Nutritional Rx for Crohn's and Colitis
By Ligaya Figueras
If you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, you have more control than you might think. A Crohn's disease expert shares some natural ways to help ease symptoms.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, or know someone who has, then you no doubt understand that living with this chronic disorder can be challenging. Many people, however, have never heard of Crohn’s disease—or worse, may be unknowingly living with the condition themselves. A chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, Crohn’s and a related disease, ulcerative colitis—in which inflammation is limited to the colon—are the two main disease categories that belong to a group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America estimates that as many as 1.4 million Americans have IBD. Although there is currently no cure for these conditions, proper diagnosis and treatment can improve the health of those suffering from IBD and enable them to lead productive, active lives.

Difficult to diagnose
Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can afflict people of all ages, although these diseases tend to present themselves when people are in their teens or early 20s. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding are typical symptoms of Crohn’s disease, which can involve any part of the intestinal tract, although it most commonly affects the small intestine or colon. The illness can cause appetite loss, weight loss, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Perianal discomfort—itchiness or pain around the anus—can also be a sign. In children, Crohn’s can manifest as a growth failure and can lead to delayed sexual development.

“The disease can vary so greatly among people that it’s sometimes difficult to diagnose,” says Tracie Dalessandro, RD, a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America speaker and advisory committee member, and author of What to Eat with IBD: A Comprehensive Nutrition and Recipe Guide for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Dalessandro, who specializes in inflammatory bowel diseases, has lived with Crohn’s for more than two decades. She was 19 when she first experienced symptoms, and it took two years before a gastroenterologist finally diagnosed her with Crohn’s.

Treatment Options
Once a patient is diagnosed with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, then they can start exploring treatment options. “IBDs are autoimmune diseases like arthritis or multiple sclerosis,” says Dalessandro. “You need to control the inflammatory process.” Many people opt for medication and are often told by their doctors that this is the only way to control the disease. This is not true. There are many natural alternatives that can help correct the underlying cause of the illness. Since Crohn’s varies so wildly from patient to patient, you will get the best results by working with a naturopath (visit to find a naturopathic doctor in your area).

Jordan Rubin, founder of Garden of Life nutritional supplements, cured himself of what was considered a terminal case of Crohn’s disease by radically changing his diet (eating only whole, organic foods) and using nutritional supplements, particularly probiotics with homeostatic soil organisms (found in Garden of Life’s Primal Defense). To learn more about Rubin’s inspirational health journey, pick up a copy of Patient Heal Thyself.

Product Examples

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin D3 is a whole-food complex that provides vitamin D3 along with probiotics and enzymes, with no added binders.

Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support 299v contains a proprietary probiotic strain shown in clinical trials to alleviate symptoms of IBS and IBD.

ReNew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Colon Bifido Max 80 Billion is a maximum-strength probiotic formulated to help replenish beneficial bifidobacteria in the colon. This exciting, new product is now available at health food stores.

Natren Healthy Trinity provides 30 billion colony forming units of effective beneficial bacteria per capsule, including probiotic “super strains” with guaranteed potency.

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