There are many natural remedies that can help reduce symptoms people with Crohn’s disease experience. A person can use natural remedies alongside standard medical treatment, and they should always consult a doctor before doing so.
Crohn’s is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. While there is no known cure, various medications may help ease symptoms.
Natural remedies for Crohn’s disease may also help bring relief. Some people also find that they cause fewer side effects than prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
This article will discuss some natural treatment options that may help alleviate Crohn’s disease symptoms.
Every person with Crohn’s disease will experience it differently. That is why identifying Crohn’s triggers is important for managing symptoms.
It is a good idea to keep a food diary and track all symptoms that flare up regularly with different foods.
During a flare
During a Crohn’s disease flare, a person can try these dietary strategies:
People with Crohn’s disease may ease their symptoms if they follow these steps regarding dietary habits:
Drink plenty of water and avoid using a straw.Eat small, frequent meals — about 4–6 per day.Prepare meals ahead of time so that there are always safe foods available in the house.Boil, grill, steam, or poach food instead of frying it.Keep a food journal.
Learn more about how different foods can affect Crohn’s disease here.
Certain behavioral changes may prevent Crohn’s disease from getting worse or ease symptoms.
Changes may include:
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation also suggests that a person with Crohn’s disease may benefit from mind-body therapies, such as:
relaxation and mindfulnesshypnosisyogaexercise, where possible
It may be difficult for some people with Crohn’s disease to get adequate nutrition from food alone. A doctor may recommend specific nutritional supplements to redress nutritional imbalances.
Some other supplements that may help alleviate Crohn’s disease symptoms include:
According to research, curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, may help reduce inflammation.
A 2015 study involved participants with ulcerative colitis, which is another type of IBD. Researchers compared the results from the participants taking curcumin capsules and mesalamine, which helps reduce inflammation in the intestines, with those from a placebo group, who were taking only mesalamine.
Researchers found that more than half of those taking curcumin were in remission by 4 weeks, compared with none in the control group.
A person can also use curcumin in their diet by seasoning their food with turmeric.
Learn about other health benefits of turmeric here.
Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria existing throughout the body, may help a person with Crohn’s disease create more anti-inflammatory bacteria in the gut.
A person can increase their intake of probiotics by incorporating into their diet certain foods that contain probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kefir, or yogurt.
Learn about other probiotic foods here.
Bromelain is a mix of enzymes, mostly from fruit. A handful of studies on bromelain suggest it may reduce inflammation in the bowels, reducing Crohn’s symptoms.
A 2017 study in rats found that bromelain was effective at reducing IBD-related inflammation. However, researchers do not know exactly how or why it works.
Earlier research found that bromelain could fight inflammation, which may be why it helps ease symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It is of note, however, that researchers carried out this study in a laboratory setting, not a human body.
A person can purchase bromelain in tablet form.
Wormwood is a type of herb.
According to a 2015 review, several small placebo-controlled studies of wormwood found that using the herb had brought about remission in more than half of the people with Crohn’s disease.
Also, the studies found a much lower rate of remission in the placebo group.
People might enjoy wormwood as an oil or tea.
Thunder god vine
Thunder god vine, or Tripterygium wilfordii, is an herb that people sometimes refer to as thunder duke vine.
As part of a 2015 review, researchers examined a small study on thunder god vine and Crohn’s disease. They found that, after 8 weeks, thunder god vine intake helped reduce symptoms in the participants with the condition.
After 12 weeks, the participants also showed signs of improvement on an endoscopy.
Thunder god vine is available as a supplement in pill form.
Essential oils might ease inflammation and help treat Crohn’s disease. However, the data are scant, as existing studies are small or have included only animals.
There is no conclusive evidence that essential oils work, and there are no clear guidelines as to how to administer them.
People who wish to try essential oils should use them as a supplement to standard care.
A 2017 study reports that patchouli oil might help with symptoms of colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel condition related to Crohn’s disease.
The researchers found that rats treated with patchouli had less colon damage and fewer colitis symptoms compared with rats in the control group.
A few small studies suggest that lavender might help regulate gut health in people with IBD.
For example, a 2012 study in mice indicates that lavender might help protect against Citrobacter rodentium, a gut bacterium associated with IBD.
Researchers believe it may help reduce Crohn’s symptoms by regulating the gut microbiome.
Authors of a 2018 study in rats found that menthol, a substance present in peppermint oil, may help decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in rats with artificially induced IBD.
The rats treated with menthol also had a higher body weight, which suggests IBD was causing fewer nutritional problems.
Acupuncture, which is a form of treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help alleviate Crohn’s symptoms.
Due to varying results across existing studies, researchers do not know exactly how or why acupuncture may help.
According to a 2014 study, a combination of acupuncture and moxibustion, which is the process of burning moxa near particular skin points, might safely improve Crohn’s symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular traditional folk remedy for addressing inflammation and pain.
A 2016 study in rats reports that vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, may also help prevent symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
As part of the study, researchers induced colitis in a group of rats. However, 28 days before doing so, they began giving the rats vinegar. This increased the rats’ levels of beneficial bacteria, reducing inflammation.
The results are preliminary but indicate vinegar may be an important tool for treating or preventing IBD.
Learn about possible side effects of apple cider vinegar here.
Medical cannabis may help relieve pain, support relaxation, or offer other benefits to people living with chronic, or long-term, medical conditions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved medical cannabis for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. However, a handful of studies suggest it may help.
For instance, a small 2013 study included 21 patients who had not responded to traditional treatments for Crohn’s disease. Researchers randomly put the participants into a group that took cannabis, or a placebo group.
At the end of the 8-week study, 10 of 11 patients in the cannabis group had significant improvements compared with the placebo group.
The researchers called for further studies to explore the link between medical cannabis and Crohn’s disease in greater detail.
Learn about CBD oil here.
There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, but the right combination of treatments helps many patients go into remission.
People considering natural remedies should seek guidance from a doctor about how best to incorporate these remedies into their treatment regimen.
A person should keep a log to record which treatments work best for them.