Crohns Disease is a chronic
inflammation of the intestines, bowel or digestive tract. This disease is
one of a number of similar colon related diseases known as
inflammatory bowel diseases,
or IBD. Crohns disease can affect any area of the digestive tract from mouth
to anus, but it's most often found in the lower area of the small intestine,
known as the ileum.
The inflammation is usually found deep within the lining of the organ
affected, which causes both pain and frequent diarrhea from the intestines
being emptied continuously. Sometimes the diarrhea is bloody too.
Crohns disease affects men, women and children, though the actual cause is
not known. There are some indications of hereditary and genetic links
though. About 20% of Crohns disease sufferers have family members who also
have some form of inflammatory bowel disease, with siblings being the most
common. There are also a variety of theories and studies which we'll cover
in more detail throughout this series.
A related IBD known as Ulcerative colitis affects the top layer of lining in
the large intestine, which can make diagnosis of Crohns disease more
difficult. To make things even more complicated, many of the symptoms of
this disease mimic a disorder known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
One of the defining symptoms of Crohns Disease is bleeding however. Doctors
can test for blood in the stools; perform blood tests for anemia, because
this could be an indication of internal bleeding of the intestine; and
perform an upper GI, or gastrointestinal series, which is an xray process
that will reveal inflammation and abnormalities in the intestine.
Other symptoms of Crohns disease include abdominal pain or tenderness -
particularly high on the right side - fever, weight loss, being tired,
having sores around the anus which produce discharge, ulcers on the tongue
or cheek, inflamed eyes, painful or swollen joints and red bumps on your
In addition to the diagnosis methods already mentioned, doctors might also
decide to do a colonoscopy. This involves inserting a flexible tube into the
anus to see inside the large intestine. The tube is often hooked to a tv or
computer monitor so the doctor can see internal inflammation or bleeding
during the examination. Sometimes they'll take a tissue sample as well, to
send to the lab for further testing.
If the colonoscopy shows inflammation or bleeding, the doctor normally
orders additional xrays of both the upper and lower intestines to see how
far the disease has progressed.
There are a whole host of complications which can arise with Crohns disease.
Ulceric sores can tunnel through the tissue and affect surrounding organs
such as the bladder, skin and vagina for instance. These tunnels, commonly
called fistulas, often become infected.
Nutritional deficiences are well documented side effects of Crohns disease,
though some researchers question whether these might actually contribute to
the disease instead. Other complications of Crohns disease can include
kidney stones, arthritis, skin problems, eye inflammations, liver diseases,
As we've talked about in previous herbal and alternative remedy article
series, when the colon or bowel is sick, the entire body reflects that
sickness, and the documented side effects and complications of Crohns
disease is an excellent example of this concept.
In this series on Crohns disease, we'll look closer at modern medical
science treatments, theories on causes, the candida fungus connection, side
effects and complications, controlling Crohns with diet and herbs, and
healing Crohns with herbs and natural remedies.