The symptoms of Crohn’s vary depending on which part of the intestine is inflamed.
There may be long periods that last for weeks or months where you have very mild or no symptoms, followed by periods where the symptoms are particularly troublesome. These are known as flare-ups.
Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- recurring diarrhea
- abdominal pain and cramping (the pain is usually worse after eating)
- blood and mucus in your feces (stools)
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- weight loss
You may find that you experience all or only one of the above.
Weight loss can be caused by a combination of factors. For example, inflammation can interfere with your ability to digest food, and the symptoms of pain and diarrhoea can reduce your appetite.
Less common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- high temperature (fever) of 38°C (100°F) or above
- feeling sick (nausea)
- being sick (vomiting)
- joint pain and swelling (arthritis)
- inflammation and irritation of the eyes (uveitis)
- skin rashes
When to seek medical advice:
You should contact your doctor if you have:
- persistent diarrhoea that does not respond to over-the-counter (OTC) medication
- persistent abdominal pain
- unexplained weight loss
- blood in your feces (stools)
Crohn’s disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet and nutrition, food allergies, imbalanced levels of hydrochloric acid, impaired immunity, infections, lack of exercise, “leaky gut” syndrome, pharmaceutical drugs, and stress.
Diet and Nutrition: One of the primary causes of Crohn’s disease, as well as other gastrointestinal disorders, is a diet high in commercially processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats, and which contains an abundance of chemical additives and preservatives while lacking adequate amounts of fiber. Such a diet, which is sadly all too typical of the way many people eat in the United States and other industrialized countries, not only places a great burden on the gastrointestinal tract, it can also result in serious nutritional deficiencies. All of these factors combined can lead to excess acidity in the GI tract, indigestion, poor absorption of food nutrients, “leaky gut” syndrome, a buildup of toxins, and autoimmune reactions, all of which can cause the gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed and ulcerated.
Food Allergies: Food allergies, while often overlooked or misdiagnosed by conventional physicians, are another common cause of Crohn’s disease, as well as many other disease conditions. If you suffer from Crohn’s disease, or any other gastrointestinal disorder, it is very important that you be tested for food allergies and sensitivities. Common allergy-causing foods include milk and dairy products, wheat, gluten (a component of wheat products), corn, and chocolate, but any food has the potential to cause food allergies.
Imbalanced Hydrochloric Acid Levels: Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is secreted by the stomach to aid in the digestion of food. Many people suffer from a lack of HCl production, however, which can lead to impaired digestion and poor absorption of food nutrients, and can eventually affect the areas of the GI tract where Crohn’s disease occurs. Similarly, an excess of HCl production can result in a state of over-acidity, causing heartburn, flatulence, and ulceration of the lining of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
Impaired Immune Function: Impaired immunity can also cause or contribute to Crohn’s disease, as well as other GI disorders due to the relationship between diminished immune function and poor absorption of nutrients from food. In addition, poor immunity can also result in an increase in toxins within the gastrointestinal tract, as well as cause autoimmune reactions that actually attack the cells of the intestinal lining, leading to ulcers and inflammation. Autoimmune reactions have been shown by research to be linked to both Crohn’s disease and colitis.
Infections: Infections caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses all negatively affect overall gastrointestinal health. Viruses and bacteria such as Epstein-Barr virus, Cytomegalovirus, Pseudomonas, Chlamydia, and Yersinia enterocolitica are especially common in cases of Crohn’s disease. In addition to releasing toxins into the GI tract, these infectious microorganisms can cause autoimmune reactions, “leaky gut” syndrome, and malabsorption, as well as dysbiosis, or overgrowth of unhealthy intestinal flora such as Candida albicans, the primary cause of candiasis.
Lack of Exercise: Failure to exercise regularly can result in diminished production of digestive and pancreatic enzymes, as well as hydrochloric acid (HCl), all of which are necessary for healthy gastrointestinal function and which, if lacking, can result in a wide variety of gastrointestinal disorders.
“Leaky Gut” Syndrome: “Leaky gut” syndrome refers to a condition caused by damage to the stomach and intestinal lining, specifically the mucosa. As a result of this damage, undigested proteins, as well as various microorganisms that normally remain within the GI tract pass through the intestines to enter into the bloodstream. This, in turn, causes the immune system to overreact, producing antibodies that attack the cells of the intestines. In addition to GI disorders, “leaky gut” syndrome has also been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
“Leaky gut” syndrome can develop whenever the digestive tract is excessively stressed, yet it is rarely diagnosed. For more information, treatment protocol, and indicators that will help determine if you have “leaky gut” syndrome, please read the expanded Leaky Gut Section. You can printout the full article for easy reference.
Pharmaceutical Drugs: The following drugs can all cause and exacerbate various gastrointestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease: Accutane, Alka-Seltzer Antacid and Alka-Seltzer Pain Reliever, Anturane, Genuine Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Plus Aspirin, Bayer Regular Strength Enteric Aspirin, Bufferin Analgesic Tablets and Caplets, Ceptaz, Clinoril, Cuprimine, Ecotrin Enteric Coated Aspirin, Feldene, Ilosone, Lamprene, Leukine for IV Infusion, Lopid, Marplan, Meclomen, Novantrone, Paraplatin, Piroxicam, Prokine I.V. Infusion, Retrovir, Rynatuss, Supprelin Injection, Suprax, Ticlid, Tolectin, Toradol IM Injection, Trecator-SC, Trilisate, and Voltaren.
Stress: Chronic and poorly managed stress has a direct effect on the gastrointestinal system, and elevated stress levels have long been linked by scientific research to a wide variety of GI disorders, including Crohn’s disease, because of how stress results in elevated acid production and impairs overall digestive function.
- Drink plenty of pure filtered water
- Increase your intake of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and complex whole grains, such as such as amaranth and quinoa, as well as organic, free-range meats, poultry, and wild-caught fish.
- Avoid all commercial, processed, fried, and nonorganic food, as well as alcohol, coffee, sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food dyes, milk and dairy products, wheat and wheat products, and refined carbohydrates.
- Do not eat saturated, trans-, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats and oils. Instead choose from virgin coconut butter/oil, extra virgin olive oil, high lignin flax seed oil, and unrefined hemp seed, walnut, and sunflower oils.
Note: With digestive issues such as Crohn’s, pureed vegetables could be an excellent option for you. Eating blended foods is less work for the system because the food is already partially broken down. Although it is unnecessary to chew blended food, it is still important to move each bite of food around in your mouth before swallowing to activate saliva’s role in digestion.
In addition, undergo testing for potential food allergies and sensitivities and avoid those foods to which you test positive. Consider a rotation diet or elimination diet in order to further reduce the likelihood of food allergies.
Nutrition and diet are key players in the healing and elimination of imbalance and disease. For a complete, nutrition packed, whole foods eating plan, read the Natural Cures Healing Food Plan. Also, for some plagued with Crohn’s Disease, a raw food diet could be extremely beneficial; for others, raw food may not be the best choice. Each person responds differently based on their individual chemistry and the depth of the condition being healed. To learn more, read about the Raw Food Diet. Numerous books are available to give you a bigger overview of how eating raw and live foods might be the perfect healing path. (See the recommended books section.) You can print out these full articles on the different diets for easy reference.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet – A dietary approach that has been found to be effective in the majority of Crohn’s disease cases is called the Specific carbohydrate Diet. It was developed by Elaine Gottschall, M.Sc., in an effort to help her four year-old daughter heal her own colitis symptoms, and is based on the research of the late Sidney V. Haas, M.D., who discovered that most gastrointestinal disorders are caused by an imbalance of carbohydrates in relationship to the microorganisms that naturally occur in the gastrointestinal tract.
According to Dr. Haas, when this relationship becomes unbalanced, the microorganisms grow unchecked and release toxins, causing malabsorption of food, and especially poor digestion of carbohydrates, a staple of the Western diet. To reverse this trend, Haas, and later, Gottschall developed the strict dietary regimen that comprises the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Based on her work with hundreds of patients with severe gastrointestinal disorders, Gottschall has found that the diet can yield complete results in as little as three weeks, but only if it is completely adhered to. Its eating guidelines are as follows:
Avoid: All processed, smoked or canned meats, breaded or canned fish, seaweed, processed cheeses, seeds, potatoes, yams, parsnips, chick peas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mung beans, fava beans, as well as all cereal grains in any form, including flour. Avoid milk, and all products commercially made from milk, dried milk solids, buttermilk or acidophilus milk, commercially prepared yogurt, sour cream and ice cream. Do not consume soymilk, instant tea, coffee, coffee substitutes, beer, cornstarch, arrowroot, chocolate, carob, bouillon cubes, instant soup bases, any product made with refined sugar, agar-agar, carrageenan, pectin, ketchup, molasses, corn and maple syrup, any flour made from legumes, and baking powder.
Eat: Fresh or frozen, preferably organic meats, poultry, wild caught fish, organic eggs, organic milk and products made from organic milk such as cheeses, homemade yogurt prepared at low temperatures from organic milk, and dry curd cottage cheese. Choose from a wide variety of freshly prepared, preferably organic vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are the main stay of this food plan. Use no canned foods with the exception of salt-free canned red salmon, white albacore tuna or sardines, only on occasion. Daily juicing of fresh green vegetables is an important addition for healing and offers you deep nutritional nourishment. With this and all illness, providing yourself with the most supportive nutritional profile possible is of primary importance.
Abide by this diet for as long as your symptoms persist. Adherence can be challenging, but maintenance is essential to obtain the desired results.
- Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day nc.vitaminstrength.com/ for a period of up to 4 weeks.
- Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met. The best we know on the market is Kevin Trudeau’s “KT Daily” product. You can find more details here kevintrudeaudailylifesessentials.com/
- Coral calcium – link
- Digestive enzymes www.qnhshop.com
- Take Fivelac – one packet three times a day.
- Take raw organic apple cider vinegar – 1tsp with each meal.
- Omega 3s:
Hemp Seed Oil
Other useful nutritional supplements include vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, taken with a multivitamin/multimineral formula.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
Hypnotherapy beats Crohn’s Disease:www.naturalnews.com/026935_disease_hypnotherapy_Crohns.html
Milk and dairy products cause Crohn’s: www.naturalnews.com/002684.html
Controlling Crohn’s Disease with acupuncturewww.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_jun06/main2.htm
Crohn’s Disease and natural supplements: www.raysahelian.com/crohnsdisease.html
Homeopathy and Crohn’s: www.classicalhomoeopathy.com/crohns.htm
Crohn’s Disease and Stress www.loweryourstress.com/crohns-disease-and-stress.html
Crohn’s Disease and Ayurveda: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0GdxbB7nRA
Chinese herbs for Crohn’s Disease: www.ehow.com/video_6191272_chinese-herbal-remedies-crohn_s-disease.html
How to reverse Crohn’s Disease with natural living: video.answers.com/how-to-reverse-crohn%E2%80%99s-disease-with-natural-medicine-141495235
Artificial sweeteners danger and Crohn’s:www.naturalnews.com/034378_artificial_sweetener_disease_ASD_aspartame.html
Dirt exposure can be a good thing: naturalsociety.com/dirt-exposure-could-be-a-good-thing/
Banana and plantain fibers could treat Crohn’s:www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100825191700.htm
Further Information (links and books)
Eating right for a Bad Gut, James Scala; Gastrointestinal Health, Steven Perkin MD; How to Cook For Crohn’s and Colitis, Brenda Rischer; Gut Reaction, Gudrun Jonsson.
Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt [email protected] – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad [email protected] – herbalist.
Kath May [email protected] – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika [email protected] – aromatherapy.
Rakesh [email protected] – Ayurvedic Practitioner.