Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two diseases that possess a lot of common features. They both are considered two forms of digestive conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. While these two health issues may not be as prevalent as irritable bowel syndrome, which is a mild condition compared to them, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease now afflict hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and incidences of these diseases are increasing each year. Crohn’s disease used to be a very rare condition but now it affects a huge number of Americans. The number of cases for Crohn’s disease has doubled compared to three decades ago. Furthermore, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are now being diagnosed among teenagers and children.

An overall feeling of illness, diarrhea, stomach pain and occasional cramping are some of the symptoms associated with IBD. Weight loss, appetite loss and fever may also be felt from time to time. In ulcerative colitis, mucus in the feces, diarrhea and rectal bleeding may be part of the symptoms. The onset of IBD may come stealthily and gradually worsen; they may also develop all at once and in a severe way.

IBD needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, particularly a gastroenterologist or a doctor specializing in digestive conditions. The colon (large intestine) and the rectum are usually examined through colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. A specimen from a biopsy taken from the wall of the intestine is usually recommended as well as an upper GI swallow with follow-through x-ray of the lower gastrointestinal area. A thorough assessment for IBD may also entail stool tests to exclude infection of parasites that can easily mimic Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Blood tests may be required to determine blood loss and the seriousness of the inflammation.

Besides providing poor dietary choices, Western society also has introduced unnatural products such as mercury dental fillings, aluminum-laced antacids and chlorinated and fluoridated water and other hazardous substances to its people. Fierce debate has been posted in medical journals about the contribution of fluoride toothpaste in the huge surge in IBD cases. Researchers using x-ray analytical techniques and electron microscopy have found pigments in the intestinal mucosa that contain heavy metals like titanium, and aluminum, as well as silicon. Some other researches have discovered residues of toothpaste and other materials used in dental work.  They recommend more studies be done on the role synthetic food ingredients, food additives and toothpaste play in the contribution of inflammatory bowel disease.

Treatment for IBD is usually by medication. Drugs used include Azulfidine and other anti-inflammatory agents as well as immunosuppressant agents designed for cancer treatment and steroids.  They all have really bad side effects and are basically ineffective. Removing the colon with ileostomy is the last solution for ulcerative colitis. Surgery for Crohn’s disease does not cure the disease. Crohn’s disease patients may have to undergo multiple surgeries that significantly shorten their intestines which may result in a debilitating condition known as short-gut syndrome.

One of the major factors that can lead to IBD is stress. One study observed how levels of stress can affect patients with active and inactive ulcerative colitis. Compared to the asymptomatic subjects, symptomatic patients were more likely to remember major stressful events in the recent 6 months of their lives. The conductors of the study concluded stress can be related with ulcerative colitis and disease activity. Also, they noticed that stress only affects the severity of the condition in susceptible patients.  Proper strategies to alleviate stress including self-hypnosis, tai chi, yoga, relaxation and biofeedback may thus help a person better manage his IBD symptoms. Occasional antidepressant medication and psychotherapy help prevent relapses that can affect the working and social life of the sufferer.

For the proper management of ulcerative colitis, herbs can be quite helpful too. Comfrey and slippery elm and other demulcent herbs as well as aloe products can produce soothing effects. Interestingly, cayenne, which seems a wrong thing to use in inflammatory issues, can slowly help lessen colitis inflammation. Atractylodes/ginseng is a Chinese abdomen formula that can help nourish the abdomen and spleen leading to normal digestion as well as help cure diarrhea. This formula also has a licorice ingredient helpful in curing ulceration and inflammation because of its natural steroid-like effects.

One of the best ways of alleviating IBD symptoms is acupuncture.  IBD sufferers have reported that the most important factor in their course of treatment based on outcomes was acupuncture. They noticed that acupuncture provided them with certain healing effects that were distinct from their other therapies of supplements, herbs and diet therapy. This tends to happen because acupuncture helps restore the healthy flow of Chi throughout and the body brings back balance to the organ systems based on healing traditions of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM. Traditional Chinese Medicine usually considers intestinal conditions as due to a malfunctioning of spleen and liver coupled with weak kidney support. A nutritionally oriented doctor may find himself in a quandary when treating inflammatory bowel disease. He might discover that that the very conduit for the digestion of nutrition is inflamed resulting in mal-absorption diarrhea.  Vigorous supplementation may cause intestinal distress and lower the appetite of the patient leading to further malnutrition.  Therefore, a plan to jump-start the patient with intravenous nutritional support may be implemented.  This option is very important in inflammatory bowel disease cases. A cocktail of trace minerals, magnesium B vitamins, L-Glutamine, antioxidants and amino acids needs to be intravenously given a number of times a week until the GI tract of the patient heals. This treatment protocol is incapable of causing intestinal irritation or diarrhea.

A lot of patients have benefited from this innovative nutritionally based complementary approach making it easier for them to manage their IBS symptoms.  The aforementioned modalities can help boost a person’s immune response, remove food allergies, and help balance his intestines. They are superior alternatives compared to conventional therapy that have numerous side effects and will give the person a huge advantage in the battle against IBD symptoms.

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