My approach to dealing with autoimmune disease in general and Crohn’s specifically is very eclectic. There is no cure but there certainly are safe, effective and affordable strategies that will let most people live normal lives.
There is finally science that explains what is going on with these diseases. The core problem is in the functioning of the gut lining or leaky-gut where the gut lining is actually leaking undigested proteins into the bloodstream, kicking off an inflammatory response. The two key factors that create leaky-gut are the direct action of prolamines/gluten/lectins in grains & legumes, as well as the omega 6 fats in seed/grain oils — along with dysbiosis in the gut, where complex carbohydrates & fructans are poorly digested, ferment, and feed the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
So now we have a mess that needs to be unraveled. Here is the basic strategy:
- Stop eating the foods that cause leaky-gut
- Stop eating the foods that feed pathogenic bacteria
- Supplement to kill pathogenic bacteria and replenish good bacteria
- Supplement to reduce inflammation and heal leaky-gut
And here are the tactics:
- Diet – The most important component – 75% – is diet. Eliminate all processed sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy. Although grains are the enemy, it’s also important to reduce high omega 6 fats and fructose. So what do you eat? Meats (hopefully grass-fed/pastured animals and wild caught seafood), Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts (and Tubers after some healing). Great diets for this include: SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet, GAPS or Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, and Paleo. Both SCD and GAPS are specifically designed for autoimmune disease and offer an intro phase and process for healing. Paleo doesn’t offer a process, but I’m partial to their evlolutionary biology approach to the world. Here is a PDF that outlines a solid approach. It combines the best of SCD/GAP with its low FODMAP strategy, all within a Paleo foundation.
- LDN – For many, diet is enough, but for most diet needs to be combined with LDN and key supplements.The only drug that makes sense to me is LDN or Low Dose Naltrexone. LDN is safe, effective and affordable. Naltrexone has been around for over 30 years and is FDA approved, but LDN for Crohn’s would need to be prescribed “off-label” or purchased directly from an online pharmacy. LDN works by tricking your body into producing 3 times the amount of endorphins it normally would. Endorphins perform a critical function that is profoundly important for the proper functioning of the immune system. The result is reduced inflammation, and demonstrated healing of the gut lining. LDN works best when combined with a gluten, soy, casein restricted diet because these foods actually compete for the opioid receptors that LDN works on.
- Supplements– Athough you can go crazy with supplements, there are a core that have been shown to be effective. Few of them do much without the foundation of the right diet, but when combined, they can be very helpful:
–D3 Make sure your blood levels are between 60 – 80. For most, this might require supplementing with 5,000 or 10,000 iu’s per day. There are clinical trials going on right now at Penn State for vitamin D and Crohn’s. Here is a great resource for vitamin D.
–B12 Shots are critical for anyone with a damaged ileum. They are great for dealing with fatigue.
–Boswellia & Curcumin are both great, natural anti inflammatories with small clinical trials that show that they are as effective as mesalamine without any of the side effects. Take boswellia in 5Loxin form and take curcumin in BCM-95 form.
–Probiotics – There are some great probiotics that can help crowd out pathogenic bacteria and re-populate the gut with beneficial bacteria. One of the best ways is to ferment your own yogurt or vegetables. Or you can buy probiotics. The 3 strains that have some clinical trials to back them are S. Boulardii, VSL#3 and Mutaflor. S. Boulardii is affordable, available and works great for diarrhea, candida and c. diff. I’m partial to Mutaflor, but it is expensive, and unavailable in the US.
–Leaky-Gut Healers – There are a number of interesting supplements that either aid digestion or directly help with the healing of the gut lining: GAPS bone broth or gelatin, Betaine hcl with pepsin has multiple benefits with GERD, CRP/homocysteine, and killing pathogenic bacteria. L. Glutamine, Zinc Carnosine, Colostrum/Proline Rich Polypeptides (PRP) and Coconut Oil.
There are other strategies, but this is a great start. Follow the links, do some research. Share this with your doctor. And get started. You can get your life back. Let me know how it goes!