When I received a postcard inviting me to a 2 hour talk on inflammatory bowel disease I thought “I treat lots of inflamed bowels, let’s see what the experts have to say.” There was free valet parking and free food. I was surprised at the number of people, I thought there would be a few dozen, it was closer to 250, with three large screens. The first speaker specialized in using drugs for inflamed bowels. There were about 5 levels of drugs, each with more severe side effects than the last and there was no way to know who would get what side effects. The only natural approach they mentioned was that using tobacco seems to help people with Chrone’s disease, but to protect their lungs the nicotine patch is often used. They have to to do many many tests to determine what kind of intestinal disease they have. Some people who swallow the camera in a capsule need surgery to remove the stuck camera.
The second doctor was the surgeon. He steps in when the drugs fail to work over time, which not surprisingly is quite often. He was very pleased that intestines can now be removed with very little cutting of the abdomen. He showed samples of really gross and inflamed removed colons. He said once you have one surgery, you would often have to come back for more. Many need colostomy bags, but some can have the small intestine hooked up to the rectum, then you just have to have soft stools about 6 times a day.
When they collected questions for the doctors at the end I wasn’t disappointed as mine was actually read. I asked why there was no talk on alternatives such as special diets, probiotics and alternative approaches such as acupuncture. He said that was a very common question. He said using bacteria to change the gut inflammation is exciting future research. And he wishes there were studies on diet, but the drug companies haven’t yet put in the big bucks in order to do a study. And there is just no research on acupuncture and other modalities. And he actually said that probiotics are untested and are expensive so not to waste your money until it is proven. Seriously, they sell tens of thousands of dollars of tests, drugs and surgery and have no clue about probiotics.
I have been using diets, herbs, homeopathics and probiotics for over 20 years. I specialize in digestive disorders. None of my patients have had to have their colons removed after working with me. There are plenty of studies on probiotics and acupuncture but none sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. I think that every one in that room, if told the truth, would rather try an effective alternative non-toxic, non-invasive, inexpensive approach first, before taking dangerous and even life-threatening drugs and surgery.
I would love to be an a study where 20 people with the first symptoms of inflammatory bowels are split into two groups, 10 get and alternative approach and 10 get a medical approach and then in 1 year see how people have fared and how much the care has cost. Until that time I will rely on my experience and work with those open enough to give it a try.