It is with pride and pleasure that I write this foreword for Living with Crohn’s and Colitis, the new book from Dede Cummings and Dr. Jessica Black, which offers new and important insight about the best choices in integrative care, specifically naturopathic treatments for these chronic and often vexing forms of inflammatory bowel disease. The authors provide a wealth of insight into often-underappreciated strategies that may allow those challenged by inflammatory bowel disease to take charge of their own destiny. Using these strategies may allow any reader to become what physicians call the "exceptional patient”—the individual who derives the maximum benefit by utilizing the combination of inspired medical advice and diligent self-care.
What I find particularly attractive about this book is how it integrates personal experience with medical knowledge. The first chapter profiles co-author Dede Cummings’ experiences as a lifelong Crohn’s disease patient. Dede, an award-winning book designer, writes engagingly and poignantly about her struggles with Crohn’s and her voyage of self-discovery and healing that culminates in her hiking the “Long Trail” (the length of Vermont) in one-week sections, finally realizing a long-term goal that had been put off due to illness.
The book is also a terrific nuts-and-bolts guide of basic nature cure for inflammatory bowel disease. Jessica Black is one of those bright new lights in naturopathic medicine who can translate her passion for science into a passion for people. We might well consider her a fundamentalist of sorts. Her advice is grounded in the basics of naturopathic technique and philosophy: A cleansing balancing of the body’s internal environment and the promotion of proper organ function. The goal here is to reverse the disease process, not just try to treat symptoms..
However, make no mistake. Dr. Black knows her science. The sections on inflammation, immunity, and the gut are as complete and thorough as anything I have yet encountered. What marks it as special is Jessica’s dexterity in distilling the complexities of the immune system and its role in inflammatory bowel disease into a highly readable primer for the average person.
Perhaps most extraordinary, for a science-based book of this sort, is just how much emphasis is given to the connection between mind and body. Dr. Black sees much of the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease as boundary issues of a sort requiring both a physical and emotional approach. As she writes, “I think of the gut as our initial boundary protecting us from the outside world. A compromised gut is often connected with compromised emotional boundaries.” Those of us who have been in practice long enough to have seen a requisite number of inflammatory bowel disease patients know well the truthfulness of this approach.
Living with Crohn’s and Colitis is highly prescriptive. However, those looking for hope in a shoebox of supplements will probably come away disappointed. Those readers worried that by embarking on a naturopathic approach they might compromise their conventional medical care can rest assured. This is an integrated, broadly based approach. In fact, it is the concerted actions of all schools of healing that most often yield the best results, and Living with Crohn’s and Colitis is the reader’s best guide to this successful approach.
The book concludes with a simple three-month plan that is designed to transport the reader from disease to health. The suggestions are well paced and practicable. I especially appreciated the inclusion of a maintenance plan because in health, just like in sailing, “it is easier to stay dry than it is to get dry.” Helpful recipes and carefully selected resources round out the book.
The word doctor is derived from the original Latin docere, which means “to teach.” Sadly we do very little teaching in our modern day disease care system, preferring to park the ambulance at the foot of the cliff rather than at the precipice. Yet this book provides you with the opportunity to do something that no health care facility can do for you: Convert private time into therapy time. Expand that outwards over the years, months and days, and you have a road map to an exceptional outcome.
I once knew a famous choreographer who told me, “Forty percent of any dance is the ending.” Modern science is still trying to decipher the mystifying reasons why a person might develop inflammatory bowel disease. Genes, infections, and hypersensitivity probably all play their part, and prevention on these levels may still lie in the future. However, I believe the book that you now hold in your hands contains the wisdom sufficient for you to end your dance on a high note.
Peter D’Adamo, N.D.
Author, Eat Right For Your Type