What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects nearly 780,000 Americans. People with Crohn’s disease can experience periods of severe symptoms followed by periods of what seems like remission. This seesaw effect can happen indefinitely, as there is currently no known cure for Crohn’s.
Crohn’s disease was discovered in 1932 by Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn. But it wasn’t until much more recently—the last 20 to 30 years—that Crohn’s disease started becoming extremely prevalent. While there is a genetic component to any autoimmune disease, this does not mean a person will get it just because their parents had it.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is characterized by:
- Chronic diarrhea that is often bloody
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- Rectal bleeding
- Poor appetite
- Chronic abdominal bloating
The gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive and it is also the basis of the body’s immune system. Research shows that the gut plays a much more vital role in human immunity than once thought. The bacteria within the gut is beneficial and help with everything from digestion to skin health. But When the immune system atacks these beneficial bacteria, it can throw everything off.
Thankfully, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help those who suffer from Crohn’s disease.
TCM generally classifies Crohn’s into one of four different categories: damp-heat in the large intestine, spleen weakness, spleen and kidney weakness, or Qi and blood stagnation. Qi is the vital energy that is present in everyone. When Qi is week, blocked, or depleted, illness and disease can arise in the body. The four categories that Crohn’s fits into are all examples of how the Qi is not balanced in the specific energetic meridians running throughout the body.
Damp-heat in the large intestine is usually an acute situation. There may be a sudden onset to gastrointestinal symptoms. Spleen weakness or spleen and kidney weakness are generally due to constitution deficiencies and they can be chronic in nature. Qi and blood stagnation may appear to be an acute situation due to the severe abdominal pain, but many times these types of blockages have been present for quite some time.
Diet is the single most important element to keeping this disease in check. Excessive intake of cold, raw foods can injure the spleen and stomach energetic meridians, which transform and process foods. The energetic properties of the fods we ingest should always be considered and remain balanced for proper digestion.
Acupuncture and TCM can greatly improve the quality of life for those who suffer from Crohn’s disease. Because acupuncture works with the body to balance energy, remove blockages, and assist the flow of blood, it can be a wonderful weapon in the fight against Crohn’s. Other modalities of TCM, like herbal formulas and moxibustion, may also be valuable tools to utilize depending on the situation. Moxibustion can help warm the abdomen and the meridians when there are deficiencies such as spleen weakness. Herbal formulas may help remove blockages or drain damp heat when these methods are combines with proper diet, the chances of recover and possibly reversal of the disease increase greatly.