Please stop telling IBD sufferers that you can cure their disease naturally

Please stop telling IBD sufferers that you can cure their disease naturally
(Picture: Monika Muffin for

Anyone who lives with inflammatory bowel disease will tell you that it’s incredibly hard work.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two of the most prominent IBDs, and while they affect different areas (Crohn’s affecting the entire gastrointestinal tract and UC affecting mainly the large bowel and rectum), they both entail similar symptoms that negatively affect not just your health but your way of life.

Stomach cramps, bleeding and fatigue are just minor occurrences when living with IBD.

Sadly, neither illness is curable without surgery, and even with surgery, your symptoms can be unmanageable.

Please stop telling IBD sufferers that you can cure their disease naturally
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2015, and I had to have my large bowel removed as the area was so inflamed it was close to perforating. After surgery, my way of life didn’t get any better. I was given a stoma bag (where part of the small intestine is pulled out to the front of your abdominal area to release waste into a bag), for ten months before having it reversed, joining my small bowel to my rectum to allow me to go to the toilet ‘normally again’.

But sadly, even with the removal of my bowel and the re-connection, my way of life isn’t easy. As I now have no large bowel, which is there to solidify your stool, I’m prone to running to the toilet in fear of losing control and worrying about being away from a bathroom for too long. This is also worsened by the fact I can end up using the toilet up to 15 times a day – and so I’ve pretty much forgotten what having a social life even is.

It’s inconvenient and somewhat debilitating not just to my body but to my mental health and social life. It isolates me from the world often because I am unable to leave the house for more than a couple hours at a time just in case I end up in pain or am at risk of having an accident. As a 22-year-old woman who just wants to get on with her life, it’s not ideal.

But it’s something I’ve come to terms with and am still learning to cope with.

Please stop telling IBD sufferers that you can cure their disease naturally
(Picture: Liberty Sadler)

And thousands of other people who live like me are learning to cope too – though recently this is being hindered by others who don’t understand the illness, and are offering ‘cures’ via natural remedy.

The remedy? Diet.

I have seen countless posts on social media from people living both with and without IBD, from people who are promising other sufferers that if they were just to change their diet, they’ll be ‘cured’. And I’m calling them out for utter bullsh*t.

The thing with IBD is that it’s very much catered to you. Everyone is different. While some people are able to eat and absorb certain foods, others can end up in hospital because their body refuses to process them and therefore causes blockages within the digestive tract.

I’m not saying that diet can’t improve IBD, or hasn’t improved it for some people, but it’s not the same for everyone. All kinds of diets affect sufferers differently.

Please stop telling IBD sufferers that you can cure their disease naturally
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

Google ‘best diets for IBD’ and you will find people recommending avoiding dairy because it’s easier on the bowel. Sticking to lower fibre foods to decrease toilet trips. Ditching all fizzy drinks to stop you feeling gassy. But these are all simply recommendations and are not cures – because the fact is, IBD cannot be cured with diet.

People may argue with me and tell me that they have been cured with diet, and that I am wrong. But there is a difference between a cure and remission.

While diet is not a cure, there are certain lifestyle changes – including dietary – that can help put a sufferer of IBD in remission. Remission is simply a temporary break from the pain of the disease.

Because all symptoms may disappear while in remission, people believe they’ve been ‘cured’.

Metro Illustrations food healthy smoothie health
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler)

And apparently, this is a great selling point.

It’s a sad state of affairs when I see people using an illness that nearly killed me to make a quick buck. I’ve seen many people involved in pyramid schemes attempting to sell ‘healthy’ smoothies, fruit and veg capsules and the likes under the illusion that they can help cure disease – including IBD.

This is dangerous, not just for those living with IBD but for those who’ve only been recently diagnosed.

When you’re first diagnosed with it, you don’t know where to look for help because you don’t know all that’s available. It can take many appointments with a doctor to determine how severe your case is and what help you’ll need to manage the disease – and so if someone’s yet to be informed of what procedures will help them long-term, seeing someone promise a vitamin will help ease symptoms can be tempting.

metro illustrations
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

It also creates the illusion to those who don’t suffer that IBD can be ‘cured’ with something as simple as a £5 pill from a Facebook seller. It takes away the seriousness from the disease, and only adds to people’s misunderstanding of how severe an invisible illness can be.

I really wish people would look into what they’re promising before they preach. And I wish people would take the time to learn the difference between remission and a cure.

Yes, for some, diet can be helpful. But every case of IBD is different. People need to remember that before making a one-for-all promise.

Because not only is spreading this promise unfair to anyone who doesn’t yet know enough about their illness, but it also puts those whose bodies won’t respond to certain foods as well as others at risk of becoming sicker.

And do you really want that on your conscience?

MORE: 10 things you should know if you’ve been newly diagnosed with IBD

MORE: Living with a stoma bag isn’t miserable – it gives you a new lease of life

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