Curing Crohn's: One Shake at a Time

FRESNO, Calif.

For Steve Smarduch, it's all about discipline. He has Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the digestive tract. Half-a-million others in the U.S. have it, too.

Meals were followed by stomach pains and vomiting. He was taking standard steroidal treatment, until his mom got worried.

"All those drugs that are used for Crohn's disease have very bad, very bad side effects," Svetlana Smarduch, Steve's mother, told Ivanhoe.

She found a treatment used across Europe called "enteral nutrition." This milkshake is kind of like a nutritional energy drink, and it put Steve's disease in remission.

"It's safer than most other modes of treatment we have available," Randolph McConnie, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told Ivanhoe.

Steroids work, but they can boost the chances of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and infections. A European study found this liquid diet is just as effective as steroids and has no side effects. But it can cost more than $200 a week, and sticking with it is no treat.

"There's an issue of taste," Dr. McConnie said."There's an issue of how the patient tolerates the formula." Steve's wants to add solid food soon.

"It's working out for me pretty good. I drink it, I get the calories and proteins, and I'm all set," Steve told Ivanhoe.

But he'll stick to his routine as long it makes him feel better.

Doctors say patients typically stay on a strict liquid diet for six to eight weeks then slowly introduce food back into their diet. The formula here needs to be purchased online or through a pharmacy. It's typically not covered by insurance because it's considered food, not medicine.

Sharon Butler
Rush University Medical Center
Physician Referral Line
(888) 352-RUSH

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