Friday, June 22, 2012

Herbs and Spices Summer Series, Day 2: Herbs and Holistic Healing for Crohn's Disease

Information gathered from one of my favorite books Prescription for Nutritional Healing (5th edition).  
Hello Friends,
I am not medical doctor, nor do I hold a medical license.  Please consult with a holistic healer or medical practitioner before making any changes to your diet/lifestyle and before adding herbs/supplements to your healing regimen.  Thank you

Crohn's disease (CD) is an inflammatory bowel disorder of unknown origin.  Also called ileitis or enteritis, it usually affects the lowest portion of the small intestine, but it can occur in other parts of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus.  Crohn's causes inflammation that extends deep into the lining of the intestinal wall, frequently causing significant abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Crohn's affects men and women equally and tends to run in families.  According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), people who have a relative with the disease have at least ten times the risk of developing Crohn's compared to the general population. 

Since there is no cure for Crohn's, the goals of treatment are to control inflammation, relieve symptoms, and correct nutritional deficiencies - all of which can help keep Crohn's disease in remission.

Unless otherwise specified, the dosages recommended here are for adults.  For a child between the ages of 12 and 17, reduce the dose to 3/4 or the recommended amount.  For a child between 6 and 12, use 1/2 of the recommended dose. 

~Essential Nutrients~ 
(Below I've provided links to the products I use or have used.
I don't purchase any of these products online,
as I'm able to find them locally at my Natural Foods Coop).  

(500 mg twice daily on empty stomach.  Take with water or juice.  Do not take with milk.  Take with 50 mg vitamin B6 and 100 mg vitamin C for better absorption).
Benefits: A major metabolic fuel of the intestinal cells; maintains the villi.

Vitamin B Complex 
(100 mg 3 times daily)
Benefits: Important for proper digestion and to prevent anemia.  Needed for constant supply of new cells.  

N-Acetylglucosamine: N-A-G.
(Use as directed on label)
Benefits: A major constituent of the barrier layer that protects the intestinal lining from digestive enzymes and other potentially damaging intestinal contents.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids 
(Use as directed on label)
Benefits: Needed for repair of the digestive tract; reduces inflammatory processes.  Studies show fatty acids may reduce Crohn's symptoms and aid in maintaining remission.

Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids 
(1,000 mg 3 times daily)
Benefits: prevents inflammation and improves immunity - use a buffered type 

Taurine Plus 
(500 mg daily on empty stomach.  Take with 50 mg vitamin B6 and 100 mg vitamin C for better absorption)
Benefits: An important antioxidant and immune regulator. 

 (this brand contains potato starch)
(50 mg daily.  Do no exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements)
Benefits: Needed for the immune system and for healing.   

Vitamin K
(use as directed on label)
Benefits: Vital to colon health  Deficiency is common in people with this disorder due to malabsorption and diarrhea. 

Probiotics this one or this one
(use as directed on label)
Benefits: Aids in digestion.  Use a nondairy formula.  And a product containing both L. acidophilus and L. bifidus is best.  

Garlic Supplements 
(2 or 3 capsules daily with meals)
Benefits: Combats free radicals in Crohn's.  Aids healing. 

~Herbs for Crohn's Disease~
Please review and study each herb carefully before taking and be mindful of side effects.  Never take herbs while pregnant or breastfeeding, unless directed by your holistic healer or medical practitioner!
 (click on each herb for more information) 

Burdock Root




Licorice Root

Marshmallow Root

Pau d' arco

Enteric-Coated Peppermint
(do not use any other form)

Yerba Mate 

*Cautions: Do not take echinacea for longer than three months.  It should not be used by people who are allergic to ragweed.  Do not take goldenseal internally on a daily basis for more than a week at a time.  Do not use it during pregnancy or if you are breast-feeding, and use with caution if you are allergic to ragweed.  If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or glaucoma, use it only under a doctor's supervision.  Licorice root should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.  It also should not be used by persons with diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure, or history of stroke. 

~Healing Recommendations~

1.  Drink plenty of liquids, such as filtered water, herbal teas, and fresh juices.  Fresh cabbage juice is very beneficial.  

2.  Add papaya to your diet.  Chew a couple of the seeds to aid in digestion.  

3.  To reestablish a proper healing environment, it is necessary to maintain a generally alkaline (greater than 7.0 bodily pH).  See my post here for more information on pH and how to test yourself at home. 

4.  As much as possible, avoid stress.  Our thoughts, nervous systems, and bodily functions are deeply interconnected.  Our thoughts and mood affect our bodies.  During an attack, it's important to rest.

5.  Use a heating pad to reduce abdominal pain

6.  During an acute attack, eat organic baby food (if following the SCD, make sure it's legal), eat steamed vegetables, and other soft, easy to digest foods such as carrot soup, avocado, and well ripened bananas.  

7.  The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a food based healing regimen.  The book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, is a recommended read before starting the diet.  And here is a list of all the legal and illegal foods on the SCD.  

8.  Another food-based healing regimen is The GAPS diet, which is based on the SCD.  This post by The Liberated Kitchen is a fabulous introduction to GAPS and discusses all the stages and legal foods at each stage.  See here for GAPS resources. 

~Information About Diet and Prescription 
Medication for Crohn's Disease~ 

1.  It is important that nutritional deficiencies be corrected for healing.  Persons with inflammatory bowel disorders require as much as 30 percent more protein than normal.  If chronic diarrhea is present, electrolyte and trace mineral deficiencies should be considered.  Chronic steatorrhea (fatty stools resulting from improper digestion of fats) may result in deficiencies of calcium and magnesium.

2.  Drugs such as corticosteriods and sulfasalazine (Alsulfidine). which are prescribed for inflammatory bowel diseases, and cholestyramine (Questran), which is prescribed to bind bile in the gastrointestinal tract to prevent its reabsorption in people who had part of their intestine removed, increase the need for nutritional supplements.  Corticosteroids depress protein synthesis and inhibit normal calcium absorption by increasing excretion of vitamin C in the urine.  Sulfasalazine inhibits the transport of folic acid and iron, causing anemia.   
Thank you for joining me today for day 2 of our Herbs and Spices Summer Series! Stay tuned for Tessa's post, on June 25th, about how to grow herbs.
Shared on: Traditional Tuesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, 


  1. This is a very informative post Amber, I love the healing recommendations you have outlined because I firmly believe they are correct!

    Do you think that any of the supplements has particularly helped you combat Crohn's?

    When my son was healing, he didn't take any supplements even though we bought (and imported) SCD legal ones from Lucy's Kitchen Shop. I notice she has a much bigger selection now.

    Also I'm curious about the protein fact - why do sufferers of IBD require more protein? I'm going to google search this. Very interesting!

    Thank you for all the work that you have done for this post! I shall now go and explore further!

    • Thanks Vicky!

      I do believe the supplements help me! I rely on fish oils, probiotics, and vitamins. I take things such as NAG, L-Glut, etc. as needed and always during a flare. And I rotate all those herbs mentioned above.

      I don't know specifically why we need more protein, but it must have to do with healing.

      Let me know what you find out. :-)

    • It's funny you should mention about the protein. My son and I were having a discussion about this last year because I was worried he wasn't getting enough. His own studies at University (biology, neurology, chemistry) made him aware that it wasn't necessary to consume the amount recommended.

      Although many medical experts believe that protein is important to heal Crohn's our experience has been the complete opposite!

      But then, I'm no medical expert. Thank you for the information about the supplements you use, I think it will be very helpful for others!

  2. glutenfreehappytummy.comJune 22, 2012 6:46 PM

    hey Amber! What a great post! This took a lot of work with all the links and info --- THANK YOU -- it is greatly appreciated --especially the list of SCD foods. I'm continuing to consider switching to this approach. The protein is so important during healing. My doc said i should aim for 100g a day! yikes! I learned so much from this post and am going to implement some of these herbs and supplements into my healing plan. Have a great weekend! hugs!

    • Hi Caralyn,

      I'm so glad you found some things helpful in this post!

      Let me know if you have any questions about SCD. I've been studying if for several months now and plan on starting in next month.

  3. Hi thanks for the detailed post.
    Two things I would like to share, vitamin D is also very important for controlling inflammation. Following a Crohn's attack my physician informed me I was severely Vit D deficient and prescribed an injection I believe it has made a large difference in my digestive health. Also I would like to caution everyone to follow new diets very carefully. I tried the GAPS diet and suffered a severe Crohn's exacerbation leading to hospitalization while I was on the intro diet.
    happy healing everyone!

    • Hi Nel,

      I can't thank you enough for your input.

      First, great suggestion and insight about the Vit. D. I will look into this myself.

      And I completely agree about the diets. Thank you for sharing, and I'm so sorry to hear about your hospitalization. Yikes. One thing I don't eat on SCD is dairy. But I have noticed that it's been helpful so far. I haven't started it 100% yet, but I will be sure to share my experience when I do. I always have doubts about one size fits all diets. We all have such unique needs.

      One thing I was looking into was metabolic typing. We'll see. So much out there. My goal is to find a healing food regimen that I can stick with that's easy and truly healing.

      Thanks again Nel!

  4. That is my favorite healing book too! I used it extensively when healing from Celiac Disease - it was a "god send" !

    • I can't agree more Ina! This book is amazing and so helpful! I love it too.

  5. wow..wat a fantastic post..
    new to your space..
    happy following you..:)
    do stop by mine sometime
    Tasty Appetite

  6. This is an absolutely fantastic post Amber! It is jam packed with helpful and important information that I will be sharing with others I know locally who suffer from Crohn's Disease. I bet my husband who has celiac could also benefit from many of the nutritional supplements you mentioned. I can't wait to read more of your upcoming posts!

  7. Thanks Laura! I've been meaning to create this post for months. So glad it can be a part of this series.

    I did do a holistic healing for celiac disease from the same book. Lots of good information in there that might be of interest to your husband:


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