Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This means that there is inflammation affecting the tissues of the digestive tract. It can affect any section of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus.
It is an autoimmune condition, whcih means that the damage is caused by your own immune system attacking your body. Ulcers can form where inflammation has damaged the cells that usually line the bowel – they can then bleed, become infected and produce pus.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Feeling generally unwell
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Low grade fever
- Pain in lower right side of your tummy area
- Anaemia or low iron levels
- Blood in stool
Who gets it?
- Mostly starts before 35 years of age, generally between the ages of 14 and 24 years. It affects both men and women.
- About 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a relative with IBD or other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
- It is more common in people of Caucasian and Jewish decent.
What causes it?
The cause of Crohn’s disease is not known. There are some common theories that are listed below.
- Infection by a virus or bacteria. Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), is a bacterium that causes intestinal disease in cattle. Ask us how to test for this organism.
- Food allergies – intolerane to dairy and gluten are common.
- Genes – a genetic mutation has been found. Comprehensive health genetic testing is also available.
- Measles – there is thought to be a link with the measles virus as measles-specific DNA has been found in tissue affected by Crohns.
- Arthritis (affecting knees, ankles and wrists). This can often precede bowel symptoms by several years.
- Fistulas (a crack in the tissue) may form in the area around the anus. These occur when damage extends through the layers lining the colon and can extend into other organs such as the bladder, vagina and to the skin.
- Colonoscopy – This allows viewing the entire colon using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with an attached camera. Small samples of tissue (biopsy) are taken for laboratory analysis, which may help confirm a diagnosis. In the majority of people with Crohn’s diagnosis is made through biopsy and the location of the disease.
- Antibodies may be found against certain foods – we recommend a full assessment of likely contributors
- Stool analysis – to check for the presence of bacteria and the balance of the gut microbiome.
- Eliminate wheat and dairy or known allergen, also alcohol, caffeine and sugar. Most people with Crohn’s are found to have food allergies, the most common being wheat and dairy products.
- High potency multivitamins can help as malabsorption is often a problem for Crohn’s sufferers.
- Fish oils help decrease inflammation.
- Probiotics – specific strains can aid in reducing inflammation, and re-establishing a beneficial microbial community, which help the cells lining the colon to regenerate.
- Eat 5 – 6 smaller meals throughout the day, to reduce the chance of aggravating the gut.
What House of Health Naturopaths can do to Help You
- Use herbal medicine and nutritional supplements as prescribed to reduce the inflammation.
- Where indicated, recommend comprehensive stool testing to identify parasites and other undesirable gut inhabitants
- Support you through gut cleansing and remedial programs where an imbalance is detected.
- Recommend specialised practitioner-only digestive supplements to heal your digestive system.
- Help balance your immune system.
- Identify nutritional deficiencies and correct them using higher dose practitioner only mineral and vitamin supplements to correct any nutritional deficiencies.