Crohn's disease belongs to the group of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. It is a granulomatous (characterized by granulomas or a mass of inflamed granulation tissue) inflammation in the entire gastrointestinal tract that can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Usually though, it occurs in the lower small intestine and in the colon, and less in the oesophagus or the mouth. A typical characteristic of Crohn's disease is discontinuous, segmental infestation, or so-called skip lesions of the intestinal mucosa.
Crohn's disease commonly occurs among young adults. These people suffer from fatigue, pain in the lower right abdomen and (mostly bloodless) diarrhoea. Fever, severe weight loss, nausea and vomiting may also arise in some cases, although a manifestation of the disease without diarrhoea is also possible. The nature and perception of the symptoms vary from patient to patient. It is possible, for example, for someone with this ailment to experience a loss of appetite at the beginning and during the course of an inflammatory phase - also called a surge - while others experience pain and cramps throughout the lower and upper abdomen instead.
Patients with Crohn's disease often show signs of malnutrition. Since the supply of energy and essential nutrients to the body is inadequate, Crohn's disease patients may show lower supplies of protein, vitamins A, D, folate, B12 and of the trace elements zinc and iron. Following the high loss of electrolytes and fluids in the body, patients also run the risk of getting dehydrated. In finding a way to improve the patient's condition, it should be noted that there's no one diet that can be applied to all patients, every diet plan needs to be created especially for each patient.
A nutritional therapy and drug intervention system must be developed to suit every individual patient. The goal of these treatment methods should be to provide short-term control over intestinal inflammation through drug treatment, to prevent further complications, to lessen the instances of diarrhea and to improve the patient's overall well-being.
Apart from taking medicines, natural methods are also used by many to deal with CD, such as the intake of herbs and application of homoeopathy. Although these two do not provide a cure for the disease itself, they do help a lot to ease the patient's pain and can also prevent the disease (for those who have a history of Crohn's in the family but haven't been diagnosed with it). Among herbs that help reduce the risk of having Crohn's is goldenseal. It lowers the probability of bacteria sticking to the intestinal wall. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, just like green tea. Other herbs with this characteristic are slippery elm, turmeric, and wild indigo. Professional homoeopaths, on the other hand, use homeopathic therapies to treat symptoms of Crohn's. Different kinds of remedies used in such therapies are mercurius, podophyllum, and veratrum album.
Other alternatives to medicine in treating the symptoms of CD are hypnosis and other relaxation techniques. The good thing about these methods is that they can improve the patient's immune function and decrease feelings of stress and anxiety by treating the mind, without the use of any chemicals or natural agents.