GASTRO
June 27, 2019

A Crohn's Miracle Cure?

The patient had a moderately severe form of the disease, with pain, bloating and inflammation that didn't respond to treatment. Then he changed his diet and his symptoms vanished.

If you suffer from Crohn’s disease and all the treatments you've tried have failed to relieve your symptoms, a recently published case study will probably interest you. It describes how a Crohn's patient cured his symptoms by making some big changes to his diet.

Crohn’s disease is the name given to a chronic inflammation of the intestines and bowel. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two subtypes of irritable bowel disease. Crohn's can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, but symptoms, which can range from mild to severe, often occur where the small and large intestines meet. At present, there is no cure, and people suffering from the irritable bowel and pain it causes require ongoing treatment or surgery.

Over the course of 40 days, all of his symptoms went away.

The case involved a man in his late 20s with Crohn’s disease who had been living with fatigue, bloating, episodes of severe abdominal pain, nausea and ulcers for several years. A biopsy confirmed moderately severe Crohn's disease. More than a year of intravenous treatment had still not given him complete relief.

During the second year of this treatment, the patient changed his diet for a 40-day period of religious observance. He cut out all animal products and processed foods. His new diet consisted of only fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Over the course of the 40 days, every symptom disappeared, prompting him to decide to continue his new diet. Tests revealed complete mucosal healing in his intestines and he was able to stop all his medications. No relapses have been reported.

Even with current treatment regimens for Crohn’s disease, only about 10 percent of patients experience long-term remission, and half of all patients will need surgery in the 10 years following diagnosis.

The key to this patient’s remission may have been the increased fiber in his diet. A diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and this promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. It may also offer protection against Crohn’s disease as well as other digestive problems.

“This case study supports the idea that food really is medicine,” said Hana Kahleova, one of the authors of the study and a member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in a statement. “Not only does it show that eating a high-fiber, plant-based diet could help lead to Crohn's disease remission, but all the ‘side effects’ are good ones, including a reduced risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

Keep in mind that this is a single case, involving one individual, not a controlled study. If you decide you want to see if a plant-based diet could help your Crohn’s disease, it makes sense to work with your physician. Everyone’s gut microbes are different, and your body might not react to the diet in the same way.

If traditional treatments have failed and you are still suffering with Crohn’s disease, a plant-based diet is certainly worth a try.

You can read the entire case study in Nutrients.

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