Since my diagnosis, I’ve been working with care providers with distinctly varied backgrounds, as well as doing research on different approaches to managing Crohn’s. I’ve come across some surprising findings (well, surprising to me anyway).
Anybody that knows my wife knows that I have good cause to be familiar with some of the differences between Western-style allopathic doctors, and naturopathic doctors. She’s been working with a variety of providers for many years and is a fount of information regarding Naturopathy. But this was the first time that I was hit so bluntly with the stark difference between the two approaches.
During my hospital stay, my surgeon came to visit me. He was so thrilled to tell me that one of the PNW’s most renowned gastroenterologists happened to have an office just down the hall from his, and that he’d agreed to stop by my room for a consultation. Ok.. sounds great!
Sure enough, a few hours later, he stopped by. He seemed concerned for my well-being and came across as a pretty decent guy. He talked to me a little bit about the idiopathic nature of Crohn’s disease, what’s known about it and what isn’t, etc. He then went on to discuss management of the disease. Because I’d just had a pretty significant bowel resection done (I gave up about 2 feet of intestine!), he was confident that I wouldn’t be seeing any symptoms for some time. The next step, when I was healed from the surgery, was to have a colonoscopy so that we could determine the condition of the remaining colon. From that, we’d determine an appropriate course of action. We talked about steroids and immune suppressants. He said that those were pretty much the only tools available for the management of Crohn’s. This all seemed pretty straightforward. But then, “Since we don’t know what causes Crohn’s”, he said, “there’s no point in changing your diet. Just eat whatever you want.”. I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. Doesn’t what we eat affect the health of the colon? “Maybe, but we don’t know that gut health is a contributing factor to Crohn’s.”, he said. He felt that medicines like Humira and Remicaid were THE tools for preventing and resolving flares. I didn’t know what to make of this new information. After he left, I kept thinking on this. It just didn’t feel right to me that diet, gut health and Crohn’s management weren’t related. Some research later on found that this Dr’s opinion is pretty much the standard among allopathic practitioners.
Shortly after leaving the hospital, I visited with a naturopathic gastroenterologist. Not surprisingly, she did not agree with the other Dr’s assessment. Whereas the first Dr. felt that gut problems were caused by Crohn’s, my ND feels that Crohn’s is caused by gut problems, and that while medications can be helpful in resolving crisis conditions, maintaining a healthy gut is the key to managing Crohn’s over the long term. This makes a lot more sense to me. Admittedly, I’ve not been through 12 years of medical school, but there’s a common sense factor at play here. If Crohn’s is a disorder in which the immune system attacks the gut, then there must be something going wrong in that gut. Doesn’t it make sense that by curing what’s wrong in the gut, that one can manage the immune system’s response to it? It makes sense to me. My ND suggested that her IBD and SIBO patients have greatly benefitted from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and encouraged me to give it a try. The rest is history (or at least, will be as this blog develops).
It boils down to this: western medicine seems often to be focused on quashing the symptoms, whereas naturopathic medicine is more focused on the cause. I don’t have a lot of interest in powerful drugs like immune suppressants and steroids. I DO have a lot of interest in making my body healthy. So, SCD it is!