The numerous medical details behind the ailment commonly known as "Crohn's Disease" are rather complex; especially to those of us who don't have dozens of years of clinical training in our professional past. In the simplest terms, Crohn's Disease results from an inflammation often located in the small intestine (a.k.a. "the ileum"). There is some strong evidence that suggests that this inflammation is caused by a virus. Though generally localized in the small intestine, this inflammation has the potential to adversely affect any area of the entire digestive tract. As a result, the bowels are constantly agitated and often compelled to empty, leading to diarrhea, discomfort, and pain.
Indeed, this is a very simple way of grasping the essence of Crohn's Disease, and to truly understand the details, a great deal of medical study and experience is necessary. Yet with this being said, there's one thing that can be concluded without hesitation; something that doesn't take years to study or grasp. For the millions of people who suffer from Crohn's Disease, their life is unfairly filled with pain, often constant discomfort, and a looming fear of being unable to control their bowel movements.
It's fair to say - in fact, it's an understatement to say - that people who suffer from Crohn's Disease are forced to dramatically change their entire lifestyle. Some people - and this is not dramatic at all - have been forced to quit their jobs, or cancel vacations simply because of the tremendous stress that the disease places on a sufferers physical and emotional health.
The US National Institute of Health (NIH) outlines the treatment "options" that Crohn's Disease sufferers are often forced to choose from: drugs or surgery. The NIH also points out, very clearly, that according to them there is no cure for Crohn's Disease. As a result, pharmaceutical and surgical treatment methods focus on symptom management; they do not and cannot cure the disease. At the very most, they can mitigate some of the pain and discomfort; though, naturally, with the introduction of side effects that can adversely affect other biological systems, including emotional health. Some of the side effects include:
The NIH points out that pharmaceutical remedies (for lack of a better word) containing the ingredient mesalamine are common prescribed to people suffering from Crohn's Disease. Mesalamine is an anti-inflammatory, and seeks to target the inflammation in the ileum. However, drugs containing mesalamine (such as Sulfasalazine) are not curative; they can not treat the inflammation. They can merely mask it to some extent. The body is still suffering and the problem still remains, but the drug controls some of the felt inflammation.
If the problem is more severely felt, some patients may be prescribed steroids (corticosteroids). These drugs, as can be assumed, lead to severe side effects if taken over a longer period of time, including those noted above. Steroids can also make a person more vulnerable to infection, which can thus expose them to additional health problems aside from the Crohn's Disease that they're trying to address.
Other drugs, such as Infliximab, have been approved by the FDA for those suffering from more severe Crohn's Disease. But it is not free from side-effects either and for the common Crohn's sufferer it is prohibitively expensive. And some people develop antibodies rendering its effect void.
One of the most remarkable things about the human body is its regenerative properties; break some skin, and new cells rush to the exposed area. Break a bone, and immediately the body sends in reinforcements to start the healing process. Generally, this is seen as a wonderful - indeed mysterious - quality of the inexplicable intelligence of the human body.
Ironically, however, this is not always such a positive thing. For example, Crohn's Disease sufferers sometimes opt for surgery to remove the inflammed area of the ileum. Yet, remarkably, it often grows back in some other part of the intestine. In this light, surgical options for Crohn's Disease sufferers is not always a method of releving pain and suffering; it's a last resort measure to address an even more serious problem in the area, such as intestinal bleeding or the formation of an abscess. In such dire situations, surgery may take place; but it is only temporary, and done to treat the bigger problem. The Crohn's Disease remains.
Some Crohn's Disease sufferers also opt (or are persuaded to opt by their doctor) a surgical solution called a colectomy. A colectomy literally cuts off the entire colon, and body waste is expelled through a small opening near the abdomen. The fact that some people in the medical community consider this a "solution" - forcing people to wear a pouch around their stomach to collect waste that previously flowed through their (now surgically removed) colon -- is a testament to the fact that people with Crohn's Disease are not provided with the real solution that they deserve: one that actually treats the problem at the source.
When comparing Crohn's disease to other ailments it might surprise that there exist only very few herbal products and over-the-counter medications for Crohn's disease. And most of these are just tablets containing vitamins or minerals which are meant to replenish any deficits which can result as a consequence of Crohn's disease. To some extent these products can alleviate secondary symptoms but they do not address the cause of the disease. Aloe vera products have been quite popular but by now the scientific community has debunked its efficacy except for skin related disorders.
The only herbal product on the market which is designed only for Crohn's disease is SedaCrohn. It is still relatively new on the market but reports from Crohn's sufferers are promising. SedaCrohn acts by two separate mechanisms. First of all it has immune-modulating properties which apparently are able to inhibit the inflammation. And secondly, perhaps more interestingly, it has proven antiviral properties and thus attack what many researchers believe is the underlying cause of Crohn's Disease: a virus.
As a consequence, many users of SedaCrohn report that their flare-ups have disappeared for much longer intervals or even copmletely after taking SedaCrohn for several months. If this is the long awaited natural relief remains to be seen.
Drugs, Surgery, or Natural Remedies?
The best way to deal with Crohn's differs from person to person. There is probably no way to avoid prescription drugs completely for all the time. But at the same time its certainly advisable to take one's fate in its own hand and try to find the dietary changes or natural products which work best for himself or herself.