Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term mainly used to describe 2 conditions: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There are two main diseases associated with inflammatory bowel disease which are both autoimmune in nature which is where the body attacks its own tissues. Both affect the ability to absorb nutrients from food;

Crohn’s Disease – this where the body attacks the intestinal lining throughout the whole digestive tract. The inflammation and damage caused occurs in patches and can be on the surface tissues or in the deep tissue.

Ulcerative Colitis – just affects the large intestine (the colon). The inflammation and damage affect the whole colon and rectum and can be very painful.

What are the symptoms of IBD?

  • Diahorrea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Weight loss and nutrient deficiency
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feeling unwell

What causes IBD?

  • Genetic factors
  • Medications (like antibiotics)
  • Bacterial infection (gut dysbiosis)
  • The reasons are not all known but it is likely that there is a combination of factors

Conventional approach

Diagnosis will be done by endoscopy (camera down the throat), colonoscopy (camera up the rectum), MRI scan, CT scan or radiotherapy. Blood tests to check for inflammatory markers and stool samples may also be done. Medications can include;

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroids to calm the immune system
  • Antibiotics to treat abscesses and infections
  • Immune modulators or biologic therapies to reduce inflammation and keep the immune system in check.
  • Surgery to remove blockages, abscesses or sometimes the colon itself.

Things you can do:

  1. Keep a food diary to find out what foods trigger your symptoms – classic foods can include; nuts and seeds, dairy, processed foods, raw vegetables, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, spicy food.
  2. Stop smoking – this is linked to flares.
  3. Reduce stress levels – take up meditation, deep breathing, yoga or tai chi or walk in nature daily. Stress is known to trigger flares.
  4. Try acupuncture – some trials have highlighted this as a good management to prevent flares.

What can Functional Medicine do to support?

  • Use functional stool testing to understand the quality of the gut microbiome to assess if there is bad bacteria, yeast or parasites that could be contributing to inflammation and flares.
  • Identifying foods that may be potential triggers and how to manage diet around trigger foods.
  • Include the use of supplements and herbs and food to help reduce inflammation and help heal the gut lining and create a healthier gut environment.

5 Pillars of Functional Medicine

Managing Stress

IBD and Functional Medicine

Do you suffer from IBD and have tried all the usual approaches?

Functional Medicine can help you, simply book an online consultation or arrange a free 15 minute discovery call and find out how we can help.