August 22, 2023

What is Crohn’s Disease? A Functional Medicine Approach

Have you been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease?  Do you wonder what could be causing this condition?  Let’s first talk about what Crohn’s disease is … Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the GI tract, which extends from your stomach down to your anus. 

It is autoimmune in nature, meaning your body is attacking your entire GI tract, causing inflammation and symptoms …

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease:

Crohn’s disease that is somewhat progressed will typically have symptoms such as crampy abdominal pain with blood in stool, an urgent need to move the bowels, extreme fatigue, unintended weight loss, anemia, and mouth sores.  

Early symptoms can be similar to abdominal conditions such as IBS with symptoms of abdominal pain, alternating diarrhea and constipation, and a feeling of incomplete bowel emptying.

Common treatments for Crohn’s disease?

The goal of treatment is to decrease inflammation in your intestines to prevent flare-ups of your symptoms.  Some commonly used medications include:

  • Aminosalicylates like Sulfasalazine decrease prostaglandins in the intestines, decreasing inflammation1.
  • Corticosteroids like prednisone reduce immune function, thereby decreasing inflammation and autoimmune activity1.
  • Immunomodulators like methotrexate which reduce immune system activity and decrease inflammation through decreasing auto-immune activity1.
  • Antibiotics, acetominophen, and medications to stop diarrhea may also be used as needed. 
  • Surgery may be needed if the crohn’s disease is not well controlled1

A functional approach to crohn’s disease:

How does functional medicine view and treat a patient with crohn’s disease?  The functional approach takes into account the many facets that are contributory to the development of autoimmune disease and crohn’s disease such as diet, exercise, sleep, stress and other TRIGGERS….Using the 5R approach – remove, replace, reinoculate, repair and rebalance

  • Diet:  an anti-inflammatory diet is key to managing crohns disease and flare ups.  Eating foods that support a good microbial balance with plenty of pro and prebiotic foods, foods that help to heal the gut lining, and maintaining a good fatty acid ratio with plenty of omega 3 fats as well as finding and avoiding food triggers.  
  • Vitamin D:  maintaining an adequate vitamin D level will help with immune function, lower inflammation and boost your mood.
  • Stress: chronic, prolonged stress increases inflammation in the body, decreases beneficial bacteria in the GI tract and promotes leaky gut.  Managing stress is key to reversal and remission of autoimmune diseases like crohn’s disease.   Some modalities that may be recommended include:
    • Mindfulness-Based Interventions
    • Hypnotherapy
    • Relaxation Training
    • Acupuncture
  • Triggers:  finding and removing triggers to intestinal inflammation such as parasites, fungi, yeasts, mold, pathogenic bacteria and food triggers will restore the balance and homestasis in the GI tract promoting enhanced immune function and decreased inflammation. 
  • Immune modification with phytonutrients and herbals.  Yes, certain botanicals and herbals can help to restore immune function!  

If I use the functional approach will I avoid the use of medications for my crohn’s disease?

The goal of treatment is to treat the underlying cause(s) and cool the inflammation through immune system modulation. The functional approach can help to get to the cause of the immune dysfunction leading to the development of crohns disease by working with their patients to develop a lifestyle plan that is doable and effective for each individual. 

Depending on the severity of the condition medications may be needed to prevent organ damage while working on identifying and treating triggers.  

Crohn’s Disease Help in Melbourne Beach, Florida

If you struggle with crohn’s disease, autoimmune disease or other abdominal symptoms set up a FREE consultation today! We are located in Sunny Melbourne Beach, Florida. Take control of your health today! Book your complimentary call now to discover the power of functional medicine to tackle Crohn’s Disease. Don’t wait, start your journey to optimal wellness today!

References:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease/treatment

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