In this medical video learn how three million Americans have Crohn's disease. When medications fail, alternative treatments may provide relief.
Read the full transcript »
Jennifer Matthews: Life is full of ups and downs. Seventeen-year-old Allie Spitz knows how to deal with both. Allie Spitz: I never thought anything like this could even happen like I had no idea about it. Jennifer Matthews: Just two years ago, this five-foot stick of dynamite dropped to 85 pounds and was forced into the hospital. Esther Battock: You get scared that there's something seriously wrong with your child. Jennifer Matthews: Allie has Crohn's disease. After medications failed, her mom turned to alternative ways to help her child. Allie Spitz: She just gave me these Chinese teas, and I drink them three times a day. Jennifer Matthews: Allie has also given up sugar, spicy foods and dairy. Stanford-trained Doctor Lewis Mehl-Madrona has seen firsthand how diet affects Crohn's disease. To get better, he says people need to take a step back. Dr. Mehl-Madrona: It involves eating the way people ate 40,000 years ago. Jennifer Matthews: Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the intestines that causes painful ulcers and bleeding. Dr. Mehl-Madrona says some people simply can't tolerate processed foods. Dr. Mehl-Madrona: It can be like a runaway freight train where you are, already you are sensitive and you eat foods that are particularly bad for you, and it gets worse. Jennifer Matthews: Key points of the specific diet include staying away from grains and dairy and choosing meat and vegetables instead. Dr. Mehl-Madrona: It's basically a hunter-gatherer diet. Jennifer Matthews: He says 80 percent of the people he's put on special diets have improved. It's a change for Allie, but she's sticking to her diet, working out, and doing it all pain-free. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.