What is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn’s Disease is one of the two major types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being Ulcerative Colitis.

Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are believed to be autoimmune diseases, where the body reacts against its own tissues.

IBD affects over 28,000 people in New Zealand and is growing.

The main difference between the two conditions is that, Crohn’s Disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, Ulcerative Colitis affects only the large bowel and the rectum. 

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease and can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive system but mainly appears in the colon and small bowel. There is no cure, but treatment can ease your symptoms and help you enjoy a full, active life.


Crohn's can mimic the symptoms of bowel cancer and some reports suggest up to 15% of IBD patients go on to develop bowel cancer later in life.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

The digestive tract

Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15-30 years old with a secondary spike of mainly women between the ages of 60-70 years old.

People with Crohn's Disease can have severe symptoms followed by periods of no symptoms that can last for weeks or years.

The inflammation causes uncomfortable symptoms and can result in severe damage to the digestive tract.


Some of the symptoms below can mimic those of bowel cancer symptoms.

  • Chronic diarrhea, often bloody and containing mucus or pus

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness

  • Feeling of a mass or fullness in the abdomen

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies

  • Tiredness, lethargy

  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)

  • Depression, anxiety (associated with coping with the condition)

  • Stunted growth in children (which may occur many years before digestive symptoms appear).

Effects of Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s causes two types of complications:

Local - Which affects just the intestines

Systematic - Which affects the whole of your body.

Local Complications include: 

  • Abscess: This pocket of pus happens from bacterial infection. It can form on the walls of your intestines and bulge out. Or you might get one near your anus that looks like a boil. You’d notice swelling, tenderness, pain, and fever.

  • Bile salt diarrhoea: Crohn’s disease most often affects the ileum, the lower end of your intestine. This part usually absorbs bile acids, which your body creates to help it absorb fat. If your body can’t process the fat, you could get this type of diarrhoea.

  • Fissure: This is a painful tear in the lining of the anus. It can cause bleeding during bowel movements.

  • Fistula: Sores or ulcers can turn into openings called fistulas that connect two parts of your intestine. They can also tunnel into nearby tissues, like the bladder, vagina, and skin.

  • Malabsorption and malnutrition: Crohn's affects your small intestine, the part of your body that absorbs nutrients from food. After you’ve had it for a long time, your body may no longer be able make the most of what you do eat.

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO): Your gut is full of bacteria that help you break down food. When this happens higher up in your digestive tract than normal, you can get gas, bloating, belly pain, and diarrhoea.

  • Strictures: These narrowed, thickened areas of your intestines result from the inflammation that comes with Crohn’s. They can be mild or severe, depending on how much of your intestine is blocked. Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, and bloating.

Systemic complications include:

  • Arthritis: Joint inflammation, which leads to pain, swelling, and a lack of flexibility, is the most common complication.

  • Skin problems: These are the second most common systemic complication. Those most often linked to Crohn’s disease include:

  • Erythema nodosum: These small, tender, red nodules usually show up on your shins, ankles, and sometimes your arms.

  • Pyoderma gangrenosum: These pus-filled sores often follow an injury or other skin trauma. They often appear on your legs but can show up anywhere.

  • Skin tags: These small flaps of skin are common in people with Crohn’s, especially around the anus or haemorrhoids.

  • Mouth ulcers: You might hear them called canker sores. They form between your gum and lower lip or along the sides and bottom of your tongue.

  • Bone loss: Medications like steroids can lead to bone loss, a condition known as osteoporosis.

  • Vitamin D deficiency: If your body can’t absorb vitamin D because of Crohn’s damage to the small intestine or part of your small intestine has been removed, you’re less likely to be able to absorb calcium and make bone.

  • Eye problems: Over time, the inflammation in Crohn’s, or sometimes the other complications that come with it, can affect your eyes.

  • Kidney problems: These organs can be affected by Crohn’s because they play a role in processing waste and are located near your intestines.

  • Fatty liver disease: When your body doesn’t process fats as well, they can build up in your liver. Steroids can help.

  • Gallstones: When Crohn’s affects the ileum (where your small intestine meets the large intestine), it can’t process bile salts, which help cholesterol dissolve. The cholesterol can form into stones that block the opening between the liver and the bile duct.

  • Hepatitis: Chronic, long-term liver inflammation can result from Crohn’s disease itself.

  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can result from both gallstones and medications. It can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

Children & Crohn's

  • Physical development problems: Crohn’s can start at any age. When kids get Crohn’s, parents are likely to notice:

  • Growth failure: Kids with Crohn’s are likely to be shorter and weigh less than those without. They may stop getting taller before symptoms start.

  • Delayed puberty: Kids with Crohn’s are likely to start puberty later.

The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin have put together some great cartoon videos to help explain to children what a colonoscopy or an endoscopy looks like and what they will go through when looking for signs of Crohn's Disease.

Click on the image below to go to the site

Camp Purple Live

Crohn's and Colitis NZ are an amazing support organisation for people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Bowel Cancer Foundation works with this wonderful charity who have developed a camp for kids and teens called Camp Purple Live. 

The camp allows kids wih inflammatory bowel condition the ability to interact with other kids facing similar challenges and are not made to feel different because of their disease.

Our camp gives children and teenagers a chance to experience fundamental elements of childhood – the ability to play outdoors, to learn independence, nourish self-esteem, challenge themselves physically, and be proud of their accomplishments and know they are not alone.


Click on the video below to find out more about camp purple

To register for Camp Purple Live Contact Crohn's and Colitis NZ here

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.26.46 PM.pn

Diagnosing Crohn's Disease

It can be hard to distinguish between Crohn's and Colitis as they often have similar symptoms but are in fact treated quite differently. 

  • Your Doctor will take your full medical and family history

  • Blood tests to check for anaemia 

  • Stool samples to rule out infections as the cause of diarrhoea

  • Endoscopy (colonoscopy) to inspect the colon via the anus and take a tissue sample for diagnosis

  • Gastroscopy to inspect the digestive tract via the mouth and take a tissue sample for diagnosis

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This shows your doctor a clear picture of the inside of your body without using radiation

Treatments for Crohn's Disease

Though treatments can’t cure Crohn's disease, they can help most people lead normal lives. The goal is to find a treatment that works best for you with as little side effects as possible and help children with their growth and nutrition.

Crohn's disease is treated primarily with :



  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Corticosteroids, a more powerful type of anti-inflammatory drug

  • Immune system modifiers. It can take up to 6 months for these drugs to work

  • Antibiotics 

  • Drugs for diarrhoea

  • Biologic medicines, such as (Humira),(Amjevita), (Cimzia), (Remicade), (Renflexis), (Inflectra), (Tysabri), (Stelara), and (Entyvio).


These treatments are meant to help you reach remission. When that happens, your doctor may prescribe what he calls "maintenance therapy" to keep your symptoms at bay. If you don’t get better, you’ll need more aggressive treatment which usually involves surgery to remove the large bowel to control symptoms.


About 66% to 75% of people with Crohn's disease will need surgery.  This does not cure the disease just helps to manage symptoms or correct complications.


A resection, may be needed to remove severely inflamed or damaged portions of the small or large intestines.  Common procedures include:

Anastomosis: Your surgeon removes the diseased part of the bowel and joins the two healthy ends together. This surgery can allow many people to remain symptom-free for around four years, but it isn’t a cure and often comes back. 

Ileostomy: You might need this if your rectum is diseased and the doctor can’t use it for an anastomosis. This procedure connects your intestine to the skin of your torso. The result is an opening in the skin that can collect waste products in a special pouch that you empty.


If you want to know what it's like to have your colon removed read our patient story here.


In a of study of Caucasian New Zealanders with Crohn’s disease, foods most often considered to be beneficial for symptoms included white fish, salmon and tuna, gluten-free products, and boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes.


Foods most often considered to make symptoms worse included grapefruit, nuts, chilli or chilli sauce, cream, salami, energy drinks and beer. It was not possible to identify specific foods that should be avoided by all people with Crohn’s disease.

Drinking worm eggs 

Historic trials in the US report that patients with incurable Inflammatory Bowel conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis had a remission rate of up to 70% when drinking pig whipworm eggs.

Gastroenterologist Joel Weinstock of the University of Iowa devised the treatment known as TSO (Trichuris suis ova ) in 2004 after noticing that the sharp rise in Inflammatory Bowel Disease over the past 50 years in western countries coincided with a fall in infections by parasites such as roundworms and human whipworms. 

To read more click here



Frankincense oil comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree and helps speed up wound heeling, controls bleeding, improves uterine and oral health as well as fights inflammation.


It’s this inflammatory effect that has researchers excited.


The National Centre for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) studied patients with osteoarthritis and found they had better pain relief than those who used a placebo.


Long term inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, bronchial asthma, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis can lead to health issues that can be reduced by the use of Frankincense.


It’s long term inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s and Colitis that can lead to bowel cancer if left untreated.

Frankincense contains boswellic acid that fights inflammation by targeting free radicals and cytokins in the body responsible for inflammation.

Currently Frankincense is available in New Zealand as an essential oil, capsules, a tincture or Boswellia Serrata Extract as a supplement powder.

To read more click here

Causes of Crohn's Disease

Probiotics - designed for Crohn's and Colitis sufferers

Many other inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis, crohns disease and coeliac disease cause an irritation of the lining of the small and large bowel and can be pre cursors to bowel cancer later in life if left untreated.


Vivomixx probiotics help to keep the gut flora at a level where gut issues are manageable on an ongoing basis without the use of antibiotics.


Vivomixx was developed over 30 years ago by Professor Claudio De Simone, a well respected Medical Doctor and Professor of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and a member of the American College of gastroenterology. Vivomixx has the scientific backing of 60 successful studies from around the world showing Vivomixx actually works to control inflammatory gut conditions and is safe to use.

Professor Claudio De Simone, Medical Doctor and Professor of Infectious Diseases, Inventor of Vivomixx.

Click on the Buy Now button for more information on this product. The link will take you to a New Zealand family owned and operated company called My Natural Health, an online health store who are the importers of Vivomixx into New Zealand and are a great supporters of our charity.

The BCFT discount code will ensure you get up to 10% discount on every packet purchased, depending on the volume purchased.

Good health starts with a healthy digestive system.

Absolute Essential Frankincense (Wild) Oil 5ml


NOW Boswellia Extract 500mg (90 Softgels)


Good health starts with a healthy digestive system.

The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown but it was a long held belief to be diet and stress.

Crohn's has also been thought of as an autoimmune disease, but some research suggests that the chronic inflammation may not be due to the immune system attacking the body itself, but rather a result of the immune system attacking a harmless virus, bacteria, or food in the gut.

Some researchers argue that improved hygiene throughout the developed world may be responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.


The more we sanitize our surroundings the more we kill off the common parasites our bodies need to function harmoniously. These parasites are still prevalent in developing countries which have very few recorded incidences of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Crohn's Risk Factors

A few things can make you more likely to get Crohn’s disease:


  • Genetics: Crohn's disease is often inherited. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease may have a close relative with either Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. In addition, Ashkenazi Jews are at greater risk for the disease

  • Age: While Crohn's disease can affect people of all ages, it’s primarily an illness of the young. Most people are diagnosed before age 30, but the disease can happen in people in their 60s, 70s, or even later in life

  • Smoking: This is the one risk factor that’s easy to control. Smoking can make Crohn’s more severe and raise the odds that you’ll need surgery

  • Medications: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and similar medications don’t cause Crohn’s disease, but they can lead to inflammation and in some instances, bleeding of the bowels that makes it worse.

  • The world around you: People who live in urban areas or industrialized countries are more likely to get Crohn’s

  • Diet: if you eat a lot of high-fat or processed foods, your odds of Crohn’s could go up.

  • Infections: Bacteria linked to Crohn’s include Mycobacterium aviumparatuberculosism, which causes a similar condition in cattle, and a type of E. coli


CC number:


  • Facebook App Icon
  • LinkedIn App Icon