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Interview with author of Beat Crohn's


I was able to do an e-mail interview with Margaret Oppenheimer, who is the author of a new book called Beat Crohn's! Getting to Remission with Enteral Nutrition. This book focuses fully on the use of enteral nutrition as a treatment option for Crohn's Disease. If you and your doctor have not considered this treatment option for your IBD, you should consider reading this book as enteral nutrition can be a replacement for steroids or or medication for some people, without having the same side effects that these drugs do.

Margaret was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for us. Below are the questions that I was able to ask her as well as her responses:

1. How did you get the idea for this book and what experience have you had with enteral nutrition?

I have a chronic inflammatory disease that acts a bit like Crohn's, but doesn't fall neatly into any of the normal diagnostic categories. I was hunting around for anything that might help when I read a brief overview of enteral nutrition in a book by a Canadian doctor, Dr. Fred Saibil. I was intrigued enough to head for the New York Academy of Medicine to find some clinical studies on the subject, and what I read convinced me to try it myself.

At this point, I've used enteral nutrition more than half a dozen times, and for up to six weeks at a time, experimenting with different formulas. To my great disappointment, it doesn't put me in remission. But I was struck with what it could do for many people with Crohn's and thought it a real pity that such a useful treatment option was not better known. Writing a book on such a specialized topic was not even a remotely practical decision, but I saw it as a mission, something I could do that maybe no one else would ever do if I didn't, something that would make life easier for people suffering from a truly difficult and frustrating disease.

2. Why do you think that enteral nutrition has not received more support by the medical community as a treatment option for Crohn's?

I think the biggest problem is lack of familiarity. Most doctors didn't see it used during training as a primary treatment for Crohn's, and therefore aren't convinced it works. If some of their patients try it successfully, I suspect they will be much more open to offering it to others in the future.

3. What type of condition do you think is most receptive to enteral nutrition: minor, moderate, or severe Crohn's?

There really isn't enough data to generalize. It can certainly work across the spectrum of disease severity. One of the published cases I summarize in the book is that of a very seriously ill woman who had a great response to enteral nutrition after losing response to Remicade (infliximab). There are also cases in which it has worked in people who have been dependent on steroids for months or years.

4. You make some mention in your book on the negative or hard aspects of complying with this type of treatment. What type of personality or personal situation is needed for a person to have the most success following an enteral nutrition treatment option?

This question reminds me of a study conducted some years ago among a group of young children. Each child was given a marshmallow and left alone in a room. They were told they could eat the marshmallow right away, but if they waited to eat it for 15 minutes until the researcher returned, they would get two marshmallows instead. About 30% of the children managed to restrain their hunger long enough to earn the second marshmallow. Those children would probably comply with enteral nutrition! That's another way of saying that people who can handle delayed gratification, who are able to stick with projects that require a long-term commitment in order to earn a later payoff, are those who are likeliest to find living with the diet manageable. That said, you can succeed regardless of your personality if you say to yourself that this is a challenge you can easily meet rather than an unsurmountable mountain. It's a matter of attitude.

5. How should someone approach a doctor if they want to try this treatment option and they feel their doctor will not be supportive?

You might try couching it as an experiment. Let your doctor know you're really curious to know if this might work. You might be able to get him or her curious about the results, too. The doctor's biggest worry is going to be that you might put your health at risk, so it's a good idea to suggest having blood tests around 10 days after you start to provide an objective way of measuring progress. Then your doctor is assured of having the chance to intervene promptly if your condition worsens.


Hopefully you learned something from this! Once again the book is Beat Crohn's! Getting to Remission with Enteral Nutrition which can be purchased online today!
thats good info to know. ive considered trying enteral diets before since none of the meds were holding out. was never recommended by my gi's for me though, but it was still always a thought to me. good to know for the future.

thanks mike!


Naples, Florida
I came across this OLD thread today while working on some other stuff and thought I'd bump it. "Beat Crohn's" is a fantastic book on enteral nutrition for Crohn's Disease. One of these days I hope to find the time to properly review it. I had no idea we interviewed the author! Super cool, good job Mike! :)