This week we will explore some of the findings from a 2016 review article, Complementary and Alternative Medicines Used by People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which talks more about specific CAMs commonly used in people with IBD.
Research shows that individuals with IBD use marijuana more frequently than the general population. Studies have linked marijuana use in IBD patients with fewer gastrointestinal surgeries, decreased dependence on steroids, and reported improvements in pain, nausea, depression, and appetite.
Despite its widespread use, the negative effects of marijuana are unclear and there is much debate in the medical field over potential long-term complications, including impaired learning, memory, and attention.
Research has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, might be a promising CAM for people with IBD thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Studies have shown that curcumin combined with other medical treatments can increase a person’s chances of achieving and maintaining remission. For example, one study found that patients with ulcerative colitis who received a combination of curcumin plus a mesalamine medication were more likely to maintain remission compared to participants who only received the medication. The one reported side effect was increased gas and it came from patients receiving the highest dose of curcumin.
Fish oil is becoming more and more popular for a variety of diseases as we learn more about the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although there are biological mechanisms to support why fish oil supplements might reduce inflammation in IBD, the evidence is lacking.
For more information on fish oil and IBD, check out this earlier post titled “Anti-inflammatory Omega-3 Fats and IBD”.
Recall from last week’s post that mind-body therapies include treatments focused on the interaction between our mental/emotional states and our body’s physical ability to function.
People with IBD have higher rates of anxiety and depression, and there is a strong link between psychological stress and IBD flares. Mind-body therapies, such as breathing and relaxation exercises, meditation and yoga have been shown to decrease stress, improve quality of life, and reduce pain in patients with IBD.
Exercise is a favorite topic of discussion with good reason. Among its many benefits, exercise has been shown to boost levels of happiness, improve energy, reduce stress, reduce risk of heart disease, increase strength and flexibility, enhance memory and strengthen the immune system in many different populations.
Nutrient deficiencies and physical pain due to active disease or previous surgeries can make maintaining an exercise routine more difficult for people with IBD. To promote success and continuity, exercise regimens might need to be designed with these limitations in mind by appropriate health care professionals.
These are only a few of the popular CAMs used in IBD patients. Stay tuned for future posts on CAMs as more research becomes available.