Herbs & Supplements

For people with Crohn’s disease, hope comes in the form of achieving and maintaining remission as long as possible. There are several prescription medications that can help you manage your symptoms. But some people are turning to alternative medicine.


One remedy that has been researched is Boswellia serrata. Boswellia supplements are derived from trees that produce a sweet-smelling resin rich in carbohydrates, essential oils, and boswellic acids. The acid in the resin is the active ingredient. It’s believed to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

One recent study found that 14 out of 20 people with Crohn’s who received boswellia supplements achieved remission.

Boswellia is sold in health food stores as a dietary supplement. It’s also sometimes used to treat asthma, inflammation, and depression.


Turmeric is a spice that is related to ginger. It gives curry its bright yellow color. Research spanning the past two decades suggests that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has several medicinal properties that may be helpful to people with Crohn’s. They include:

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • anti-cancer properties
  • anti-amyloid properties
  • anti-arthritic properties

It also has antioxidant characteristics and is anti-microbial. This may help fight infections in people with Crohn’s.

According to research, one major challenge in using turmeric to treat Crohn’s is delivering a high enough dose. This is because people with Crohn’s have trouble absorbing turmeric during digestion. Currently, researchers are developing different ways to deliver turmeric into the body for maximum absorption.

Additionally, the health risks of consuming turmeric must be considered for each person. The compound may worsen gallbladder illnesses, interact with blood-thinning medications and interfere with iron absorption. When curcumin is in the body, it may also act similarly to hormones. You should speak to your doctor before taking this supplement if you have a condition that’s sensitive to hormones.

Green Tea

Green tea is popular across the world. Health enthusiasts have long touted the many health benefits of green tea over the years, but its effects on the bowels and colon are still being researched. In recent rodent studies, green tea was found to reduce colon inflammation as well as the Crohn’s medication sulfasalazine. It also reduced rodents’ risk of colon cancer. It’s unclear if green tea has the same effects on people, but there are no risks in consuming it.


Marshmallow is more than just a sweet white dessert you roast over the fire. An herb called marshmallow that comes from the Althaea officinalis plant has been tapped for use in treating Crohn’s.

Recent research suggests marshmallow can soothe tissues during healing, especially in the stomach. This reduces inflammation in people with Crohn’s. Additionally, the root protects the lining of the stomach. This reduces stomach acids with no apparent side effects on the body.


N-acetylglucosamine is a supplement most often derived from shellfish. In some tests, it has been linked to success in treating autoimmune disorders. The supplement can stop cells that produce inflammation. One study found that N-acetylglucosamine supplements reduced colon inflammation in children with Crohn’s with no negative side effects.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which strengthen bones. As a result, it’s become a staple in many multivitamin supplements on the market.

Recent studies suggest vitamin D may be helpful in treating Crohn’s. Chronic vitamin D deficiencies are common in people with Crohn’s. Some researchers have found that chronic vitamin D deficiencies can lead to inflammation in the stomach and colon. By adding vitamin D back into the diet, people with Crohn’s may help minimize symptoms and increase immune system health. Since Crohn’s is caused by a malfunction in your autoimmune system, providing a boost to your body’s immune system can be a bonus.


Vitamin B-12 is important for making new cells and breaking down fats and proteins in the body. It also protects nerve cells and helps make red blood cells.

People with Crohn’s commonly have B-12 deficiencies. Recent research suggests that supplemental vitamin D can help diminish the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It can also aid in recovery from anemia, a common nutritional disorder among people with Crohn’s.

The Takeaway

Herbs and supplements can complement your treatment plan. However, you should always consult your doctor before starting any of these treatments. They may interfere with your current medications, allergies, or existing health conditions.