Crohn’s disease is a serious ailment and should never be treated with herbal remedies alone. However, the use of herbal medicine to relieve many of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease can be taken into consideration as supplementation to conventional medical treatment.
Natural herbs can help restore the health of the colon, small intestines and large intestines of patients with Crohn’s disease. They can be used to reduce inflammation, stop internal bleeding, help with bowel movement and alleviate pain. Moreover, medicinal herbs can help prevent microbial infections in other organ systems caused by fistulas and wounds in the gastrointestinal tract.
When using medicinal herbs as a treatment for Crohn’s disease caution should be taken to ensure that they are safe. Many herbs can trigger some side effects or show contraindication with other medication so it is vital to consult a physician or other professional health care provider before using herbs to treat Crohn’s disease.
Natural Herbs for Crohn’s disease
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Slippery elm has been used traditionally as an herbal remedy for wound healing. This herb is known for its demulcent and anti-inflammatory properties which could make it a good choice to treat some of the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease. It soothes the irritated intestinal tissues, which could result in tissue restoration. Slippery elm is traditionally prepared in powder form. Approximately 60 – 320 mg of the powder can be mixed with water and used 3-4 times daily. Individuals with Crohn’s disease may want to continue treatment for several weeks up to one month. The decoction may also help normalize bowel movement.
White Willow (Salix alba)
White willow is another medicinal herb that could be useful for Crohn’s disease. It is popular in the field of ethnobotany as a natural pain reduction agent. The anti-inflammatory nature of this herbal drug can reduce the pain brought about by intestinal sores and inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa. The herb can be used as a natural treatment for the irritated tissues of the stomach, esophagus and large intestines.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Peppermint oil is a strong relaxing agent that can reduce irritability in the intestines. It has antispasmodic and analgesic properties and may reduce nausea and stimulate the secretion of bile. Peppermint can be used as an herbal tea or a tincture but it is best to use capsules that do not dissolve until they reach the intestines. Use 1 to 2 capsules (0.2 ml peppermint oil per capsule) three times daily after meals. Peppermint oil should not be used internally by children.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic has antibacterial, antiparasitic and antifungal properties, which makes it valuable as a wound healing agent. A decoction containing this herb may help control the complications of Crohn’s disease. The inflamed tissues of the intestinal region might attract bacteria and fungi, which could add to further inflammation and more severe pain. An antimicrobial agent such as garlic extract can act as a natural prophylaxis against these microorganisms to promote the healing of the tissues. Garlic extracts can be taken for at least 7-10 days. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms.
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis)
In addition to being a demulcent, marshmallow is also an emollient, which means that it has properties to help soothe irritated mucous membranes. The roots, flowers, and leaves of marshmallow are traditionally used to relieve digestive and urinary tract problems because of the thick mucilage the herb exudes when processed. The syrupy nature of the decoction might also contribute in relieving constipation. Marshmallow can be taken as a decoction, to be administered three times daily. To prepare, boil the dried plant parts such as roots or leaves (around 2-5 g) for a few minutes and strain.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
This herb has been used for Crohn’s disease due to its anti-inflammatory properties and it is thought to help reduce the abscess on the linings of the small and large intestines. Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has not been thoroughly studied in controlled settings, but it shows some promise in reducing inflammation in affected bowel tissue. Additional research is still required to determine the amount of this plant’s usefulness.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hop is a natural herb that’s widely used to calm the nervous system. Traditionally, it is used in gastrointestinal pain management, as it prevents the sudden onset of intestinal pain caused by varying psychological and emotional stimuli.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Meadowsweet has wound healing abilities by reducing inflammation. It can protect and soften the lining of the stomach and intestines and reduce excess acid. The herb has also a mild astringent action. It is often used with other herbs and usually in the form of tea. It should not be used by people allergic to aspirin.
Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum annum or Capsicum frutescens)
Cayenne is a good source of capsaicin and various chemical components that contribute to the healing of sores and cuts. The extracts of cayenne are traditionally used to stop internal bleeding inside the colon. There is some evidence that it may be beneficial in treating Crohn’s disease, but more studies have to be performed to verify its effectiveness.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
Cat’s claw is thought to be useful for many ailments. It acts as an anti-inflammatory for internal and external swelling alike. It is also claimed to have mild sedative effects, relieving pain and discomfort. This plant shows some promise in reducing or relieving many of the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease but further studies are needed to confirm this use.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
An Italian study indicates that valerian could help reduce the spasms in the intestinal muscles associated with Crohn’s disease. The herb also has sedative and anxiolytic properties and reduces intestinal gas production and the feeling of bloating.
Common Plantain (Plantago major)
This common weed has a soothing, astringent and healing effect. It can be used in the form of herbal tea as a remedy for internal wounds and inflammation. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb and steep in warm water for 10 minutes. Drink 3 or 4 cups daily.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
Boswellia is claimed to have anti-inflammatory properties which may be effective in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. It is one of the herbs that have been traditionally used to treat inflammations on various parts of the human body, particularly the gastrointestinal tract. It should, however, be noted that boswellia may have a tendency to react adversely to other medications, so its use should only be under the supervision of a qualified professional. There are other, less dangerous herbal treatments available, and those should be investigated before adopting a Boswellia treatment.
Other natural herbs that have been used to treat symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease.
- Horsetail – (Equisetum arvensis)
- Lady’s Mantle – (Alchemilla vulgaris)
- Senna – (Senna alexandrina)
- Cascara – (Rhamnus purshiana)
- Chamomile – (Chamomilla recutita)
- Ginger – ( Zingiber officinale)
- Lemon Balm – (Melissa officinalis)
- Dandelion – (Taraxacum officinale)
- Papaya – (Carica papaya)
- Yerba Mate – (Ilex paraguariensis)
- Skullcap – (Scutellaria lateriflora)
- Echinacea – ( Echinacea angustifolia)
- Comfrey – (Symphytum officinale)
- Fenugreek – (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
- Goldenseal – (Hydrastis canadensis)
- Licorice – (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Common Aloe – (Aloe vera)
- Andrographis – (Andrographis paniculata)
- Rose Hip – (Rosa acicularis)
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