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March 20, 2018  |  Login
Crohns Disease
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
Warning Signs of Bowel Obstruction

An obstructed bowel is a medical emergency. Crohn's sufferers are especially vulnerable to this disorder, because the scar tissue from ulcerated areas can partially or completely block the intestine. The classic indicators of bowel obstruction are vomiting and abdominal pain and distention. If you experience these symptoms, get medical help at once.


Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disorder that leads to severe ulceration of the digestive tract. This disease generally occurs in the last portion of the small intestine (ileum) and the beginning of the large intestine, but it can occur in any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn's disease can affect the small intestine alone (35 percent), the large intestine alone (20 percent), or both-the last portion of the small intestine and the large intestine (45 percent). There may be just one ulceration or several, and they may skip areas of the digestive tract. When these ulcerations heal, they can leave behind scar tissue that narrows a portion of the gastrointestinal passageway.

As its sufferers know, symptoms of Crohn's disease can be exceedingly unpleasant. The most common symptoms include intense abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Other common symptoms include nausea, mouth and anal sores, fatigue, and a general sense of malaise. Crohn's can also lead to other disorders. The chronic diarrhea prevents the absorption of vital nutrients, with malnutrition as a frequent result. Persistent bleeding within the intestines can cause anemia, which only compounds the existing fatigue and the nutritional deficiencies. People with Crohn's may also develop fistulas, abnormal tunnels that connect one part of the intestine to the other, or even to other organs. Sometimes the scar tissue is so thick, it partially or completely obstructs the bowels, a dangerous condition that is always a medical emergency.

The onset of Crohn's disease usually takes place during adolescence or young adulthood, with most cases occurring before age thirty-five, although it can affect the
elderly, too. In some cases, the disease strikes once and never returns. For most people, however, Crohn's is a chronic condition that may flare up every few months or every few years. The condition must always be taken very seriously-indeed, the symptoms make it hard to ignore-and sufferers must be under the care of a good doctor, preferably a gastroenterologist with experience in treating the disease. If Crohn's is left untreated, the bowels may eventually stop functioning altogether. Yet natural medicine has a lot to offer for people with this disease, and many find that they can keep the disease under control with a comprehensive natural approach, as described in this chapter.

As with many other intestinal disorders, no one is entirely sure what causes Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is rare in "primitive" societies that follow diets based on whole, unprocessed food. In fact, the disorder was practically unheard of in the United States until the middle of this century, when consumption of refined and chemically treated products skyrocketed. Food allergies-which tend to afflict societies that rely on unnatural foods-are also thought to play a significant factor in this disorder, as are free radicals, which, again, are best counteracted with good nutrition. Dietary therapy is a crucial component of any treatment plan for Crohn's disease. Good eating habits will prevent many of the secondary disorders, like malnutrition and anemia, which Crohn's can cause; better yet, it will address the underlying problem. Although no one can officially claim a cure for this disease, many sufferers will testify that dietary changes have successfully eliminated their symptoms. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of the role that diet plays in this disorder.

It is critical that digestive function also be improved with this condition. Increased intestinal permeability is an issue that needs to be addressed. As well, flora imbalance (dysbiosis) and undiagnosed intestinal infection from parasites, harmful bacteria, or yeast need to be tested and treated. more

Next: What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

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