Inflammatory bowel disease, most commonly manifesting as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, affects approximately 1 million Americans. It is one of over a hundred autoimmune illnesses, in which the body's defense forces (immune system) mistakenly attacks the body — in this case the small or large intestines.
Symptoms include persistent diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain, fever, and intermittent rectal bleeding. It is the latter two symptoms that distinguish inflammatory bowel disease from the more common (and more benign) spastic colon and irritable bowel syndrome.
Although standard medical therapies consist largely of steroids (prednisone), immune suppressants and modifiers (e.g., Remicade), salicylates (Asacol — a good treatment) and sometimes surgery to treat complications, the good news is that natural therapies can be very effective to both treat the cause of the inflammation and the inflammation itself.
1. Treat the nutritional deficiencies. Low zinc (simply take it — labs are not reliable) has been associated with markedly increased complications from inflammatory bowel disease. Take an extra 25-30 mg a day for 3 months and then at least 15 mg a day. A recent study showed vitamin D deficiency (which is associated with many autoimmune illnesses) plays a role in Crohn's. Take 2,000-4,000 units a day for at least 6 months.
2. The herb Boswellia 1,000 mg plus a day is VERY helpful for inflammatory bowel disease in general and I would definitely use it. It only costs a few cents a day, is very safe and well tolerated, and as or more effective for colitis than many of the medications.
3. Fish oil is a good general anti-inflammatory, so eat salmon or tuna 3-4 times a week (or more).
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