I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 5 years old after suffering from severe and debilitating stomach pain. I was told that I would suffer from this disease for the rest of my life, that I would constantly be on a plethora of medications with a laundry list of adverse effects and health risks, and that I would have multiple surgeries that would serve to do nothing more than temporarily relieve symptoms until I inevitably suffered another flare up. Suffice to say, the prognosis was not good, but the doctors informed me that I had no choice.
I was immediately put on multiple medications (including Pentasa and 6-MP), but nothing worked; I still experienced regular symptoms and flare ups, causing me to miss school, sporting events, and had a significant negative impact on my overall quality of life. At the age of 15, my Crohn’s disease took a turn for the worse, and I was put on Remicade, a potent drug infusion that puts users at risk of developing serious disorders including multiple sclerosis and optic neuritis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1936311/) and even death (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12928808)! Unfortunately, even Remicade did not work, and I underwent major surgery to have 17 inches of my intestine removed. Even this drastic measure did not work for long, as my Crohn’s disease came back in force only a few short months after surgery. I was put on Humira, an injection medication that comes with the risk of injection site reactions, a two-fold increase in the risk of developing serious infections, reactivation of tuberculosis, deep fungal and other atypical infections, skin rashes, “worsening or initiation of congestive heart failure, a lupus-like syndrome, a promotion of lymphoma, medically significant cytopenias, and worsening or initiation of a multiple sclerosis/neurological disease” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16011443). This was not a medication that I wanted to take. Although it was able to prevent me from needing a second surgery, it was not a solution, and my Crohn’s disease continued to flare up regularly. Nothing was working.
Three-and-a-half years ago, I decided I had to do something different. I realized that I had to address the underlying cause of the disease, not just attempt to cover up the symptoms with dangerous drugs and medications. With the help of Brian Yusem, ND (Naturopathic Doctor), I went gluten free (in addition to other dietary restrictions and limitations that will be discussed later). Within a week or two I began feeling better; I was less bloated, I had more energy, and my stomach didn’t bother me as much. Within a few short months, I was feeling so much better that I stopped taking all of my medications; my Crohn’s disease was in complete remission, and it still is today, without any medications, over three years later. I have always enjoyed playing sports and being active, but before going gluten free, my Crohn’s disease held me back, keeping me lying in pain instead of being active. I was never able to put on as much muscle or get as strong as I wanted to; common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include profound weight loss, and anorexia (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201000/). Now, with my new-found health, I am able to be active, and have finally been able to put on muscle and get stronger. I can now bench press 300 pounds!