We will discuss in this article some ways we can treat Crohn’s disease using TCM or traditional Chinese medicine. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune inflammatory disease affecting the bowels.It’s marked by physical symptoms such as inflammation, ulcers and fissures. It is associated with other symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and weight loss.
With fibrosis being a key physical marker of Crohn’s disease, this indicates preceding inflammation and therefore, preceding stress, whether that’s psychosomatic stress, chemical stress, biological stress etc. The increased level of stress hormones leads to the inflammation of the bowels and that chronic inflammation is causing fibrosis of the intestinal wall.
Now turning to Chinese medicine for help, TCM has been able to successfully treat various chronic digestive conditions for thousands of years. The primary reason why Chinese medicine is so successful in managing digestive diseases is through its systematic holistic approach. Most digestive diseases have their roots in psychosomatic factors.
It’s not enough to just treat the symptoms or manage the inflammation, we have to take it a step further and figure out what’s causing that inflammation, what sort of patterns and habits are leading to that chronic inflammation that is inflaming the bowls and causing them to become fibrotic.
In terms of treatment, there are two predominant types of Crohn’s. There are mild to more severe cases. In treating mild to moderate cases of Crohn’s, a practitioner of TCM is going to recommend a few things: immunomodulatory herbs to help regulate the immune system that is otherwise autoimmune so the immune system is not functioning properly.
The use of immunomodulatory herbs is very helpful in treating Crohn’s disease and in regulating the immune system rather than simply suppressing it with an immunosuppressant drug. Other routes of treatment include an anti-inflammatory diet that supports the health of the spleen and the stomach as well as anti-inflammatory herbs.
Other approaches include addressing the underlying psychosomatic factors that are so prevalent in digestive diseases. This is usually going to involve the use of acupuncture, Qigong and maybe even meditation to help with the psychological stress that could be setting off the Crohn’s disease.
In addressing more severe cases of Crohn’s disease, a very similar route can likely be taken; with one adjustment, which is usually going to be the goal of getting the person out of antibiotics, immunosuppressants and anti-inflammatory medications. All these things are just for managing the symptoms; however, they likely lead to new issues associated with toxic side effects.
Also, these drugs just inhibit the natural homeostasis of the body. Once a person comes off them, their illness usually comes back. These medications are just for managing the symptoms and not addressing the person’s underlying health problems. So another goal in the treatment of Crohn’s disease is to help the person gradually get off these drugs as his body becomes healthier.
That part is obviously going to be accomplished by working with a Chinese medicine practitioner and a practitioner who has prescribed those medications in the first place.
Now getting to some simple things you can do. Keep in mind these tips are recommended for people with mild to moderate conditions or for people who are just interested in getting a different perspective. I wouldn’t recommend jumping into these things, just coming off medications and just abandoning everything. Gradually follow these tips, implement them and see if you notice any improvements.
Again, bear in mind that one of the major causes of symptoms of Crohn’s disease is inflammation. Inflammation on a cellular level is usually always preceded by some sort of energy interference. Something is happening in the metabolic system and in cellular respiration. The cells are basically not properly uptaking energy, which leads to inflammation on the cellular level.
So, one thing you’re going to really want to look into is what’s inhibiting cellular energy production. This is the biochemical definition of stress. Anything that inhibits the production of energy on a cellular level is called stress and the byproduct of that is going to be increased stress hormones. I highly recommend the works of Ray Peat in regards to cellular respiration, as follows metabolism and energy production.
I highly recommend looking into how to properly care for your thyroid and liver. These are the two governing glands and organs that govern metabolism and most of the body. Actually, most inflammation can be traced right back to the liver. If this organ is not working properly, then thyroid function shuts down and your overall metabolism stops working efficiently, which leads to cellular stress and inflammation.
Generally speaking, a healthy liver is going to improve the overall health of your body. You want to make sure you’re feeding your liver healthy sugars and that it has enough energy to perform its functions. Not doing so is a major way that the liver can become impaired. However, there are also other causative agents that can also weaken and damage the liver.
You need to better take care of your liver and improve thyroid function, overall metabolic function and reduce inflammation. Remember that thyroid function, when it’s operating well, the thyroid hormone inhibits things like estrogen, cortisol and other inflammatory hormones.
Other simple forms that you can do to manage Crohn’s or any digestive disease is to manage emotional and mental stress. It doesn’t matter whether you’re mentally or physically stressed, the byproduct is increased stress hormones and those again inhibit proper metabolic function, which can increase inflammation.This can lead to cellular damage, breakdown of tissues and cells, etc.
So, we want to make sure we’re getting a handle on our emotional and mental stresses, which is easier said than done. There is no short-term solution for this that I’m aware of other than perhaps, going for a walk, talking about your feelings, finding somebody that you can confide in and then figuring out what is causing your mental and emotional turmoil.
In terms of simple dietary recommendations, the major foods you may really want to get rid of include processed junk foods, specifically, the things in these foods that are really damaging to your gut and metabolism. You need to avoid polyunsaturated fats, unrefined or refined and grains since they usually contain high levels of phytate and lectins, as well as anti-nutrients that damage the gut. If they are not digested very well, they can lead to the overgrowth of pathogens that can bring about inflammation and other sorts of issues.
You can avoid a lot of these hard to digest, anti-metabolic ingredients just by avoiding most junk foods. However, the things you’re going to want to look out for include grains, legumes, polyunsaturated fats, canola oil, vegetable oil, soy, peanut oil and all the plant fats that are unsaturated. Those things are not synthesized by the body properly and can lead to inflammation.
Eating a diet that supports spleen function is going to be helpful in terms of Chinese medicine. These things are usually easy to digest. Raw foods over cooked foods also can be helpful for people with Crohn’s disease.
Something that might be controversial in Chinese medicine is that you need going to get some high amounts of calcium. What people don’t realize is that calcium, when it’s chronically low, para thyroid hormone goes up as follows prolactin, which causes the cell to uptake more calcium. You can counter the effects of parathyroid hormone and prolactin by getting a generous supply of dietary calcium.
The best source of calcium is going to be high quality dairy. Take some easy to digest dairy, and if you’re not able to digest it, it may likely indicate that you have SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and those endotoxins decrease the production of lactase, which causes you to not digest dairy very well. So you need to work on managing SIBO bringing down that gut bacteria, which if you adhere to these dietary recommendations, you’re halfway there. But you definitely need to get a good amount of calcium in your diet because, if you’re calcium is low, parathyroid hormone as well as prolactin hormone goes up and they interfere with energy production that causes the cells to pull in more calcium, which leads to inflammation and edema.
Keep in mind that Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that causes fibrosis. One simple thing you can do is get enough calcium in your diet. If you don’t want to take in dairy, then try to eat cooked kale on a daily basis.
These are some of things that you can do in terms of managing Crohn’s disease.