• Granulomatous Ileitis, Ileocolitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Regional Enteritis
Crohn's disease is a disease of the bowel that is closely related to
The major symptoms of Crohn's disease include fever, non-bloody or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. The rectum may be severely affected, leading to fissures, abscesses, and fistulas (hollow passages). Intestinal obstruction can occur, and over time fistulas may develop in the small bowel. Other complications include gallstones, increased risk of cancer in the small bowel and colon, and pain in or just below the stomach that mimics the pain of an ulcer. Arthritis, skin sores, and liver problems may develop as well.
Crohn's disease tends to wax and wane, with periods of remission punctuated by severe flare-ups. Medical treatment aims at reducing symptoms and inducing and maintaining remission.
Sulfasalazine is one of the most commonly used medications for Crohn's disease. Given either orally or as an enema, it can both decrease symptoms and prevent recurrences. Corticosteroids such as prednisone are used similarly, sometimes combined with immunosuppressive drugs such as azathioprine. In severe cases, partial removal of the bowel may be necessary.
Another approach involves putting people with Crohn's disease on an elemental diet. This involves special formulas consisting of required nutrients but no whole foods. Sometimes, after a period on such a diet, whole foods can be restarted one at a time.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
People with Crohn's disease can easily develop deficiencies in numerous nutrients. Malabsorption, decreased appetite, drug side effects, and increased nutrient loss through the stool may lead to mild or profound deficiencies of protein, vitamins A
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Several natural treatments have shown promise for Crohn’s disease, but none have been proven effective.
In a 10 week double-blind, placebo-controlled study, use of the herb wormwood appeared to successfully enable a reduction of drug dosage in people with Crohn’s Disease. 27
: While these are promising findings, it must be kept in mind that a great many treatments that show promise in a single study fail to hold up in subsequent independent testing. Additional research will be needed to establish wormwood as a helpful treatment for Crohn’s disease. In addition, there are concerns that wormwood might have toxic effects in some people. See the full
One preliminary double-blind study found indications that the
On a positive note, some evidence hints that probiotics might reduce the joint pain that commonly occurs in people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Preliminary investigations hint that
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug articles in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
8. Mulder TP, van der Sluys Veer A, Verspaget HW, et al. Effect of oral zinc supplementation on metallothionein and superoxide dismutase concentrations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. J Gastroenterol Hepatol . 1994;9:472-477.
12. Lorenz-Meyer H, Bauer P, Nicolay C, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and low carbohydrate diet for maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease. A randomized controlled multicenter trial. Study Group Members (German Crohn's Disease Study Group). Scand J Gastroenterol. 1996;31:778-785.
14. Akobeng AK, Miller V, Stanton J, et al. Double-blind randomized controlled trial of glutamine-enriched polymeric diet in the treatment of active Crohn's disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr . 2000;30:78-84.
15. Den Hond E, Hiele M, Peeters M, et al. Effect of long-term oral glutamine supplements on small intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn's disease. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr . 1999;23:7-11.
17. Plein K, Hotz J. Therapeutic effects of Saccharomyces boulardii on mild residual symptoms in a stable phase of Crohn's disease with special respect to chronic diarrhea—a pilot study. Z Gastroenterol . 1993;31:129-134.
21. Romano C, Cucchiara S, Barabino A et al. Usefulness of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in addition to mesalazine in maintaining remission in pediatric Crohn's disease: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. World J Gastroenterol. 2006;11:7118-21.
22. Bousvaros A, Guandalini S, Baldassano RN et al. A Randomized, Double-blind Trial of Lactobacillus GG Versus Placebo in Addition to Standard Maintenance Therapy for Children with Crohn's Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2005;11:833-839.
23. Marteau P, Lemann M, Seksik P et al. Ineffectiveness of Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1 for prophylaxis of postoperative recurrence in Crohn's disease: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled GETAID trial. Gut. 2005 Dec 23 [Epub ahead of print].
26. Van Gossum A, Dewit O, Louis E, et al. Multicenter randomized-controlled clinical trial of probiotics ( Lactobacillus johnsonii , LA1) on early endoscopic recurrence of Crohn's disease after ileo-caecal resection. Inflamm Bowel Dis . 2006 Dec 19 [Epub ahead of print].
28. Rahimi R, Nikfar S, Rahimi F, et al. A meta-analysis on the efficacy of probiotics for maintenance of remission and prevention of clinical and endoscopic relapse in Crohn's disease. Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Feb 14.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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