A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness

Tag Archives: ND

Switching to a diet high in Omega-3s has been a major factor in my being in remission!

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s and colitis, I did not exactly jump into the fray of changing my diet and lifestyle… It took a few years! When you set out to try to change habits that are ingrained and also are associated with comfort (mother’s mac ‘n cheese anyone?), it takes time.

Wild-caught salmon follows the seasonal run of the Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy of Central Mkt.

Wild-caught salmon follows the seasonal run of the Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy of Central Mkt.

Now that I am on the other side of my twenty-year Crohn’s/colitis saga, I am in a place where I want to help others find their  own way.

Once thing I have learned through my dietary study, is the fact that we need Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet daily—and not just if you are a Crohnie or uc-er. Every day.

I eat wild-caught salmon at least once a week, take flax seed ground up to aid in digestion and add fiber to my diet. I also take an Omega-3 supplement daily that really helps my arthritic joints (due to Crohn’s). I am healthy, fit and the doctors are surprised and how well I am, relying on diet, supplements and a holistic lifestyle.

Someone like me would normally be on autoimmune suppression drugs, but I do not want to do that to my body, and my choice was a wise one as I am incredibly healthy!

Omega-3 fatty acids are found also in walnuts, which I also eat every day. Other sources are the ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) Omega-3 fatty acids found in certain vegetable oils like soybeans, canola and flaxseed, as well as in green vegetables (kale, and more kale!, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens). The other type of Omega-3 fatty acid is called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and is present in salmon especially, as well as other types of fatty fish: Bluefish, mackerel, herring, tuna, anchovies and sardines are also excellent sources of omega-3s.

According to Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, you should have at least one serving of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet daily.

 

In my upcoming cookbook, Living With Crohn’s & Colitis Cookbook: A Practical Guide to Creating Your Personal Diet Plan to Wellness (with an Introduction by Jessica Black, ND, and a Foreword by Sarah Choueiry, Crohn’s patient and founder of The Crohn’s Journey Foundation) due out in September (!), I have a few salmon recipes, and I’d like to share one now (quick and easy and great for summer dining—remember, if one of the foods, like apples, is a trigger food and hard to digest, substitute it or delete it from the recipe and adjust the mayo and seasonings accordingly)…. Enjoy!

Easy Salmon Salad

Ingredients:

2 cans wild boneless, skinless salmon

½ cup mayonnaise, organic

½ cup minced carrots

½ cup minced apples

¼ cup sweet relish, organic and sweetened naturally

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve chilled with crackers, on a salad, or alone.

Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/

 

….and I also want add a checklist for how to shop for the best salmon and how to cook and store the fish, as follows:

Wild-caught salmon (in photo) follows the seasonal run of the Pacific Northwest, and we strive to be first to market. According to the folks at Central Market, you should only buy from markets that buy fish from strictly regulated fisheries committed to sustainable practices and the guidelines set forth by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The fish has been out of the water less than 48 hours prior to its arrival, flown in fresh several times a week and each piece is inspected.

Here are some tips from them to best enjoy your wild-caught salmon:

  • Eat or freeze within 24 hours. Keep it in the refrigerator covered tightly in plastic wrap until you’re ready to cook it.
  • Don’t rinse with water or the color will leach.
  • If grilling, preheat grill to medium-high and grease it well with olive or grapeseed oil. Place the salmon on the grill, meat side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillet. Flip over and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, skin side down. Also try it with a cedar plank. Sear with meat side down, then place skin side down on cedar plank and close the grill to infuse that cedar-smoked flavor.
  • If using a cast-iron skillet, heat it until almost smoking and sear 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Pull it off the heat and let it continue to cook in the skillet until desired doneness.
  • Salmon is done when it starts to flake, and it tastes best with a medium center.

 

Now that you know how to store and prep your salmon—enjoy! You can also pre-order my cookbook right here at your local, independent bookstore, and Sarah Choueiry and I are really excited to introduce you to a ton of great and easy recipes!

 

Happy Almost Summer!

Advertisements

My journal used for lists/questions for my doctor, and food notes.

My journal used for lists/questions for my doctor, and food notes.

I would definitely recommend getting another opinion. I got two!

One of our readers wrote to say her doctor told her she “shouldn’t feel any pain from UC.”

Seriously?

Pain is a bi-product of both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. My disease caused pain when I flared—it even felt like labor pains! I have Crohn’s. My disease is characterized by scarring—called fibro stenotic disease. UC does not usually go through the outer wall of the large intestine the way Crohn’s does with the small… So some people don’t have pain, but have diarrhea instead.

Remember, everyone is an individual, and we have different symptoms and react differently to different foods, or stress, for example. I (Dede) always say this: listen to your own body, ease off on trigger foods, like dairy or wheat, be proactive in your health care and do research and ask questions. Bring a list, and a partner or a friend, to your doctor’s appointments.

One time, I brought my husband, and he had done all this research (he’s an English professor ;)… at one point in the meeting, the gastroenterologist leaned over his desk and said to my husband, “Hey, what do you have on that drug?”

One thing to be aware of: getting off Prednisone. Did your doctor tell you to taper off slowly? My GI did. I love my team at Dartmouth Hitchcock in NH, it’s important to find a clinic and doctor you can trust who really listens to you!

Diet—yes, can cause pain and symptom flares. Don’t let a doctor fool you! Listen to your own body!

There is an excellent website-forum called www.ihaveuc.com and you should “tell your story,” and pose any questions you have there, also.


When you read Dede’s latest medical assessment (in the photo), you will see that she has no symptoms…and then read down, and see the symptoms/possible side effects from the medication!

20140205-082157.jpg

That was May, 2013. In her checkup this past October, the doctors said they are amazed at her condition and attribute it to her and Jessica Black, ND’s low-inflammation diet and lifestyle! They told her that no medication is needed at this time, but only if symptoms occur.

The diet, the exercise, the yoga/meditation, and working with her naturopathic physician as well are all doing their job!!!

High-potency turmeric (curcumin phytosome), a prescribed probiotic powder (Dede buys all her supplements from her naturopath’s office… Expensive, but worth it for the best quality), ultra potent C, Omega 3 fish oil, Phyto-multi vitamins, magnesium with calcium, D3 liquid drops, and a daily adrenal assist (herbal) pill provides key nutrients and botanicals to support adrenal response to stress and support the ability to adapt to stressors and restore balance.

As we move into the wonderful month of February, with longer days and a holiday/school vacations, now is the time to think about training for a walk or a run (Team Challenge, or a CCFA.org walk—http://www.ccfa.org/get-involved/team-challenge.html). Set a goal… Also, add a visit to a naturopathic physician, and try acupuncture (with a trained practitioner who is recommended… If you are nervous about needles, ask for Moxa).

These anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle changes are a big part of your wellness campaign. Take it one day at a time. Get out in nature (and snow) every day! And continue to heal, and restore balance in your life…

20140205-082316.jpg


20130610-110649.jpg

I have been taking probiotic powder for many years. The new research on gut bacteria recently, and hype around probiotics, makes it imperative for consumers — and those of us with IBS or IBD, — to know why and how we should take the supplements.

Here is an excellent article by Michael Pollen from the NYTimes. (Photo above by Hannah Whitaker for the New York Times. And styled by Emily Mullin.)

I am a big proponent of getting vitamins and minerals from diet, and vitamin D from the sun, but sometimes we may be compromised (like missing the most important segment of small bowel, the terminal ileum, as in my/Dede’s case), and need to supplement. Probiotics are found everywhere in our diet — fermented food is a great source — wheat, coffee, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, and of course, yogurt and kefir.

The grocery stores and markets are rife with disclaimers of “Probiotics! Added to Everything!” So, what do we do? How do we know what is best?

I asked my co-author, Jessica Black, ND, to come up with a simple description I can pass along to our followers and readers…. Here is what she wrote, and I hope it is helpful:

Probiotics are essential to proper GI function. Probiotics help maintain a healthy barrier between what we ingest and what gets through to our blood stream. Probiotics play a large regulatory role in the GI lining immune system, which sets the stage for the immune system balance throughout the rest of the body.

Probiotics restore proper gut ecology – the proper balance of all important microorganisms lining the GI tract.

I also excerpted the section in our book on probiotics, and feel free to send an email to request a PDF of the full article (dede@livingwithcrohnsandcolitisbook.com).

Last, but not least, my brand is called UltraFlora “Synergy” probiotics made by Metagenics (I buy from the naturopath, but here is link: http://www.metadocs.com/products/detail.asp?pid=86

It is a 50-50 blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, a highly viable and pure strain, also dairy-free and gluten-free. It has 15 billion live organisms, and needs to be refrigerated in order to retain its efficacy.

Good luck! Questions or comments welcome, of course.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis)

By Drew Nystrom L.Ac., CMT

Our first-ever “guest post” on Dede’s blog! Drew and I “met” through Dede and Jessica Black, ND’s Facebook page, and Dede invited him to educate our readers and followers about the benefits of accupuncture. WTG, Drew! This is like a new book we should publish! A very thorough examination of signs and symptoms of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, along with specific treatment plans for acupuncture. Since Dede (seriously) is a wimp when it comes to needles (also, working on this using Ayurvedic treatment to help with this possible symptomatic “sensitivity” on the skin, which is very likely bowel, related, since the skin and the bowel ARE related!~)…Please welcome Drew, and share this, and come visit him if you live in the Southern California region—like our friends at the CrohnsJourneyFoundation.

This happy woman is like Dede, who hates needles, but has monthly acupuncture treatment—it really helps alleviate symptoms and detoxify the overworked liver, etc. when you have an auto-immune disease

This happy woman is like Dede, who hates needles, but has monthly acupuncture treatment—it really helps alleviate symptoms and detoxify the overworked liver, etc. when you have an auto-immune disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a heading/umbrella that has other diseases underneath it. You may have heard of Crohns Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Disease. You may know someone who’s been diagnosed with one of these or you may have had one of these unfortunate afflictions. In any case these can be serious debilitating conditions that sometimes require extreme care for severe cases but all require long term care. In this article I will discuss the differences and similarities between the three.

Crohn’s Disease: A chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract was first described by Dr. Burrill B. Crohn in 1932, along with Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon D. Oppenheimer. Mostly affects the end of the small intestine called the “Ileum” and the beginning of the colon/large intestine “Cecum” but can affect the entire length of the GI tract. Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall leaving “skip lesions;” whereas, Ulcerative Colitis only affects the superficial layer of the large intestine.

Ulcerative Colitis: A chronic inflammatory disease that affects only the Large Intestine (aka: colon). The lining of the colon becomes inflamed, and ulcerations occur which bleed and produce pus.The inflammation and the ulceration lead to spasms, cramping/pain and frequent bowel movements.

Like Crohn’s Disease Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disorder where your body attacks itself.

 

Crohn’s Disease

Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:

• Persistent Diarrhea

• Rectal bleeding

• Urgent need to move bowels

• Abdominal cramps and pain

• Sensation of incomplete evacuation

• Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)

More severe symptoms:

• Fissures in the lining of the anus (tears)

• Fistulas (tunnel from one loop of intestine to another or connects the intestine to the: bladder, vagina or skin)

Ulcerative Colitis

Symptoms related to inflammation of the Colon:

• Bowel movements become looser and more urgent

• Persistent diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool

• Stool is generally bloody

• Crampy abdominal pain

General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:

• Fever

• Loss of appetite

• Weight Loss

• Fatigue

• Night sweats

• Loss of normal menstrual cycle

Types of Crohn’s Disease:

Ileocolitis: The most common form of Crohn’s, ileocolitis affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) and the large intestine (the colon). Symptoms include diarrhea and cramping or pain in the right lower part or middle of the abdomen. This type is often accompanied by significant weight loss.

Ileitis: This type affects only the ileum. Symptoms are the same as ileocolitis. In severe cases, complications may include fistulas or inflammatory abscess in right lower quadrant of abdomen.

Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease: This type affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine (the duodenum). Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.

Jejunoileitis: This type is characterized by patchy areas of inflammation in the upper half of the small intestine (the jejunum). Symptoms include mild to intense abdominal pain and cramps following meals, as well as diarrhea. In severe cases or after prolonged periods, fistulas may form.

Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis: This type affects the colon only. Symptoms include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and disease around the anus (abscess, fistulas, ulcers). Skin lesions and joint pains are more common in this form of Crohn’s than in others.

Types of Ulcerative Colitis:

Ulcerative Proctitis: For approximately 30% of all patients with ulcerative colitis, the illness begins as ulcerative proctitis. In this form of the disease, bowel inflammation is limited to the rectum. Because of its limited extent (usually less than the six inches of the rectum), ulcerative proctitis tends to be a milder form of ulcerative colitis. It is associated with fewer complications and offers a better outlook than more widespread disease.

Proctosigmoiditis: Colitis affecting the rectum and the sigmoid colon, the lower segment of colon located right above the rectum. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, cramps, and a constant feeling of the need to pass stool, known as tenesmus. Moderate pain on the lower left side of the abdomen may occur in active disease.

Left-sided Colitis: Continuous inflammation that begins at the rectum and extends as far as a bend in the colon near the spleen called the splenic flexure. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, severe pain on the left side of the abdomen, and bleeding.

Pan-ulcerative (total) Colitis: Affects the entire colon. Symptoms include diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, cramps, and extensive weight loss. Potentially serious complications include massive bleeding and acute dilation of the colon (toxic megacolon), which may lead to an opening in the bowel wall. Serious complications may require surgery.

Causes and who’s affected:

As many as 700,000 Americans may be affected by Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is equally common in men and women and while it can affect a person at any age there is a higher risk during the years from 18-35. The cause of IBD is not fully understood but there is a connection between diet and stress; as well as hereditary, genetics and/or environmental factors that play a role in the development of IBD. Studies have shown a greater risk of 5-20% increase in someone acquiring this disease if a “first-degree” relative (parent, child, sibling) has it and an even greater chance if both parents have an IBD. Crohn’s is most common among people with Eastern European backgrounds and it is increasing in number for African Americans. Ulcerative Colitis is more common among Europeans with a Jewish background heritage.

The environment that you put yourself in plays an important role as well. The occurrence is higher in “developed” countries than in “underdeveloped countries, higher in urban areas rather than rural, and in northern versus southern climates.

Treatment with Chinese Medicine:

acupuncture-lakewood-ca-269x300Due to the differential diagnosis that is applied in Chinese Medicine there are different “patterns” that exist when dealing with a disease. This is a similar idea to the different types of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis described above. However, with Chinese Medicine, the patterns are based off of the symptoms the patient is currently experiencing as well as their history, their facial color, body odor, general demeanor, abdominal diagnostic, pulse diagnostic and tongue diagnostic. All of this information is compiled which leads to one of many “diagnostic patterns” to which the according acupuncture points, herbal formula, diet and lifestyle is prescribed. Chinese Medicine is a powerful therapy that can help treat severe cases and help keep mild cases and patients who are in remission stay in remission.

Before we discuss the differential diagnosis, there are a few terms that need to be explained. First one is the “Organ” system. In Chinese Medicine each organ is attributed to specific functions that don’t necessarily match a scientific viewpoint. For example the “Spleen” and “Stomach” are considered to be in charge of the digestive functions and water metabolism in Chinese Medicine. The “Spleen” actually handles some of the function of the “Western” spleen, pancreas and small intestine. The “Liver” has to do with the free flow of qi, which is easily obstructed by stress, emotions, diet and lifestyle. The “Kidney” can be attributed to water metabolism, as well as genetics and our “reserves.” The term “burning the candle at both ends” is a great way to describe how stress and lifestyle can damage the Kidneys. The “Heart” has to do with our emotions and deals with blood. When the digestive system isn’t absorbing food properly we cannot produce the nutrients and blood needed to support these organs. “Heat” refers to inflammation and “Dampness” refers to water metabolism malfunction. Both of these can manifest in numerous ways, as you will see below.

Below are examples of some different patterns that could be “diagnosed” as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis and what the treatment principle should be.

• Spleen Qi Deficiency: Intermittent dull abdominal pain that is alleviated with pressure, abdominal distention, early satiety, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea, loss of appetite, waxy pale or sallow complexion, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath with exertion, spontaneous sweating, dizziness, and light headedness. Might have mild bleeding of dark, purplish blood, or less commonly, red blood preceding or following a bowel movement; or black, tarry, sticky, unformed stools; or occult blood in the stool discovered upon routine testing. There may be other signs of bleeding, such as heavy menstrual periods or easy bruising.

  • Tongue: pale and swollen, with tooth marks (or pale and thin with significant blood deficiency).
  • Pulse: Thready and weak or moderate.
  • Treatment Principle: Strengthen Spleen, supplement and elevate qi. Nourish Blood and stop bleeding.

• Liver Qi invading the Spleen: Recurrent Diarrhea which may be urgent and preceded by cramping abdominal pain. The pain is relieved following defecation. The diarrhea may alternate with constipation. Symptoms become worse with stress and tension or eating. There is a possibility of mucus and blood in the stool. Other signs and symptoms include abdominal distention, poor appetite, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, borborygmus, flatulence and belching, which relieve abdominal discomfort, hypochondriac discomfort, ache and tightness generally worse on the right side, irritability, depression, moodiness, shoulder and neck tension, temporal or tension headaches, cold fingers and toes, premenstrual syndrome and breast tenderness.

  • Tongue: normal or darkish body, or pale, or with slightly red edges: greasy coat especially over the root (depending on the degree of heat, deficiency and Dampness.
  • Pulse: Wiry
  • Treatment Principle: Harmonize the Liver and Spleen, regulate Liver qi, Support and strengthen Spleen, Alleviate spasm and pain, and stop diarrhea.

• Blood Stagnation: Chronic Diarrhea with a feeling of incomplete evacuation or tenesmus. The stools may be purple or black, sticky or tarry. The diarrhea may alternate with constipation.Fixed and localized, sharp or stabbing abdominal pain (usually in the lower left quadrant) which is worse with pressure. Dark complexion, dark rings around the eyes and purple nails. Spider naevi or vascular abnormalities over the abdomen, face and legs (particularly the inner knee and ankle).

  • Tongue: purple or with brown or purple stasis spots; sublingual veins dark and distended
  • Pulse: wiry, choppy or thready.
  • Treatment Principle: Transform and eliminate stagnant Blood from the Intestines.

• Damp Heat dysenteric disorder: Frequent, foul smelling, explosive diarrhea with blood, mucus and pus: the mixture of mucus and blood will vary depending on the balance of Heat and Damp.Burning anus, tenesmus, colicky abdominal pain, abdominal distention, scanty concentrated urine, red complexion, red eyes, dry mouth, and thirst (maybe with little desire to drink). In the early stages there may be fever and chills, headache and a floating pulse.

  • Tongue: greasy yellow coat; with more Heat a red tongue body and a dry coat; with more Dampness, a thick greasy tongue coat
  • Pulse: slippery and rapid.
  • Treatment Principle: Clear Damp Heat from the Intestines and Regulate Qi and Blood, stop pain.

• Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency: Chronic and relentless diarrhea which is thin, watery and mucoid, and may contain pus and blood. In severe cases there may be incontinence of stools and rectal prolapse. The diarrhea is worse from exposure to cold and cold foods. Mild tenesmus or a dragging sensation in the lower abdomen, not relieved by diarrhea. Mild persistent abdominal pain, which is better with warmth and pressure. Loss of appetite, listlessness, fatigue exhaustion, depression. A waxy pale or sallow complexion, cold extremities, cold intolerance, weakness and soreness of the lower back and legs.

  • Tongue: Pale and swollen with a thin white coat.
  • Pulse: deep, thready, weak and slow.
  • Treatment Principle: Warm and Strengthen the Spleen and Kidney Yang. Disperse Cold, transform Dampness. Astringe diarrhea and elevate qi.

• Yin Deficiency with Residual Damp Heat : Chronic diarrhea with small quantities of sticky mucus and blood. Frequent urge to defecate but often in vain. Mild lower abdominal pain, tenesmus, loss of appetite, nausea, dry mouth and lips, thirst worse at night, afternoon or tidal fever that’s worse at night. Heat in the palms and soles, nightsweats, flushing , emaciation, weight loss.

  • Tongue: red or scarlet and dry, with a greasy or peeled coat.
  • Pulse: thready and rapid.
  • Treatment Principle: Nourish and supplement yin and clear residual Damp Heat. Nourish and regulate Blood and stop dysentery.

• Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency: Recurrent mouth ulcers, which appear in clusters and tend to aggregate on the tongue or tongue tip. The ulcers are painful and hot, with a narrow, slightly swollen, mildly red margin. They frequently recur and persist for up to several weeks before resolving. Often of many years duration, the ulcers tend to be provoked or aggravated when the patient is stressed, anxious or upset. Nervous, anxious individual, insomnia, vivid dreaming, panic attacks, palpitations, forgetfulness, dizziness, tinnitus, lumbar ache, sensation of heat in the palms and soles, dry mouth and throat, night sweats.

  • Tongue: red with little or no coat, redder at the tip.
  • Pulse: Thready and rapid.
  • Treatment Principles: Nourish Heart and Kidney yin. Clear Heat, calm the (spiritual) Shen.

Forms of treatment include acupuncture, herbal formulas (which can be taken internal or external), Massage/tuina, dietary therapy, exercise and lifestyle consultation. When we utilize and multiple forms of therapy results are seen at a rapid rate.

529393_4325020362944_1759511343_n

*Disclaimer: The information offered in this paper is not intended to diagnose but rather to inform the public about IBD and give a brief look at how Chinese Medicine looks at and treats IBD.
References:
http://www.ccfa.org /
• Will Maclean and Jane Lyttleton, (2003), Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine “The
Treatment Of Disease with Traditional Chinese Medicine” Volume 2 Spleen and Stomach, University of Western Sydney


Happy Spring! Time for “a second opinion”
for this Crohnie patient….

20130106-081800.jpgOh, not to worry . . . well, kind of. In November, I was told my Crohn’s had spread alarmingly. Another 20cm along my ileum (end of small intestine), from the previous surgery’s incision.

The Dartmouth GI team, headed by one of the top IBD doctor’s in the country, Corey Siegel, MD, wants me to take two heavy-hitter drug combos—an immuno-modulator approach that I don’t feel comfortable with taking. Here is my (layperson, granted!) reasoning: since my quality of life is so good, and my symptoms are episodic and stress-induced, mainly (the docs don’t really like talking about stress as a disease-trigger, as it is so hard to quantify I think), my gut is telling me to wait and continue with my naturopathic treatment; and, quite frankly, I almost prefer surgery to the idea of taking such life-affecting medications…

I want to add, that many of my Crohnie and uc-er friends are successfully being treated on these drugs, I have nothing AGAINST the drugs, and if they help and the symptoms are minimal, that is fantastic! Since many of you have asked (!), here is what they want me to take…. Not one, but TWO drugs, given the severity of my disease….. Read on:

According to WebMD, Remicade (or infliximab) is used to treat certain types of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis of the spine, psoriatic arthritis), certain bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), and a certain severe skin disease (chronic plaque psoriasis). In these conditions, the body’s defense system (immune system) attacks healthy tissues. Infliximab works by blocking the actions of a certain natural substance (tumor necrosis factor alpha) in the body. This helps to decrease swelling (inflammation) and weaken your immune system, thereby slowing or stopping the damage from the disease. Remicade is given by infusions, through the vein (it usually takes 2 hours) every 6-8 weeks.

The other drug they want me to take is commonly called 6MP. It is taken In pill form. This medication is used with other drugs to treat a certain type of cancer (acute lymphocytic leukemia). Mercaptopurine belongs to a class of drugs known as purine antagonists. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. This drug may also be used to treat Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and lymphoblastic lymphoma.

In patients using infliximab along with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, there have been rare reports of an extremely rare, often fatal cancer (hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma).

Sounds pretty scary, huh?

Infliximab works by binding to tumor necrosis factor alpha. TNF-α is a chemical messenger (cytokine) and a key part of the autoimmune reaction. Cytokines are proteins that are produced by cells. Cytokines interact with cells of the immune system in order to regulate the body’s response to disease and infection. Cytokines also mediate normal cellular processes in the body.

In our book, Jessica Black, ND, my co-author, discusses the cellular balance in the body to achieve and maintain a balance of homeostasis. In patients with IBD, the need for hormone balance and regulation is also important. In our book, she says,

“Every organ in the body depends on, and influences, other organs—everything is interconnected in the body. This is why whole body approaches to healing often work better than treating just one system, or one symptom.”

This naturopathic approach to whole body, and more holistic/lifestyle, healing is what I aspire to. Since I do not want to take the aforementioned drugs, and my overall health is so good, I feel better able to exlore other options. Emeran Mayer, MD, who wrote the Preface to our “Living With Crohn’s & Colitis” book, recommends a second opinion. (Here is the link LWC_Pages_EmeranMayer to his inspiring write-up.)

I am leaving for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota next Sunday, and I will be there for almost a week. It will be interesting, to say the least (!), to hear what the GI team has to say about my case. i will be seen there at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, April 29th by William Tremaine, MD.

Let the adventure begin. I am not scared, or alarmed—just looking for a more integrative approach to my personal patient care. My gluten-free, sugar-free, diet has been going really well—I feel healthier overall, and my research shows that sugar can create problems in the gut, and may even be linked to leaky gut syndrome, so it has been a great practice to switch to only using honey for sweetener. Here is a great video by Mark Hyman, MD, about why “functional medicine is different than conventional medicine” … it is VERY inspiring, not to mention PRACTICAL!

A group of supportive friends and family . . .

One thing I have going for me, and encourage my IBD-friends to be part of, is the online community of Crohnie and uc-ers that I am privileged to know and appreciate. Sometimes we make each other laugh! Take my Crohnie-friend, Christina . . .she is an awesome survivor of many surgeries and health problems, but when I read her interview with Sarah Chouiery of The Crohn’s Journey Foundation, I laughed out loud at the “embarrassing moments” section! Christina’s blog is a great resource for some welcome humor! I will have it on my iPad as I travel to Minnesota next week….

This photo, below, was taken in my hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont…. Is it a real dog behind the statue of the Buddha you may ask?

20130418-102807.jpg


20121205-113836.jpg

Jessica Black, ND, my co-author, naturopathic doctor, mother of two, avid outdoors woman, and cookbook author of The Anti-Inflammation Diet & Recipe Book, was the reason my own story, and our book, Living With Crohn’s & Colitis, got published. By reading Jessie’s book that I purchased one day at my naturopath’s office, she inspired me to eat better, and thereby lower my body’s overall level of inflammation. . . . I contacted her about how great her book was, and we decided on the phone to write a book together. The rest, as they say, is….well a book that is helping tons of people because it is good science and a patient perspective. Fast forward to today. . . .

~

Update
After my colonoscopy results last week, I crawled into a little shell and barely communicated with friends, and family….I was also exhausted from the fasting and quite sore from all the probing and poking around in my small intestine! I called my insurance company, CBA-BC/BS VT, and found that the Mayo Clinic was “in network,” and they registered me as a patient. I can go there for a second opinion, probably in January when my sister can join me. Everyone was “so nice.” When I said those words on the voicemail of the surprisingly helpful insurance business rep, I burst into tears — ah, delayed grief!

Fast forward to yesterday
With a better attitude, more energy, and (by the way) no symptoms of Crohn’s (which are, when severe like my case: diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, skin ulcerations, joint pain, etc.), I followed up on my weekend consult with my co-author and nationally-recognized naturopath, Jessica Black (who, by the way, dropped everything on a Saturday to make a phone-house call for me!), with a visit to my local naturopath, the wonderful Cheryl Procter. Additionally, I made an appointment with my clinic gastroenterologist, Steven Bensen, to follow up on my colonoscopy results. I see him January 23rd, and I firmly believe in following both paths, down the middle if you will pardon my overuse of the metaphor, with allopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine, on either side.

My Naturopathic Treatment Plan
Here is what I am on now: Low Dose Naltrexone, High Potency Turmeric, Glutamine, probiotics, Vitamin D, Vitamin C with Echinacea, along with my multi-vitamin, adrenal support, and Omega 3. I am researching LDN like crazy, and found this study with positive results . . .

“Think Positive”
Since my diet is very low-inflammation (thanks to Jessica Black, ND!), I am really being careful now (after 6+ years of remission, I was definitely slacking!): No sugar, red meat, fried or fatty foods, etc.

Below, is a recipe for a delicious cornbread from my friend, Julie Robinson at the Brattelboro Food Cood (thanks doll!)… Note, I substituted 2 Tablespoons Honey for the sugar, and Rice Milk for the milk, and Tofutti Sour Cream for regular sour cream…. YUM!  Here is a great NYT link to gluten-free dishes, too! ~

20121205-113845.jpg