When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, like most people, I took the traditional Western-medicine approach. Initially, I was put on Prednisone, then Humira. However, within a year, I was building antibodies toward Humira, so I tried a combination approach of Humira and 6-MP. This didn’t work, so I had to switch to Stelara.

Unfortunately, I experienced severe side effects from Stelara. I developed a rare joint problem in my knees that was extremely debilitating. I was also fatigued all the time. All I wanted to do was sleep, but even sleep didn’t help with this chronic fatigue.

These side effects led me down a rabbit hole of seeing specialist after specialist, and I was left without answers as to what could be causing these side effects. It seemed like the only solution from Western medicine was more medication.

Sick and Tired…

It came to the point where my quality of life was completely diminished, and I was sick of trying medications that didn’t work for me. I felt discouraged and depressed. I just wanted to feel healthy. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be out of pain.

After Stelara, I had plenty of options that involved medication. But one thing I had not tried was managing my Crohn’s disease without medication.

I knew the risk I was taking (it was big), but I had to try something else. I was tired of being on a vicious cycle of flare-up, medication that doesn’t work for me, flare-up, and medication that doesn’t work for me.

After failing two biologics within the span of two and a half years, I decided to look at other courses of treatment for IBD. I also started to take notes of what exacerbated my joint pain and what made me feel more sluggish or fatigued.

Even the Holistic Things Weren’t Working

At that point, I was an intuitive eater for the most part, and I kept myself relatively healthy. I had already done a lot of research on inflammatory bowel disease and holistic medicine, which I had implemented into managing my Crohn’s disease. However, I had to admit that the course I was taking to manage my Crohn’s wasn’t working, and I needed to try something different.

I knew there were changes that could be made to my diet and lifestyle that might help. So I started researching other options and other forms of treatment for Crohn’s, and that’s how I stumbled upon integrative medicine.

The Integrative Medicine Approach

When I started seeing an integrative doctor, he confirmed a lot of what I was already doing or taking for the management of my Crohn’s disease. And he recommended a lot of changes that were specific to me and my body. The first was making adjustments to my diet and adding supplements.

pills

The supplements I take now are a green and phytoberry powder, a high dose of probiotics first thing in the morning (100 billion CFUs or more), a vegan Omega-3, a whole-food multivitamin, Mucosagen, and digestive enzymes.

As for my diet, I lowered my consumption of inflammatory foods:

  • When I eat meat, I only eat cage-free, grass-fed, or grass-finished meat, and I only eat wild-caught fish.
  • I lowered my dairy consumption. This used to be an easy protein source for me—especially after the gym, I would go for Greek yogurt.
  • I only eat organic vegetables and fruits.
  • I lowered my consumption of grains. Rice used to be my go-to because I thought it was easy on the stomach. Now, if I want to eat rice or pasta, I try to eat grain- or gluten-free substitutes like lentil pasta.
  • I avoid processed sugars, flours, anything that sounds sketchy like “natural flavors,” and anything artificial.
  • I also limit the types of oils and butters I use. I try to stick with olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter, or ghee.
  • I became strict on the type of pill supplements I take. I switched from a regular fish oil Omega-3 to a vegan Omega-3. I also try to avoid anything that has Carrageenan or magnesium stearate.
  • I try to avoid plastic bottles. I primarily use stainless steel bottles. I also don’t use aluminum foil.

Different Blood Tests and Labs

My integrative doctor also ran different blood tests than my Western medicine doctors. These blood tests have been very informative. For example, he ran complete blood count (CBC) tests, as well as tests for food intolerances, heavy metals, and vitamin deficiencies so that we could see what my body is absorbing and what it isn’t absorbing from food.

Thanks to these tests, we found out:

  • I had food intolerances: foods that I need to avoid because they can cause inflammation in my body.
  • I had alarming levels of several heavy metals in my body.
  • I had several vitamin deficiencies.

My integrative doctor and I are currently coming up with a plan to detoxify my body from heavy metals and to eliminate the vitamin deficiencies.

It’s Working

So far, this approach has been working for me. My joint pain and chronic fatigue subsided about a month after I stopped taking Stelara. I stick with a diet I know will fuel me without a price; if I try to stray from my diet, it comes with a cost.

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that this is working. I feel healthy. Actually, I feel the best I have felt since being diagnosed. After seeing an integrative doctor and doing what he recommended, I have finally found relief and a sense of normalcy. (I have to say again that what my integrative doctor recommended, which is what I’m doing, is specific to what we discovered my body needs. Your body might—and probably does—need something completely different.)

I am so happy to say that by working with my integrative doctor, and by modifying my diet and taking supplements, I actually have been able to keep my Crohn’s disease in remission. I couldn’t be more grateful for that!


Author Jenna Pettit is a social media influencer, advocate for the inflammatory bowel disease community, speech language pathology assistant, fitness instructor, and graduate from California State University Fullerton with her bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders. While a full-time student, Jenna struggled with her health and was ultimately diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. She now shares her journey and the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle in spite of having a chronic condition on Instagram and Facebook, and she’s passionate about helping and inspiring people to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Oshi is a tracking tool and content resource. It does not render medical advice or services, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always review this information with your healthcare professionals.