Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The upcoming topic on The Natural Health Show tomorrow, Saturday, December 7th, which also includes my Radical Remedies segment on detox, is on Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So why not write a blog about it, right?
To begin with IBD is actually a list of eight separate diseases, but the main ones are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They both affect our gastrointestinal tract (i.e. the food tract which begins at the mouth and ends at the little hole of your behind) and both are on the rise in industrialized countries, including Canada. They are also both considered to be autoimmune diseases, which means that they are caused by an over active immune system. This also causes excessive inflammation. What is different about them is that Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and has skip lesions, which means that it can affect the GI tract at separate locations along its length. It also affects the entire thickness of the GI track wall. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects just the large intestine (i.e. the colon) and the rectum. It has no skip lesions and it affects only the inner lining of the wall of the colon.
The cause of these conditions is multifactorial, meaning that they have an environmental as well as a genetic component. The genetic component is very complicated and varied among individuals because there are so many different genetic mutations contributing to these conditions. The environmental influence is most likely caused by altered bacterial flora of the bowel (i.e. more of the bad bacteria and less of the good bacteria), processed foods in diet, and concentrated milk fats like processed cheese and butter. The altered bacterial flora comes about by having an unhealthy diet predominating with processed fast foods, lack of supplementation with probiotics (either in a supplement form or fermented milk products) or prolonged use of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria and leave room for the bad bacteria to thrive after the termination of antibiotic use.
Generally speaking these conditions are not fatal (unless very rare complications occur like rupture of the colon, for example) but they decrease the quality of life substantially. The main problems are pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, cramps, weight loss and fatigue. This is due to less nutrients being consumed and the loss of blood.
Now here is the bread and meat of what I want to emphasize. The problem with the conventional treatments of these conditions is that it utilizes either anti-inflammatory synthetic medications or immune suppressant medications. Both types are powerful drugs that have a lengthy list of side effects which are very uncomfortable and frequently very dangerous as well. They are also usually effective only temporarily while the medication is taken. When stopping the medication the disease comes back. In addition to the serious and uncomfortable side effects they also weaken the immune system, making us more vulnerable to infections and cancers.
So what can we do? Well, thanks to Vitarock I am here to provide you with information on the natural ways that we can control, prevent and even eliminate this disease. First of all is diet. A diet should be rich in unprocessed foods which are low in animal fats. Fruits, vegetables, lean chicken and fish with lots of seeds, nuts, hemp hearts, and healthy oils (like flax seed oil, olive oil, and hemp oil) are items you want contained in your diet. Just as important are probiotics. You can provide them by drinking fermented milk products like kefir on a regular basis, or supplementing with probiotics. Remember that this is even more important to implement when you are taking antibiotics. As mentioned before, antibiotics kill all good bacteria and leave room for bad bacteria to thrive in our bowel, contributing directly to this disease.
One very interesting treatment option (which has been shown to be very effective in recent studies) is the use of fecal bacteriotherapy (FBT). Simply put, it uses bacteria taken from the bowel of a healthy person (usually a close relative, although this is not absolutely required) and literally injecting it with water into the colon though the rectum into the person with the illness. This will actually be one of my future topics on Radical Remedies on The Natural Health Show. I know it sounds gross, but when you are suffering with this painful condition, and it works as a cure, you look at it from a different point of view.
Finally recent research has shown that cannabinoids (from cannabis) also have a healing power for this condition. Apparently cannabinoid receptors are also located in the gut lining. When the inner lining gets damaged, for example by inflammation, local cells in the vicinity release natural cannabinoids which then act upon and heal the damaged cells and the lining of the gut. Researchers doing this study actually deliberately damaged cells and then applied cannabinoids. The effect ? The cells were brought closer to each other and mended the tears. The problem may be that this healing process can be overwhelmed by the excessive inflammation of IBD. In this case ingesting cannabinoids (either synthetic or from medicinal marihuana) will alleviate the symptoms of IBD or may eradicate the disease all together. This is especially true when combined with a healthy diet and probiotics.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease up until recently was thought to be almost incurable, but as with more and more scenarios, we are shown the amazing possibilities of using Natural Health Products and a healthy diet for the prevention and for the cure of many serious medical conditions. All the best to you all. Until next time.