There are a number of herbal treatments that may prove beneficial to those with Crohn’s disease. Most work directly to lessen the inflammation causing the pain and additional problems associated with any IBD.
Traditionally Soothing Herbal Medicines
Some of the more common herbal medicines for soothing inflammation throughout the digestive tract are:
- Marshmallow – a tea of these leaves has been shown to be affective in easing upset stomachs and other internal discomforts
- Slippery elm – the inner bark of this tree has long been used to make a soothing laxative and to calm irritated bowels
- Echinacea – an immune enhancer, it has recently come to the popular front as a beneficial herb to assist in beating colds, flus, and other viruses
- Goldenseal – an astringent that has strong activity against a variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, such as E. Coli and Candida
- Wild indigo – this plant is primarily used for its antiseptic qualities, but it has also been shown to help in digestive issues
Wild indigo and goldenseal are also believed to inhibit the growth of abnormal bacteria in the intestines because of their astringent effects. Echinacea has long been seen as a useful tool in promoting a healthier immune system, as well as being soothing to inflamed areas in the body. Marshmallow and slippery elm are mucilaginous plants that also soothe enflamed areas.
Crohn’s Specific Options
Doctors who work with herbal remedies for Crohn’s have found another set of them that work specifically for Crohn’s symptoms. The intent of the use of these herbs is to treat a number of the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease. They include:
- Yarrow – works as a blood purifier, and helps stop internal bleeding.
- Cats Claw – a traditional South American Indian treatment for dysentery and gastric ulcers, this herb is not being studied due to the theoretical use in treating cancer.
- Chamomile – known for its relaxing qualities, this soothing herb is often found in teas and scent sachets.
- Licorice – one of the oldest known herbal remedies, having been mentioned in writings as far back as 300 B.C., this is different than the anise flavored candies of your youth. Instead, this sweet, musty herb has a 2000-year history in helping to shrink swelling in the intestines.
- Aloe – older still than even licorice, aloe has been used to soothe pain and irritation for over 3500 years. It contains at least three anti-inflammatory fatty acids that aid in digestion and relieving the pain of Crohn’s disease.
Many of these herbal medications can be found at any local health food stores. If there isn’t a health food store nearby, there are very reputable companies on the Internet who offer a supply of the right herbal concoctions in the right combinations for your needs.
An uncontrolled study using tannins in the course of drug therapy found that they were more affective in reducing diarrhea than not using anything at all. The herbs that are associated with tannins are:
- Green Tea (also an anti-inflammatory)
- Witch Hazel
It is recommended that the use of these herbs should be discontinued before the diarrhea is completely resolved, however, as it could instead make the condition worse.
Playing it Safe
One of the main concerns regarding the use of herbal treatments is the fact that the treatments on the market are not overseen by anyone. In other words, it is up to the consumer to make sure that the amount that is recommended is what is purchased and used, as there is no pharmacist there to play the intermediary. Read the labels carefully before you buy them, and be sure to understand how to prepare the concoctions to their most effectiveness without overdosing yourself.
Remember that these herbal treatments are a form of medication, and should be handled with extreme care lest you find that you’ve exacerbated your condition rather than aided it.