 (2012): 3.|
|↑9||Skowron, Jared M. 100 Natural Remedies for Your Child: The Complete Guide to Safe, Effective Treatments for Childhood’s Most Common Ailments, from Allergies to Weight Loss. Rodale, 2011.|
|↑10||Holt, Peter R., Seymour Katz, and Robert Kirshoff. “Curcumin therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: a pilot study.” Digestive diseases and sciences 50, no. 11 (2005): 2191-2193.|
|↑11||Langmead, L., and D. S. Rampton. “Complementary and alternative therapies for inflammatory bowel disease.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 23, no. 3 (2006): 341-349.|
|↑12||Ammon, H. P. “Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.” Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift (1946) 152, no. 15-16 (2002): 373-378.|
|↑13||Crohn disease. University of Maryland.|
|↑14||Crohn disease. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑15||Joos, Stefanie, Benno Brinkhaus, Christa Maluche, Nathalie Maupai, Ralf Kohnen, Nils Kraehmer, Eckhart G. Hahn, and Detlef Schuppan. “Acupuncture and moxibustion in the treatment of active Crohn’s disease: a randomized controlled study.” Digestion 69, no. 3 (2004): 131-139.|