"Let food be your medicine." -Hippocrates

Crohn's Disease: There is Hope.

What is Crohn's disease?

  • Crohn's disease (CD) is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The disease can affect any part of the GI tract but predominates in the final part of the small intestine or the terminal ileum. In general, isolated sections of the bowel will become diseased and ulcerated while other sections will remain healthy.
  • Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, ulcers, mouth blisters, low grade fevers, joint pain, constipation, cramps, gas, fatigue, weight loss, fistulas and loss of appetite. As the disease shifts from flares to periods of remission, the intestinal walls tend to thicken from inflammation and scar tissue and blockages may occur.
  • Nutritional deficiencies are common with CD. Abdominal pain and other symptoms may lead to food avoidance. The damaged intestinal walls are not able to efficiently absorb food and nutrients. Many CD sufferers have vitamin B deficiencies because of malabsorption.
  • CD sufferers may undergo psychological examinations before a final diagnosis is reached. Make no mistake, the pain and suffering is real.

What causes Crohn's Disease?

The pathology of CD is extremely complicated and varies from person to person. Remissions and flares can occur at random. Reaching a scientific conclusion on any subject is difficult, and near impossible when dealing with such a complicated issue. Some theories about the origin of CD are:

  • CD is an auto immune disease. An abnormal immune response to food or bacteria in the gut damages the intestinal walls. Genetics would be play a key role in this process.
  • CD is a normal immune response to an infectious bacteria. This would be very similar to tuberculosis where the body's response is more destructive than the organism is. Different bacterial strains could cause different symptoms and might explain the variability of this disease.
  • Interestingly, people who develop CD eat significantly higher amounts of refined sugars than the average person.

How is CD treated today?

The blunt answer is: not very effectively. Medications and surgery serve to control the disease, but cannot cure it. Medical practitioners will often prescribe a wide spectrum of medications aimed at reducing inflammation, relieving pain, lowering fever, and reducing diarrhea. Unfortunately, most of these medications have unwanted side effects, drain the body of valuable nutrients, and can actually interfere with the healing process. The following is a list of commonly prescribed medications:

  • Corticosteriods (or "steroids") including prednisone and methlyprednisolone. These medications will rapidly reduce inflammation and pain and increase appetite. Long term use has been associated with a list of horrible side effects, such as arthritis, stunted growth, ulcers, vision impairment, and bone loss. These medications often interfere with protein synthesis, a necessary process for healing the intestinal wall. CD patients will often become "steroid" dependent and require additional medications to reduce doses of corticosteroids.
  • Aminosalicylates: including mesalamine and sulfasalazine. These "aspirin-like" medications help to reduce inflammation of the intestines. A common side effect is diarrhea and chronic headaches.
  • Immune Suppressants: including 6-mercaptopurine (6MP), azathioprine, and methotrexate. Many of these type of medications were developed to decrease organ rejections. They work by directly suppressing and interfering with the body's own immune function. Use of these medications often carry an increased risk of cancer and/or bone marrow damage.
  • Antibiotics: including ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, and metrondazole. Metrondazole is often prescribed to help fistulas and colonic infections. Long term use of antibiotics can create an imbalance in gut flora, resulting in diarrhea, and resistance in bacteria. Antibiotics can also weaken the immune system. Interestingly enough, symptoms of Crohn's disease and other bowel diseases often occur after long term use of these medications.

Treatment of Crohn's disease usually follows a predictable pattern:

    1. After many tests and examinations, a diagnosis is made.

    2. A high dose of prednisone will be prescribed to rapidly reduce inflammation, increase appetite, and alleviate pain. The patient will be advised to avoid problematic foods, but that diet has little influence on the disease.

    3. Once the symptoms have been alleviated, the next step is to get the patient off of prednisone because of its severe side effects. Patients slowly taper the prednisone dose over many months. Symptoms may return near or below the 10 mg dose.

    4. Inevitably, the doctor will prescribe another medication. This is done to allow those who have become steroid dependent to stop taking prednisone or as a "maintenance" dose to keep the patient in "remission". Mesalamine or 6MP are commonly used here.

    5. Patients will continue on these non-steroid medications until an increase in symptoms requires the use of prednisone (go back to step 3).

    At any point during treatment, if an intestinal blockage occurs or medications do not reduce symptoms, surgery will be used to remove the diseased sections of the bowel. Surgery may induce long term remissions, but usually the disease will return.

A Link between Crohn's and Diet?

Although the current medical consensus is that diet is not related to CD, three modern practitioners have independently discovered this perception to be false.

  • Robert C. Atkins, M.D. states in his book, Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution, that he has a 85 percent success rate of treating CD patients with a sugar-restricted (low carbohydrate) diet and high doses of B-vitamins, including folic acid and pantethine.
  • Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., a medical clinician in Austria has a success rate of over 90 percent when treating his patients with a low carbohydrate diet for at least one year.
  • Elaine Gottschall, M.S. has had remarkable success at healing others suffering from Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis with a specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), even curing her own daughter.
  • John Yudkin, M.D. states in his book, Sweet and Dangerous, that he has successfully used a low carbohydrate diet to treat a variety of gastrointestinal ailments. In one study he acheived a 70 percent success rate.

Clearly these results are beyond remarkable. Yet the medical community continues to wait for a quick fix, rather than recommending effective dietary lifestyle changes. Following a restricted diet can be very difficult. However, the rewards of good health and elimination of medications can be enough motivation to abide by them. These diet-based treatments do not only treat the symptoms, but will actually treat the underlying disease without severe side effects. After several years of strictly following the
SCD, many have returned to eating other foods without returning symptoms.


Dietary Changes:

If you are currently on any medications, it is important to keep taking them unless they are directly interfering with your health and doing more harm than good. There will be plenty of time to reduce your medications when your health has returned.

    1.  Read through Elaine Gottschall's book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle and try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This book has a great educational value as well as instructions for following the SCD. Eat plenty of homemade yogurt, as outlined in the book, and homemade fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut. The SCD is the least restrictive of the diets and allows a great variety of foods. The book recommends trying the SCD for at least a month. We have found that many do not get relief until the third month. If you find that a certain food is causing you problems eliminate it from your diet. Although legumes ( i.e. beans, peanuts, etc) are allowed by the SCD, you should be very weary of eating them.

    2.  If symptoms are not alleviated by following the SCD after three months, or you are growing impatient, try eliminating problem foods. Many people find that legumes, dairy foods, nuts, eggs, and excess fruits and honey will cause gastrointestinal distress.

    3.  Try following a low carbohydrate version of the SCD: Eliminate honey, restrict fruits to avocados, eat only green leafy vegetables, limit your quantity of nuts, eat plenty of high quality proteins and fats, and make the yogurt from heavy cream to reduce the carbohydrate content.


Although the diets recommended above are nutritious, further supplementation may speed the process of healing. It is important to purchase high quality supplements without sugar or starch as fillers. The
Solgar web site offers a search of their products for sensitive foods and fillers. Many supplements lead to digestive problems and should be used with caution. If digestive problems can be isolated to a specific supplement, it may be advisable to seek out a physician who can prescribe an injection of that vitamin. Finally, every person requires different levels of nutrients. The doses shown below should serve as starting points and should be adjusted to meet your specific needs.

  • Probiotics: probiotics, or friendly bacteria, will help to balance the gut flora and fight any yeast or bacterial infections. Those who cannot tolerate dairy and cannot eat the homemade yogurt, should consider taking probiotics. FOS is a common ingredient in probiotic supplements and should be avoided. FOS may feed pathogenic microbes and defeat the purpose of the diet.
  • B-Complex: As a whole, the B vitamins work as a team. When taking a large dose of a single B vitamin, it can result in a deficiency in the others. Therefore it is advisable to take the full spectrum of B vitamins to safeguard against a nutritional imbalance.
    *Recommendation: A good B-complex "50" multivitamin should cover all the bases.
  • Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid and its activated form, Pantethine, may help reduce the need from steroids and promote intestinal healing. Anyone who has become steroid dependent should consider taking supplemental Pantethine. Vitamin B 5 has also been implicated in balancing the gut flora. *Recommendation1 : 900 mg of Pantethine and 900 mg of Pantothenic Acid daily.
  • Folic Acid: Folate, a B vitamin, has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and certain birth defects. It plays a primary role in the healing process of the intestines. A good quality source of Folic Acid is called Folirinse.
    *Recommendation1 : 40 to 60 mg of folate per day.
  • Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid promotes the healing of wounds through its role in collagen synthesis. Ascorbic acid also serves to support the immune system in fighting off infections.
    *Recommendation2 : 2 to 18 grams daily, preferably buffered Vitamin C in powder/crystal form. Doses should be spread throughout the day for maximum benefit.
  • Fish Oil: The oils from cold water fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation. Clinical studies have shown that a daily regimen of fish oil prolongs remission rates in Crohn's disease patients.
  • Zinc: Zinc boosts the immune system and accelerates wound healing. Many people with Crohn's disease are deficient in zinc. Zinc can be harsh on the stomach, so use this supplement with caution.
    *Recommendation1: 100 to 200 mg of zinc daily.
  • L-Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid that promotes healing of the intestines and repairs the mucousal layer.
    *Recommendation1 : 5 grams of powdered L-glutamine daily.
  • Molybdenum: Molybdenum helps the body eliminate harmful compounds. It helps to clear mental grogginess associated with yeast infections by eliminating their toxins.
  • *Recommendation1: 200 to 500 mcg of molybdenum daily. Doses up to 2,000 mcg daily may be safely taken.

MSM: may help reduce the hydroxyl damage to the intestines and provide a protective coating to the digestive tract. MSM has also been implicated in pain relief, tissue repair, and toxin elimination. MSM is also a great source of dietary sulfur. Read this site to read more about MSM and Crohn’s Disease.

*Doses taken from:
1. Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution.
2. Linus Pauling's How to Live Longer and Feel Better.

Related links:
The SCD Web Library
Lucy’s Kitchen Shop - Sells SCD legal Probiotics
Proposed Biochemical Cause and Remedy for Crohn's Disease
Alternative Treatments for Crohn’s Disease
Pain Switch - A simple, yet powerful way to approach chronic pain.


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The Healing Crow is a nonprofit corporation. Information published by The Healing Crow is intended to expand the knowledge of the reader about health issues. It is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or replace medical care. Our mission is to educate the public about chronic illnesses and corresponding non-drug related treatments. We encourage others to critically examine all avenues of information pertaining to health including: naturopaths, chiropractors, physicians, medical and scientific papers, and others; in order to make an informed decision. We believe a patient has the right to question a health source without taking any medical advice on faith. The best patient is an informed one. Before instituting a major change in diet or nutrition please consult a worthy expert in nutrition or a doctor. Although we believe our information to be as accurate as possible, discrepancies may arise. If you have a personal story and would like to include your testimonial on our site, please email us at the link above.


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