Whether you are newly diagnosed or a veteran of living with Crohn’s disease or any type of chronic illnesses, flare-ups are not fun. At worst, a flare-up feels like your body is waging war against you. It can be debilitating. I have lived with Crohn’s for over 10 years, since I was diagnosed at age 12. In struggling with this disease, I have become quite acquainted with the agony it can bestow. A decade is a long time. Through trial and error, online searches, and talking to others who have IBD, I have accumulated a collection of nifty tips and tricks to help me get through flares.
What I Drink
1. Activated Charcoal
This may be my number one line of defense in a flare-up. Activated charcoal looks intimidating at first (it’s a black powder!), but it has become a very close friend of mine. This powdery substance has been used for ages as an anti-poison, most commonly when one is stricken with food poisoning. It binds to the toxins in your body and helps to eliminate them. I have noticed a significant improvement in my sleep when I drink activated charcoal before bed while flaring. Add a tablespoon to warm water, stir, and drink. There is NO taste! Just remember not to take this at the same time as medications or vitamins.
I start everyday with warm water and the juice of half an organic lemon. It calms my otherwise rowdy stomach first thing in the morning when it is usually “gurgly.” Warm lemon water is anti-inflammatory, a detoxifier, and creates an alkaline state in the body.
De-caffeinated is best when flaring to ensure the caffeine does not add more irritation to the belly. Green tea is anti-inflammatory, and I buy organic to avoid pesticides used on tea leaves. Adding pieces of ginger root is an easy way to add double the inflammation-fighting power. Can you tell my body loves warm substances?
What I Eat
I stick to my basic staples when I am flaring. The foods I know my body can easily digest (this can be different for everyone) include lean meats, small amounts of cooked vegetables, bone broth and homemade soups, rice pasta, and bananas. I also add turmeric to my food whenever I can because of its’ potent anti-inflammatory properties.
What I Do
My number one activity during a flare is RESTING! During a flare-up, my body and its already over-stimulated immune system are fighting overtime. I know that pushing myself too much will only make my recovery take longer. This is hard -sometimes all I want to do is go out and keep busy with my normal activities. But I have learned to back off and to accept the helping hands of friends and family. When I am feeling up to it, light yoga (around 20 minutes, I love “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube!) or a short stroll outside can have a positive effect on my body.
One final tip I will leave you with is to invest in a heating pad. When I am flaring, my heating pad gets plugged in any time I move around in my house. And when I have to go out, I use heat-activated hot patches on my stomach (think Icy Hot).
My auto-immune journey has given me a lots of ups and downs in the past 10 years. I have learned a lot about living with a chronic illness and through my blog, I have met a lot of others who share their own experiences. We all help each other through support and suggestions on what has worked for us. Next time you have a flare-up, I hope you will consider some of my recommendations!
Want to read more?