Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a name for a group of conditions that does exactly as the name suggests- inflame the colon and the small intestines. Conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease fall into this category and can cause a range of symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, stomach pains and cramping and blood loss from the bowels. While symptoms vary in severity these are serious conditions that need to be managed for life.
Thankfully, there are many natural treatments that can make a huge difference to your symptoms. Here is a list of the most important natural treatments I use with my patients:
1- Identify food intolerances or allergies– It is estimated that up to 80% of people with an inflammatory bowel condition will have food intolerances or allergies. This is something that can be tested for using a simple blood test via a finger prick. Ultimately, learning what food your gut does and does not like gives you a brilliant way of managing your symptoms for life and can reduce the frequency of relapses and use of medication.
2- Supplement with gut based anti-inflammatory effects- There are so many well researched and clinically proven gut based anti-inflammatories that go a long way to improving symptoms. These include one of my favourite herbal medicines Turmeric (please see past blog post on the topic) as well as Ginger, Boswellia, Aloe vera, Chamomile and Licorice. In combination these remedies make a huge contribution to reducing inflammation and allowing healing to take place.
3- Include lots of EFAs (essential fatty acids)– EFA’s have an anti-inflammatory effect and this can be done via food. Increase your intake of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and cold pressed oils.
4- Take probiotics– Different strains of probiotics have different effects on our gut and health and some specific strains, such as Lactobacillus Plantarum work by reducing inflammation in the gut. Other strains help to balance the immune response while some can reduce the risk of infections in the gut. A good probiotic can go a long way to making you feel more comfortable.
5- Stress less- Stress is inflammatory. That’s right, being under higher levels of stress can make your IBD symptoms worse. Stress also re-regulates the immune system leading to a weakened ability to fight infection (which can turn into a secondary gut infection) and can make you more prone to autoimmune or allergy type reactions. For many of my IBD patients a period of stress will cause a relapse and this needs to be addressed to manage the condition. Strategies such as regular exercise, good quality sleep, meditation and mindfulness can be helpful.
6- Control your immune response- IBD’s are thought to be auto-immune in nature. This means that the immune system is attacking cells in the digestive tract lining causing the ulceration and inflammation. This means that simply taking anti-inflammatory medication is not the only way to control the disease. Long term suppression of symptoms can be maintained by reducing your bodies’ auto-immune tendencies which allows the inflammation to be downgraded and healing to take place. This can be addressed using a combination of dietary tactics and natural supplementation.
If you would like to chat with me further about how I can help you with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, please give me a call OR email me [email protected]