Today, the increase in people being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) is quite alarming. As someone who has suffered from digestive problems my whole life and who has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I know all too well the complications of having a chronic digestive disease. It is debilitating on the physical body, but also the mind and spirit.
IBS is known as a chronic complaint of stomach pains, bloating, cramping, and a change in bowel habits such as chronic diarrhea or constipation. It is most commonly diagnosed in people that internalize stress and anxiety, suffered from a traumatic or stressful event and is also found in people who have a nutritionally deficient diet.
IBD is a more serious group of conditions (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis), resulting from inflammation of the colon, small intestine and overall digestive system that can cause a whole host of symptoms including: blood and/or mucus in stool, chronic diarrhea, fever, chills, headaches, weight loss, inflammation in other areas of the body (joints and/or eyes), nausea, chronic fatigue, depression, and overall decreased quality of life. IBD has been linked to people who have had a previous parasite and/or who were prescribed antibiotics frequently which wiped away all of the good bacteria as well as the bad resulting in a weakened immune system leading to inflammation. It is also linked to those with a family history, who eat a nutritionally deficient diet and people who suffer from internalizing stress and anxiety.
In both cases of IBS and IBD, the mind and body are connected, but, which symptom started first? Did the mind affect the body or did the body affect the mind? Either way, we know they are intertwined and we have to heal the ‘whole’ person in order to improve the condition any ailment. Despite all of the information out there, it is still difficult to find a known cure for IBS or IBD that helps to heal the ‘whole’ individual. Medications and surgery are often prescribed to physically help with the symptoms, but, there is a lack of knowledge out there to help people naturally heal through Yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, pranayama and eating whole foods.
What I have found through my own experience is that there IS a link between the body and what is going on in your life and in your mind. When we nourish the body, mind and soul, we can heal a whole host of diseases/illnesses.
If you look at these digestive complications from an Ayurvedic perspective, they are both Pitta/Vata complications with different degrees of severity. Balancing these doshas by calming the Vata mind and developing a beautiful self-care routine to reduce the inflammation (Pitta) are the most important aspects of healing.
After I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2009, I was told by my Doctor (and several second opinions) that I would be on medication for life. I was not satisfied with this prognosis. While I totally agree that medication is necessary without the education of how to heal, I believe that anyone can slowly decrease their medication and eventually live a happy and healthy lifestyle with the appropriate education. One day during a flare up, I was reading and came across a book called, “Perfect Health” by Deepak Chopra. It was there that I realized that I could heal myself of my IBD and live a life free of, suffering and medication. This is also where I first really immersed myself in the concept of mind/body healing. I have slowly decreased my medication to nothing and have not had a flare up in over 6 months. I feel cured, and if not cured, I feel healthy and happy ?
I attribute my health to following a life based on Ayurvedic principles while eating a plant-based diet. I live a life full of love, compassion, empathy, Yoga, meditation, pranayama and a sattvic vegan diet with mainly cooling herbs and spices. Mindfulness meditation, Ujjayi breath and alternative nostril breathing have provided significant and positive changes in my lifestyle to reduce my symptoms. Additionally, practicing beautiful restorative yoga poses that open up the lower spine, eventually leading to many forward bends and abdominal twists had helped significantly. My mind has become calm, my diet has become pure, my soul has become nourished, and my body has become healthy. I want to inspire others to heal themselves, so I hope I have inspired you. It takes some hard work and dedication that some might say is extreme, but taking medication and surgery seems a lot more extreme to me. I am now thriving rather than surviving.
April Furanna is a self-tested healer of her own Crohn’s disease since 2009. She has her BA in Physical Education and Kinesiology, her Bachelor of Education (2005), is a certified Ayurveda-Yoga therapist (2011-2012), has completed her 200 hour Yoga teacher training through Aura Wellness (2013) and is currently completing her Meditation teacher training. April uses Ayurvedic approaches when creating individualized plans for her clients with a focus on proper diet (plant based), yoga, meditation, pranayama, lifestyle, mind/sprit adjustments and modifications. She is currently living in Samara, Costa Rica and is available for in person and/or Skype consultations to develop an individualized program that will provide you with the information needed to live the most optimal quality of life.