A scientific approach to at home Crohn’s Disease Therapy
I am not a doctor. When I say therapy, I suggest this as a possibility for helping those with Crohn’s to whom other treatments have proven unsuccessful, or are looking for alternatives to pharmaceutical routes. This is not a cure, nor should it be taken against the advice of qualified medical professionals, but I believe that it can work for many patients to alleviate their symptoms based on the studies we have available. As with any treatment, there is risk for complications, there is not a 100% success rate, and there is risk of side effects and drug interaction. Consult your doctor before trying any new products or supplements!
Personally I am currently applying all therapies suggested here, this does not mean I endorse their use casually, nor have I used them long enough to comment on their effectiveness. As of 1 week into fasting, 1 month into taurine, 5 days into DHEA and Psyllium Husk supplementation and 4 days into l-carnitine I am experiencing beneficial effects from the fasting and psyllium husks for sure. The others have not shown definite, remarkable, or observable results.
I will begin by offering you a brief synopsis of the treatment for those interested, then going into the details and science later for those that like to read.
After months of trying anti-bacterial and anti-fungal diets with no success I started researching other causative factors in Crohn’s Disease and other tested supplements, and seeing how they relate to my person experiences. I stumbled on a handful of things that work closely together and have greatly improved my current state of wellbeing.
- Intermittent Fasting: An extreme calorie restriction is exercised from the time one goes to bed to 5pm the following day. During this time only roughly a liter of 70-30 water to juice mixture is allowed. This should be primarily vegetable juices and low sugar fruits like carrots, kayle, spinach etc. A mouthful is swallowed once an hour. Along with this black coffee is taken to prevent sodium loss. This triggers a cascade of hormonal responses in the body that promote healing, suppress inflammation, and balance serotonin / dopamine levels.
- Taurine: Taurine supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Exact dosing is not well explained. Taurine acts to balance secondary bile salts in the gut.
- Propionyl L-Canitine: DNA aleles linked to Crohn’s disease are also linked to poor L-Carnitine transport. Adding more to the body could help alleviate the deficiency.4
- DHEA: I’ve suggested DHEA in the past but recently come across another source suggesting it. Inflammatory diseases cause the resources necessary for proper hormonal balance to be diverted to cortisol production. DHEA bypasses this cortisol pathway. Taking DHEA could improve Crohn’s symptoms as well as alleviate other symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as mood problems, depression, and loss of sexual desire / performance.
- Psyllium Husks: Psyllium husks are likely safe unless you have an ileostomy. They are a bulking agent that helps to stop diarrhea, and may aid in bile acid reabsorption. There may be other hidden benefits to them not fully understood, but they have been instrumental in reintroducing sugars into my diet.
So now you know what they are, but how about some science on WHY they work and WHAT they do?
Links between serotonin levels and Crohn’s disease have been observed leading to the possibility that hormones influence the condition. (2)
Modulating hormone levels is beyond the scope of most at-home treatments, and convincing a doctor to treat your Crohn’s with experimental hormone therapy that’s only been tested on one patient (3) may be difficult.
During a fast it has been shown that the production of serotonin in the gut is upregulated steadily, reaching a huge spike after 48 hours (1). Gut-derived serotonin may not play the same role in the body as serotonin in the brain, but it does have an extremely beneficial effect to the health of the gut.
Fasting also produces catecholamines believed to have a positive therapeutic effect on Crohn’s.
Juice fasting may have a less stressful effect on the body than a complete 0 calorie water fast. (4)
We see in Crohn’s disease an association with an imbalance of bile acids in the ileum. Upon digestion bile is created by the liver, it’s then conjugated into secondary bile acids via exposure to Taurine and Glycine. (5) Secondary bile acids are water soluble and more readily used and re-absorbed in the ileum.
Crohn’s patients are shown to express a poor balance with too little Taurine-conjugated bile acids leading to poor usage and poor reabsorption. Though the effects of this on the condition, whether it’s causative or symptomatic, are not well understood, treating it has shown some promise for therapeutic effect. Increased consumption of Taurine may provide the extra required for the body to stabilize the secondary bile acids in the ileum.
A complex series of reactions is involved in the benefits of L-Carnitine. It’s associated with an enzymatic response that suppresses tnf-a inflammation – the cause of Crohn’s inflammation. It may work synergistically with butyrate and the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii to suppress inflammation. (10) A more detailed explanation is available in the source material.
Most of what I have to say about this is a summation of other points already made. The excess production of cortisol in an inflammatory disease limits the amount of healthy hormones the body can produce. Supplementing DHEA skips the cortisol pathway, this may allow the body to reach a more natural hormone balance, reducing depression, stress, and possibly Crohn’s symptoms and inflammation. (11,12,13)
DHEA should be taken under the supervision of an endocrinologist.
Psyllium husks act as a stool bulking agent via their fiber, they can aid in both diarrhea and constipation prevention. They may also act upon the biles in a manner similar to Cholestyramine.
Sugars act in a way similar to Crohn’s disease in upsetting the balance of secondary bile acids in the ileum. I observe frequent, loose, bile-containing bowel movements after consuming sugar. Psyllium husks have been extremely effective in preventing this outcome for me.
Psyllium husks are likely safe unless you have a stoma, stricturing, ostomy bag, or do not consume them with enough water. Ask your doctor if you have one of the above complications.