Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Megan Moore

Second Advisor

Julian Murchison


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are described as abnonnal immune responses to the gastrointestinal microbiota. The etiology of IBD is unknown; however, it is associated with Western, industrialized societies. A better understanding of the origins and treatments of IBD can lead to improved health outcomes. This paper seeks to examine IBD from a cultural, environmental, and evolutionary perspective. The effects of cultural and environmental factors, such as diagnostic practices, diet, breastfeeding practices, antibiotic use, appendectomy, and environmental radiation exposure on the risk of developing IBD are discussed. The efficacy of various treatments for IBD will also be examined. This review suggests that IBD constitutes a maladaptive inflammatory response to microbial ecosystem changes in the gut brought about by a variety of external factors, including diet, breastfeeding, appendectomy, antibiotic usage, and environmental radiation exposure.