crohn's disease functional medicineThere has been a significant rise of autoimmune disorders over the past several decades. It is very frustrating because the typical allopathic approach is focused on the symptom management with various anti-inflammatory medications and biologics with serious potential side-effects. These approaches of course can provide substantial relief to the patient, but they do not address the cause of these conditions and some evidence suggests that these approaches may result in furthering of the pathological process.

Many of these underlying causes or triggers can be found in the current medical research, but you would never know it by visiting many doctors. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect between medical research and the practice of traditional medicine when it comes to the management of chronic disorders.

Earlier this year, I saw an 18 year old female patient with Crohn’s disease. She had a long history of antibiotic treatment and eczema. When she first saw her gastroenterologist, she was anemic and her hs-CRP was significantly elevated at 92.2. I asked her father what did the doctor say about her anemia? He replied, surprisingly nothing. I asked the same about the hs-CRP and received the same reply. The doctor simply said the only solution was a biologic and the anemia was never addressed.

The current medical research demonstrates the significance of micronutrient deficiencies in inflammatory bowel disease, however, many traditional doctors tell their patients that their condition is not related to diet. For example, in a new study just published, researchers reported that micronutrient deficiencies are common in more than half of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and have a clinical significance.

I assessed the patient’s nutrient status through various organic acids, RBC nutrients, and serum markers. The patient had deficiencies in iron, magnesium, and vitamin D, which I addressed appropriately. There was also a study published this month which demonstrated vitamin D deficiency and its association with increased Crohn’s disease severity. In addition, earlier this year in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, researchers reported the effects of vitamin D supplementation on intestinal permeability and disease markers in Crohn’s disease.

I also ordered a comprehensive stool analysis and food antibody testing. The stool analysis revealed all elevated inflammatory and immune markers as well as an imbalance of the gut microbiome as long with a low diversity of beneficial bacteria which is commonly associated with chronic disease states.

My treatment approach consisted of eliminating all food sensitivities and avoiding processed food. The gut was addressed with specific antimicrobials, probiotics, glutamine, fish oil, and proteolytic enzymes and antioxidants. At her two month follow up her CBC was normal, hs-CRP dropped to 16.3, sed rate was 38, and vitamin D increased to 47. I increased the vitamin D an additional 2000 IU daily and along with the current treatment recommendations. At the four month follow up her hs-CRP has dropped to an optimal range 1.66 and sed rate was within normal limits at 8. Her dad’s response was “these results are incredible!” It’s interesting because when the family saw the doctor for their two month follow up, he was insistent on prescribing the biologic although her labs have improved so much during this time. There is a time and a place for medications but there remains a large disconnect between the medical research and what is experienced visiting a doctor in everyday practice. The research demonstrates the significance nutrition and nutrients and their essential role in chronic disease states. These lifestyle factors, diet, and nutrient status of the person filtered through their genetic predisposition are fundamental factors in the expression of disease and a successful approach to correcting this dysfunction must include investigation into these factors.

By Dr. Michael Jurgelewicz, DACBN, DCBCN

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