Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Many people with digestive disorders have used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, there are few well-designed studies of their safety and effectiveness.

Some commonly used therapies include:

  • Herbal and nutritional supplements. The majority of alternative therapies aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers can claim that their therapies are safe and effective but don't need to prove it. What's more, even natural herbs and supplements can have side effects and cause dangerous interactions. Tell your doctor if you decide to try any herbal supplement.
  • Probiotics. Outcomes of studies done on probiotics for the treatment of Crohn's have been mixed, but overall haven't shown benefit.
  • Fish oil. Studies done on fish oil for the treatment of Crohn's haven't shown benefit.
  • Acupuncture. Some people may find acupuncture or hypnosis helpful for the management of Crohn's, but neither therapy has been well studied for this use.
  • Prebiotics. Unlike probiotics — which are beneficial live bacteria that you consume — prebiotics are natural compounds found in plants, such as artichokes, that help fuel beneficial intestinal bacteria. Studies have not shown positive results of prebiotics for people with Crohn's disease.
Aug. 13, 2014

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