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When drugs fail and all hope is lost, is a plant based diet and daily stress reduction the cure for Crohn's Disease? This specific diet regime along with a spiritual practice and ditching those medications could help heal your disease for good.
Crohn's is currently treated with antibiotics and immune suppression (Ciprofloxacin and Mercaptopurine) on the assumption that Crohn's is a combination of bacterial infection and incurable auto-immune process. A 26 year old male diagnosed with Crohn's disease by colonoscopy at age 15 reports on his history of Crohn's disease and how it was cured in one year by vigilance and sticking to a specific plant based diet regimen and daily stress reduction. A biological mechanism for the cure is suggested: plant-based diet changes the intestinal flora, and stress reduction reduces the number of bacteria invading the intestinal mucosa, allowing the intestine to heal.
The case: "At age 12 ½ I started having watery bowel movements several times a day which continued over the next two years, resulting in weight loss. I remember being under tremendous stress at this time. After about two years, I went to a family doctor who referred me to a gastroenterologist. Crohn's disease was diagnosed by colonoscopy at age 15. The gastroenterologist told me that Crohn's is a chronic disease, with no cure, and prescribed Ciprofloxacin antibiotics and Mercaptopurine, the immune system inhibitor. After 3 years of taking these 2 pills on a daily basis, I felt no improvement. I caught many colds and fevers during this period due to my compromised immune system. Rectal bleeding continued on a regular basis which resulted in low hemoglobin levels, making me tired during the day and unable to function properly in my studies. A year after diagnosis, at age 16, I heard about an organization claiming to have a cure for Crohn's by eating no carbohydrates. The diet they recommend includes only protein and cooked vegetables. I began to eat only protein and cooked vegetables strictly for three months without improvement. I ate meat, fish and poultry- sometimes a whole chicken per day. I did not include lactose containing foods in my diet because before I was diagnosed with Crohn's I was tested and found to have marginal lactose intolerance. I did eat some cottage cheese and butter which are low in lactose. I did not eat any bread other than one I made from almond flour. I ate no potatoes, beans, chickpeas or chicken prepared by anyone who might add carbohydrates. I felt terrible hunger while eating this diet. The diet did not relieve me of my symptoms so I discontinued it. At 18 years old, I was hospitalized for a week with severe dehydration from diarrhea. I was treated with IV antibiotics, steroids and a special diet selected for its ability to be digested easily. During this week of hospitalization, on the special diet, I lost 5 pounds and was going to the bathroom an average of 30 times a day, mostly discharging blood. After a week in the hospital, they said there was nothing they could do and sent me home in the same condition. It was difficult to stand, I was so weak. My parents took me to a Chinese style doctor for treatment. After one acupuncture treatment, the blood from my anus stopped. The acupuncture doctor referred me to a naturopath who recommended that I follow three fundamental principles: 1. diet, 2. stop medications and 3. spiritual serenity described here:
1. Diet principles
a. No flour until immune system is strengthened and then only spelt wheat flour because of its low gluten level.
b. No sugar.
c. No oil except fresh olive oil. No fried foods.
d. Only mineral water or tap water without fluoride. No toothpaste with fluoride.
e. No food sprayed with chemicals.
f. No meat, no fish, no dairy products, no genetically modified foods.
g. Take high doses of Vitamin C and a probiotic powder the naturopath provided.
The first two days take in only boiled water, white rice, minerals and organic sea salt. Starting day three and for the next 2 weeks gradually add organic (only organic): carrots. butternut squash, quinoa, buckwheat, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. After the first 2 weeks, gradually add other organic cooked vegetables and spices such as turmeric and cumin. Just as the acupuncture immediately stopped the bloody diarrhea, this diet helped immediately. I was able to stand, walk and gain weight. After three weeks, I started to eat all kinds of natural organic beans (not genetically engineered) cooked in mineral water such as chickpeas, green lentils and many types of beans that were unfamiliar to me until then, with saffron and sea salt for seasoning. Starting at four weeks, I added olive oil. Each time you add a new vegetable or food wait two days to see if the body accepts it. After 5 weeks, try uncooked organic vegetables, then fruit, all without pesticides. After vegetables and fruit, I added tofu to the menu and slowly other things that contained no toxins. After a short period, I was able to do exercise, went back to school and could eat bread from spelt flour. My health had improved dramatically.
2. Stop medications
The naturopath taught me that success of the treatment was dependent on stopping all medications because they weaken the immune system. So at 18 after my week long hospitalization and as I began the treatment prescribed by the naturopath, I stopped taking the medications I had been taking regularly for the past 3 years. The frequent colds and other seasonal diseases like the flu, strep throat, conjunctivitis, colds, joint pain disappeared. Since then, in the past seven years, I have not been to a doctor because of any problem. I did recently check my hemoglobin level and found it to be normal. After one year of the diet of natural organic foods without any toxins, no animal products, bread, or sugar, I felt my immune system stronger and I started to slowly add occasional unhealthy things, and even so, I have no symptoms of Crohn's.
3. Spiritual healing
It is clear to me that if my diet and exercise regimen was not integrated with spiritual insights treatment, the disease would return. The study of the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratislava helped me understand that illness often originates from sadness, anxiety and worry and the cure is to look positively at all life events, practice some daily solitude, for me about an hour per day, and be happy. A person should judge themselves favorably and see only the good in himself, and appreciate life's gifts. I now see Crohn's as a gift. It brought me to the point where I could not do anything (not even stand up) and then brought me to learn to live happily. Junk food provides immediate pleasure but healthy food enables me to have greater clarity of mind, making it easier to develop positive emotions and remove negative emotions.
Theory for why this works: The meat eating bacteria Bilophila wadsworthia is associated with inflammatory bowel disease. (1,2) As a rule, Bilophila wadsworthia is not invasive. Recent evidence showed that high norepinephrine and ATP levels such as released during stress, increases the tendency of some normally non-invasive bacteria to invade mucus membranes. (3) Combining these new findings together produces a plausible mechanism to explain Crohn's disease: naturally occurring gut flora transition to invasive pathogens in the presence of stress. This theory is consistent with the client's immediate relief upon changing diet, and why the meat based diet did not relieve any of his symptoms.
For more research on natural ways to prevent and treat Crohn's disease, view the GreenMedInfo.com resource on the topic: Crohn's Disease Research.
1. David LA et. al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome.Nature. 2014;505(7484):559-63.
microbiome. Nature. 2014;505(7484):559-63.
2. Devkota S, et al. Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10−/− mice. Nature. 2012;487:104–108.
3. Marks LR, Davidson BA, Knight PR, Hakansson AP. Interkingdom signaling induces Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm dispersion and transition from asymptomatic colonization to disease. MBio. 2013;4(4).