Today, in Part I of this two-part podcast series, I’m answering your biggest and boldest Crohn’s and colitis questions to help you navigate the healing minefield that we’re forced to wade through while trying to achieve IBD remission.
Not knowing what to do to help your IBD can leave you paralyzed in indecision, unable to move toward health, and it’s time you finally got the answers you need to move forward with confidence.
And, because I love free stuff, I’m doing it all with a giveaway attached.
In this episode, we’re tackling two of the toughest, but juiciest questions when it comes to healing your IBD.
We’re talking about:
And so much more!
After the episode, you’ll be ready to take a giant leap forward toward achieving your IBD healing goals with knowledge, confidence and the power of a mom who’s ready to takes this IBD and put it where it belongs… in remission for good!
Episode at a Glance:
Mentioned in This Episode:
Additional Resources from the Episode:
INTRO: You are listening to The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD, a safe space for moms with Crohn’s and colitis, connect, explore powerful tools for healing and transform our lives to thrive in motherhood and in life. I’m your host, Karyn Haley, IBD health coach, integrative wellness enthusiast, and mom to three outstanding kids. After having Crohn’s disease for 30 years and working as a health advocate exclusively with IBD clients for the last 10 years, I know it’s time to bring the types of candid conversations I have with my clients out into the open. It’s our time to go on an IBD healing journey and do it like only a mom can. Let’s do this.[music]
[00:51] Hey there mom friend, Karyn here. So happy to be with you again today and can I just tell you I can’t wait for our episode today? Anytime I get to connect with you on a personal level, it lights me up and that’s exactly what we’re doing today.
I recently put out an ask to our Gut Love Community- that’s our free and fabulous IBD mom tribe for mom’s dealing with Crohn’s and colitis. So, I asked GLC, “What are your most pressing concerns and challenges when it comes to IBD?” I also attached a special gift to my ask saying that every question answered on the air would get a gift card to my favorite digestive wellness website: Wellbee’s. If you’re eating for gut health, you’ve got to check out Wellbee’s. They’ve got ready made gut healthy goodies, condiments, personal products. I love that website. I’ll link to Wellbee’s in the show notes so you can check them out for yourself.
Anyway, this IBD Q and A brought in so many insightful, big, bold questions that I ended up spreading out into a 2 parter. Like I said, these were big questions and deserved detailed answers to help you on your healing journey. I’d be doing these topics and you a disservice if I gave you a glean of a response and didn’t answer them fully. And I wish I could get to all your Q’s on the air. But please know that if you don’t hear your question answered between today and next week’s episode, you will get an email from me with a personal response. I’ve been working through those diligently so you may already have heard back from me.
And just to give you a little peek behind the scenes at how all this whole IBD Q and A worked, I took all the questions you sent me, put them in a hat (yep, literally a red felt fedora I have back from my days dancing on the stage) and randomly picked the questions to give everyone a fair chance. And the 4 questions I’m answering between today and next week are the random questions I picked from that red hat.
Lastly, I want to mention that to protect everyone’s privacy, I won’t be giving any names associated with the questions, but I will be in touch with your Wellbee’s gift card if your question is answered on the podcast. I have to say, your questions were so good, I’m seriously dishing here. They were so juicy that there’s loads of good takeaways coming your way. If you don’t have a pen and paper or a google doc, you’ll want to get something ready. I know these A’s to your Q’s are going to be helpful for you mama because when we’ve got IBD, these are questions we all have.
IS OUR IBD COMMUNITY FOR YOU?
And if you’re thinking, wait a minute, I didn’t get a question in. How come I didn’t hear about that? Well, that’s because you’re not part of the GLC yet, but you can join us too! It’s the best place to be to get show updates, gut healing recipes, and how-to’s that I only share with the community, plus special bonuses like giveaways, like the Wellbee’s one I doing today, and others from awesome gut healing resources. If all of that sounds good to you, join us in the GLC today. I’ll leave a link for you in the show notes.
So without further ado… I’m can’t wait… let’s get to it!
[04:58] What supplements work best for IBD?
Talk about a massive question. Oh so many! There’s a lot that can be done with supplements to help IBD inflammation, gut dysbiosis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, leaky gut, bloating, gas, heartburn, immune function… and the list goes on and on. Supplements can be a great addition to your IBD healing plan, but with so many options out there, knowing what to take can feel like a harder task than climbing Mount Everest. Let’s change that for you today. What if you had the 411 on gut healing supplements and had clarity on what is worth your hard-earned cash and what’s not worth a second glance? You’d be interested, right?
Let’s dive in then and clear up all the supplement confusion for you once and for all. First, I’ve gotta say a couple important things about supplements in general. We’ll start with the general and move into the specific.
WHEN IT COMES TO SUPPLEMENTS, GETTING OFF THEM SHOULD BE YOUR GOAL.
OK, so it’s important to know that the end goal with supplements isn’t the supplements doing their job. It’s using the supplements to work through the medical or symptom challenges you’re having and then getting off them when healing has occurred. Because, really, the best place to get our vitamin and mineral needs met is through REAL food sources. Now, this is often a challenge for IBDer’s because we struggle to digest and absorb the nutrients in our food due to increased levels of inflammation, decreased immune function, and gut bacteria imbalances. So, although ideally getting your nutrient needs met through food is the best option, often times IBDer’s do require extended periods of time (and in all honesty sometimes lifetime) supplement support in certain areas, even when in remission because those supplements are helping that remission last.
Hopefully the way I’m saying that makes sense to you. Getting nutrients and helping your gut to be healthy is best through real whole food sources, but those with Crohn’s and colitis often need more support and supplements can make that happen. Cool so far?
SUPPLEMENTS TAKE THEIR TIME.
Alright, now when talking about supplements, it’s also important to point out that most supplements don’t work like medicine. They usually take longer to see the desired effect. When you decide to try out a supplement to help your IBD symptoms, it’s important to stick it out for a bit to see if it works. I see some mama clients try a supplement once or twice, and when they don’t see any positive results right away, they want to give up. Most supplements need a couple weeks to a few months to really make a determination if their working so give it some time before judging how it’s working
SKIP GUT SUPPLEMENTS THAT CLAIM “TOTAL GUT REPAIR”
And along these same lines, I also see a lot of gut and digestive supplement companies, especially, making multi-prong supplements with multi-prong benefits. On the surface this might seem like a great idea. The whole kill two birds with one stone analogy (I don’t know how that saying came to be—I’m not a fan cause it seems kinda violent and what do you have against the poor birds, but I say it here because it helps you get the idea of what I mean). Let me also give you an example of how this might play out in real supplement world: Let’s say a high-quality supplement company makes a product called gut repair (I’m just making that name up. I’m not calling anyone out specifically) and that gut repair product contains compounds like l-glutamine, N-acetyl glucosamine, slippery elm, aloe vera, probiotics, licorice root, zinc, Boswellia… Even if you aren’t familiar with half of the individual supplements I just listed, you get the idea. It’s a multi-prong approach to gut healing. Lots of supplements in one pill.
It’s like you’re in charge of an army and you’re deciding between sending one warrior into battle vs saying, heck, 100 warriors, I might as well send the whole lot into battle—and of course, remember, that battle is all happening inside your gut. In an ideal scenario, you might say, in war, isn’t 100 warriors better than one? But in an IBD world, this isn’t always the case. More warriors isn’t always better. Our digestive system is so sensitive and so damaged, that this multi-prong gut repair approach is just too intense for our body to handle all at once. We may react so violently that it’s just not worth putting all your gut warriors in one little pill.
So, I say all this to say this about supplements. I usually recommend IBDer’s take supplements, one compound at a time. Just l-glutamine. Just the probiotic. Just zinc. It doesn’t mean you can’t take them all on the same day. It just means you may have a strong negative reaction if you take them all in one capsule.
IT’S OK TO START AT THE BEGINNING, OR MAYBE EVEN EARLIER THAN THAT.
And with IBDer’s having such hypersensitivity, I also recommend building up your supplement dose rather than starting with the full recommended dose on the bottle. So, if you’re starting a probiotic, for example, start with the smallest dose possible, see how you react to that, then bump that up a bit, and continue bumping up the dose every few days until you’re at your desired amount. I remember my client, Ginger, was so sensitive to probiotics, that she started just touching her tongue to the probiotic powder she was taking. It was so worth the effort for her in the end, but she is a perfect example of backing it waaayyy up and moving forward slowly.
You may not be as sensitive as Ginger, but we do have gut sensitive guts. We need to treat our intestines with tender loving care. I know you’ve heard me say it before. My clients hear it all the time. It’s the IBD tortoise who wins the race, not the fast-moving hare. When it comes to supplements, be that one slow moving tortoise warrior. Your results will be much longer lasting in the end.
One last super important note I’ve got to mention with supplements is that we have to go into it knowing that all supplement companies are not created equal.
[12:24] When purchasing supplements, don’t bother with most drugstore varieties. There are problems with them including added fillers and ingredients that will upset your gut and since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, you may not even be getting the dose you think you’re getting. In New York state, the attorney general recently brought a case against several national retailers GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart, saying that four out of five product on their shelves did not contain the herbs that were mentioned in their product. That’s 80% of the supplements on their shelves. Huge numbers! Even Amazon has come under fire for their supplement distribution with complaints of counterfeit or expired products.
While this may get you thinking, there’s no supplement company I can trust, hold up on that thought because there are quality supplement companies out there. Ones you really can trust. When purchasing supplements, be on the lookout for companies that complete random batch testing to ensure you are getting the amount of supplement that is listed on the label. Also, think about purchasing your supplements from pharmaceutical grade companies with 3rd party testing of their product. Look for labels like USP or NSF just to name a couple of the 3rd party authenticators or call the company and ask if they include third party testing in their manufacturing process. And while we can’t get FDA approval on supplements, we can get supplements made with the FDA’s good manufacturing practices. This means that you can trust the safety and efficacy of their product.
I know buying quality supplements can be a minefield. To help you even more with what to look for to ensure you get quality supplements, I’ll link to a great article I found with more information on choosing the highest quality supplements in the show notes, but before we get to the individual supplements that I see working to help quiet your IBD symptoms, I also want to leave you with some of my favorite supplement brands. Brands that meet the standards I just mentioned. Brands I trust and have had good results with, both for myself and for my clients.
5 SUPPLEMENT COMPANIES YOU CAN TRUST
Here’s 5 supplement companies I recommend over and over for their quality, efficacy, and their transparency in what’s in them:
Kirkman Labs (especially for SCDer’s or GAPS moms)
I’ll link to all of these supplement brands in the show notes. There’s lots of goodies in the show notes today so definitely go there to get even more info on all the great topics we’re covering today thanks to your fantastic questions!
THE BEST 6 “FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE” SUPPLEMENTS FOR CROHN’S AND COLITIS
And now, on to the main info: my IBD supplement recommendations. This was a tough one for me. There’s just so many good ones and they all help different symptoms. Remember that there is no one supplement regime for everyone and I’m not saying these supps should be your exact regime. It’s best for you to tailor your supplement plan to your individual needs. And of course, it probably goes without saying that I’m not recommending these supplements to you personally. You’ve got to talk with your provider about that. But when I think about gut healing supplements, there’s 6 I see as a great starting place to help IBD moms, more than any other ones, so those are the ones I’m share with you today.
[17:20] So here’s my 6 “great starting place” supplements for your consideration.
#1 Digestive Enzymes- this supplement, that helps break down fat, protein and carbohydrates to make your food easier to digest and absorb, is great because it works on one of the most common IBD ailments I see—bloating, gas, and diarrhea that often comes after eating because of the inflammation in our digestive tract. And unlike most supplements, if enzymes are going to work, they usually work right away. It’s not unusual for me to hear from a client that enzymes were game changing. If you feel horrible after every meal, and I know firsthand and you know just how debilitating that can be because it keeps you from living your life and being the mom you know you deserve to be, you can imagine just how much digestive enzymes can positively affect your life. One caveat here, beware of digestive enzymes if you have gastritis, but if you get the OK from your provider for these, I love this supplement as a first line supplement to help you feel better fast.
#2 Probiotics- practically everyone with active IBD and even those in remission can use a probiotic. Now, probiotic dosing for active Crohn’s and colitis is usually higher than anything you would buy from a traditional probiotic manufacturer. Specifically, for UC, there has been a study showing a probiotic called VSL3 has been able to induce remission. I’ll link to the study in the show notes. Personally, I don’t think of probiotics as the end all be all remission inducer. I think of them as more of a spoke in your wheel of wellness to be used with other supplements to help you feel better. If you’re a regular to The Cheeky Podcast, you know all about your Wheel of Wellness (it’s basically your healing toolbelt and the more diverse your toolbelt, the better), but the way most studies work for IBD is by answering the question, “Did this bring about remission?” If it took a combo of supplements or if it reduced symptoms, we don’t usually hear about those results, so unfortunately most of the evidence we have about VSL is by patient report. Hopefully more studies will be conducted soon.
Another probiotic with almost the same ingredients and the same high probiotic potency is called Visbiome. Seriously, it’s so similar that it used to be the old VSL—long story. But the bottom line about probiotics for IBD in general though is that this is just a massive topic because there’s many different types of probiotics from the lactobacillus/bifidobacterial strains, to the spore strain, to the saccharomyces boulardii strain… and they all deserve much more time to discuss. We’ll save that for another episode, but for now, know that probiotics are worth looking into for first line of IBD defense. I see many of my clients having success with lacto/bidido multistrain probiotics like VSL and Visbiome, and these specific probiotics have been found to be helpful for IBDer’s like us.
#3 Let’s talk about another first line of defense supplement, Vitamin D. Now vitamin D is the “it” vitamin of moment and usually I like to rebel from the popular “in” supplement, but this vitamin deserves its hype. Vitamin D, which actually works more like a hormone in our body, is heavily linked with inflammation levels. D is a big player vitamin for everything from colds, to covid (there’s been some really interesting research on that), to cancer. It seems that everyone, IBD or not, needs adequate levels of vitamin D, but IBDer’s especially need to make sure their levels are being checked on a regular basis. A recent study regarding the link between vitamin D and IBD shows that sufficient levels of vitamin D have the potential to prevent the onset of IBD and at the same time, control the progression of the disease once you have it. I highly recommend you get your D level checked regularly and if it’s low, talk to your doc about the best supplementation for you. If you’re looking for a vitamin D supplement, you’ll see D in a couple different forms. D3, along with added K2 has the best research behind it. The K2 works along with the D to keep calcium in our bones and that’s very important for us ladies as we age. I’m also partial to liquid supplements as they are easier to absorb for those of us with IBD and there’s lots of liquid options available. Bottom line, get that D level checked with the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Ask your doc to add it to your bloodwork, every time you get labs done.
Good stuff. Let’s move on to your first line of defense for IBD supplement #4.
#4 Cod Liver Oil- this a nutrient dense oil with the healthy components of vitamin A, vitamin D, and omega 3s. The benefits of omega 3’s have been well documented for inflammatory diseases, including IBD. Fish oil, which I’m sure you’re familiar with is also a good option, but I prefer CLO because it gives you all the omega 3 benefits with the higher in vitamin D levels as well. And this is definitely a supplement where the quality brand matters. Many brands contain synthetic versions of vit A and D which may not be absorbed. Stick with high quality CLO with brands like Nordic Naturals or Green Pastures and you’ll be fine.
One last quick note about Vit D/K and CLO. These are fat soluble, so they are best absorbed when taken with food.
#6 Last supplement worth mentioning as a first line of defense for IBD is Curcumin. I’m just going to touch on this supplement briefly because I just talked all about its uses and benefits as an IBD healing gem back in episode 15. If you want to know more about curcumin, why it works, how to take it, etc… go check out that episode. I’ll link to it in the show notes. Actually, this episode and episode 15 are great companion episodes if you’re trying to put together your IBD wheel of wellness.
Just know though that curcumin is the active compound in turmeric—that’s the root that looks a lot like ginger, but is bright orange on the inside and in spice form, it’s the orange powder that’s often used in delicious Indian dishes. In my house, we cook with turmeric all the time. It gives any dish a rich, earthy flavor. I always use it when I’m using coconut milk in a dish. The two go great together.
In supplement form, I’m talking about curcumin at much higher doses than what you cook with. It’s a wonderful anti-inflammatory compound and you can find out more about it in episode 15.
So there you have it, 6 first line of defense supplements worth looking a look for IBDer’s. It might seem like a spent time talking about each one of these, but trust me, there’s lots to know before trying these. And there’s many, many more options available to you, depending on your IBD needs. This is just a starting place. If you’re feeling confused or need further clarification on supplements, reach out. I’m always happy to chat. firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to reach me.
Moving on to question #2 in our IBD Q and A
THE LOWDOWN ON BIOLOGICS FOR IBD.
[28:42] Would you recommend people use biologics?
OK my dear, this question makes me step back a bit. And truth be told, when I read this question, I wanted to put it back in my red fedora. I almost did. As a health coach, I don’t make medical judgements since I’m not a doctor. But I know this question is weighing on you. It’s weighing on most of the mamas who come into my practice. It’s a big one. And since this is such an important question and because it’s so confusing and consuming because when it comes to IBD, biologics seem like the most heard about push coming from gastroenterologists. It’s their gold standard. So, because I know how much this is weighing on your mind, here’s what I want to offer regarding biologics.
DON’T LISTEN TO THE DOCTOR’S WHO TELL YOU THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO TREAT YOUR IBD.
First, when it comes to biologics or, any other Crohn’s or colitis medications, remember there is no one path to follow. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that. If there was a one size fits all treatment plan for IBD, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t we all? Hell, yes! And when I say there is no one size fits all treatment, I mean any treatment you hear about, from the all-knowing woo woo guru to the straight western a medical provider. There’s options when it comes to healing IBD and hopefully you have access to a provider who will enlighten you on those options, not push one option down your throat. It’s interesting because the bad news about Crohn’s and colitis is that there is no cure, but the good news is that even though there is no cure, there are multiple ways to achieve long lasting remission. And of course, for you dear listener, biologics could be the way forward for you.
The other thing I want to say about biologics is that I see way too many IBD mamas saying that once they started biologics, they no longer had to do anything else for their gut health. To this, I say, go proceeded by a no for a no go mom friend! Biologics may help your gut struggles, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on time-tested natural remedies that can help as well.
Personally, and this is just me, I always prefer natural options first. Healthy food tailored to your needs, supplements that promote good gut health like the ones we just talked about, lifestyle factors that always affect IBD like stress, sleep, and anxiety, plus mindset factors like resiliency, gratitude and a positive outlook as opposed to a fixed mindset that bends at perfectionism, fear, and a focus on the negative. And when it comes to that mindset piece, if you’re saying, I can’t help my mind Karyn, I’m just a not a positive person. Too many bad things have happened to me. I dare you to spend 30 minutes with me in session. You’ll see for yourself that anyone can learn these mindset skills. It’s just a matter of putting your focus on the emotions that move the needle in a positive direction.
And if you’re able to try these nontoxic options with no side effects methods first (food, lifestyle, and mindset), go for it. Because if they work, you won’t need medications like biologics. But if you try all that and it doesn’t work for either your symptoms or your lifestyle, it’s not a failure to reach for the biologics. Don’t be afraid of medicine mama. Sometimes we need it and it’s not your fault. It’s nothing you did wrong.
Just remember, medicine doesn’t have to be an exclusive approach. Take the best of the medicine and marry that with the best of the natural approach and create an inclusive party to make your gut happy.
Sometimes, medicine is needed just to get us over the hump of a nasty flare up and sometimes we need it more long term. It doesn’t mean the meds give you free will to think that what you eat, what you feel, and how you live your life doesn’t matter. Natural remedies like the ones I just mentioned will always help your medicine to work better. And maybe overtime, you’ll be like me and find you need the medicines less and less and that the more natural approach works for you, more and more. Only your body will know the right path for you. So give your body the time it needs to figure out what works best.
One final thought on biologics and other IBD meds, if you’re thinking about biologics, it’s time to have an honest conversation with your doctor. And I highly recommend, if you have this option where you live, you make that doctor a functional or integrative practitioner that can really help you look at your options from all angles. These types of doctors specialize in the best of the western and the eastern approach to gut heath. They look for the root cause of your IBD symptoms instead of looking for cover ups or in the moment pain relievers. It may take them more time to figure out what makes your IBD tick, but once they do, hallelujah, long term remission in the safest and best way possible for you my friend.
The most important thing I can say about biologics is that all the input you get from your doctor or doctors is just that—input. Not fact, not must do or else. Input. Opinion. Always do your own research, then trust in your decision and go for a deep dive with the best decision for you at the time. No decision is forever. You’ll always be tweaking and that’s OK and to be expected on your IBD journey. After my 30 plus years with IBD, I’m always tweaking and pivoting. It keeps me on my toes. Just remember, you are always in charge of your IBD. You’ve got the strength, the knowledge, and the power, with guidance, to make your own decisions.
Whoo, awesome, insightful, big, bold questions! And we’re going to leave the IBD Q and A there for today. Let’s do a quick recap from what we talked about today.
THE DO IT LIKE A MOM RECAP.
When it comes to supplements:
When it comes to biologics:
And that’s a wrap on this IBD Q and A session. Remember, there’s 2 more A’s to your Q’s coming next week. Remember, if you want to join our mom focused, mom centered free and fabulous IBD community, there’s a link for the Gut Love Community (the GLC) in the show notes. Can’t wait to meet you there! Until next Wednesday, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD healing journey.
[39:45] Thank you so much for joining me today and for listening to today’s episode. When it comes to IBD, I know there’s a lot of resources out there, and I’m truly honored that you chose the Cheeky Podcast to get your IBD information today. If you found this information helpful, please give us a rating and review. It helps other moms find the podcast and see what we’re doing over here to help IBD moms everywhere. And if you feel called feel a call to do it, share this podcast with an IBD mom who you know could really use an uplifting message today, ’cause that’s what we’re all about over here at the Cheeky Podcast.
One last thing, if you’re still with me, and if you are, you’re definitely my kind of gal. We have to get to know each other better. If you’re tired of living on the hamster wheel of IBD with all the ups and downs between flares and remission, if you’re struggling to get control of your abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and other troubling IBD symptoms, go to my website. It’s karynhaley.com, and my mom had to be just a little bit different, she spelled my name with the Y. So it’s K-A-R-Y-N H-A-L-E-Y.com and schedule your very own free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble-shooting session with me where we discuss the challenges you’ve been having, we set goals to help you move forward, and we talk about how we can work together to help you get your life back. It’s a power packed 30 minutes. You don’t have to live in IBD status quo. There’s so much that can be done to transform your life so you can thrive in motherhood and thrive with IBD. I’ve seen my clients walk this path and it gives me so much joy to take that journey with them.
My entire coaching practice is run online, so you never have to leave your house and you never have to get out of your jammy or yoga pants for us to work together. You know I’m wearing them to. If you’re ready to take your first amazing step towards healing, I’m ready to chat with you. Schedule your free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble shooting sesh today at karynhaley.com. Click on the work with me tab and I’ll see you soon. It’s important to note that the information in this podcast and in this episode is for general information purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The statements made in the Cheeky Podcast for moms with IBD, either by me or my guests, is not intended to diagnose, treat, to cure, or prevent any disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols, do yourself a favor and consult your physician first.
Thank you so much for listening, for being here, for saving this space for us to spend some time together. Until we chat again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD journey.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.