P475 Profiling the use of Complementary Alternative Medicines among IBD patients

Sudhakar, P.(1);Stiers, R.(1);Dycker, E.D.(2);Geens, P.(2);Paps, A.(2);Lambrechts, T.(2);Keersmaekers, B.(2);Sabino, J.(1,3);Ferrante, M.(1,3);Vermeire, S.(1,3);Verstockt, B.(1,3);

(1)KU Leuven, Department of Chronic Diseases- Metabolism and Ageing- Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders TARGID, Leuven, Belgium;(2)University Hospital Leuven, IBD Leuven, Leuven, Belgium;(3)University Hospital Leuven, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Leuven, Belgium;


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gut, characterized by multiple symptoms of which some cannot be successfully managed by existing conventional therapies. The use of complementary alternative medicines (CAMs) and CAM services among patients with chronic disorders including IBD has increased globally over the past several years (Rawsthorne Gut 2012; Weizman APT 2012). The main aims of this study were (a) to profile the use of CAMs and CAM services in a cohort of IBD patients being treated at a Belgian IBD referral center and (b) to identify the clinical and demographic factors associated with the use of CAMs.   


An anonymized and customized Dutch version of the international questionnaire to measure the use of complementary and alternative medicine (I-CAM-Q – Quandt J Altern Complement Med 2009) was provided over an 8-week period spanning September and October 2021) to all IBD patients visiting the IBD outpatient clinic and infusion unit. Pearson’s Chi-square test was used to identify the relationships between clinical and demographic variables (age, gender, educational status) and CAM usage.


From among the 410 IBD (144 UC, 253 CD) patients who responded to the survey, 173 (42.2%) were using CAMs or had used CAMs. A vast majority (79.8%) of the CAM using IBD patients reported the use of nature-based therapies (aloe vera, green tea, curcumin, cannabis, vitamin/mineral supplements and probiotics), a fifth of which was accounted for by Cannabis and its derivatives. This was followed by mind-body therapies (42.1%) (mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation). Two-thirds of patients (66.7%) mentioned to use CAMs for IBD-related symptoms. 125/173 of the CAM using IBD patients attributed the use of CAMs to their know-how about the potential of CAMs in ameliorating symptoms (32%), low efficacy or presence of adverse effects of conventional therapies (29.6%), minimize disease burden (28.8%) and avoiding surgery (7.2%). A vast majority (93.9%) of the CAM using IBD patients who responded to the query stated that consultation with their gastroenterologist would be beneficial to ascertain possible interference with their ongoing conventional therapy.  


A significant proportion of IBD patients use CAMs to manage the complicated and often systemic symptoms of IBD. The most frequently used CAMs included nature-based therapies such followed by mind-body medicine. Given that CAMs are not officially regulated as medicinal therapies, their impact on conventional therapies is not entirely clear and should be further studied. Multi-center surveys profiling the use of CAMs in IBD patients as well as other chronic disorders are warranted.