Crohn disease (CD) is inflammation in the colon and the end of the small bowel. It causes loose stools, belly pain, lack of energy, and other health problems. You may go back and forth between times when you have symptoms and times when you do not.
CD is managed by avoiding certain foods that make it worse. Medicine can also help. Surgery can remove harm or blockage if other methods don’t work.
There are no natural therapies that have good proof to support their use for CD.
Unlikely to Be Effective
- Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) do not appear to lower rates of relapse to active disease.A1, A2
- Probiotics do not appear to aid or maintain disease remission.B1-B3
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or pills you are taking. Some may get in the way of your treatment or other health problems you may have.
A. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils)
A1. Feagan BG, Sandborn WJ, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the maintenance of remission in Crohn disease: the EPIC randomized controlled trials. JAMA. 2008 Apr 9;299(14):1690-1697.
A2. Lev-Tzion R, Griffiths AM, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) for maintenance of remission in Crohn’s disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Feb 28;(2):CD006320.
B1. Butterworth AD, Thomas AG, et al. Probiotics for induction of remission in Crohn’s disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD006634.
B2. Rahimi R, Nikfar S, Rahimi F, Elahi B, Derakhshani S, Vafaie M, Abdollahi M. A meta-analysis on the efficacy of probiotics for maintenance of remission and prevention of clinical and endoscopic relapse in Crohn's disease. Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Sep;53(9):2524-31.
B3. Shen J, Zuo ZX, et al. Effect of probiotics on inducing remission and maintaining therapy in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and pouchitis: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014 Jan;20(1):21-35.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board
Richard Glickman-Simon, MD
Last Updated: 3/2/2019