Feeling irritable with your Irritable Bowel Disease?

This past May, I had the priv­ilege of speak­ing with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation as a guest speak­er on integ­rat­ive inter­ven­tions for irrit­able bowel dis­ease. Initially, I wondered would patients be inter­ested in my opin­ion or more afraid of the pos­sible aggrav­a­tions to the bowel with the intro­duc­tion of new and dif­fer­ent ther­apies.

To my sur­prise, a lot of interest was present for natur­o­path­ic medi­cine and altern­at­ives, and their con­cerns and ques­tions were not only legit­im­ate but alle­vi­ated when I was able to present not only val­id options for treat­ment but also the real­iz­a­tion that you do not have to choose.

Integrative medi­cine involves both con­ven­tion­al medi­cin­al treat­ment and old but “new” meth­ods of sup­port­ing inflam­ma­tion and the immune response for irrit­able bowel dis­ease.

So inspired by the audi­ence and the sup­port of col­leagues Dr. Rosenbaum, pedi­at­ric gast­roen­ter­o­lo­gist at McMaster University, it was a pleas­ant exper­i­ence to see research in con­ven­tion­al and integ­rat­ive medi­cine come togeth­er in a for­um for all to learn and bene­fit.

A dis­cus­sion between myself and Dr. Rosenbaum revealed a few very import­ant and key points for IBD sup­port and the role of integ­rat­ive medi­cine:

Adult IBD patients need a great deal of support

As adults, going to a gast­roen­ter­o­lo­gist is a little scary. Nutritional ques­tions are not often addressed as there are oth­er press­ing things in the appoint­ment. Not always tak­ing everything out of the diet is bene­fi­cial, even if there are con­cerns, as nutri­ent absorp­tion is a ser­i­ous issue for IBD (ulcer­at­ive colit­is, crohn’s dis­ease).

Fish oil and curcumin have a great deal of promise in IBD support

These essen­tial anti-inflam­mat­ory inter­ven­tions in research show prom­ise for the abil­ity to work in the same path­ways as 5-ASA (an anti-inflam­mat­ory used to sup­port IBD) and can be taken at the same time as your con­ven­tion­al med­ic­a­tion.

Dietary interventions should be supportive but not extreme

Many are con­cerned with remov­ing many foods from their diet when hear­ing which foods may or may not be good for IBD. In my deal­ing with IBD patients, indi­vidu­al sup­port of nutri­tion­al defi­cien­cies that can devel­op over time as well as bal­an­cing the diet prop­erly is key in the sup­port of IBD. Asking a health pro­fes­sion­al for some guid­ance in mak­ing the right nutri­tion­al sup­port­ive choices for you and your spe­cif­ic IBD con­cerns is the safest way to get the nutri­ents you need.

For tech­nic­al and research-based in-depth dis­cus­sion of the lit­er­at­ure, feel free to read more in Irritable Bowel Disease.

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