• Dr. Caroline Ricker

Controlling Crohn's: Despite what you might have been told, there is life after Crohn's


It started with an upset tummy. You thought that maybe you had a stomach bug, or maybe some indigestion. And it was fine, because after that one time it went away.

But then it came back again, after that big night out. And again during finals week in your last semester. You thought, maybe it’s a food I’m not tolerating. So you tried cutting out dairy and keeping track of what foods might cause the episodes, but nothing really seemed to be “the culprit”. You just had to live with constant threat of tummy pain, diarrhea and cramping.

After a while it just kind of became your new normal. You started planning your life around episodes, making sure that you were never too far from home, always ready with an excuse as to why you had to leave the party early when your belly started twisting itself into knots.

Of course you went to your doctor. They said it was IBS caused by the stress of school. But that was years ago. And you don’t necessarily feel super stressed out anymore. Somehow it just seems like something more than IBS.

After a few more years and more digging with no relief and answer, you get a new diagnosis. It’s Crohn’s disease.

So you hop online to find out about Crohn’s, and the more you read the more depressing it gets. No one seems to be able to agree on what causes it. And if you can’t agree on what causes it, then how can you possibly treat it? Which is why there aren’t any cures for Crohn’s just ways to manage the symptoms that pop up and keep the episodes somewhat at bay.

Some of the treatments sound daunting. The leading theory around Crohn’s is that it is an autoimmune disease, so many of the treatments for it are based around decreasing the effectiveness of the immune system. This type of treatment is a domino effect of other problems popping up as we prevent a part of the body from doing its proper job.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There ARE ways that we can work with autoimmune diseases, they just aren’t yet well accepted by western medicine.

Functional medicine is a field of medicine that looks at the human body as a whole and works to find the root causes of disease/disorders to help restore the body to its natural state. It’s kind of like restoring a computer with a full memory and a few viruses back to its factory settings. A functional medicine doctor looks deep into the body for what might be preventing it from working properly and uses natural means to rid the body of interference or re-establish some things that may be deficient.

While a Functional Medicine doctor would not say that they treat Crohn’s, we do have an excellent track record of having patients be able to return to their normal life and never look back when we help them get back to normal function.

Think about it logically. If Crohn’s truly is an autoimmune disease, then let’s talk about that. Autoimmunity is when the body’s immune system supposedly attacks a part of your own body instead of an invader. Instead of just using medication to turn down the attack, what if we asked the question “why would a healthy body just attack itself?” And the answer is that it wouldn’t.

Which leads us to ask more questions. Like if a healthy body wouldn’t attack itself then what types of situations would cause the body to become unhealthy enough to attack itself. Once we’re able to look at questions like these then we are able to run a whole different set of tests and establish where someone’s body is truly experiencing disease. The great news about this is that most of the time the answers to these questions are very treatable. Often times it will be a large imbalance in the gut bacteria. Other times it is a long-standing sensitivity to a food, chemical or other substance, causing an over vigilance in the immune system.

It’s hard to give “tips and tricks” to people with Crohn’s disease due to the fact that no two people are the same and, while they might have the same “condition”, their root cause is likely not really the same. The tip I would give is to search for real answers. Find a good functional medicine doctor who will look at you as a whole person and find out what is causing your body to get out of balance.

The foundation to a healthy body is balance. The presence of proper nutrients and building blocks, and the absence of interferences like viruses, parasites and bacteria.

Need more info on functional medicine? Check out our post here to learn more!

Dr. Caroline Ricker has been passionately helping people avoid unnecessary medications and surgeries since 2009. She combines a very logical functional medicine approach to digestive disorders and more using a more alternative holistic approach, utilizing standard lab tests and in-office evaluations as well as nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy.

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Whole Health & Wellness

10807 Big Bend Road

St. Louis, MO 63122

P: (314) 269-3847


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