How to cure Crohn’s disease? I had it for a long time, and now consider myself almost entirely cured, so I thought I’d write some tips here.
Well, I have to say, I don’t know entirely how to cure it – because my own disease is not 100% cured (though it is much better than it was). I am also pretty sure that what worked for me might not necessarily work for everyone else.
What I can say works – and I think works for everyone – is testing. Test different diets, and different healing modalities. See what works for you. The world of alternative medicine is large and full of valid options. Some work better, and some don’t work so well, depending on the person. Just try things out and see.
I’ve tried out a lot of things in my time, leading to an almost complete improvement.
At the moment I’m experiencing the first largish reocurrance of Crohn’s disease in the space of 2 years since giving up gluten. I don’t know what that means but I am hoping that it is just an anomaly and that my condition won’t get worse. (Update some months later: it didn’t, it got better).
I will explain some of what worked for me in a short while, as well as some of my failed experiments. I think what worked for me for sure could be a good starting point for others with Crohn’s disease. While everyone is different, I suspect that there must be a large overlap between what works for different people.
But first, some basic principles.
I think that Crohn’s disease is especially a disease rooted in emotions. What I’ve heard and seen is that many, if not most, Crohn’s sufferers have gone through some intense emotions and are holding onto a lot.
So I think starting an undertaking of emotional and spiritual healing could help a lot – is perhaps essential. Doing so will also have a lot of benefits in its own right.
I recommend the book “The Power of Now” for anyone who wants to develop themselves emotionally or spiritually.
What I know from my own life is that Crohn’s resurges in times of great stress or emotional difficulty. Learning to cope with stress and learning to manage it so that you experience it moderately rather than in intense bursts could mean a lot. The same for emotions.
My healing from Crohn’s coincided with a general emotional healing. I tried a lot of things at the time so I don’t know what change I can ascribe to what improvement. But I feel pretty sure that emotional healing contributed a lot.
Acid/alkaline balance is talked about a lot in some schools of healing. I heard from some that Crohn’s in particular is caused by excess acid in the blood. It definitely seems plausible. (In particular, stressful emotions acidify the blood, so there could be a connection there).
An interesting book to read about this would be “The PH Miracle” by Shelly and Robert Young.
I haven’t focused on PH specifically but I think that the changes I made to my diet would be basically in line with what the book said. In particular, I found that coffee was an absolute no-go for me, and it does turn out that it is one of the most acidifying foods around.
Please note that “acidic” isn’t the same as “acidifying”. Lemon is extremely acidic but has the effect of making the blood more alkaline. In general terms, fruit and vegetables are alkalising, while grains are moderately acidifying and animal foods are very acidifying. So the basic alkalising diet would be a vegan, coffee free diet, with enough grains, nuts & beans for calorie & protein purposes (note: you don’t need as much protein as you might think) and a lot of fruit and vegetables to counter balance that.
Oh, and another diet that is extremely alkalising would be The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas Graham. It basically takes the principles I’ve outlined all the way, by removing grains entirely and focusing just on fruit and vegetables. It didn’t quite work for me, but I know some people who have cured Crohn’s disease with it.
Finally I should mention that some people have alkalised their body by actually consuming sodium bicarbonate. I haven’t tried (yet?) but it might be worth googling and thinking about. (Neutralise the alkaline with lemon or lime juice before drinking; this will alkalise the body without neutralising your stomach acids).
To start you off on that, here is an interesting looking article I found by googling.
Allergies are often part of what keeps Crohn’s in place too. The best thing to do is test different foods and observe the reaction of your body. You could also try an allergy test (I haven’t so far, but I worked out which foods didn’t work for me through trial and error).
An elimination diet could work for this. After I came off Modulen for the first time, I was recommended to try introducing one new food every day and consuming a very large amount of it, to see if that food would cause a return of my symptoms. I didn’t do that properly, not having had it well explained by my doctors, and not really having the willpower to do it after a then-traumatic separation from food for several weeks.
I think to cure symptoms, it makes sense to give the body a rest from food. This lets the wounded gut heal rather than be assailed by more stuff to deal with.
I think that’s why the Modulen diet works. But I don’t think Modulen is necessarily the best way.
You could look into juice fasts or just plain water fasting.
I’ve experimented with water fasting and a 1 day fast has so far always helped when I had a sudden outbreak of symptoms. (When you’re really sick, you don’t want to eat anyway). Currently I’m on the longest fast I’ve done yet: 5 days and counting (I’m aiming for 7).
When I have more experience water fasting, I will update this post. What I do know, however, is that fasting helps for a remarkable number of diseases. And I think it’s likely to help for Crohn’s more than most thanks to what I mentioned above.
To fast effectively, you should read a book or two and perhaps find a professional to supervise you. I’m currently reading this book and can recommend it (despite its cheesy name): Fasting: The Ultimate Diet by Allan Cott.
I also got a lot out of reading this forum thread from end to end. It was the informational basis for my fasts so far.
I should also mention that I have done a limited diet once, consuming only the foods that I thought were most likely to be easy on my system. It seemed to work, though not as well as a real fast. I ate quinoa as a staple, basically three times a day, with some cashew nuts and lots of (non abrasive) fruit and vegetables and juice. I avoided spices, onions, chocolate and anything else irritant. I think it did help give my digestive system a rest.
So, now that I’ve mentioned some principles, let me go over what worked for me (mostly in the realms of diet).
I went vegan four years back, which marked approximately the start of my general improvement from Crohn’s.
I don’t know exactly how much it helped, but animal foods are all acidifying, so I’m guessing it did help quite a lot. I’m also very sure that milk in particular is bad for Crohn’s sufferers. (I drank a huge amount of milk as a child and wonder if that might not have contributed to my disease in the beginning).
At about the same time, I gave up all of my chemical medications. They weren’t working and I just didn’t trust the medical system anymore.
I tried the raw food diet a year or so later. It didn’t help too much, I guess because it was quite a radical change for the body and I still wasn’t aware of my allergies (particularly, to bananas, which I obliviously tried to consume in massive quantities). I also didn’t respond well to raw legume sprouts or large quantities of raw carrots. But I think the raw food diet did help me develop my thinking towards what constitutes a healthy diet.
The raw food diet introduced me to the wonders of avocadoes, which I still love today. Avocadoes are a very soft food, easy on the gut, have lots of non-abrasive fibre, and are alkalising. I read somewhere, too, that they are anti-inflammatory. In any case, I’ve noticed that they seem to calm my symptoms a little when I eat them.
I also tried fennel and anis (both fleshy fennel and infusions made from the seeds of either) for tackling symptoms. They seemed to help a bit. Chamomile, too, seemed to calm my stomach, though not so well as fennel and anis.
I tried aloe vera juice (I bought a brand that was treated to remove the bitter taste) around this time. I’m not sure if it helped.
I began both giving and receiving reiki treatments. While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact long term effect of these, I do have the feeling that they helped. Particularly, reiki heals the body starting from the emotions and energy body, so I think it could have helped my disease on that level.
I went to a natural doctor. He prescribed me Silybum marianum, a.k.a Carduus marianus, or milk thistle. He also recommended a special concoction of Bach Flower Essences, which I noticed an effect from and I think helped, some dietary changes which I mostly ignored, and a couple of supplement syrups of his own devising. They seemed to consist of concentrated fruit, veg, and yeast. I can see how those could be of help, though I’m not sure that you need to consume them as a syrup. All of these things I stopped taking after a while.
Over time I discovered my allergies/food intolerances. First I realised that every time I drank coffee I would have very strong, painful cramps. I cut that out and have never regretted it.
Then I discovered that I would invariably get sick after eating more than just a little banana. So I eventually gave that up, despite my stubbornness in using it for the raw food diet.
I noticed onions and garlic didn’t agree with me – particularly garlic. I resolved to cut out garlic and keep onions to a minimum. For some time I used leeks or green onions instead of normal onions, because they were milder. I’ve fallen out of that habit, but I think it was perhaps a good one.
Note that I will sometimes eat garlic at a restaurant, but I’ve recently realised that raw garlic is never worth it for me. In the same way, raw onions are stronger than cooked onions. If I’m at a restaurant, I usually pick out the onions from a salad and will only eat small amounts of raw Mexican salsa. When I make Mexican salsa at home, I fry the onions briefly – 5 minutes will do to change the effect they have on my body a lot.
I’ve also noticed that papaya sometimes seems to set me off, but not always – I’m not sure what causes that exactly (or perhaps I’m mistaken, as I don’t eat papaya often enough to be sure). I also discovered that pears give me diarrhea and that persimmons sometimes set me off. I thought I identified the cause as being the mucusy outer layer of the seeds (or where the seeds would have been in seedless varieties) but then one day I got set off even when avoiding eating those parts. The offender in question was cheap and had an odd soapy flavour, and I wonder if it was some nasty additive they used that made me sick.
I gave up fluoride toothpaste after reading about fluoride being bad. I didn’t notice any effects in particular, but it was easy to maintain and my teeth seemed to do fine.
I read in some places that soya is bad and gave it up for a while. However, it was hard, especially as a vegan, and it didn’t seem to help much. After maybe a year, including some time where I strictly avoided it and some time where I ate some but still thought it was bad, I decided to consciously choose to believe that soya is healthy or at least neutral. So far this point of view has been better for me. Soya has never noticeably caused me problems, except for a slightly queasy feeling after glutting on very large amounts of tofu (and well, what do you expect), but no Crohn’s symptoms.
I eventually noticed that chocolate and tea irritated my stomach a little. I flirted with cutting out tea for a long time, but the effect was relatively weak, and I loved my tea, so it took a long time. Recently I have gotten rid of it entirely, and replaced it with rooibos and Yogi Tea. I indulge in green tea, which seems better than black, very occasionally. (Update: I’ve recently discovered the wonders of rooibos green tea, which tastes just like green tea but without that irritant effect on my stomach).
As for chocolate, so far I’ve not cut it out, but do perhaps eat less than I used to, preferring a little higher quality chocolate than a lot of the cheap stuff. White chocolate (I buy vegan white chocolate in a specialist vegan shop) doesn’t seem to have the same effect as brown, so I eat that sometimes, too.
Then I learned about fasting and started going on a short fast whenever I had an outbreak (see above). In recent times I’ve slowly built up my psychological tolerance for longer fasts.
I tried giving up gluten 2 years ago. I had read about it being generally bad for all people, even if some people responded more or less strongly to it.
This was a breakthrough. After that, it was very rare for me to have a symptom outbreak that I couldn’t trace to gluten, and until just recently the outbreaks were only for 1 day before disappearing again. For me, this was a miracle. If I could recommend just one thing to a Crohn’s sufferer, I’d say try this, because if there’s any chance you’ll respond in the same way as me it could be SO worth it.
Interestingly, gluten seemed to cause symptoms 1-2 weeks after I consumed it (I made a few experiments after giving it up), so I wouldn’t have noticed this if I hadn’t tested it.
I tried eating oats (which some people say have gluten and some people say don’t) and it made me sick just like gluten did.
So that was the big thing. Later, I thought I could trace some isolated outbreaks to fluoride which I may have got from drinking water in certain places I travelled to. See this article for more: Fluoride.
Now, I started to have very slight but persistent symptoms seven or eight months ago. It was disconcerting, as I would have liked to have thought my disease cured.
It got worse some weeks ago, and I decided to try adjusting the recipe for my gluten-free bread so that it contained no refined starch, just wholesome ingredients. That seemed to work for a couple of days, and I wrote an excited blog post about it. Ironically, I then got strongly sick.
I’m not sure what caused this outbreak – if anything, but I really would prefer to think that something caused it, because then I’d be able to change that something. I think it could have been a result of the intense, long-term emotional stress of transitioning from male to female in this last year or so, and possibly to do with the worse weather in Berlin, where I moved seven months ago. I’m trying to chill out more and get some sunshine when possible.
First I tried the quinoa fast I mentioned above. I also added a lot of turmeric to my food (turmeric is supposed to be very anti-inflammatory) and ate lots of aloe vera pudding (basically aloe vera flesh in sugar water) which I found in an Asian food shop. The latter, in particular, seemed to calm my stomach, and tasted good, too.
Then I went on a water fast – which I am on as I write this. The symptoms disappeared within one day, but we will see if I get sick again when I have some actual food running through my gut.
Well – that’s basically an exhaustive run-down of everything I’ve tried. I hope some of it might serve as inspiration to Crohn’s sufferers.
Update 05/05/2013: I finished the fast, and I think it helped but it didn’t make things completely better. However, I started supplementing vitamin D, drinking tea made of fresh turmeric root, and eating aloe vera pudding, and that absolutely helped. I’m now symptom free and have been for a good couple of weeks. Let’s see how long this lasts.
As for Vitamin D, I think it makes absolute sense that my recent bout of Crohn’s could have been caused by Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is created by the body using sunlight, right? Well, the slight but persistent symptoms Crohn’s I reported started when I moved to Berlin, a less sunny climate than my previous Barcelona. And I had already been reading low on vitamin D on blood tests. And my actual flare-up occurred in the deep of winter. All of these things point in that direction.
So, I’m supplementing the vitamin and trying to get sunlight whenever I can.
I should also mention that this website was a revelation for me. (I posted a link to the Wayback Machine archives since the website has since been turned into a sales page for a book… the book will probably be good, though the marketing tactics annoy me immensely).
From that website, I compiled a list of things to try if/when necessary:
So that’s all for now, though I will keep updating the article. What worked for you? Please share!
If you got value out of this article, please consider making a donation.