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LDN Helped Smokey's Childbirth-Like Abdominal Pain

Smokey Charis
May 13, 2019

About Crohn's:

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. This can lead to abdominal pain, lesions in the intestines, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Crohn's disease can be debilitating, and sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. There is no known cure for Crohn's disease.

Smokey, what medical situation were you dealing with?

About a year and a half ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. It felt like labor pains- both in the frequency and the intensity. It was truly gripping, intolerable pain.

What was the diagnosis you received?

The first hospital I went to thought I was having a bowel obstruction, and I received surgery for that. Two weeks later, however, the extreme abdominal pain returned, so it obviously wasn’t that.

I woke up in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. It felt like labor pains - both in the frequency and the intensity.
What did you do after the surgery failed to solve the problem?

A gastroenterologist (GI) I saw after the surgery did not find anything definitive on my scans and MRIs to come to a definitive diagnosis. He then gave me a camera capsule to swallow that takes pictures as it makes its way through the digestive system. Lesions were seen in the large and small intestines. This physician has seen many, many cases of Crohn’s, and that is the diagnosis I received.

What treatment did your GI recommend for the Crohn’s?

He prescribed Remicade®, which is a very strong drug. I didn’t want my immune system tampered with in that way- it seemed very extreme. As we’ve all seen the commercials on TV, the list of serious side effects was long. It was also very expensive (I estimated it would cost about $6000 for 2 months of treatment). Given all that, I decided I didn’t want to take it and asked to be treated in an “alternative” way. My GI didn’t want to do that. I was put on prednisone for about 3 months, which helped me feel better, but I started to get off it as soon as possible due to the potential for significant side effects.

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Did you seek a second opinion?

Yes, I saw a functional medicine practitioner in New Mexico, Dr. Forouz Jowkar. Because I had gone to Cuba right before all this started, she suspected that I might not have Crohn’s but rather something bacterial picked up in Cuba. She suggested I do some investigative studies (such as very sophisticated stool testing) that my GI had refused to do when I asked him. The results showed an overgrowth of bacteria that weren’t supposed to be there.

What treatment did your functional medicine practitioner suggest?

She suggested I start low dose naltrexone right away. She had treated a number of other people with LDN and thought it might be helpful if I did have Crohn’s, because Crohn’s has an autoimmune basis and LDN is an immune modulator. I started at 1.5mg and I worked up, over several weeks’ time, to 4.5mg of LDN. Dr. Forouz also suggested probiotics to normalize my gut flora, and recommended a low oxalate diet. I stuck to the regimen very closely.

She suggested I start low dose naltrexone right away. She had treated a number of other people with LDN and thought it might be helpful if I did have Crohn’s, because Crohn’s has an autoimmune basis and LDN is an immune modulator.
How did you respond?

I kept feeling better and better. I have a lot more energy than I did when I was sick. I'm not worried about waking up in the middle of the night with pain, so I'm pain free, which is huge. I can now eat pretty much whatever I want. I’m able to get back into all of my normal routines. I do a lot of yoga, bicycle, and am very active physically. I'm very happy I'm able to do those things that I love again. I really have felt very well for over a year now, so I’m very pleased about that.

I really have felt very well for over a year now, so I’m very pleased about that.
What do you think helped you the most?

I believe that whole regimen- the LDN, the extreme diet, and the probiotics- cleared up my situation. That said, I’m only taking LDN right now. I’ve been eating an almost totally normal diet for about 5 months! Also, my repeat stool studies showed that everything was back in balance, so I stopped taking my probiotics about 2 months ago. I don’t want to stop taking the naltrexone.

Have you had any testing to see if you still have intestinal lesions?

One of the things done last September to assess my current status was a colonoscopy. There were no lesions or anything remaining. There was no sign of any disease at all. They saw a little stricture that was probably a result of a past lesion, but other than that, everything looked normal. Absolutely normal. So that was great!

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What did your GI say about your status post-low dose naltrexone?

After having no symptoms for 6 months, the 2nd “highest” gastroenterologist at the Colorado University Medical Center started saying at each visit that he didn’t know if I had Crohn’s after all. At my last visit with him in November 2018, he said that he did not think I had Crohn’s.

What did you learn through this process?

I really am glad I'm the kind of person that can advocate for myself. I’m also really grateful to have had a practitioner who would suggest these other treatment options that the basic western medicine doctors just weren't open to. If I had just gone along with what the GI had suggested, who knows what Remicade® would have done to my whole body because of its strong immune system effects?

What do you think others can learn from your experience?

Basic western medicine sometimes doesn’t “see” all the options. It also kind of brainwashes us to think that only certain medicines are valuable for treating something. Most people just say “okay” to what their doctor prescribes, and don’t investigate alternative treatments or kinds of testing. I’m really happy I pursued an alternative approach.

More About Smokey:

I am a nurse psychotherapist and an artist of watercolors and pastels. I am 76 years old and love hiking and biking (with my new husband) and living in an earthship (made of earth-filled tires) in northern New Mexico off the grid, totally dependent on solar and windpower. I have 8 grandchildren who delight me. If you have any questions about my experience with LDN, please feel free to email me at

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