Anyone who has had crohns knows of the unique ‘joys’ we experience – the colonoscopies, unable to work, unable to eat without being in the vicinity of the bathroom, the nausea and pain, perhaps even surgeries to remove part of the colon, or secondary issues like sero-negative arthritis. Whilst I’ve never had colon surgery, I have experienced all the rest. I was diagnosed with crohns three years ago. And even after they put me on immune suppressants and prednisone, I kept getting flare-ups. It was only when my doctor finally said she was going to put me on Remicade that I really decided to find a way of getting my health – and my life – back, using natural remedies. There was something about the potential complications and side-effects of Remicade, the fact that it really was unchartered drug territory where no-one knew the long-term effects, that spurred me on. I didn’t want to be a guinea pig for this one.
I had tried a lot of different supplements when I first got sick, but nothing seemed to help. I tried olive leaf extract, echinacea, parasite formulas (before I was diagnosed), and regular probiotics. I think I even tried St Mary’s Thistle, a liver supplement and antioxidant. But none of these worked. I did give up on the idea of using supplements for a while after that initial period. I was disenchanted that nothing had worked so far, so I thought only pharmaceuticals were strong enough to have any effect. But then Remicade came along, and I’d had enough.
I trawled through a lot of sites looking for clues on the kind of supplements to try. That was how I came across two of them – the probiotic lactobacillus plantarum, and plant digestive enzymes. The third, New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel extract, came my way through a friend of mine, who was taking it for general health reasons.
Let’s look at each of these supplements, and how they helped bring my crohns into remission.
1. Lactobacillus Plantarum
Lactobacillus plantarum is a probiotic that is active in the colon. It is commonly recommended for those with IBS, but it is effective for crohns sufferers too (if crohns is affecting your large bowel rather than your small intestine. If it is affecting the latter, you should do some research on probiotics that specifically benefit the small intestine).
Lactobacillus Plantarum helps Crohns sufferers these ways:
- Defensive Barrier – L. Plantarum adheres to the gut wall, preventing other (bad) bacteria from adhering and multiplying
- Reduces Inflammation – By reducing the population of certain pathogenic bacteria, the level of inflammation in the colon is reduced.
There are two strains of this probiotic that tend to be used in supplements – the 299v strain and VSL3. The 299v strain tends to be used for irritable bowel, and is what I used. It still worked. I did not have access to the VSL3 strain which is recommended for inflammatory bowel disease.
I took about a bottle of this a week during the acute stages.
2. Plant Digestive Enzymes
There are a number of digestive enzyme products on the market, and I can only comment on the type I used. This doesn’t mean the others won’t work to help your crohn’s – it’s just that I can’t comment on it personally as I simply do not know.
The enzymes I took were plant based enzymes that had large amounts of protease, amylase, and lipase, as well as a number of other enzymes (cellulase, lactase, invertase, and bromelain) in each capsule. Living in Australia, it was expensive to get these sent from the US (and I wasn’t particularly well organized at the time). So, when I ran out, I simply used the best plant digestive enzyme I could find at the local health food shop. However, because it had much less in each capsule, I did end up taking more. As a rough guide, I took about a bottle a week of the enzymes you can buy in a health food shop. I took them with every meal. How much you’ll need is something you’re in the best position to know. Try taking 3 or 4 with each meal, and if that doesn’t help, take more.
Serrapeptidase is also considered a good enzyme, though I only found out about it later. It helps with inflammation, though it doesn’t necessarily help with digestion. I think the digestive enzymes themselves are the key in helping manage crohn’s.
3. New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Extract
New Zealand green lipped mussel is a potent anti-inflammatory, a source of omega 3 essential fatty acids – and then some! Fish oils also have an anti-inflammatory effect, but this is much stronger. And given the level of inflammation in crohns, you need something concentrated. New Zealand green lipped mussel also contains fatty acid compounds that regular fish oil doesn’t, which increases it’s effectiveness in dealing with inflammatory disorders. But like fish oil, it contains EPA and DHA.
Depending on the brand I had, and what was going on in my body, I took about a bottle every 1 to 3 weeks.
I know now there are other supplements, like aloe vera, that I could have added to my regimen. However, I don’t think I would replace any of these three core supplements. Nor would I rely simply on one. They each contribute healing that is quite unique – the probiotics help restore the balance of good bacteria in the bowel, and reduce inflammation, the New Zealand green lipped mussel is a strong anti-inflammatory that has essential fatty acids required by the brain, the eyes, and many other parts of the body. And the plant digestive enzymes actually allow you to eat again with some sense of normality. I strongly believe all three contributed to my healing, and I am thankful for the fact that I was able to avoid going on another drug.
Source by Rebecca Prescott