Crohns Disease and Holistic Treatment
Crohn’s disease is classified as a chronic gastrointestinal (GI) inflammatory disease. This condition may occur in any part of the GI tract, but is most commonly found in the colon and in the lower small intestine (ileum). Although Crohn’s disease has no known cause, immune factors, infectious organisms (fungal, bacterial, viral), and dietary factors (including chemicals and drugs) have been linked to the condition.
Symptoms of Crohn’s include:
- Chronic and persistent diarrhea
- Abdominal pain (LRQ)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Ulcerations of the mouth
- Abdominal Right Lower Quadrant fullness or swelling (may mimic appendicitis)
- Pus, mucus, and blood may be in the stool
In addition to GI symptoms, Crohn’s disease may have other complications involving the mouth, skin, and joints. Some examples include: episcleritis, aphthous stomatitis, arthritis of the larger joints, & ankylosing spondylitis.
Since the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, there is no specific Western medicine treatment. Drugs often mask the symptoms but do not treat the underlying cause. What this means to Crohn’s patients, is taking a drug, which, unfortunately, frequently comes with side effects. Some types of drugs given to Crohn’s patients include: Antidiarrheal drugs, Antibiotics, Salicylate drugs, and others.
Chinese Medicine perspective of Crohn’s Disease: According to TCM, Crohn’s disease may be caused by constitutional deficiencies, invasion of exterior pathogenic factors, and/or an unbalanced diet. TCM uses Chinese herbal formulas, acupuncture, and dietary recommendations in order to treat the root cause of the illness (not just simply symptom relief). In my clinical experience, using a combination of all three modalities is the most effective way of treating Crohn’s disease.
Research has shown that acupuncture is an excellent therapy for people suffering from Crohn’s disease. In 1979, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed over 40 diseases that could be improved or healed by acupuncture treatment: diseases of the intestinal tract were included in that list. This is not surprising since acupuncture works through the nervous system and energy channels in the body. Acupuncture has also been shown to balance (improve) the immune system, calm the nervous system, and stimulate the brain to release endorphins and encephalins (natural pain killers). It has also been established that all psycho-physiological health problems (of which Crohn’s disease is included) are particularly suitable for acupuncture treatment.
Dietary Recommendations play a very important role in prevention and effective treatment of Crohn’s disease. Dietary intake of excessive cold or raw food may injure the spleen and stomach. Patients are also advised to avoid certain food triggers, such as certain chemicals, milk & other dairy products (especially in patients with lactose intolerance). High roughage like raw fruits and vegetables sometimes worsen the intestinal obstruction and colic and should be avoided. In addition to eating the wrong food, it is important to have adequate fluid and calorie intake, as malnutrition and dehydration are common problems associated with Crohn’s disease.
There are, however, cases where just acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is not appropriate. If the patient has such complications as toxic colitis or toxic megacolon, immediate hospitalization is required. In addition, serious complications such as massive hemorrhaging, free perforation, or fulminating toxic colitis require immediate surgical intervention.
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