Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are autoimmune conditions that affect the large intestine, and are collectively referred to as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD. A naturopathic approach helps to not only manage the symptoms of Crohn’s and Colitis, but to identify underlying pathologies that are causing an autoimmune response.
The Importance of Diet
Diet is an important component of any treatment regimen and our naturopathic doctors can help to ensure that not only adequate nutrition is provided, but also any potential food triggers are identified and removed from the diet. Food sensitivity testing that measures both IgG and IgA antibody response to foods can be useful to help identify which foods are causing an inflammatory immune response in the GI tract and should be avoided. Nutritional deficiencies are common in Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis. Although a whole food diet can provide ideal nutrition, it is important to know that high fiber foods can exacerbate symptoms during an acute flare, and supplemental nutritional support, such as amino acids and a high quality multi-vitamin, may be required to provide optimal nutrition in a form that is easy to absorb. Vitamins and minerals can also be supplemented with intravenous therapy, which has the added benefit of direct absorption.
It is also important to ensure that the flora is optimal in patients with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Comprehensive stool testing can identify levels of beneficial bacteria and if any dysbiotic bacteria, yeast or parasites are present in an individual’s flora. If any imbalances are detected, naturopathic therapies such as high dose probiotics, herbal antimicrobials, or rectal ozone and reflorastation can be used to improve GI flora. Stool testing can also identify imbalances in enzyme production, inflammatory markers and short chain fatty acid levels. Naturopathic supplements can also be used to decrease inflammation, regulate the immune system, and support enzyme production and optimize digestion and absorption.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also shown to be an effective tool for healing ulcers and modifying the autoimmune response. HBOT performed at 2.0 ATA or higher can be useful in wound and ulcer healing. A literature review by Dartmouth-Hithcock medical center showed an 86% positive response rate of Crohn’s and Colitis patients when undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Research published in April 2014 in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics showed 18 of 42 patients with perianal Crohn’s disease showed complete healing after a series of HBOT treaments. Mayo clinic is currently undergoing further research with Inflammatory Bowel Disesase patients using hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a stand alone therapy for acute Ulcerative Colitis flares. When hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used in conjunction with other naturopathic therapies patients will see the best results.