Besides advocating real food in the treatment of my Crohn’s disease (and all other autoimmune conditions), another purpose of this blog is to discuss alternative treatments in Crohn’s. I’m starting a feature to review the supplements and other treatments that I’m using to treat Crohn’s. At this time, I’m 100% (allopathic) medication-free!!! (I want to put on a disclaimer that I am considering the use of low dose naltrexone, which is technically a medication, although not used in allopathic medicine. However, I’m not yet taking it.) But there are numerous herbs and supplements that I believe are key in fighting the systemic inflammation that is present with Crohn’s. Don’t get me wrong though, I believe that the diet has been the most significant change that is responsible for alleviating my symptoms. Without the dietary foundation, I have no doubt that I would still be suffering.
The first supplement that I want to discuss is “colostrum”. I’ve been taking colostrum for a few weeks now and it has had an immediate and profound effect on some of my symptoms, in particular, joint pain. Joint pain and Crohn’s often go hand-in-hand. Joint pain is considered to be an extraintestinal symptom or it can actually be caused by any number of the many forms of arthritis that are associated with Crohn’s. For me, I had overall muscle and joint aches, but the excruciating joint pain seemed to be localized to the joints in my left hand. Even though it was a small part of my body, let me tell you, it was some of the worst pain that I’ve ever experienced. I had two doctors (a GI and a PCP) tell me that there was nothing that they could do to help me with this pain. I was taking Tylenol Arthritis and it wasn’t even beginning to touch it. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were not an option. If you have Crohn’s, colitis, or other autoimmune conditions that are related to leaky gut syndrome, I would not recommend using NSAIDs, even if the doctor says that it is okay. Chronic use of NSAIDs contribute to hyper-permeability of the gut wall and I believe that this was a factor in the development of my Crohn’s. I often used NSAIDs for the almost daily headaches that I was having (due to the underlying food intolerance to grains), as well as severe PMS symptoms.
By researching supplements to use for Crohn’s, I came across colostrum. Colostrum is the first substance that is produced by a mother in the first few days after giving birth. It is rich in immune factors called immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, that play important roles in fighting viral and bacterial infections. Colostrum also contains many growth factors, cytokines, and nucleotides that are not present in regular milk. These substances all work to strengthen and regulate the immune system. Most colostrum supplements on the market are bovine colostrum, which means it comes from cows. The particular brand that I use is “Symbiotics” and they ensure that the substance is hormone, pesticide, antibiotic, and rBST-free. They also ensure that there is remaining colostrum for the calves, which appeals to my concern for the humane treatment of animals. The product is lactose-free and safe to use in individuals that are lactose-intolerant as I am. I was concerned if the supplement contained casein (milk protein) and so I emailed the company and this was their response:
“It has trace amounts but, after taking colostrum with high peptide content (Proline rich Polypeptides [PRPs]), the immune and more specifically the cytokine system is balanced. All food allergies are manifested by a TH2 cytokine cascade. If the proteins in milk cause an unbalance in TH2 then the PRPs will rebalance it right away. So it does not matter that the colostrum powder has casein in it. The amount of casein is less than 1% anyway.”
I did some additional research into this response and it does check out scientifically. It also ties into the philosophy behind the GAPS diet. At any rate, casein that may be present in the colostrum has not had any adverse effect on my healing journey. In fact, I first took this supplement before I went to bed one night, as it should be taken on an empty stomach. I woke up the next morning and the joint pain was gone. Completely gone. A bit of pain did begin to creep back before the end of the day, but within a few days of taking this supplement, my joint pain completely resolved for the first time in months. I don’t plan on taking colostrum forever, but only for a few months until I’m sure that my immune system has strengthened and I’m definitely in remission.
Has anyone else had any experiences with colostrum? I’d love to hear about them!