Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine that can cause chronic diarrhea.  Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis make up the overwhelming majority IBD cases.  The rest of the IBD cases are made up of Collagenous colitis, Lymphocytic colitis, Ischaemic colitis, Diversion colitis, Behçet's syndrome, Infective colitis and Indeterminate colitis, which are all much rarer conditions. 


Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease have many of the same symptoms, but mainly differ in the range of areas they affect.  Ulcerative colitis symptoms are restricted to the epithelial lining in the colon and rectum.  Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. 


Ulcerative colitis causes small ulcers in the colon and rectum, frequently causing painful movements, diarrhea with puss and/or blood, abdominal pains and fever.  When inflammation affects the lower colon or rectum, it is called ulcerative proctitis.  When the whole colon is affected it is called ulcerative pancolitis.  Distal colitis occurs only when the left side of the colon is under inflammation.  Ulcerative colitis displays sporadic symptoms with alternating flare-up and remission periods.  Remission periods can last anywhere from a few weeks to years, depending on how the individual manages the symptoms.  Frequent flare-ups can cause lasting damage to the inflamed areas and increase the chances of cancer.


Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease.  It uses the body’s immune system to attack the entire gastrointestinal tract, mainly the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum.  The primary attack causes inflammation in the intestines, causing them to empty frequently resulting in chronic diarrhea.  The stomach and esophagus are also targets of Crohn’s symptoms, though to a much lesser extent.  Like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease sufferers go through periods of flare-ups and remission. 


The causes of IBDs are believed to come from a genetic predisposition.  Outside factors like food poisoning (food poisoning triples the risk of developing IBD for 15 years after the incident) and smoking cigarettes have been shown to trigger these conditions but the cause is agreed to be genetic.  Doctors and scientist have started studies to locate the specific IBD gene but the prospects for a cure are still highly unlikely. 


People diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) must learn to manage the condition through diet, exercise and in most cases drugs and supplements.  Natural probiotics and some natural supplements have been shown to be very helpful in managing IBD.  Studies have shown the probiotic, Bacillus polyfermenticus, will reduce rectal bleeding, lessen tissue inflammation, promote weight gain and encourage new growth in blood vessels found in the intestines.  Micronized zeolite supplements have also been shown through studies to work very well to stop diarrhea and help maintain more solid stools.  On the contrary, some prescribed immune suppressant drugs used in IBD cases have been shown to increase risk of skin cancer.

In addition to quality of life issues, managing this condition is important to long-term well being.  The chance of colon cancer in UC sufferers increases in relation to their frequency of flare-ups.  Management for these conditions can be found through a personal regimen of balanced diet, natural supplements, medication and even surgery.

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