Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the general term for a group of chronic inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract including Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC).
IBD is characterized by recurrent inflammatory involvement of specific intestinal segments, resulting in diverse clinical manifestations. CD can affect various parts of the gastrointestinal tract and symptoms include pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, weight loss, constipation, fever, peri-anal fissures and loss of appetite. UC is restricted to the rectum and colon and includes proctitis (inflammation of the anus and the last portion of the rectum) and symptoms include urgency, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, rectal mucus, weight loss, lack of appetite, fever and abdominal pain, however urgency, bleeding and diarrhea are the most common symptoms of UC.
One of the modern medical approaches to these conditions is to suppress the symptoms with anti-inflammatory drugs, either steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Unfortunately both steroids and NSAIDs including Aspirin are associated with a range of side effects and long-term use is difficult so there is a demand for a more natural approach and herbal medicines work very effectively here in providing symptom relief and reducing the severity and incidence of exacerbations.
There is evidence to suggest that there are several contributing factors to the underlying cause of IBD and these can vary in each individual. These include, but are not limited to:
Viruses (cytomegalo virus, rota virus, Epstein bar virus)
• Bacteria (mycobacteria, e. coli)
• Immune dysregulation
• Leaky gut, inflamed gut wall
• Increased number of bad bacteria in the gut and a reduced number of protective bacteria
• Gastrointestinal infections e.g. candida
• Poor diet (increased incidence in cultures following a Western diet)
• Family history
Malnutrition often occurs as a result of IBD due to poor intestinal absorption of nutrients from food ingested, this can present as weight loss in approximately 65-75% of IBD patients, fat malabsorption – a decreased absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals and iron deficiency due to chronic blood loss associated with IBD. Dietary advice and specific nutritional supplementation where there is a need to correct nutrient deficiencies has a powerful influence on correcting malnutrition and this can have a positive effect on both UC and CD.
Herbal and nutritional medicines can help to reduce inflammation involved with IBD, regulate the immune system, help to heal the gut wall and reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with these conditions. A qualified Nutritionist & Medical Herbalist can help to addressing the underlying causes contributing to either UC or CD and can provide much needed supportive treatment to complement and enhance the medical approach. Book an appointment to get to the underlying causes of your tummy trouble today 9792 3135
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• The clinician’s handbook of natural medicine: 2ndedition. Pizzorno, J, Murray, M, & Joiner-Bey, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
• Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Hechtman, L. 2012. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.