Crohn’s Disease
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Cheyrl
Posted on: July 13, 1998

I have Crohn’s would like a list of herbs that would help me with having lots of retained water in the hands and ankle swelling. I have cut out salt. What herbs can you recommend?

Retained water may be a side effect of your medication. You should report this to your doctor as soon as possible. Diuretics, which excrete excess fluid from the body, may be used only for a short term without causing damage to the kidneys.

Included below is a herbal remedy for Ulcerative Colitis, which is also useful in Crohn’s Disease, as the intention in both is to heal the intestinal lining. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammation of the intestines, especially in the terminal ileum, causing ulcers and obstruction. It is often related to food, and is made worse by food allergens which may include dairy products, eggs, wheat, rye, oats, coffee, tea, chocolate, corn, yeast, apples, mushrooms, all food additives, flavourings and colourings. Avoiding these foods in your diet can be effective in relieving your symptoms.

The following suggestions are used with success in herbal clinics, but as far as I know, there is no scientific data on the results. It is important that any changes that you make to your current therapy are approved and monitored by your health care specialist. Sudden changes, as in decreasing any of your medications, can lead to adverse effects possibly requiring hospitalization. In particular, if you are thinking of reducing steroid treatment, a health care specialist must advise on a schedule to wean off them very slowly. Any use of herbal medicines and fasting must be monitored by health care specialist.

In Ulcerative Colitis, the mucous lining of the intestine is damaged. The treatment includes herbs for healing the intestine, a bland diet that will not aggravate the intestine and a fast that will speed the healing by giving the intestine a complete rest. References for this approach are found in "Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine" by Thomas Bartram (Grace Publishers, Mulberry Court, Stour Road, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 1PS, England). The "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno (Prima Publishing, 1991) suggests a similar dietary approach.

The diet: Avoid coffee, spices, which lead to an increase in peristaltic movement, high fiber foods, dairy and wheat products and fresh fruit and vegetables which can cause further intestinal aggravation and bleeding. The best diet is mushy rice and boiled root vegetables such as carrots. (Note that this diet is not forever, but only until the intestinal condition is relieved!)

The medicines (3 times a day):

* Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) to relieve stress and calm the intestine.

* Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva), Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis radix) and Psyllium seeds(Plantago psyllium) to provide a protective and soothing mucilage cover to the intestines.

* Calendula to heal ulceration

* Beet juice as a nutritive and to assist the processing of food and remedies in the liver

* Echinacea as an immune protector, to be used when reducing steroid medication.

The fasting schedule:

Day 1: take all medicines and drink water

Days 2 and 3: take all medicines and drink water. Additionally, in the morning and evening, take one clove of garlic, peeled, crushed and pureed, washed down with 2 or 3 glasses of water and 2 or 3 Slippery Elm tablets. This will go straight to the small intestine, where the garlic will exert its antibiotic, healing powers.

Day 4: Return to the mushy diet. If the bleeding and diarrhea have stopped, you may try a little fruit and white bread with the crust removed. If bleeding or diarrhea continue, then return to the bland diet.

The 3 day fasting cycle should be repeated 4 or 5 times, until the bleeding has stopped and the stools are soft.

Continuation after this treatment: It is important that a good nutritional diet is followed, and monitored for possible allergens which may provoke Ulcerative Colitis. The usual allergens are wheat and milk products.

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