Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Explosive Facts You Need to Know
It may surprise you to read that you host over 100 trillion gut flora or gut microbiome in your body. It means that you are a habitat for the gut microbiome, a collection of various microorganisms including symbiotic bacteria.
The inhabitation of microorganisms and, in particular, symbiotic bacteria of the gut microbiome in the bowel contribute largely to your overall good health. Your body systems, including immunity, cardiovascular, and the digestive system, rely on the gut microbiome activity.
The symbiotic bacteria in the gut are responsible for the breaking down of fiber foods and for food metabolism to produce vitamins.
For a healthy gut, your body must balance the amount of microbiome in the digestive system. Insufficiency of these microorganisms, including symbiotic bacteria, can lead to various health issues in the gastrointestinal tract (GI).
One of the significant gastrointestinal tract health issues is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to some statistics, the world's overall IBD prevalence is 369 reported cases in every 100,000 tested people.What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic digestive tract inflammation comprising broad-spectrum inflammation-causing diseases. Among the disorders that comprise IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Facts on Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is a global prevalent and chronic disease. According to some studies, the disease has no cure. Developed countries take the largest share of inflammatory bowel disease prevalence compared to the developing nations.
According to Dr. Gilaad Kaplan - a gastroenterologist and an epidemiologist, the number of IBD cases in the developing countries is noticeably hiking up.
Science Daily reports that the developing countries are facing a rise in IBD cases because of an increase in industrialization and adaptation of Western culture.
IBD vs IBS: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) differs from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but with almost similar symptoms. Some symptoms the two, IBD and IBS share are diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
IBD is an inflammatory disease that damages the bowel lining. The disease which is a bowel movement disorder causes painful cramping due to strained bowel movement. It consists of other various bowel inflammatory diseases among them two main ones, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
There are periods when the symptoms of IBD are in remission (few or no symptoms), and other times active with inflammation flares.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is in the class of autoimmune diseases. The autoimmune disease attacks the symbiotic bacteria of the gut microbiome or the gut flora (collection of healthy bacteria) and healthy tissues abnormally, hence causing inflammation.
Any person can get IBD, but the susceptible age to diagnose the disease would normally be between 15 and 40 years.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Causes
There is no verified cause for IBD, but researchers believe that various combination factors can increase the susceptibility of inflammatory bowel disease.
Such factors include:
Science Daily reports that some cases of IBD have a direct link with a family history. Genetic is one cause of IBD. A person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with IBD is at a high risk of getting affected. If you have a concern you might want to have your DNA tested and we can then discuss your next course of action.
About 25 percent of IBD patients have close relatives with IBD. Children with parents who have IBD are at high risk of developing the disease in later life. Familial IBD concentration, especially in identical twins, is enough reason to conclude that genetic predisposition is one factor responsible for IBD.
Changes in the human immune system is another likely cause of inflammatory bowel disease.
When facing a gut viral or bacterial infection, your immune system automatically activates to fight off the infection. The process can cause inflammation, which clears after the infection has cleared.
In other circumstances, the abnormal immune system can attack the healthy tissues and the good bacteria causing persistent chronic gut inflammation or IBD.
Bacteria and Viruses
Enteroviruses and E. coli are some health conditions that cause Crohn's disease, which is part of inflammatory bowel disease.
We recommend the following:
HRP-C Extract supports the immune system
Echinacea & GoldenSeal has been used in supporting the immune system when viruses are present
SilverGuard… Silver is known for its antibacterial properties.
Anti-TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) Agent
TNF is a valuable part of cytokine proteins. TNF helps to mediate immunity and regulate body health during an attack by disease-causing bacteria or viruses.
Some autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can increase TNF alpha cells, which then attack healthy tissues, causing a myriad of inflammations. Anti-TNF agents, a treatment to regulate the increase of TNF agents, can cause an onset of IBD development.
A recent 2019 study links anti-TNF agents to IBD. The study concludes that anti-TNF agents are a source of IBD development. It can happen when treating spine arthritis, medically known as ankylosing spondylitis or AS.
Environmental exposures can highly disrupt the existence of your gut microbiome. The gut microbiome comprises trillions of healthy microorganisms and bacteria that assist your body in metabolism systems, immune system, and other vital body systems.
The following are some unhealthy environmental factors that can affect the gut microbiome and hence cause IBD:
- Some medications such as contraceptives, antibiotics, vaccines, and others
- Food additives
- Air and water pollution because of industrialization
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Risk Factors
The IBD onset connects to several risk factors which include:
People in developed countries that are highly industrialized are at a high risk of inflammatory bowel disease compared to developing nations. A diet such as processed foods or foods with additives, any kind of pollution, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are some reasons that contribute to the disease.
People living in high altitude areas are also at a high risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease because of cold weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can risk gut inflammation due to depression which affects the gut through its link with the brain.
IBD is prevalent in adolescents and young adults of about 30 years. Although you can develop IBD at the period between 50 and 60 years, chances are lower compared to the young age.
Smoking has conflicting results in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Smoking is a high-risk factor of Crohn's disease that speeds up the effects of the disease. Smoking also suppresses the immune system and hence increasing disease relapse after remission.
People who smoke and have Crohn's disease risk having gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) narrowing, a condition that interferes with bowel movement.
Ulcerative colitis is on the positive end with smoking. One 1999 study reported that smoking lowers the development of ulcerative colitis and hence poses protection against the disease.
Ulcerative colitis patients who resume or start smoking show clinical improvement compared to non-smoking patients. The experience prompts hypothesis verification that nicotine, an active smoking property, is responsible for the positive effect of ulcerative colitis. Further tests to prove all these are underway.
Non-steroids Anti-inflammatory Medications
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can lead to IBD development. NSAIDs can cause gastropathy and enteropathy, some conditions that can trigger an exacerbation of IBD, albeit rarely.
A chemical component common with NSAIDs, acetaminophen is likely to cause inflammation when used frequently. The conclusion is that NSAIDs are a risk factor for IBD inflammation relapse during remission. However, infrequent or intermittent use of NSAIDs has low activity in Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis inflammation relapse.
IBD in the Family (genetic)
If you have a close or first-degree relative with IBD, then you are at a high risk of inheriting the disease. The disease can pass from a parent to a child genetically. If you have a concern you might want to have your DNA tested and we can then discuss your next course of action.
Ethnicity and Race
Certain people from a particular region can either be at risk of Crohn's disease, while others risk ulcerative colitis. For instance, one 2005 study reported that Crohn's disease is more with one group of Americans, while ulcerative colitis is predominant with another group.
The reason for the racial division on IBD prevalence might be industrialization, immigration, and adaptation to westernized lifestyles.
Environmental factors are a risk to IBD, such as living in highly industrialized countries. Different diets, such as refined foods or a high-fat diet, could also be a geographical risk for IBD.
Climate also can be a geographical risk for IBD. For instance, people in Northern climates are at high risk of IBD compared to other regions.
IBD symptoms may vary because of the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Another factor that can cause a variation of the symptoms is disease severity. The following are some general symptoms of IBD disease:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and sometimes cramps
- Lack of appetite
- Strenuous bowel movement which can also be painful
- Weight loss
- Impaired growth in children with IBD
Inflammatory Bowel Disease ComplicationsIf not correctly checked, inflammatory bowel disease can cause other complications, leading to some adverse ramifications.
- Bowel obstruction because of scarring and narrowing
- Anal fissure
- Perianal fistulas
- High risk of colon cancer
Possible ulcerated colitis complications include:
- Abdominal pain
- Severe bleeding from the bowel or colon perforation
- High risk of colon cancer
- Toxic megacolon or abnormally dilated colon
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis
For proper diagnosis, your doctor may require performing several tests and procedures to rule out any other disease that has similar symptoms. The initial IBD tests include:
- Stool sample – Stool test is essential in checking blood in the stool
- Blood test – To check anemia or other infections
Endoscopy: Endoscopic testing uses a camera that your doctor inserts in the anus for an intestinal check on any damage. There are three different kinds of endoscopy:
Colonoscopy: The procedure is entirely for colon examination where the doctor uses a lighted tube with a camera attached to it. The tube is thin and flexible to move around the colon with ease. During the examination, your doctor can remove a small
tissue to use as a sample for further laboratory analysis (biopsy). The biopsy can expound on the diagnosis results.
Capsule Endoscopy: The procedure is entirely for Crohn's disease diagnosis in the small intestines. The doctor gives you a capsule-like camera to swallow. You then tie a belt-like recorder to record the images. The camera captures images of your small
intestines to transmit to the recording device. For a more precise diagnosis of Crohn's disease, your doctor may further perform a biopsy using colonoscopy.
Imaging Examinations: Imaging examination for IBD is essential for precision results to locate the affected areas to make the right Diagnosis. The following are imaging examinations performed on IBD cases.
X-ray: A standard X-ray procedure would not be an option with severe symptoms of the abdomen.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): When testing inflammatory bowel disease using an MRI procedure, it is more appealing than performing a CT scan. Performing repetitive CT scans can be risky for ionizing radiation. Your doctor may recommend an MRI to help detect perianal inflammation and also fistula. MRI is essential when examining the small intestine to check the extent of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
Finally, your doctor combines the results from imaging examination, endoscopic, clinical, and other information to conclude the diagnosis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
After completing the IBD diagnosing procedure, your next question might be: Is IBD curable?
Scientists and researchers remain adamant in reporting that IBD has no cure. However, there are ways to reduce signs and symptoms by treating the inflammation to give you relief from pain and discomfort.
With proper treatment, the disease can recede to remission for a long time with only a few flares-ups once in a while. Treating IBD varies because of symptoms and intensity. Medication or surgery are the two therapies your doctor may use.Medication
Your doctor can prescribe milder drugs with less likely side effects for starters. Then step-up to aggressive ones when the milder ones fail to work effectively or according to the disease severity.
The following are the different medication therapies for IBD:
Immunosuppressant drugs: The drug types in this category might cause susceptibility to infection. Despite that, the drugs can suppress abnormal immune activities to prevent bowel or intestinal attacks. The therapy can take up to three months to notice any effect. However, the drugs are effective in reducing inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory medicines: Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs according to the symptoms. 5-ASA (5-amino-salicylic acid) may be your initial prescription for reducing gut inflammation.
Corticosteroids drugs: Corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory steroids are for treating inflammation flares. Your doctor can only prescribe the fast-acting and short-term corticosteroid treatment when the first-line anti-inflammatory medications do not work effectively.
Biologics treatments: When all other medicines do not work effectively in treating IBD, your doctor can prescribe biologics. Biologics are lab-made antibody drugs from living things that your doctor can administer through injection into the bloodstream. Biologics therapy's main aim is to target and attack some inflammation-causing proteins in the immune system.Surgery
Some IBD cases would need surgery to correct the condition and the symptoms. Some operations necessary for IBD are:
- Removing fistulas
- Widening part of the intestine that has narrowed
- Removing affected parts of the colon and rectum
- Removing portions of the affected bowels
Harmful lifestyles are part of what causes IBD. Living healthy lifestyles can manage disease symptoms. You can then reduce inflammation flares and maintain symptomatic remission for an extended period.
Some lifestyles you might change or adapt are:
Diet: Keep track of what you eat that would cause IBD flares. Avoid some inflammatory foods such as spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy products, and excess fiber.Other diet lifestyles you must adapt are:
- Taking plenty of water
- Eating small portions of food frequently
- Using the right vitamins and minerals
Exercises: Adapt regular mild exercises to prevent stress, depression, and negative emotions. Exercises can ease some symptoms, such as strenuous bowel movement.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Alternative Treatment
Most of the conventional therapies on IBD might cause adverse reactions from side effects while others pose inadequate response, triggering IBD symptom flare-ups such as inflammation.
Lack of enough finances to cater for some expensive conventional therapies creates treatment gaps that affect the symptomatic remission period. Other times, using drug cocktails to silence the myriads of IBD symptoms can physically wear you down.
Alternative therapy can be your choice for IBD treatment. Some alternative treatments are:Healing Herbs
Using herbs for IBD treatment can be the best choice, particularly if your conventional medication is causing other complications or side effects. The following are some herbs your natural health practitioner might advise you to use.
Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera gel is a significant natural anti-inflammatory that works effectively against IBD inflammation. This herb can cause diarrhea because the herb contains latex, which can have a laxative effect.
UC3-J: In some cases has been known to help the irritation associated with Colitis , Celiac and Crohn's.
Wheatgrass: One 2002 study concluded that wheatgrass juice could reduce overall activity, such as rectal bleeding in ulcerative colitis. Wheatgrass juice is safe and effective for use as a single treatment for ulcerative colitis.
Turmeric Curcumin: Turmeric has, for centuries, been a traditional medicine and an Ayurveda treatment in Asian countries and other parts of the world. Turmeric is a high antioxidant agent that can inhibit the excess generation of inflammatory cytokines. Excess cytokine proteins are the predominant agent of inflammation in IBD. One study concludes that turmeric "has bright prospects in the treatment of IBD."
Bilberries (blueberries): Bilberries otherwise known as blueberries contain anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects. The two activities are significant in the treatment of IBD's ulcerative colitis without causing severe adverse effects.
Absinth Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium-Asteraceae): Absinth Wormwood is an herb with a similar smell as sage. A study done on patients with Crohn's disease reported complete remission after the period of observation.
We recommend Artemisia Combination which contains eight traditional herbs used for the digestion and intestinal systems
The conclusion of the study on wormwood herb as a treatment for Crohn's disease was that wormwood has a steroid-like effect on the condition. The Crohn's disease patients who underwent a treatment trial using wormwood herb reported significant improvement better than any standard medications.Probiotics
Complimenting probiotics with your other therapy can improve your health condition in IBD. Probiotic foods boost good bacteria inside the digestive tract to fight inflammation in IBD.
We recommend an earth spore probiotic which doesn't need refrigeration. Bacillus Coagulans ProbioticsPrebiotics
Prebiotics are natural compounds from plants that stimulate the body to make the gut good bacteria. Some prebiotics sources are artichokes, garlic, leek, wild onions, and chicory.
We recommend UltraBiome DTX which helps stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria (such as bifidobacteria) in the intestine/gut and stimulate the growth of healthy gut flora.Acupuncture
Acupuncture can reduce inflammation in patients with IBD. Acupuncture is a natural therapy popular with traditional Chinese doctors. For IBD acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist inserts fine needles into acupoints.Acutherapy
Acutherapy differs from Acupuncture. It simultaneously produces mechanical, thermal and electrical stimuli which work together to create a chain of electro-chemical reactions. This sets off a chain of electro-chemical reactions that stimulates the production of neuro-transmitters. Then, messages are sent to the brain to organize the proper peptides to restore the body to its homeostatic (physical and chemical) state.Moxibustion
Another traditional therapy for IBD's ulcerated colitis is moxibustion. Moxibustion is a complementary therapy for acupuncture. The treatment involves generating heat of burning mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) or wormwood to treat inflammation. The procedure can either be direct moxibustion or indirect.
For direct moxibustion, your therapist would apply the heat directly onto the skin's acupuncture points. For indirect moxibustion, your therapist would coat some insulating materials such as salts, garlic, and ginger onto the skin at the acupoints before applying moxibustion therapy.
Is IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Preventable?
Inflammatory bowel disease is not preventable, since one of the significant risk factors is hereditary. However, you can prevent the disease from relapsing after remission. The following are some preventions for the disease relapse.
- Observing a healthy diet
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid caffeinated drinks
- Avoid spicy foods
- Exercising regularly
IBD treatment is still a puzzle and a headache to scientists and researchers. But, that can't prevent you from living a quality life. Learn to control the symptoms by observing preventive measures already discussed.
Some natural or alternative treatments can help you keep IBD symptoms on remission with rare flare-ups. At Island Healthworks, we support the use of natural remedies for IBD treatment to not only eliminate the symptoms but to deal with the disease comprehensively.
Are you aware that there is an influx of different brands of supplements and herbs in the market? It might be a challenge to identify safe organic products free of toxins on the shelves of various stores around you.
Avoid going through such a challenge and maybe end up using non-organic products from questionable sources. We at Island Healthworks have identified some selected organic Quality Controlled Herbs and Supplements to make your search easy.Did you get all the information your needed on IBD? For further information about natural therapies on IBD treatment, visit or call us immediately at Island Healthworks.
Editor: Yvonne Dollard Perc
Research Assistant: Elizabeth Njuguna
Designer: Sherry Robb