The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide

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An Alternative View of Crohn's Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often are resistant to alternative approaches to their condition. They have a life-threatening disease and conventional medicine and their conventional physicians may have saved their lives many times over. For this they are rightfully quite grateful to conventional medicine and doctors. Therefore, they may regard everything their doctors say as absolute truth. They may be afraid to try any treatment not promoted by their doctor even though they usually do not enjoy actual good health as the result of the treatment they take.

I am not a doctor. My “educational” qualifications include college degrees in medical laboratory science and microbiology. My real qualification for writing this website article is that I am a person with Crohn’s disease who, unlike everyone else with IBD I know, takes no medication and is not always a few steps away from a medical crisis. The articles quoted in this section of the website were published in mainstream, respected, peer-reviewed medical journals, including Lancet. I hope that IBD patients and their doctors will put aside their fears and biases and consider the information presented below with an open mind.

In 1991, I was diagnosed as having Crohn's disease. The gastroenterologist who did the colonoscopy and made the diagnosis told me that there were no restrictions on my diet, that there were no dietary or lifestyle changes that I could make that would influence the course of the disease, and that if it went into remission, it would eventually recur. I was put on Flagyl™, Dipentum™, Prednisone™, and Lomotil™ for varying periods of time. I eliminated goat milk products from my diet a month or two after the diagnosis was made, in spite of what I had been told about diet not mattering, because I found that even if I used Lactaid™ in milk, every time I ate any goat milk products things were worse. By the time I was taken off of all of the medications except Dipentum™, I was down to about five bowel movements per day. This was a big improvement but still not as much change as I had hoped for.

I had inhalant allergies since childhood, had taken weekly allergy shots since I was 10 years old, and had food sensitivities for about 11 years when the Crohn’s disease was diagnosed. The spring after the diagnosis was made, I had routine allergy testing to update my shots. The only major change the testing revealed was a very high reaction to Candida albicans, a type of yeast that is considered a normal inhabitant of the intestine if it is present in small numbers. Since I knew that cortisone and antibiotics can stimulate the growth of yeast, I assumed that the change was the result of the Prednisone™ and Flagyl™ I had taken.

When I had a follow-up consultation with my allergy doctor after all the test results were back, he told me that food sensitivities and yeast problems can sometimes contribute to Crohn's disease. He suspected that my Candida reaction had been rising before the Crohn's disease started, and had contributed to it rather than solely being the result of it. He didn't think food sensitivities were a major contributor in my case because at that time I didn't eat anything I was sensitive to and I rotated all other foods.

(Note: Many doctors are reluctant to suggest the possibility of food sensitivities to people with IBD because they don't want to restrict the diet of someone who may already be undernourished. However, with all of the alternative foods that have become readily available, including “new” foods such as quinoa, amaranth, and spelt and game meats such as buffalo, ostrich, and venison, an allergy elimination diet can be just as nutritious, and may be even more nutritious, than a “normal” diet. Doctors may also be hesitant to recognize diet as a possible contributing factor to IBD because it is a very individual thing: a diet that works for one person will not work for someone else).

My allergy doctor also told me about a husband and wife who were friends of his. The husband was having a lot of trouble with allergies and traveled from out-of-state to be tested. The wife, who had Crohn's disease since adolescence, had only mild hay fever but since she had traveled with her husband and was going to sit with him in the doctor's office, she decided to be tested too. The wife was highly reactive to many inhalants on testing but said that her hay fever was only a minor problem. The next spring, she decided that her hay fever was not minor after all and began taking allergy shots in her home state. After a few months her Crohn's disease, which had given her almost continuous problems for many years, went into remission and has been in remission ever since.

My allergy doctor put me on anti-yeast medication, suggested some dietary changes to help control the growth of yeast, and made the necessary changes in my allergy shots. The result was that I was soon down to one or two bowel movements per day most of the time. My family doctor commented that I was a good example of traditional and non-traditional treatments combined being more effective than either alone.

I began to wonder if experiences such as mine were unique, so I decided to look in the medical literature to see if I could find any studies relating Crohn's disease to allergies or food intolerances. One study found that elemental diets, which should be less allergenic in theory, were as effective in inducing remissions as cortisone.{1}Other studies confirmed the effectiveness of elemental diets but found liquid diets consisting of larger molecules of foods ineffective.{2,3}

Several studies have been done on the effect of diet on Crohn's disease.{4,5}The one that impressed me most involved 33 patients who were taken off of all medication and put on total parenteral nutrition (TPN – vein feeding), elemental diets, or elimination diets to bring about remission.{6} Then foods were added back to their diets one at a time to see if any of them would cause their Crohn's disease to flare up. Of the 29 patients who completed the study, all were found to have problems when they ate one or more foods, and remained symptom-free up to the time the article was written as long as they avoided those foods. The results of eating certain foods were so pronounced in some patients that once they had enough “safe” foods to live on, they didn't want to continue testing the rest of the foods in the study!

In another study, the author sent questionnaires to local members of the NFIC (former name of the CCFA – Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America).{7} He determined from the 168 questionnaires which were returned that 70% of the NFIC members had allergic tendencies and that their allergic symptoms closely paralleled those of 250 allergy patients in his practice. He also noted that among his patients with respiratory allergies and IBD, “inhalant allergy hyposensitization and dietary changes consisting of rotation and diversification of allergic foods in more than 50 patients have resulted in considerable improvement in both their respiratory and abdominal symptoms,” and that the improvement was “long-lasting.”{8}

There are also reports in the medical literature of Crohn's disease being helped by treatment with nystatin, an anti-yeast medication.{9,10}

In short, my literature search convinced me that I was not unique and that perhaps the “non-traditional” treatment that helped me would also help some others if they knew about it. As I traveled along the path of Crohn's disease in the early 1990’s, it seemed to me that living with Crohn's disease was like walking on a tightrope. Dipentum™ was a traditional pole I carried to help me keep my balance. There were non-traditional weights that I might carry such as allergies, food intolerances, infections, fatigue, etc. The more I reduced these weights, the easier it was for me to keep my balance. Beneath me were traditional nets, such as cortisone and surgery, that offered protection if I fell. I hoped that by lessening the amount of non-traditional weight that I carried I could avoid using the traditional nets as much as possible.

Dietary manipulation may be enough to induce permanent remissions in many patients with IBD. However in my case, my food allergies became so severe that I didn’t have enough to eat. So in 1993 I began treatment with low dose immunotherapy for my food allergies. (Visit the low dose immunotherapy page of this website for more information about low dose immunotherapy and here for more of my personal experiences). I hoped it would also help my Crohn’s disease because EPD was used in England to treat ulcerative colitis. A double-blind study done of 82 ulcerative colitis patients showed that EPD gives significant protection from exacerbations of IBD.{11} My Crohn’s disease responded well to low dose immunotherapy, but my food allergies did not improve as much as expected. When I did not respond to low dose immunotherapy as well as expected, the search for the reason why led to the treatment of my intestinal dysbiosis with botanicals, prescription drugs, and the specific carbohydrate diet. (Visit the dysbiosis page of this website for more about dysbiosis). As a result of pursuing these two lines of treatment, I now consider myself essentially “cured” of Crohn’s disease. I no longer walk a tightrope; I am standing on solid ground.

My “testimonial” is not proof that the alternative approach to Crohn’s disease is better than the conventional approach. Indeed, there are times when strong drugs such as cortisone or immunosuppressant drugs and invasive treatments such as surgery are necessary to save the life of an IBD patient. However, if you are not in a life-threatening situation and want to improve your general health, you might want to read some of the articles quoted above (see the footnotes below to find them) and consider your alternatives.


1. O'Morain, C., A. W. Segal, and A. J. Levi, “Elemental Diet as Primary Treatment of Acute Crohn's Disease: A Controlled Trial,” British Medical Journal, 1984, 288:1859-1862.
2. Ciaffer, M. H., G. North, and C. D. Holdsworth, “Controlled Trial of Polymeric Versus Elemental Diet in Treatment of Active Crohn's Disease,” Lancet, April 7, 1990, 335:816819.
3. O'Morain, C., A. W. Segal, and A. J. Levi, “Elemental Diets in Treatment of Acute Crohn's Disease,” British Medical Journal, November 1, 1990, 281:1173-1175.
4. Jones, V. A., R. J. Dickinson, E. M. Workman, A. H. Freeman, and J. 0. Hunter, “Controlled Trial of Diet in the Management of Crohn's Disease,” Abstracts of the 12th International Congress of Gastroenterology, p. 943, 1984.
5. Jones, V. A., E. M. Workman, A. H. Freeman, R. J. Dickinson, A. J. Wilson, and J. 0. Hunter, “Crohn's Disease: Maintenance of Remission by Diet,” Lancet, July 27, 1985, pp. 177-180.
6. Workman, E. M., V. Alun Jones, A. J. Wilson, and J. 0. Hunter, “Diet in the Management of Crohn's Disease,” Human Nutrition: Applied Nutrition, 38A:469-73, 1984.
7. Siegel, J. “Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Another Possible Facet of the Allergic Diathesis,” Annals of Allergy. 47: 92-94, 1981.
8. Ibid., p. 92 and 94.
9. Rosenberg, E. W., P. W. Belew, R. B. Skinner, Jr., and N. Crutcher (Letters): “Crohn's Disease and Psoriasis,” New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 308(2), p. 101, January 13, 1983.
10. Truss, C. O., “The Role of Candida Albicans in Human Illness,” Journal of Ortho. Psych., 10:228-238, 1981.
11. McEwen, L.M. “A Double-Blind Controlled Trial of Enzyme Potentiated Hyposensitization for the Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis.” Clinical Ecology. 5(2): 47-51, 1987.

If you are interested in trying dietary manipulation, the book The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide is a good place to start learning how to do this. Click on the title above to read more about this book. To order any of the books mentioned on this page, click here.


The information contained in this website is merely intended to communicate material which is helpful and educational to the reader. It is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or treatment, but rather to provide information and recipes which may be helpful in implementing a diet and program prescribed by your doctor. Please consult your physician for medical advice before changing your diet.

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