WHAT IS INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease, IBD, is a general term referring to inflammatory diseases of the intestines of (medically) unknown etiology (cause). It includes the major syndromes of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Few appreciate the extraordinary suffering people endure from chronic inflammation of the intestines/colon. Children and adults alike may suffer from these syndromes, which often result in a lifetime of pain, extreme inconvenience, extraintestinal symptoms and apparent hopelessness of inflammatory bowel disease.
Patients with IBD present a diversity of symptoms, e.g. bloody diarrhea, intestinal cramps, ulceration of the colon, anemia, fever, fistulas. Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are seen most frequently in young people between the ages of 20 to 40, although no age is exempt.
THE MEDICAL SEARCH FOR CAUSES UNSUCCESSFUL
Medical investigation as to the causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis have not proven fruitful. The major areas that have been investigated include genetic, infectious, immunologic and psychological factors:
A search for genetic marker(s) that might identify those individuals more susceptible to the problem has not found any single market
The chronic inflammatory nature of IBD has led to an ongoing look for infectious agents, yet no single infectious agent has been found that can be widely implicated.
Studies looking at associated abnormalities of cell mediated immunity, all seem to revert to normal, when the disease is in a quiet state, thus suggesting that they are part of a secondary phenomenon and not part of the etiological foundation of IBD.
Psychological features of patients with IBD have been looked at extensively. …
Certainly patients who have suffered with IBD exhibit anger, anxiety; depression and frustration. It does not follow, however, that there is a personality flaw that causes the disease, rather it is more likely to assume that these emotions are to be expected in most people who have been afflicted (often in the prime of their
CASE STUDY 1: CROHN’S DISEASE
A 45-year-old male entered our office with a 15-year history of Crohn’s disease. During this time, he had undergone a total of four intestinal reactions, each time having a segment of his inflamed small intestine removed. Inbetween operations, he was kept on a variety of pharmaceuticals. Since nothing had been done to address causes, it was only a matter of a few years before another segment of intestine had to be removed. At the time the patient came to see me, his gastroenterologist had told him that while his intestines were badly inflamed again, there was nothing more that could be done surgically, since there was not enough small intestine left to be able to afford removing any more of it.
The patient was badly debilitated, underweight, weak, depressed and very pale. He had severe diarrhea on an ongoing basis.
His diet was very poor and he had been told by his medical physician that his diet had nothing to do with his disease so that he could eat whatever he cared to. The patient tried to exercise, but found his efforts futile due to his profound weakness.
The patient’s diet was heavy in coffee and refined carbohydrates. His plasma amino acid levels were extremely low in eight of the 10 essentials, although his diet was rich in protein-containing foods. There was evidence of some abdominal bacterial overgrowth in the bowel, likely due to the massive doses of antibiotics and steroids he had been on over the years. The patient had extensive muscle spasm and tightness throughout the lower cervical and upper thoracic spine. The patient was modesty anemic, as evidenced through blood work. He was unhappy in his occupation as a salesman.
The patient was initially taken off all refined carbohydrates, coffee and other irritative substances. He was put on a light diet of easily digested natural foodstuffs with attention given to eating habits as well as types of foods eaten.
The patient was hesitant to undergo any chiropractic care, but consented once he saw that the care was gentle and that the fears he had heard expressed by other people about getting hurt by adjustments had no basis. A full-spine technique was administered, and the patient came to look forward to being adjusted.
After two weeks, the patient was placed on a fast that lasted nine days. The patient was concerned about losing yet more weight, but he understood that his weight loss had occured due to his inability to digest and assimilate food properly and that the fast could help greatly in that regard. He completed the fast feeling very “clear-headed and refreshed” although the first two days had been uncomfortable, as is sometimes the case. The fast was broken and the patient found that his cravings for coffee and junk foods had entirely disappeared. While he had lost 8 pounds during the fast, this was quickly recovered, and within a month the patient had not only recovered al the weight lost during the fast, but gained an additional 7 pounds for which he was delighted.
I counseled the patient on the need to adjust better to his occupation or find a new one. The patient took the advice seriously and located another sales position, which proved to be much less stressfill and more satisfying.
During the first two weeks, the patient went through a stormy period of discomfort. By the eighth day, the bowels began to quiet. Joint pain subsided by the sixth week, accompanied by an increase in the energy level. In three months, the patient reported her stools were partially formed without blood, and that her joint pains had reduced by 80 percent.
In her fourth month of care, she went off her plan and ate a variety of foods she had been warned to avoid. Within 10 days, she was again passing bloody stools and experiencing severe joint and muscle pain. We gave her a program for resting the gastrointestinal tract and urged her to follow the entire health program carefully. She was soon feeling well again and reported she had learned her lesson.
The patient has continued well for four years without joint pain or colitis and only occasional mild looseness of stool. Her headaches and skin problems gradually dissipated and she no longer takes any steroidal medications. Her doctor of chiropractic reports that her adjustments now hold for extended periods of time.
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE – QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I have ulcerative colitis and also have skin problems and very bad arthritis. Can these be interrelated?
Yes. The relationship between the bowel, the skin and the musculoskeletal system is a very intimate one. Gastro-intestinal dysfunction commonly is accompanied by skin and musculoskeletal problems, and likewise when the G.I. tract is returned to healthy functioning, these problems usually disappear as well.
My ulcerative colitis is advanced. Are there any special steps I will have to take in order to recover?
In advanced cases, where tissues are very bloody and raw, it is usually advisable for the patient to undergo a carefully supervised fast as an initial step. This may be critical to the success of the program. Just as you would not expect a broken leg to heal if the person continued to walk on it and did not allow it to rest, neither is it reasonable to expect a bloody, raw, ulcerated colon or small intestine to heal while the person continues to send undigested food and feces continually over it, not allowing the digestive tract a chance to rest.
How long a fast is usually required and how does one go about it?
The length of the fast varies greatly from person to person, and the total time cannot be determined at the onset. It depends on the progress of the fast, which should he determined by a doctor who is trained and experienced in fasting supervision. Ideally, the fast is undertaken in a relaxing, quiet environment, away from home, business and family, where the person can obtain unlimited rest, both for their digestive tract and for the rest of the body.
This should not be attempted on one’s own, but only under the careful supervision of an experienced doctor trained in the art and science of fasting. Most doctors experienced in fasting supervision are members of the International Association of Hygienic Physicians’ professional organization. (See IAHP physicians’ list.) Conducted properly under supervision, fasting is very safe and extraordinaly effective. It is a true “physiological rest”. Even though I have supervised fasting patients for over 20 years, I am still amazed at the healing power of the body to remedy difficult problems when we give it the opportunity and quit all of our meddling with pills, potions and treatments.
What conditions would contradict a fast?
Generally insulin-dependent diabetics, patients on very high doses of steroids, patients with advanced cancer, those with advanced tuberculosis and pregnant women should not fast, although short fasts of a day or two may sometimes be employed.
The biggest problem with most patients is the fear of missing a meal or two, i.e., psychological factors. Americans are so indoctrinated with the thought that if they miss a meal or two, something terrible will happen. How often I’ve seen patients surprised to find that, after the first few days of fasting, while they may have some transient discomforts, they felt stronger and more clearheaded and saw their disease symptoms disappear. I have had cases where I needed to convince the patient to break their fast, because they felt so well after the first two or three days, they did not want to stop!
Does the fast result in a permanent cure of the patient’s IBD?
No. It must be followed by an individually tailored program of living for the patient to follow. Returning to old habits will surely eventually result in a return of the disease. I have seen this happen. If it is only possible to fast a patient for three or four days, some improvement may occur, but that is not sufficient time in most cases to effect a recovery for a health problem that may have been years in the making.
Must the patient make lifestyle changes in order to get well and stay well in most cases?
Emphatically yes! It is time we dispensed with this irrational notion that we can take some treatment and be cured of diseases (including IBD) that evolve out of a combination of our habits and our genetics. There is no single treatment or pill or potion that will resolve this degenerative condition. It takes a search for the causes of the problem, followed by a comprehensive health program tailored for the individual, who then must follow through with patience and perseverance. This includes understanding and respecting one’s own limitations and making appropriate lifestyle changes as prescribed by their doctor.
I read a book that says that all disease is caused by parasites, including colitis. What is your opinion on that?
It would be convenient if all health problems were related to one single factor. There are many “one cause, one cure” theories. We are a diverse population of individuals living under diverse conditions. Health and disease have numerous causes for them, and no single factor is responsible for all cases of IBD, let alone for all health problems. Parasites, particularly protozoa, can be responsible for some cases of colitis, although in the United States it is not a primary factor in most chronic cases. Having a stool microbiology/parasitology conducted, however, can help to eliminate the possibility of parasitical involvement.
What are the determining factors in how long it takes to recover from IBD?
Each case will vary. The most important factor, as with most health problems, is the extent to which the patient is motivated to get well.
Those who are unwilling to undergo proper analysis, followed by a program that will likely include dietary restrictions; disposing of bad habits; change of rest and sleep habits; a period of detoxification; steps to insure emotional poise: adequate sunlight. fresh air and activity; cultivation of a balanced state of mind: and other specific steps will fail. Simply eating a little better or giving up a few bad habits alone will rarely suffice.
The amount of drugs the patient has taken, their age, their reserve of nerve energy; the extent of bad habits they have had, their ability to avoid stressful situations and obtain rest and other factors play an important role.