Q&A: Crohn’s disease Treating Crohn’s naturally

* Diet: Many Crohn’s sufferers have benefitted from a diet that’s high in fibre and low in sugar (Gastroenterology, 1987; 92: 1483). Avoid polyunsaturated fats, and foods that contain the amino acids glutamine (such as beef, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy) and arginine (such as carob, chocolate, coconut, dairy and gelatin). If you suspect that a food allergy/sensitivity is the culprit, begin by cutting dairy and wheat from the diet.

* Nutrition: Fish-oil capsules, and especially omega-3, proved helpful to Crohn’s sufferers in one study (N Engl J Med, 1996; 334: 1557-60). Supplementing with folic acid can also help (Scand J Gastroenterol, 1979; 14: 1019-24), as can vitamin E (Am J Clin Nutr, 1976; 29: 1333-8). It’s important to support your gut’s mucosa (inner lining) with the B, C, A and D vitamins. If the condition is chronic, vitamin K may also be useful (Am J Clin Nutr, 1985; 41: 639-43). Probiotics can help boost the gut’s ‘friendly’ bacteria.

* Herbs: If you believe that bacteria could be the cause, try goldenseal, which is rich in berberine, a natural antibiotic (Nature, 1967; 215: 527-8). Another herbal, recommended by a number of readers, is slippery elm, available in tablet form.

* Mind-body: There’s evidence that our emotions, especially stress, can affect Crohn’s. It’s not surprising to learn that psychotherapists have had great success with the condition, even though it’s never been reported in the medical literature. Hypnotherapy has also proved to be effective in relieving symptoms, and biofeedback has had similarly impressive results (Ann Intern Med, 1985; 103: 291-3).

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