A Holistic Approach to Self-Care for People With IBD


As a new year unfolds, many people embark on the tradition of setting resolutions or making commitments to transform their lives through goals focused on health, wellness, and personal growth. For people with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, self-care has to play an important role in our lives throughout the year. In my two decades of living with Crohn’s disease, I’ve navigated the challenges of IBD by constantly seeking ways to enhance my well-being beyond medical treatments. While I’ve explored and found benefit from various complementary treatments in recent years, one of the ways that I initially shifted my mind-body focus was through exercise, including running half-marathons and taking barre classes. Both became part of my daily routine, along with a focus on nutrition and cross-training. Over time I began exploring complementary alternative medicine (CAM).

CAM is the term used for any medical and healthcare systems, practices, or products that are not considered standard medical care but are used alongside conventional care. CAM is classified into five major categories of practice: whole medical systems, mind-body techniques, biologically based practices, manipulative and body-based therapy, and energy therapies.

More research is needed on the role of CAM in IBD, although some studies show that it can control symptoms, ease pain, improve quality of life, and improve the overall attitude toward health. Some therapies may even have positive effects on the immune system. According to a review published in June 2023 in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, acupuncture has a positive therapeutic impact on IBD and can regulate inflammatory factors in people with IBD.

In this article, I will share some of the complementary alternative therapies I’ve utilized to help me manage life with an IBD and offer ways for patients to seek out alternative therapies. Be sure to talk to your physician before beginning any complementary alternative therapy to make sure it is healthy and safe for the management of your IBD.


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