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Acupuncture for Crohn's Disease

At Empowered You Acupuncture, Orange County's top integrative clinic, we specialize in natural treatments for Crohn's Disease and other autoimmune conditions. Read on to learn how we can treat Crohns' Disease with acupuncture and botanical medicine!

If you have Crohn’s Disease, then you know it's more than just a digestive problem.

It's more than constant, excruciating pain in your gut.

Or fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

It’s more than frequent, bloody, diarrhea.

There are plenty of symptoms you might be struggling with that go beyond your bowels.

Burning mouth ulcers.

Aching joints.

Painful skin eruptions.

It's a condition that can stop you from living your life to the fullest.

It can keep you from going on that vacation, going after that promotion, or just spending more time with the ones you love.

At Empowered You Acupuncture, we help people like you get their lives back from auotimmune conditions like Crohn’s Disease.

In this post we are going to take a deep dive into how to treat Crohn's Disease naturally with acupuncture and botanical medicine.

What is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn’s is one kind of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a category of autoimmune condition where the intestines become inflamed.

The most common form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease is Ulcerative Colitis, where inflammation occurs only in the colon.

Unlike Ulcerative Colitis, in Crohn’s disease inflammation can occur in any part of the digestive tract, from the rectum to the mouth. Common areas of inflammation in Crohn’s Disease include the large intestine, small intestine, and the stomach.

The inflammatory process in Crohn’s Disease is very widespread, and can affect other tissues beyond the digestive tract. Often it affects the skin, mucous membranes in the mouth and eyes, and the joints.

Prolonged inflammation causes damage to the digestive organs and other tissues, which accounts for the many symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.

Inflammation in the digestive tract can interfere with proper nutrient absorption. So people with Crohn’s Disease may have trouble maintaining a healthy body weight. They can also suffer deficiencies of vital nutrients like calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. This can make them more prone to diseases like osteoporosis.

The severity of Crohn’s Disease can range from mild to moderate to severe. For many patients symptoms will come and go, with periods of remission followed by flare ups.

Conventional Treatment of Crohn's Disease

Conventional treatments for Crohn’s Disease differ based on disease severity. For very mild disease doctors may simply prescribe anti-diarrheal or anti-spasmodic medications to slow down bowel movements.

Mild to moderate disease is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as mesalamine.

Moderate to severe disease is treated with steroids or immunosuppressant drugs.

In very severe cases, parts of the intestines are surgically removed. But even with surgery, the disease can reoccur in other parts of the digestive tract.

Antibiotics are also used to manage Crohn’s Disease. Antibiotics may be necessary when severe inflammation creates pockets of tissue in the bowels that become infected, leading to abscesses. In this situation, antibiotics are used to control the infection, while the abscesses often have to be drained surgically.

However, antibiotic use can be somewhat controversial in more mild to moderate presentations.

This is because there is evidence that antibiotic use may contribute to developing Crohn’s Disease or other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

It will become clear why when we explore the causes of Crohn's Disease.

What Causes Crohn's Disease?

Like many autoimmune conditions, the exact causes of Crohn’s Disease are unknown.

However, there are many factors that can predispose someone to developing Crohn’s Disease.

One major factor is genetics. Crohn’s runs in families, and anyone with a blood relative who has the disease is more likely to develop it themselves.

However, it is also clear that genetics alone cannot account for Crohn’s Disease.

Let's take a closer look at inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s response to a perceived pathogen, injury, or stress.

If we want to treat inflammation effectively, we must figure out why the body is producing it in the first place.

In the case of Crohn’s Disease, there is a significant amount of evidence that the source of the inflammation lies with our microbiome.

Research has identified specific populations of gut bacteria, viruses, and fungi associated with Crohn’s and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. When the populations of these microbes becomes too high relative to other, healthier microbes, this can trigger an inflammatory immune response.

We also know that distinct features of dysbiosis found in patients with Crohn’s Disease are not present in their relatives without Crohn’s Disease.

And we know that dysbiotic gut microbes transferred to genetically susceptible rats causes them to develop Crohn’s like symptoms.

All of which strongly suggests that gut dysbiosis is the key factor in the development of Crohn’s disease.

The Microbiome and Crohn's Disease

While that study was not able to determine a causal link, the association does make sense.

Antibiotics are designed to eliminate microbes (it's literally what the word means).

If the microbiome is the key factor in Crohn’s Disease, it only makes sense to treat Crohn’s by addressing the balance of gut microbes.

It’s at this point that many people will jump to probiotics as the solution.

While probiotics can be helpful, in most cases just taking probiotics alone won’t make much of an impact in a complex chronic condition like Crohn’s Disease.

You can think of this as trying to plant a bunch of seeds. To grow, seeds must have a suitable habitat. They need proper soil.

When there is inflammation and dysbiosis in the gut, taking probiotics without addressing these issues is a lot like trying to plant seeds in soil that is dry, cracked, and choked with weeds.

It will be very difficult if not impossible for them to take root.

You need to prepare the soil first, and pull up the weeds.

This is where East Asian Medicine comes in.

Acupuncture and Herbal Treatment for Crohn's Disease

East Asian Medicine is a two-thousand-year-old system for regulating human physiology.

It uses natural methods such as acupuncture and herbs to activate and direct the body’s ability to heal itself.

Modern research now shows these methods work by regulating the microbiome and the immune system.

According to a recent study published in The Lancet, one of the top medical journals in the world, a series of acupuncture treatments were able to improve symptoms of Crohn’s Disease while also improving gut microbiota and reducing inflammation.

The authors of the study noted that:

Acupuncture was effective in inducing and maintaining remission in patients with active [Crohn’s Disease], which was associated with increased abundance of intestinal anti-inflammatory bacteria, enhanced intestinal barrier, and regulation of circulating Th1/Th17-related cytokines.”

Th1 and Th17 are types of T cells, white blood cells that are part of the body’s immune response. Th1 and Th17 produce inflammatory cytokines. Both of kinds of cells, and especially Th17 play a critical role in Crohn’s Disease and other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Inflammatory Th cells such as Th17 are kept in check by regulatory T Cells, also called Treg Cells. An imbalance between T Cells and Treg Cells is involved in many forms of autoimmune disease, and this balance itself is regulated by the microbiome.

In addition to acupuncture, many Chinese herbs have regulatory effects on the balance between Th17 and Treg cells. They have the potential to help with Crohn’s Disease as well as many other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

For example, Baicalin, a compound found in the Chinese Herb Huangqin (黄芩), can treat allergic rhinitis by balancing Th17 and Treg.

Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture for Crohn's Disease

The combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine can dramatically improve quality of life for people with Crohn's Disease.

At Empowered You Acupuncture, we specialize in treating autoimmune conditions.

At our Orange County acupuncture clinic, we help people like you recover their lives and their viality from autoimmune conditions.

Not in Orange County? Our Telemedicine Program is designed to help support people with Crohn's Disease and other complex chronic conditions remotely.

If you or someone you know is suffering with Crohn’s Disease, don’t wait another day.

You deserve to feel better, now.

(909) 978-7266


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