Day 20: Alternative Treatments/Regimens/Medicine

The prompt for day 20 of National Health Blog Post Month is to talk about alternative treatments, regiments and/or medicines and discuss what we support and what we believe is just plain crazy. There are a wide variety of alternative ways people look to keep their ulcerative colitis or crohns disease symptoms at bay. I have tried a number of “natural” ways to try to control my IBD and while it would be safe to assume (if you have read my story or know anything about me) that none of the alternative measures I have taken have helped me, there are some I do believe in trying. And of course, there are some that I do need to put my two cents in about.

Let’s start with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I was told to try this diet in an effort to avoid needing to have my entire large intestine removed. There are many who swear by it so when I was 14 years old, I gave it a shot. For about three months or so, I did this diet to a tee. I checked every single ingredient and put nothing in my mouth that wasn’t “approved.” I even read the book cover to cover so I could understand the science behind it. Given that I have had not one, not two, but fourteen major operations, this diet didn’t work out so well for me. However, like I mentioned before, there ARE people who swear by it. I really do believe that anyone with legit moderate to severe Inflammatory Bowel Disease will not be able to get away with only this diet change. Otherwise, why would people bother with awful medications like prednisone, remicade, humira, etc? Why in the world would anyone go through trial and error with potentially dangerous medications if their disease could be managed with a simple diet change? Why would anyone undergo surgery if all they needed was a change in the food they ate? Clearly, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is not a cure all anything. However, while it may not have been beneficial for me, it MAY be helpful for you. It may help make certain medications work better for you. I don’t know. And you won’t know until you try it. In terms of this alternative way of dealing with IBD symptoms, I think it is a pain in the neck but well worth it if it can bring any semblance of relief. Worth a try in my book for anyone whose symptoms aren’t too severe.

Okay, drinking aloe vera juice is supposed to be good for the digestive track. It is apparently a great calming agent and can reduce inflammation. Aloe juice is um….well it is DISGUSTING! My pediatric gastroenterologist recommended my mom get it for me and that I drink it multiple times each day in big glasses. However, I don’t know ONE person whose IBD was “cured” or who was symptom free for even five minutes because they started drinking aloe. There are many absurd holistic doctors who will convince you (and others) that aloe can cure your ulcerative colitis and crohns disease and don’t get me wrong – it won’t hurt. And if you want to be able to say with absolute certainty that you tried everything before going to the next treatment option then please, pour yourself a nice glass of aloe vera juice. I really hope it helps you but I just wouldn’t hold your breath, cancel any medical appointments that took you months to get, or make plans on the assumption that your disease will be cured because in all likelihood that won’t be the case.

I am all for trying alternative treatments, regimens, and medications. Anything you can do to naturally help you to improve your quality of life is something that I am ALL FOR. I just worry sometimes that people can get too caught up in seeing holistic doctors when they have very severe diseases that do require western medicine. I have seen people on ulcerative colitis/crohns disease support groups saying they are in an awful flare up, they don’t even have the energy to shower, haven’t eaten in a week, but they are going to hold out and hope for the best on this new herb that someone recommended because it can take a little while to take effect. Meanwhile, in all likelihood, that person’s insides are getting worse with each passing minute so while it is all well and good to want to take the natural approach and hopefully you do have the luxury to explore those options but if you don’t….be smart. If something is wrong, go see a regular doctor and get it checked out. Once things are more stable, check in with the awesome holistic doctor you are dying to talk to. Just don’t be stupid…don’t put things off because sometimes, with diseases like ulcerative colitis and crohns disease, every second counts.