Note: There are lots more wonderful books listed in the Amazon IBD Book Wish List on my home page. This page only contains the books I’ve read well enough to review.
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I say it over and over…”Become an expert about your own body.”

The majority of IBD treatments, either allopathic (traditional medicine) or naturopathic (natural healing methods), require a large degree of self-management. Becoming an expert is the best way to ensure you’re getting the most appropriate treatment for your body.

Below is my book-based reading list (there is a ton of good material in the peer-review journals if you have access, and lots of good reading in the gray literature, though you should treat the gray literature with a reasonable dose of skepticism).

I only post books that I’ve read, books that have proved themselves valuable to me in treating my Colitis, books that I felt I could give a positive review. I will update this post as I read more, so come back frequently to this post for new books!

Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall

This book outlines the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, one of the most credible and successful natural treatments for IBD I’ve found. It’s been my treatment textbook since I started the SCD in the Summer of 2009. This diet has helped me to have a medication-free, energetic existence. Four days after I started this diet, I recorded a measurable, positive change in my symptoms. Yea!

Living with Crohn’s & Colitis: A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness, by Jessica Black, ND and Dede Cummings.

This is as good an introduction to natural treatment of IBD as I’ve found. If you are newly diagnosed, or newly trying natural treatments, this is a great place to start reading. The authors provide a good mix of detail and story (Dede’s healing journey and experience with IBD) that breaks up the text nicely. Each substantive section is reinforced with Dede’s story (Dede is a patient of Dr. Black). I wouldn’t call it “comprehensive” though, as I didn’t find the level of detail to justify having that word in the title (but really, I haven’t found that level of detail in any IBD book I’ve read), but my wife did. She found it infinitely useful, and it spurred many nighttime conversations over my treatments. It also helped her to understand what was happening in my body, what treatments were available, what each treatment technique attempts to address, and it helped her empathize with what I was experiencing.

What to Eat with Ibd: A Comprehensive Nutrition and Recipe Guide for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, by Tracie Dalessandro

I recommend reading a few books on diet and nutrition for people with IBD. Even though some of the food recommendations will clash with the SCD (you’ll have to filter with any book–stick with SCD foods), this book taught me about vitamins (deficiencies associated with IBD, taking supplements, in food, absorption issues, etc.). This book also gave me this breakthrough tidbit of information: Cook your veggies. People with IBD often can’t break down the fiber matrix in veggies, so steaming them helps break down that fiber matrix and makes them easier on the digestive system. This little factoid allowed me to eat vegetables again while I was really sick (I couldn’t tolerate them raw)! After about 7 months on the SCD, I could eat raw veggies just fine…

The New Eating Right for a Bad Gut : The Complete Nutritional Guide to Ileitis, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, by James Scala, PhD.

My mom got me this book. The title embarrassed me so much that I wouldn’t be seen reading it in public. If I did read it when people were around, I’d cover the cover. There is significant overlap between this book and What to Eat…, but it’s worth mentioning because it is well written and I learned from it. I also like getting more than one perspective on any single topic. If I had to choose between this and What to Eat… above, I’d choose What to Eat…

The First Year: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, by Jill Sklar.

This was the first book I read after I was diagnosed. And it should be required reading during your first year after diagnosis. Reading it was like having a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. It was the first time I’d encountered anyone I could identify with, who knew what I was going through, and who could lay out for me what I could expect. Both my wife and I read it. That said, I have one note of caution: Jill will present to you the traditional, allopathic treatment pathway for people with IBD. However, I consider this book essential reading because it will educate you about your digestive system, some of the thoughts on the eitology (genesis) of IBD, and it will educate you about the options open to you and your doctor through allopathic, intervention-based medicine. Even after all I’ve learned about natural healing for IBD, this book will never leave my shelf. Read it, and you’ll understand why.

Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy

Nutrition textbook. Requires either a background in science or better than average patience to get the most from this. Fantastic reference, though, for understanding your body and how it uses the fuel you give it; what you need, where it goes, how it is processed, etc. Caution to geeks and the extremely curious (like me): If you have a family, friends, or any kind of social interaction, first remember to put this book down and actually talk with them, and second remember they might not be as interested in Colonic production of Vitamin K as you are.

Listen to Your Gut by, Jini Patel Thompson (browse her site, you’ll learn a lot)

This was the first book I read on natural healing that was specific to IBD. I love it and refer to it almost weekly. Jini has a rather amazing personal story. In the book, she discusses the most likely causes for IBD, describes conventional treatments (their pros and cons), describes in detail natural supplements (and other things) that can help with IBD, and outlines protocols for using these supplements to begin healing your IBD. Don’t discount the section that describes the mind-gut connection.

I have tried (or am in the process of trying) most of the protocols she recommends. Some of her strategies have worked for me (probiotics, yea!), and some haven’t (Mucosaheal). Many are not SCD friendly, so you have to balance her advice with the SCD. My advice would be to try the SCD in full for 6 months before trying anything else. Then start with her wild Oregano Protocol + Probiotics.

Note: There are a lot of people out there claiming they have the ‘cure’ for IBD. BE CAREFUL. Don’t buy anything you can’t verify somewhere else. Stay away from supplements that aren’t independently tested and have an inner and outer seal. Read money back guarantees thoroughly. Read the fine print.

From what I can tell, Jini’s book is well-researched and backed-up by years of trial and error to help you sift through the junk. She gives you just the stuff that she’s seen work. Thanks Jini.

Immunotics, by Dr. Robert Roundtree, M.D. and Carol Colman

I read this book 3 times in 3 weeks. It’s that wonderful, and it’s a constant reference for me. It’s a well researched, accessible, and practical guide to natural immune supporting foods and supplements. Roundtree and Colman guide you through immune system and its function; various herbs, foods, and supplements that support our immune system; the research around each supplement; and its uses. He even gives recommended doses and reliable manufacturers. I found most use from his suggestions for (1) people at a high risk for cancer, (2) people with GI problems, and (3) natural anti-depressants.

I have a personal connection with Dr. Roundtree. He used his knowledge of natural immunotics to help my aunt with adjunct therapies for her cancer treatment, and has helped her stay cancer free ever since.

Perfect Health Diet, by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet

My brother gave me this book for Christmas this year (2010). It’s one of the best books I read in 2010. Both Paul and Shou-Ching have spent five years researching diet and nutrition in an attempt to heal their own chronic health problems. Now living healthy, energetic lives, Paul and Shou-Ching have written, in this book, a summary of what they have learned along the way. This is a fantastic book on nutrition as it relates to disease. The diet they propose is a Paleo diet, with a few “safe” starches. Anyone can benefit from this book; however, I put it up here, especially for folks like me with IBD, because of its focus on disease, on healing disease. It’s well grounded in the scientific literature, yet easily accessible for non-geeks. Chris Masterjohn at Cholesterol-and-Health.com has written a wonderful review of the book, so I’ll point you there, rather than review it here.

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine,by Michael Murray, N.D., and Joseph Pissorno, N.D.

This reference should be on everyone’s shelf. I refer to it constantly, almost weekly. It provides an accessible overview of the major body systems: Cardiovascular, Digestion, Immune, and provides a good intro into Detoxification, Longevity and Stress. The majority of the book focuses the reader on specific health issues and natural medicine’s approach to treating each. In most cases, it outlines for you a treatment regime, or suggestions for treating the conditions discussed. I found the sections on Detoxification, Immune Support, and Digestion and Elimination  helpful, even with my Human Biology background. Specific to IBD, I think you will find the discussion of Candidiasis, Diarrhea, food allergies, Depression, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (of course) helpful.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, by Sandor Ellix Katz

This is a wonderful book! Part cookbook, part non-fiction, Sandor mixes personal anecdote and life experience with a surprising depth of historical and cultural context (for a cookbook) into fermented foods. The recipes range from breads and sprouted grains, to fermenting vegetables for preservation, fermented milk products, and of course, fermented beverages of all types. Take a look; Amazon has a preview into the book that is helpful. This book has become a permanent fixture on my cookbook shelf.

Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, Dr. Johnathon Wright, MD and Dr. Lane Lenard, PhD.

In this incredible book, Drs. Wright and Lenard outline the case for increasing (balancing), not decreasing (combating) stomach acid. They have a researched and clinical approach, but the book is still accessible for anyone–even those with no science background. Dr Wright outlines how he treats a spectrum of autoimmune disorders (asthma, allergies, autism, gut disorders, and more) by in part increasing stomach acid. He presents research demonstrating that a large majority of people with these auto- and quasi-autoimmune disorders have inadequate stomach acid production. Boosting and normalizing stomach acid production can play a key role in healing for many individuals. Indeed, it has helped me. I started in 2012 supplementing with Betaine HCl, and have seen improvements in my gut and with food intolerance. Now, about 9 months after beginning HCl, I am finally starting to taper down. This book has played a key role in helping me on my healing journey.