Attempting To Heal IBD Naturally
A couple days ago, I received a private message on twitter from a man whose daughter was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC). She had already been in the hospital for a week so clearly, she was pretty sick. Her dad asked me if I knew of any supplements or natural ways of healing. I told him that nothing has worked for me personally, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t help his daughter, but only after her disease was under control. When I asked what the doctors were currently doing for her in the hospital, he responded by saying they were giving her prednisone and she was going to be starting Remicade soon. He also said she had a PICC line in so they could give her TPN to help with her nutritional state. This made me happy to hear but also made me think about a lot.
I grew up in a house where medication was looked at as poison
As long as you exercised and ate well, that should be all you need to live a healthy, prosperous life. So, being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13 changed a lot for my family and me. To make a very long story short, I have been on steroids, antibiotics, immunosuppressive medications, and biologics to help my inflammatory bowel disease. I have also tried countless diets, supplements, and natural remedies. You name it and I have most likely tried it.
My parents may have had the mentality that medication was the enemy, but I am thankful that they recognized how severe my IBD was. I am grateful to them for putting aside their own beliefs in order to do what was right by me. Once I became more stable, I was willing to experiment more with certain lifestyle changes. I have always been someone who was a bit of a goody goody. I wanted to do everything “right” and by the book. I wanted to be the best patient and it was also important to me that I did what my parents suggested and believed.
I was always petrified my IBD would get in the way of my close relationship with my parents.
Because my parents conveyed their feelings about medications to my gastroenterologist, she gave them a number of natural things for me to try. I did and tried all of them because like I said, I wanted to be a good patient and I wanted my parents to know I was doing everything in my power to help myself. Until one day when I could barely stand up and my mom handed me a huge glass of aloe vera juice. I took a sip and told her I couldn’t do it anymore. She told me that the faster I drank it, the sooner it would hopefully work to heal my intestines. I tried taking another sip, looked at her and said I couldn’t get anymore down and no longer wanted to keep being forced to drink this crap. I could tell from the look on her face that she understood but at that point, she hadn’t yet responded to me. I then asked her if she felt like this was helping at all because if she did, I would do my best to get it down. My mom took the cup from me and poured the rest down the drain.
I remember apologizing to her while I was crying. I felt like I not only disappointed my parents, but like I was a failure for not being able to do the “correct” thing for my body. My mom told me that she would no longer make me drink the aloe vera juice. I asked her again if she felt like I was hurting myself by not continuing to drink it or if she was giving in to me because she didn’t want to fight with me about it. She looked down at the floor, shook her head, then said “I don’t think it is making any difference.” Not long after that happened, I began feeling sick from another supplement I was being given. I did know the importance of this one in particular, so my mom reached out to my GI who said side effects weren’t uncommon and it could be making me worse. She then went on to tell my mom about other forms I could try.
That was the first time I felt like maybe, just maybe, I was starting to understand my body.
I had been thinking that doctors and my parents know more about my body and what I need than anyone else so I need to listen. It was difficult for me to just go along with things that I didn’t believe were beneficial but given I was a young teenager, I didn’t think it was my job to question anything or anyone who was caring for me.
If you are newly diagnosed, still unsure what IBD really is and can do to your body, or are a loved one of someone in a similar position, I hope you know it is a thousand percent “normal” to want to figure things out in a holistic way. I wanted to share my experiences with this because I know a lot of people have the same mentality that my parents have when it comes to medication. I also know that one of the most common questions IBD patients and caregivers ask is if there are any natural things that can be done to avoid medications and the associated side effects.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is this…..
Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis can be extremely severe.
I won’t get into the details in this article but it is important to me that I emphasize how crucial it is to understand this unfortunate truth. This is the case especially if it is left untreated. Once a person has a period of stability, that is the time to attempt some natural ways of healing, if desired. My recommendation is to do it slowly, so you can really see what may be helping or hurting.
Please also understand that there has been no scientific evidence that supports supplements or natural remedies in the treatment of IBD. So, if you are someone who is unable to try holistic ways of healing, you are not hurting yourself and you are not a failure.
Can any of you relate to this? Have you had positive experiences with natural ways of managing your IBD symptoms? Have you had negative experiences and feel comfortable sharing? Has it been you who has wanted to try holistic ways of healing or a loved one? I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!