Bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD can only be treated and not cured with conventional medical therapies. Therefore, people living with either of these diseases look toward complementary medicine to supplement conventional therapies while battling their symptoms.
CAM is a wide term, as it encompasses a vast array of treatment options. It is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products. CAM is not presently considered part of conventional medicine. No well-designed scientific studies exist to answer questions, however, evidence exists regarding the advantages of CAM therapies.
Patients use complementary therapies together with conventional treatment. The Bowel Diseases Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCFA) recommends that anyone considering any of the CAM approaches should discuss them with their doctor.
Complementary therapies work in a variety of ways. Therapies help control symptoms and ease pain, enhance feelings of well-being and quality of life, and possibly boost the immune system.
Patients weigh the risks versus benefits when considering any therapy. It is recommended that you ask your physician or CAM practitioner about any relevant research on the therapy you’re undergoing.
In addition to considering safety and effectiveness of a particular practice, it is also advisable to carefully choose a practitioner. Practitioners must have specific training in may of the CAM therapies.
Probiotics like VSL#3 and Visbiome are live bacteria that are similar to the beneficial (often called “good” or “friendly”) bacteria that normally reside in the intestines. Beneficial bacteria keep the growth of harmful bacteria in check, under normal circustances. Harmful bacteria overgrow if the balance between the good and bad bacteria is thrown off, leading to diarrhea and other digestive problems. Probiotics restore the balance of these “good” bacteria in the body. Probiotics are available in differnt forms of dietary supplements.
Evidence suggests positive effects with probiotics for people with Bowel Diseases. Clinical studies show that Probiotics are useful in preventing and treating pouchitis (a condition that can follow surgery to remove the colon).
Taking probiotics is generally safe and effective. Side effects (such as gas or bloating) are usually mild. Researchers have not yet adequately studied the safety of probiotics in young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems.
Omega-3 fatty acids is found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, as well as many nuts and leafy green vegetables. Fish oils provides many health benefits. Patients have seen anti-inflammatory effects in rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, and cardiac disease, consequently. Patients have seen joint pain relief with rheumatoid arthritis when given fish oils rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Patients use aloe vera topically for wound healing and pain relief. Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties. Some patients have reported reduced symptoms with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis when drinking aloe vera juice. However, no scientific studies have demonstrated this effect. Doctos should inform patients that when taken orally, Aloe vera has laxative effects. Patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis should be careful about treatments that can boost an already overactive immune system.