Drug Free Treatment for Crohn’s Disease for 95% Relief

February 15, 2011

Inflammation in the bowel is not just painful, it is also the gift that keeps on giving. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two of these relapsing conditions and affect millions of people worldwide. Now it seems that a simple, everyday, supplement could actually treat the disease without the need for drugs.

The debilitating symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions include weight loss, diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and cramping and gastrointestinal bleeding. This results in ongoing tissue inflammation that alters the functioning of the intestine, and is usually treated with immune suppressive drugs including steroids. The latter have a number of side effects from minor discomfort to potentially more serious conditions so anyone on regular steroid medication must ensure they are given frequent and regular health checks by their doctor.

The main drawback to all the medication for inflammatory bowel conditions is that they are not totally effective so after initial relief most patients relapse and get their symptoms back again.

Now there is some real hope for self treatment that is totally drug free in a recently published report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Northwestern Medicine researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. They have genetically tweaked a version of a common probiotic found in yogurt, sauerkraut and cheese. In their new animal study they have shown it is an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

You may already be taking a probiotic as they are recommended for maintaining a healthy gut, especially after any form on digestive upset, to replace the “friendly bacteria” you will have lost. Indeed a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that probiotics may shorten viral infections and diarrhoea in otherwise healthy children if administered at the beginning of the illness and may prevent diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics, which often destroy good intestinal bacteria along with whatever infectious bacteria they are meant to combat. This of course also applies to adults!

Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) and you will find them in yogurt and they can be also be taken as supplements as well. The one most commonly found one in yoghurt is Lactobacillus acidophilus and the Northwestern team deleted a gene in the probiotic and fed this version to mice with two different models of colitis. After about 2 weeks of treatment, the new probiotic strain had virtually eliminated colon inflammation in the animals.

Moreover, it halted progression of the disease by a staggering 95 percent. This is hopeful not just for treating various autoimmune diseases of the gut, including inflammatory bowel disease, but also potentially for colon cancer as all these conditions can be triggered by imbalanced inflammatory immune responses.

In the study, the modified Lactobacillus acidophilus was found to calm over stimulated immune cells in the gut by mobilizing messenger immune cells, called dendritic cells. These cells then enhanced the production of other functional immune cells, known as regulatory T-cells. This resulted in a healthy new balance in the intestine and systemic inflammation was soothed away.

Dr Mansour Mohamadzadeh, associate professor of medicine at Feinberg and the lead investigator of the study, explained that the next step will be a trial testing the new form of Lactobacillus acidophilus in humans. In the meantime, keeping your gut healthy with a regular probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus would probably be a sensible addition to your health regime.


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