TREATING CROHN’S, COLITIS, AND CANDIDA NATURALLY
My Favourite Supplements and Strategies Include Acidophilus, Milk Thistle, Enzymes, and Parasite Cleansing
Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is considered the ‘father of modern medicine’ (460 – 380 BC), famously stated that: “All disease begins in the gut.”
This is as true today as it was back then. Modern science continues to find new evidence that many diseases do indeed originate in the gut – which is comprised of all the digestive organs from the mouth to the anus, also known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).
In addition to the key sites of digestion and elimination like the stomach and intestines, there is also the liver which is considered one of the ‘accessory digestive organs’. So if the liver is not working properly, the gut cannot function correctly.
Also located within the gastrointestinal tract are the lymphatic vessels and glands which form a major component of the human immune system. This is one reason why gut health is so intimately connected with immunity, and why a stressed digestive system can lead to chronic inflammatory bowel disease and chronic infections like candida.
More specifically, current research is indicating that the chronic inflammatory bowel diseases – Crohn’s disease, colitis, celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – are the result of a combination of factors that include leaky gut syndrome, the invasion of pathogenic microorganisms such as candida yeast, as well as an immune system weakened by internal and external factors.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Over time, due to a number of modern dietary and lifestyle factors, the gut begins to malfunction and weaken. These causative factors include chlorinated drinking water which works to kill not only the parasites in tap water, but also the ‘good’ bacteria in our guts. In addition, chronic stress, prescription medications, overeating, high sugar consumption, and the presence of pathogens (moulds, yeasts, fungi, and their poisons) are other key factors.
The result of such toxic exposures is inflammation of the intestinal mucosa that lines the digestive tract, leading to a ‘leaky gut’ characterized by open spaces between cells of the intestinal tract. This in turn allows for large-sized proteins, undigested food particles, and poisons in the bowel to ‘leak’ directly into the bloodstream and, as foreign molecules, they challenge and weaken the immune system over time.
According to Dr. Zoltan Rona, MD, about one in seven individuals have ‘leaky gut’ as an underlying factor that contributes to their gastrointestinal illness. Because toxins that leak through the intestines can travel to tissues and organs throughout the body, many health problems may not appear to be correlated to a leaky gut at first glance. Such symptoms can manifest in any system of the body from the brain and endocrine system to the immune system. Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome can include depression, fatigue, general malaise, bloating, chronic infections including candida yeast infections, food sensitivities and allergies, and even autoimmune disease.
How Gut Health Affects Mental Health – for Better or Worse
In addition to the role played by the gut in our immune defences, it is also the location where over 70% of our neurotransmitters are created (one of the reasons it’s known as our ‘second brain’). As a result, a major group of symptoms related to leaky gut syndrome includes mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This is because proteins and toxins leaking into the blood can find their way to the thyroid or hypothalamus in the brain, disrupting mood and energy. Furthermore, the neurotransmitters created in the gut must be properly absorbed through a healthy intestinal lining. If the intestinal lining is damaged, insufficient amounts of these neurotransmitters are properly absorbed.
The challenge is further compounded when you factor in the amino acids we need as precursors to neurotransmitters (like tyrosine which makes dopamine and norepinephrine), that must be absorbed through the gut before entering the brain. Often, the role of the gut is overlooked when it comes to mental health, and mental health symptoms can be overlooked as symptoms of gut health issues. Interestingly, Dr. Michael Gershon, of Columbia University Medical Center, an expert on the gut-brain connection, has shown that 95% of all serotonin in the body is found in the GI tract.
Issues with neurotransmitter synthesis and poor absorption in the gut due to inflammation can be made worse by the presence of mycotoxins caused by bacteria and parasites. These types of toxins are produced in the bowel and cross through the blood-brain barrier.
By reducing inflammation and healing a leaky gut, neurotransmitters can be properly absorbed and get to their final destination – the brain. In turn, proper neurotransmitter synthesis and absorption is vital for supporting the parasympathetic nervous system response required to run the digestive processes of the body. Alternatively, when the body is under stress and the central nervous system is hyperstimulated, digestion is hindered and the vicious cycle of inflammation and its effects on ‘leaky gut’ continues forward.
Simply put, you cannot have a clear brain if you don’t have a clear gut. And if there is a deficiency of the valuable neurotransmitters that promote wellbeing, then the stress produced in the body will immediately start to impact digestion.
Probiotics to Restore Healthy Gut Flora
Your microbiome is made up of the community of microorganisms that live in your body, and the vast majority reside in the gut. Current research estimates that over 10 trillion bacteria reside in the gut, and like fingerprints the makeup of the microbiome is unique to each individual. Many of these organisms are harmless (known as commensals), and the majority are beneficial (known as symbionts).
Due to the same factors which contribute to leaky gut syndrome mentioned above, disease-causing bacteria can proliferate in the gut and lead to a condition called dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the ratio of “good” to “bad” microflora. This upset in the balance of gut microflora must be corrected in order to heal any chronic inflammatory bowel diseases as well as candida yeast infection. Choosing the right probiotic to do this is crucial.
When selecting a probiotic supplement, consider one that is dairy-free, gluten-free, non-irradiated, and has a variety of strain-identified species that are proven to colonize in the gut. When analyzing probiotic preparations, look for those containing pure, strain-identified probiotics.
Of the variety of probiotic species out there, and amongst those that are strain-identified, there is a particular strain of acidophilus that I like to recommend for those individuals dealing with inflammatory bowel diseases and Candida yeast infection. In the technical memorandum for Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM™, its efficacy for treating Candida yeast overgrowth is described as substantial. This strain is also known to induce the expression of opioid and cannabinoid receptors in the intestinal epithelial cells and therefore mediate analgesic functions in the gut – similar to morphine. This comparison to the effects of morphine is significant, given the severity of pain suffered by those living with Crohn’s, colitis, celiac, and IBS. (It is not uncommon for those suffering with chronic inflammatory bowel disease to be treated with morphine upon entry into a hospital). Overall, a broad spectrum probiotic which includes a variety of clinically proven and beneficial strains should be taken on an everyday basis until symptoms improve, and then afterwards in order to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Look for a probiotic of at least 45 billion for maintenance, or 60-100 billion for intensive care such as after prolonged use of antibiotics and where chronic disease is present.
When Bowel Flora Turns Deadly
In the 1930s, researcher John Paterson (1890-1954), who was a colleague of Dr. Edward Bach, was studying the behaviour of bowel flora under the influence of drugs (in disease states and in healthy states). He examined more than 20,000 stool specimens and conducted research for over 20 years. During the course of this research, he came to the following conclusions: The non-lactose fermenting non-pathogenic bowel flora (B.coli) can undergo changes if its host becomes diseased. While this alteration in the nature of bowel flora might be a mere concomitant to the disease condition, there is reason to believe that the B.coli can actually turn into a disease-causing bacteria itself. This is because the delicate ecosystem of the bowel flora can become disturbed in cases of disease and start to change. Similar changes are also observed in drug provings.
These findings were substantiated during research by Dr. Pierre Bechamp, and followed by Dr. Claude Bernard, which culminated with the work of German researcher Dr. Enderlein to form an overall theory known as pleomorphism. This theory posits that under toxic conditions, otherwise harmless components living within a cell can transform and be restructured into viruses, pathogenic bacteria, mould and fungus. Thus, the gut’s biological terrain can either be conducive to health or it can promote this pleomorphism behaviour and lead to pathogens invading the bowel and weakening the immune system.
Biological terrain modification for health includes eating a healthy diet that supports immunity, controls inflammation, aids digestion, and keeps the elimination channels clear.
Milk Thistle and The Gut
An overloaded liver can contribute significantly to gut health issues. When the stomach becomes congested with undigested food matter, its toxins can back up into the liver and gallbladder, in turn reducing bile flow and contributing to constipation. With poisons sitting in the intestinal tract due to insufficient bile flow, toxemia (poisoned blood) and inflammation of the gut lining is further exacerbated.
Symptoms of an overloaded liver include fatigue, hormonal imbalances, headache, muscle pains, digestive disturbances, and constipation. Other symptoms may also include anaemia, pallor, dizziness, and poor coordination.
Dr. Bernard Jensen, the famed chiropractor and nutritionist, taught extensively about how undigested food can build toxicity. In his clinical practice, Jensen saw firsthand how undigested food accumulates, leading to acidosis, constipation, indigestion, malabsorption, leaky gut syndrome, and more. But if we can support the digestive organs of the body through diet, exercise, and nutrients we can avoid this toxic buildup, thereby preventing and even reversing disease.
When it comes to detoxification, it is best not to detoxify faster than we can eliminate, according to Dr. Jensen. This is why it’s important to keep the elimination channels of the body clear and unblocked. The first step toward accomplishing this goal is to cleanse the elimination channels and get the digestive system working efficiently.”
One of the most studied herbs for liver health, which is also recommended for healing the gut, is milk thistle. Milk thistle’s most active constituent is silymarin. Milk thistle and its extract silymarin come in tablet, capsule, powder, and liquid form. In addition to generating new liver cells, and stimulating bile production, silymarin has the ability to increase glutathione levels in the liver by as much as 35%.
When selecting a milk thistle supplement, I recommend that you look for the highest potency possible and the purest product possible. You can take three tablespoons with each meal until digestive symptoms improve, a dosage which is safe to consume on an ongoing basis.
Parasites and Parasite Cleansing
Parasites are the pathogens that overtake the bowel when the ratio of good to ‘bad’ flora is disrupted (dysbiosis). And so, in addition to taking a good probiotic, I recommend that a total parasite cleanse is undertaken at least once per year. You can find many reputable parasite cleanse kits in the health food store; they are usually taken for a minimum of 15 days, and on average one month. Eliminating bowel pathogens will result in better bowel movements and significant relief from digestive symptoms and pain. But if you have any of the chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, it is advisable to heal the gut lining and replenish probiotics until pain subsides before undertaking a parasite cleanse, since many poisons will be released in this process.
According to Dr. Zoltan Rona, in his interview about serrapeptase (posted on YouTube), the ideal and most effective proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzyme is serrapeptase (made by silkworms). I like to recommend a comprehensive digestive enzyme formula that also contains pancreatin, preferably ‘delayed-release’. [P]ancreatic enzymes were first identified around 1858 in Europe and were known as essential for normal digestion. However, today they are mostly recommended by integrative medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors, and nutritionists, and not as widely prescribed amongst allopathic practitioners.
Interestingly, “John Beard, eminent professor at the University of Edinburgh, in 1902 first suggested that the proteolytic pancreatic enzymes, in addition to breaking down protein in the gut, have a powerful anti-cancer effect,” said Rona. This makes the pancreatic enzymes worth considering for any immune or gut protocol regardless of chronicity. I suggest that an individual take one or more capsules with each meal, or as recommended by a healthcare professional.
In a complete gut-healing protocol, there is much research to support the use of serrapeptase to heal and control inflammation. Dr. Rona recommends two to three capsules, 3X daily, on an empty stomach away from food. This can be taken in addition to a delayed release pancreatic enzyme, which is recommended with food, 3X daily.
Other Supplements to Consider
Also, colloidal silica gel, slippery elm bark, and L-glutamine can all be employed to heal the actual tissues of the gut lining to restore the integrity of the bowel. These natural substances work to bring the cells closer together and therefore heal the ‘leaky gut’. Once the intestinal mucous membrane is healed and intact, additional therapies designed to cleanse and detoxify the bowel (like coffee enemas and colon hydrotherapy) can be pursued. It is important to only begin these complementary therapies once any symptoms of blood in the stool are completely eliminated since they may further irritate the gut and can contribute to inflammation and pain.
After you’ve implemented these recommendations for a specified period of time (usually three to six months), then you and your healthcare provider can re-evaluate your gut health and the state of your microbiome to assess the effectiveness of the protocol, and then make any necessary changes to it. The ultimate goal is a well nourished and balanced gut ecology with all of the elements working in perfect harmony promoting total health throughout the body.
Amanda Burke is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Life Extension Expert with over 10+ years of experience working with nutraceuticals, herbal medicine, homeopathy, energy medicine, nutrition and detoxification. She is a passionate consumer advocate and promoter of safe medicine. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.naturallyamandaburke.com
Catch Amanda Burke at Whole Life Expo 2017, where she will give a talk entitled: “Help for Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac, Candida – Healing the Gut Naturally,” on Saturday, Nov. 4, 12:30 – 1:15 pm. Admission included with All-Access Pass ($15 advance ticket/$17 at the door). For more information visit: www.wholelifeexpo.ca, or see Showguide in October issue of Vitality magazine.
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 “Gut Feelings are Very Real .” UB Centre of Excellence in Generative Medicine, 7 Apr. 2017: http://tinyurl.com/y8vwxe8z
 Dr. Zoltan Rona. “Leaky Gut.” High Level Wellness, www.highlevelwellness.ca/blogs/news/80704516-leaky-gut. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.
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