Crohn’s disease is notoriously difficult to manage. Despite the fact that traditional pharmaceuticals and biologic therapies are available, for many sufferers, these options are insufficient for effectively reducing symptoms. Moreover, they often result in debilitating side effects—and carry a high price tag that makes them inaccessible.
For patients battling gastrointestinal ailments who are interested in alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals and therapies, one option to consider is nutritional supplementation as a treatment for Crohn’s disease. The effectiveness and bioavailability of some nutritional supplements, such as vitamin D, is backed by a large body of rigorous research; for supplements that have only recently emerged as possible therapies for Crohn’s patients, such as creatine, the research is just getting underway. Below, let’s explore a few of the supplements that can be considered when looking for an alternative or complementary treatment for Crohn’s disease.
The Proven Benefits of Vitamin D as a Treatment for Crohn’s Diseaseresearch studies have shown that supplementation can reduce this risk. For this reason, Vitamin D, known for its role in bone health, has long been recommended as a nutritional supplement for patients with Crohn’s.
Moreover, the latest studies suggest that taking vitamin D supplements can mediate reductions in bowel inflammation by exerting effects on two key inflammatory factors. While the supporting research is still in its earliest stages, it indicates that vitamin D may reduce intestinal inflammation in animal models. There are also preliminary trials suggesting that high-dose, bioavailable vitamin D supplementation may lessen the odds of relapse for Crohn’s disease patients.
Taking vitamin D may also be beneficial for a patient’s long-term health. Crohn’s disease patients are at higher risk of developing colon cancer than the general population. Scientists hypothesize that inflammation plays a role in the development of colon cancer, and there are epidemiological and animal model studies suggesting that vitamin D may combat some of the cancer-promoting effects of intestinal inflammation in Crohn’s disease patients.
Curcumin as a Bioavailable Nutritional Supplement for Crohn’s Disease
Curcumin is best known for being a constituent of turmeric, a popular spice. Studies show that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, when taken in a bioavailable form, may help mediate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. In one study, researchers found that taking curcumin supplements alone or in combination with Remicade (a common immunosuppressant taken by Crohn’s disease patients) can ameliorate symptoms by reducing intestinal inflammation.
Patients who take Remicade to address their symptoms are often frustrated by the fact that the therapy can lose its effectiveness over time. A recent study may provide Crohn’s sufferers hope, however. The research seems to indicate that taking curcumin as a supplemental therapy can prevent the loss of response to Remicade by reducing levels of the inflammatory marker IL-1. Thus, curcumin supplements can be an effective option for patients seeking treatment for Crohn’s disease that complements their current management strategy.
The Early Evidence for Creatine Supplements to Treat Crohn’s
Creatine, traditionally used by athletes and body-builders to improve performance, is a substance that supports the production of ATP in muscle cells. However, creatine has recently come forward as a possible treatment for Crohn’s disease. The results of one rigorous case study indicate that a bioavailable form of creatine can be effective for managing symptoms in some Crohn’s disease patients.
There is also a clinical trial underway to examine the potential benefits of creatine for patients with ulcerative colitis. While this research is ongoing, the success of the trial could have significant implications for the use of creatine as a treatment for Crohn’s disease in the future.
The Future Challenges—and Opportunities— for Crohn’s Disease Treatmentsalternatives to traditional treatment options are on the rise. Patients who are searching for therapies that reduce gastrointestinal symptoms—and the risk of health problems associated with Crohn’s—may find relief by including bioavailable nutritional supplements in their treatment plans. The research shows that including a nutritional supplement in a patient’s diet can be just as effective as a traditional medication and may even have additional benefits that are not addressed by standard pharmaceuticals.
For patients seeking a supplement-based treatment for Crohn’s disease, bioavailable forms of vitamin D, curcumin, and creatine are all great options to consider. As researchers continue to explore dietary supplements that could revolutionize treatment for Crohn’s disease in the future, doctors and patients alike are already seeing the benefits of these complementary health solutions.
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Roy A, Lee D. 2016. Dietary creatine as a possible novel treatment for Crohn’s ileitis. ACG Case Reports Journal. 3(4):e173. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5171926/
Schneider A, Hossain I, VanderMolen J, Nicol K. 2017. Comparison of remicade to curcumin for the treatment of Crohn’s disease: a systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 33:32-38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28735823
Sreedhar R, Arumugam S, Thandavarayan RA, Karuppagounder V, Watanabe K. 2016. Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in the chemoprevention of inflammatory bowel disease. Drug Discovery Today. 21(5):843-849. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26995272
Suibhne TN, Cox G, Healy M, O’Morain C, O’Sullivan M. 2012, Vitamin D deficiency in Crohn’s disease: prevalence, risk factors and supplement use in an outpatient setting. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis. 6(2):182-188. https://academic.oup.com/ecco-jcc/article/6/2/182/455325
Therapeutic modulation of the intestinal creatine kinase system in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2015. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02463305