IBD is a broad term describing a painful, chronic inflammation of the bowels, usually relapsing in nature. As an autoimmune condition, it is the body’s own reaction to the lining of the intestinal tract, and an altered composition of gut microbiome species which create this inflammatory response.
The two most common presentations of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While ulcerative colitis is restricted to the colon and rectum, Crohn’s can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, and primarily occurs in the ileum. Furthermore, ulcerative colitis is limited to the mucosa and submucosa, whereas Crohn’s disease extends into all three mucosal layers.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are both forms of IBD, however their symptoms whilst similar, are distinct from one another by their location and timing. Distinguishing between these conditions requires detailed case taking and functional testing and will direct the treatment strategy.
Ulcerative colitis usually presents as continuous areas of inflammation of the lining of the colon. The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis occur due to the colon’s inability to absorb water due to being severely ulcerated and inflamed. Relapsing, and episodic in nature, symptoms persist for days, weeks, or even months. People with ulcerative colitis commonly experience:
Ulcerative colitis may also lead to some systemic health complications including:
By comparison, Crohn’s disease presents as inflamed patches between healthy sections of intestine. People with Crohn’s disease may experience variable signs and symptoms with intermittent attacks and asymptomatic periods lasting weeks to months. Common symptoms can include:
While more severe indications are:
Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.
These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.
Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected.
The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.
Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).
Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.
Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.
Primarily inflammatory bowel diseases are considered idiopathic inflammatory conditions, meaning there are no specific identified causes. However, links have been drawn with some common underlying factors:
Environmental triggers: IBD has multiple triggers that may cause inflammation and alter the gut’s normal flora, causing it to flare. Some known triggers include:
Genetics: Evidence suggests an increased risk of IBD among people with an affected family member by 4 to 8 times, even higher in identical twins.
Epithelial defects: The symptoms of IBD are seen as a result of multiple defects in linings of vessels, organs, and digestive system, called epithelial cells. The most dominating feature is dysfunction of the tight junction barriers or ‘leaky gut syndrome’, resulting in increasing susceptibility to IBD triggers and food intolerances.
Mucosal immune response: The immune system’s role in increasing the chances of IBD is well known. The T helper cells, typically Th17 cells, play an active role in Crohn’s disease.
Parasitic or bacterial infections: Bacteria and yeast can flourish in the deep ulcers and pockets that occur in IBD. These infections, such as SIBO, along with parasitic infestations, may drive and aggravate IBD.
Despite this range of options there are potentially harmful side effects such as blood, bone, liver, and kidney dysfunction and malignant melanoma. Conventional methods of treating IBD have a high failure rate resulting in increased incidence and severity of disease with long-term complications.
As a result, many people are now turning to a functional medicine approach to IBD for lasting relief.
Left untreated/ineffectively treated, Crohn’s disease can lead to further complications outside the gut including:
In an IBD alternative treatment strategy there are a range of functional tests that will help identify the root causes and triggers of your symptoms, they may include:
At Melbourne Functional Medicine, practitioners focus on identifying and addressing the individual factors contributing to each person’s inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis. An IBD natural treatment is tailored to the person, rather than the symptoms, and is informed by the latest science.
In clinical trials, herbal medicines and natural products used in an IBD natural treatment approach to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis demonstrated efficacy in improving symptoms and health outcomes by;
Our practitioners achieve these results with a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary modifications (including removing aggravating foods and increasing beneficial nutrients) gut health support, natural anti-inflammatories and herbal medicines. Just some of the proven natural remedies for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease include:
Together with our functional medicine practitioners, our health coaches will help provide the support you need to be successful in achieving your health goals.
Are you ready for a personalised, natural functional medicine treatment? Our unique model of care was designed with you in mind. Find out how below, then book a call today!
Inflammatory bowel disease is an autoimmune disease causing recurrent inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas irritable bowel syndrome is a range of symptoms that can occur due to disruption to the microbiome.
The functional medicine approach uses IBD natural treatment strategies for Crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative colitis alternative treatments use similar methods, with both based on the latest scientific studies.
An inflammatory bowel disease diet, herbal medicines, natural supplements, specific probiotic and prebiotics and lifestyle changes are all part of the latest treatment strategies for both conditions, but most importantly treating you as a whole being.
Establishing your particular underlying causes will dictate the treatment strategy. No two people are alike, but in general treatment aims would likely include:
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the entire gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, and can involve the full thickness of the intestinal wall.
Ulcerative colitis generally affects only the mucosal lining of the intestinal wall, and is usually located in the large intestine and rectum.
Ulcerative colitis alternative treatment options are best to be tailored to you, based on the root causes and your symptom picture.
Yes, it can be. Having a close family member who has Crohn’s increases the likelihood of developing it. However, other non-genetic causes like environmental toxin exposure e.g. smoking, pesticides, and plasticisers, can cause damage to the mucosal lining triggering an immune response underlying the development of Crohn’s.
Many people seeking a natural, alternative treatment to Crohn's benefit from a holistic treatment plan that addresses their entire body and overall health. Crohn’s disease can be treated and managed effectively using the functional medicine approach. Dietary change, an inflammatory bowel disease diet, lifestyle changes, specific probiotics and nutritional supplements can all contribute to supporting a healthy immune response within the gastrointestinal tract.
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