Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can strike anyone, at any time – even children. It’s progression can be relentless and treatment is generally a growing list of medications. When medications stop working, surgery to remove part or all of the colon is the next step – no matter how young or old you are.
A growing number of people are finding significant improvement and a degree of recovery, through using:
• an individualised diet
• probiotic therapy
• faecal transplants (Faecal Microbiota Transplantation, FMT.)
Anyone with inflammatory bowel disease wants to know why they have it. Yes, it is autoimmune in origin, but why does someone develop IBD? While certain foods may not be the cause of IBD, eliminating the real troublemakers can make a huge difference to your symptoms. There are two ways to find out about foods. The first is careful observation; if there are just one or two foods you are sensitive to, chances are you will have noticed your symptoms get worse after eating those foods. If you are sensitive to a lot of foods, it is not so easy to pinpoint problem foods. The other way to find out is to have food sensitivity testing ordered by a naturopath or integrative doctor. These tests are IgG (Immunoglobulin G) for general food sensitivity and IgA (Immunoglobulin G) for foods that cause inflammation. Both involve a single blood test and can be done together. It is best to do both to get the most information. The results guide you on which foods to eliminate completely (or not) and which foods to have once every three or four days. These tests take away the guesswork and may even reveal that you can have foods that you thought you couldn’t.
Anyone with gut problems almost certainly has disordered gut bacteria. This factor alone can allow inflammation to arise in the gut. You may already be taking a probiotic supplement, which may be a wonderful supplement, but not the best match for your gut bacteria. Your health professional can order a Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) that gives you a report on the bacterial components in your gut, known as your ‘microbiome’. With this result in hand, you can select a probiotic from the vast array on offer that gives you exactly what you need – once again removing the guesswork. A CDSA also gives clues about how well you are digesting food and which foods to eat more, or less of.
One probiotic that consistently gets good reports from IBD sufferers, is a medical-grade probiotic called VSL#3, which needs to be prescribed by a doctor.
Faecal Transplantation (FMT)
You know what a heart, liver or kidney transplant is, so yes – a faecal transplant is getting someone else’s poo. There is a growing body of research showing that FMT is beneficial in many cases of IBD, but it unfortunately it is uncommon for doctors to recommend it to their patients.
So there are two obstacles to easy access to FMT; one is that it is not offered to many patients (laws vary from country to country) and the other is is the ‘yuk’ factor. But people who have successfully had faecal transplants, get to choose their donor is and will tell you that it is a ‘quick, easy and inexpensive’ procedure.
When people can’t get a treatment they want through the normal channels, the determined ones find it another way. The poor availability of FMT in medical systems around the world has led to a rapidly growing international community of people taking their health into their own hands and doing their own FMT. While it is better to have FMT under medical supervision, when there is no alternative, some people feel that they have no other option than to try FMT themselves, at home.
Self-help treatment for IBD is possible due to the amount of information about FMT.
Here are some of the quality resources:
• The Fecal Transplant Guidebook by Sky Curtis – a mother who carefully researched and cured her son of Crohn’s disease using faecal transplants.
• The Fecal Transplant Foundation is run by a team of gastroenterologists, infectious disease physicians, naturopaths and recovered patients. Their mission is to provide support to those looking into FMT, promote research and raise awareness of this treatment.
• Another great website is The Power of Poop, which offers lots of success stories and a database of clinics that offer FMT.
There are two success stories in Good News for People with Bad News; one of a 35-year-old man with ulcerative colitis who is now relatively drug and symptom free after FMT and probiotics, and another of a woman in her 20s with Crohn’s disease, who used diet, probiotics plus FMT and is now “mostly better”.
FMT is a treatment that really has a substantial and positive track record, yet is inexplicably not used in mainstream medicine. When used with dietary and probiotic therapy, people with IBD have the possibility of reducing medications, improving symptoms and recovering.
I hope that you find information from these resources that enables you to get on the way to recovery.