Are you suffering with Inflammatory Bowel Disease? Conditions like Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis?
Hippocrates said 2000 years ago, “all disease begins in the gut”
A healthy functioning digestive system is so crucial for our overall health and wellbeing.
IBD stands for ‘Inflammatory Bowel Disease’, not to be confused with IBS or ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’.
The two most common forms of IBD are Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Crohns disease is characterised by inflammation and sometimes ulcers in the gut lining that can affect anywhere from the esophagus to the anus. Ulcerative Colitis is different as it only affects the large intestine and there can be patches of healthy tissue amongst the inflammed and diseased. These conditions are two of a larger range of ‘autoimmune diseases’, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself and there is generally no cure, however they are very treatable.
Autoimmune diseases can range from mild to severe and patients will experience periods of ‘flare ups’ where their disease becomes very active, causing severe symptoms and affecting day to day life. Rather than being ‘cured’, patients can experience ‘remission’ of their condition, meaning their symptoms are reduced and they can feel normal and healthy again. The goal of treatment for IBD is to reduce flare ups and eventually put that person into remission.
Symptoms of IBD may include:
- Significant abdominal pain and discomfort
- Diarrhoea, constipation, changing bowel habits
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss and malnutrition
- Fatigue and fever
After a diagnosis of IBD your doctor may prescribe medication such as NSAIDs or immune modifying medications. These work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system, to provide symptomatic relief. However, they are generally not addressing the initial cause. These medications can present with a whole host of side effects, including gastrointestinal upset, which is conflicting when it would seem the primary goal is to heal the gut lining, that is already so damaged. This is where a Naturopath can work with you either whilst you are taking medication, or to get you onto a treatment plan that will address underlying causes where you may be able to come off medications, with your doctors guidance.
3 major causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may include:
If you have a family member with IBD your risk of developing IBD is higher than the average person and you should be extra careful with your health and be aware of any symptoms you are experiencing.
Environmental and Dietary factors
Lifestyle and diet plays a huge role in the health of our gut and development and progression of IBD. Patients can try excluding certain foods that they find to be a trigger, or your Naturopath can help you to develop a meal plan that is modified to decrease your symptoms and heal your gut. Lifestyle factors such as stress, exercise and smoking play a role as well. There is a direct link between your emotions and your gut and many people notice when they are stressed they get worse symptoms such as pain, nausea and diahorrea.
Immune system dysregulation
You would be surprised at how complex and amazing our gastrointestinal bacteria is. When the balance between good and bad bacteria is compromised this creates inflammation and a whole host of problems that can worsen symptoms of IBD.
An article focused on the link between gut microbes and IBD published by the Gastroenterology journal stated:
“Importantly, changes in diet, use of antibiotics, and intestinal colonization (eg, eradication of intestinal helminthes),81,82 have likely modified intestinal microbial communities and contributed to the increased prevalence of IBD during the past century.”
Your Naturopath may request a Complete Digestive Stool Analysis. This test will give an overview of the health of your digestive system, showing any parasites, yeasts or bacteria as well as your healthy bacteria as well as digestive and metabolic markers. Calprotectin is a test that will show any inflammation in the intestines, which can help diagnose someone who is experiencing symptoms of IBD but unsure if they do have it.
Integrated Wellness Clinic also has a network of trusted medical doctors and gastroenterologist’s who you can be referred to for further tests and medical examinations, such as a colonoscopy/endoscopy.
When you see a Naturopath their goal is to reduce your symptoms, correct your nutritional deficiencies, reduce your stress, give you lifestyle and dietary advice and get you feeling your best again!