Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease with
---- Alternative Herbal
Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease----
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a general term for a group of
chronic inflammatory disorders involving the gastrointestinal tract. It
can be divided into two major groups, chronic ulcerative colitis (UC)
and Crohn's disease (CD). Clinically, these disorders are characterized by
recurrent inflammatory involvement of intestinal
segments with diverse clinical manifestations and often resulting in a
chronic unpredictable course.
IBDs are more common in Caucasians than in blacks and
asians with an increased incidence three- to six-fold
in people of Jewish descent. Both sexes are equally
affected. UC is a little more common than CD. The
peak occurrence of IBD is between the ages of 15 to 35 and it has been reported
in every decade of life.
The cause of IBD is still unknown. There may be several factors, such
as genetic predisposition, infectious agent, and
auto-immunity involved in its pathogenesis. The extraintestinal
manifestations which may accompany these disorders,
such as arthritis, pericholangitis may suggest auto-immune phenomena and that therapeutic agents, such as corticosteroids may exert
their effects through immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory
The major clinical symptoms of UC and CD are similar with some
distinctions. Bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, often
with fever, anemia and weight loss in severe cases. With predominately
rectal involvement, constipation rather than diarrhea may be present, and
tenesmus may be a major complaint. For CD, less
frequent bloody stool, more abdominal pain, palpable mass, stricture and
fistulas. Extraintestinal symptoms are more common
in CD than UC. About 25% of the IBD patients have joint involvement,
range from arthralgia to acute arthritis with pain and swollen joints.
About 15% of patients have skin disorders, rashes,
canker sores of the mouth, etc. Abnormal liver functions are common in IBD cases. The long-term inflammation may cause severe
complications, such as toxic megacolon, perforation, etc.,
and increase the probability of incidence of malignancy in the intestine.
Conventional medical treatments are primarily medical and use surgical
intervention for "intractable" cases. The
aim of the treatments is to control the inflammation. Anti-inflammatory,
nutritional replacement, correction of electrolyte
and fluid balance and anemia, stopping diarrhea are the major treatments.
Severe acute cases need to be hospitalized. Majority of the IBD patients
are chronically sick and under out-patient care.
Since these patients need long term use of steroids, non-steroids anti inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as sulfasalazin, many of
them develop complications, such as Cushing's
Syndrome, low white blood cells, caused by the side effects of these
drugs. Therefore, it is a necessity to develop a
more cffective and less harmful alternative treatments for IBD. Chinese
herbal medicine has been proven as an effective and
safe alternative for IBD.
Chinese anti inflammatory and immune
regulatory herbs, such as licorice and extracts of Mucunae Caulis,
Sargentodoxae Caulis, and Paederiae Caulis are
very effective. In China,
these herbs, especially their active ingredients, have been used to replace steroids and NSAID in many clinical conditions, In
addition, Chinese herbal medicine has very effective
herbal remedies to restore the gastrointestinal functions. In the
literature of Traditional Chinese Medicine diseases
like IBD were described in the topics as dysentery and diarrhea caused by
"dampness and heat". and can be treated by
"clear heat and transform dampness" method. To rebuild the
digestive function, " supplement the spleen and
fortify the stomach" method should be used. These herbal remedies can be administrated through mouth or by retention enema to
directly treat the affected area. I have summarized
15 clinical studies conducted in Chinese hospitals. These studies used
different Chinese herbal remedies and found the over
all effective rate of treating IBD was above 90 percent. Among 757 patients treated in these studies, 600 of them have gotten
clinical remission, the rate of clinical remission was
79.26 percent. One study included a four years follow up observation and
found that patients using herbal treatments had a
very low recurrence rate of 23.33 percent.
The treatment may last about three to six months. In order to regulate
the bowel movement, acupuncture should be used.
Usually patients will noticed the improvement within one week to 10 days.
The herbs used in IBD treatments are very safe and
very rarely have adverse reactions.
Thus, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are effective, safe and
affordable treatments for IBDs.
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