Alternative Treatments

Patients dealing with Crohn’s Disease may be reluctant to try some of the traditional medications prescribed to treat this autoimmune disorder. Even those who have already tried many of the medicines with limited results and disturbing side effects may eventually be ready to try something different. Many of them are looking for something more natural.

In today’s world, alternative treatments are available for every condition. Oils and herbs are being examined and assessed for their natural, side effect-free healing effects. By understanding what causes Crohn’s, a patient can learn how to naturally achieve remission or, at the very least, a reduction in symptoms.

While it is important to note that the FDA and many physicians do not endorse alternative treatments in lieu of traditional medicine, some patients have found relief through alternative treatments. Other patients have found relief by combining alternative treatments with pharmaceutical remedies, finding the right combination that works for them. As with all medications and alternative treatments, be sure to check in with your doctor before you try anything new.

Below are a few alternatives treatments for Crohn’s Disease.

Probiotics

Your gastrointestinal tract is full of good bacteria whose function is to fight bad bacteria. The good bacteria are called "probiotics" and are supplied to babies through the mother’s birth canal and later through her milk during nursing. Once we mature, probiotics are provided to us through the foods we eat but sometimes that isn’t quite enough.

Through probiotic supplements, available through products like Phillips Colon Health and Align Digestive Care, Crohn’s patients can help restore the state of bacteria in their digestive tracts, which can become unbalanced due to problems with the body’s immune response. Crohn’s patients considering probiotic supplements should look for one that is free of dairy, as dairy can be upsetting to the digestive system. Patients should also look for probiotics that contain both the L. acidophilus and L. bifidus organisms, both of which promote digestive health.

Fish Oil     

Fish oil has long been used to promote cholesterol health, but its benefits to Crohn’s patients have also been discovered. For Crohn’s sufferers, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish oil are thought by some to reduce inflammation, which is responsible for Crohn’s symptoms.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, patients given fish oil were found less likely to relapse in a study, with patients taking fish oil found twice as likely to remain in remission as those who took a placebo. A British study found that EPA and DHA reduced Crohn’s patients’ rate of inflammation. EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is known for its ability to reduce inflammation. It has been used in tests for schizophrenia and other mental conditions and is also thought to be beneficial to patients going through chemotherapy. DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, is also an omega-3 fatty acid, often studied for use in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

In general, the FDA has recommended fish oil be incorporated into diets for its overall health benefits, but because the oils are so often depleted from fish by the time it is eaten, supplements are generally the only way to get fish oil.

Acupuncture

Some Crohn’s patients have received relief from symptoms by using acupuncture.

With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a practice of using thin needles, inserted into the skin, to redirect the body’s energy and therefore facilitate healing. Acupuncture can be applied to any medical condition, but in Crohn’s disease, acupuncturists are specifically interested in several core benefits of acupuncture.

By applying needles to crucial areas, acupuncturists can help stimulate the release of endorphins that will help control pain, stimulate circulation, and influence the autonomic nerve system. By helping the body work better, acupuncturists hope to strengthen the body’s immune system and fight infection, as well as reducing symptoms.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a treatment option for patients dealing with any disorder of the immune system. Patients are generally hooked up to a machine that is able to deliver a signal—usually a series of beeps or lights—that provide “feedback” about the body’s processes. The physician can use this feedback to adjust treatment. The beeps or lights are then adjusted and delivered in a varied way in future treatments. These machines often work by gathering electrical signals from a person’s tissues and muscles. The machine then converts those signals to feedback it gives to the patient, cuing that patient to correct whatever action his or her body is doing. The theory is that this will allow the body to learn to heal itself, providing a healthier way to battle conditions like Crohn’s disease.