Inflammatory bowel disease involves a thickening of the bowel lining, abnormal movement of food through the gut, and impaired water and/or nutrient absorption. Microscopically, the number of inflammatory cells in the gut lining is increased. The disease is named after the predominant cell type; the most common is lymphocytic-plasmacytic IBD. The main symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive gas, abdominal pain, weight loss, and blood and/or mucus in the stools, can be chronic, constant or intermittent, and relate to the affected gut segment.
What causes it?
There is no single recognized cause of IBD. Contributing factors include genetics, immunity problems, chronic stress, dietary deficiencies, exposure to pollutants and chemicals (pesticides, food additives, drugs, vaccines), altered gut pH, chronic gut irritation caused by diet, food allergies and infectious agents, and leaky gut (a condition in which large molecules pass through the intestinal lining, activating the immune system and producing inflammation).
What are the treatment options?Conventional therapy aims at controlling symptoms with hypoallergenic diets, cortisone or other immune suppressing drugs, antibiotics, and anti-diarrheal medications. Because some of these drugs can aggravate other conditions and/or cause serious long-term side effects, a diagnosis confirmed by biopsy is necessary.
Holistic medicine offers various treatment alternatives. As with any serious condition, animals with IBD are best treated by a qualified veterinarian. Expertly selected natural remedies generally have few or no side effects and can be safely used in suspected cases without the need for a biopsy.
IBD is a multi-factorial disease and requires a multifaceted approach individually tailored to each patient. Severe cases may still require short-term use of conventional medication IBD alongside natural therapies. The root cause of IBD can be addressed by disciplines like homotoxicology, homeopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
The most urgent treatment step is to halt the inflammation and prevent further gut irritation. Although true deep healing will be achieved by the above modalities, various nutritional supplements can help support this goal. Natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances can include Traumeel (HEEL), Curcumin, licorice, aloe vera gel, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Lipoic acid, Glutathione precursors, marine fish oil, cat’s claw, MSM, Boswella, marshmallow, slippery elm, Mexican yam and Vitamins E and A.
Diet is crucial. A preferably home prepared food consisting of single protein and carbohydrate sources can include duck, turkey, venison, rabbit, millet, quinoa, amaranth, peas, green beans and sweet potato. Added fiber in the form of pumpkin, guar gum or pectin may slow down the bowel, while “hydrolyzed” or predigested proteins which are too small to stimulate the immune system may be helpful (e.g. Seacure). The amino acid glutamine also plays an important role in treatment as it helps regenerate the intestinal lining.
Infectious and parasitic factors can be addressed with prebiotics, probiotics, soil-based organisms such as SBX or Primal Defense, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract, garlic, oil of oregano and goldenseal. The immune system can be supported with ModuVet or other immune regulators.
Holistic treatment also considers emotional/mental causes and stress management as well as the prevention of complications such as liver damage, dehydration, malnutrition, ulcers and cancer.
by Autumn Drouin, DVM Published in the August/September 2005 issue of Animal Wellness