This is a question patients have asked me so many times, and rightfully so. I think the reason this is a burning issue is the frustration IBD patients feel when they hear over and over again from their doctor that their disease is chronic and that they have to take their medication for the rest of their life.
Patients who want to take responsibility for their condition are seeking ways for deeper healing, not only symptomatic relief. They want to address the underlying cause of their inflammation rather than merely suppressing it with drugs. Conventional medicine doesn’t give patients information or tools to go deeper into the healing process and to be honest, doesn’t really agree with the general concept of healing a disease.
So, let’s dive a bit into this issue and shed some light on it. We’ll start with the basic question of what it really means to “cure” a disease.
There are a few ways to look at this. The first is to see a “cure” as having no evidence of the disease. If I feel well, have no symptoms, my blood work is fine, and even my colonoscopy shows that the mucosa has completely healed, am I cured? Well, in a sense, yes. You no longer experience any manifestation of the disease. But what you are actually experiencing is called complete remission.
Don’t get me wrong, achieving complete remission is crucial, and the aim of any medical treatment. But although it reduces the chance of recurrent flare-ups, it still only marks a stage on the way to healing.
See, any disease, and IBD in particular, has a root and a manifestation. The manifestation, in this case, is the inflammation in the intestinal mucosa leading to symptoms. But the root of the condition lies deeper in the underlying cause. This deeper mechanism is what perpetuates the perpetual return of inflammation when triggered.
This underlying cause is more difficult to address because it varies from patient to patient. It may be an unbalanced diet, rich in processed foods, or an imbalance of the microbiome, perhaps caused by the overuse of antibiotics in early childhood. Or, as seen in many cases, the underlying cause may be emotional stress.
These have a profound role in the healing process. We can’t just suppress the inflammation with pharmaceuticals and expect to achieve deep healing (let alone a cure) without making fundamental lifestyle changes in the areas which have led to the development of our IBD.
This means understanding that the condition (not disease) isn’t a fluke or a random “bad luck”, but has developed over years underground and only manifested as inflammation when we were diagnosed. We need to go back and trace our steps to reverse the effects that initially produced the inflammation.
Finding a cure means taking a journey that goes beyond just swallowing pills. It means taking responsibility for our condition and realizing that something happened along the way that needs to be fixed. Never blame yourself for this! Just calmly reflect on the simple question: “What led to this?” You might find more than one answer, or the answer might not be clear. That’s fine. Just start the process by being kind and compassionate to yourself and your body.
Take the treatment you need to reduce the inflammation and achieve remission. Whether it be pharmaceuticals, herbal remedies, or diet. Then, when the storm has subsided, try to look deeper and make the appropriate changes you feel are right for you. That’s what curing is all about.