Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), does not have one standard treatment. Complementary and alternative medicines may help some people with the condition.

Several treatments for Crohn’s disease can help manage symptoms and prevent flares and complications. However, no standard treatment works for everyone. People may need to try several approaches to managing the condition.

People with Crohn’s may consider trying complementary and alternative medicines, including supplements, dietary changes, acupuncture, and more.

While these choices may not work for everyone, evidence suggests they are effective for some people. This article reviews complementary and alternative medicines that may help with Crohn’s disease.

Certain supplements may help a person feel some relief from Crohn’s disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids may help with preventing flares in Crohn’s disease. According to a 2020 review, 4 out of 6 studies reported evidence that omega-3 can help prevent flares. However, the remaining two larger, high quality studies showed that they are probably ineffective for the maintenance of Crohn’s disease.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements may also be effective in treating Crohn’s disease. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in flares, hospitalizations, and the need for steroid treatment.


Turmeric supplements may help with Crohn’s disease. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin.

Some evidence suggests that curcumin, in high quantities, may also help reduce disease activity in people living with Crohn’s disease. In a 2022 study, researchers concluded that enough high quality evidence exists to support its use in both treating IBD and maintaining remission in people living with IBD.

A person can add turmeric as a supplement or as part of their diet. It is a popular spice in many different cuisines.

Probiotics contain microorganisms that may support the gut’s microbiome. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, having a healthy balance of bacteria may benefit several aspects of a person’s health. Researchers continue to look into the connection between keeping it healthy and conditions like Crohn’s disease.

In a 2020 review of studies, researchers looked at the relationship between prebiotics and probiotics and various conditions, including IBD.

They noted that only a limited number of studies exist regarding probiotics for Crohn’s disease. Of those studies, many are small or poorly designed.

However, the researchers noted that prebiotics may help improve Crohn’s disease symptoms and reduce a person’s overall susceptibility to the condition.

Prebiotics work differently from probiotics. They provide nutrients to the bacteria and other organisms that the gut breaks down. During this break down, compounds enter the bloodstream that may provide beneficial effects to several areas of the body.

People can consume probiotics by including fermented foods and drinks in their diet, such as yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.

Probiotic and prebiotic supplements are available from pharmacies, health food stores, or online. If a person takes medication, they should ask a doctor about any possible interactions before taking these supplements.

Dietary changes may help maintain remission and reduce symptom severity when Crohn’s disease flares.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, maintaining a balanced diet with enough nutrients and calories to prevent malnourishment can be challenging. Some foods can worsen symptoms, while others can help improve them.

The organization recommends working with a doctor, nutritionist, or other medical professional to help develop a diet that avoids trigger foods and maintains adequate nutrition.

Current research supports dietary interventions to help treat Crohn’s disease. A 2022 study notes that an adequate diet can help support gut microbiota and prevent an immune system response in the intestines. The researchers recommend a person work with a medical professional to develop a dietary plan that helps prevent flares and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Certain foods may help boost anti-inflammatory effects. However, the benefits can vary among people with Crohn’s. For some, potentially beneficial foods may trigger flares.

Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • oily fish, such as tuna and salmon
  • fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries
  • vegetables, including kale, spinach, and broccoli
  • nuts and seeds
  • fiber
  • beans
  • olives and olive oil

Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine that dates back thousands of years. The basic principle of the practice is to stimulate points throughout the body, known as acupoints. These points help carry vital energy — “qi” — throughout the body.

Research has shown that many of the points occur over nerve bundles, which may explain how it can help relieve pain associated with different conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.

Currently, evidence supporting the use of acupuncture for Crohn’s disease is limited. However, the existing evidence is positive and suggests it may help manage the condition. Additional larger studies are necessary to better show how acupuncture may help.

Mindfulness helps people focus on their feelings in the present moment. It can form part of a meditation or people can use it to assess their mental state.

In a 2022 study, researchers examined the effect that mindfulness training has on people living with Crohn’s disease. They noted that many people living with Crohn’s have high levels of stress and depression and low levels of subjective well-being, which is a measure of how satisfied a person feels with their life.

They found that mindfulness can help people with Crohn’s disease improve their subjective well-being and maintain typical functioning.

Exercise may also help people with Crohn’s disease. However, existing evidence regarding its effects on the condition is relatively limited.

In a 2022 review of studies, researchers found several benefits that may occur with regular physical activity, such as reduced disease activity and improved energy levels, cardiovascular health, and mood. They noted that more studies are necessary to understand the benefits for people with Crohn’s.

Physical activity has numerous benefits, including helping with cardiovascular health, weight management, and prevention of many health conditions.

Several complementary and alternative medicines may help with Crohn’s disease. A person may not benefit from every therapy. They should also consider speaking with a doctor before starting any supplements or making significant changes to their diet or exercise pattern.