By Catherine Lewis, IH Editor -- Published: February 22, 2010
Sufferers of Crohn’s Disease may have some good news. More and more research is suggesting that probiotics can successfully be used for treatment of this debilitating condition. Keep reading for more information on this developing research.
Crohn’s Disease, is a chronic disease that that affects the digestive system by causing inflammation of the entire gastrointestinal tract. However, the disease doesn’t limit itself to only certain parts of the body.
In most cases, the colon or small intestine are the most affected parts. But in fact, any part from the mouth to the anus can be affected, making this a devastating disease. Crohn’s Disease, like Ulcerative Colitis, is considered an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). What both of these dreadful diseases have in common is that they are both brought on by an abnormal immune system.
In a healthy body, you have many proteins, cells and bacteria helping to fight off infection and disease. But, a patient that suffers from Crohn’s Disease doesn’t have the same strength in their immune system because there is a fight between the immune system and the white blood cells. While the immune system is trying to destroy the healthy bacteria in your stomach, the white blood cells of your intestinal lining are trying to fight back. The result is usually chronic inflammation – inflammation that leads to ulcerations, bowel injuries, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pains and stomach and intestinal problems.
So, how can probiotics help treat Crohn’s Disease?
Although the exact cause of Crohn’s Disease is yet to be determined, it’s believed that the main cause is an imbalance of the bacteria in your stomach. Our bodies are made up of good and bad bacteria. People with Crohn’s Disease have an insufficient amount of the good bacteria so the bad bacterial takes over, causing chronic inflammation. Although antibiotics can offer some help, their prolonged use can cause a number of other problems. Here is where probiotics are said to be beneficial in the treatment of Crohn’s Disease.
Probiotics are what we refer to as “friendly” or “good” bacteria. And this good bacteria is something Crohn’s Disease patients need more of in their bodies in order to overtake the harmful bacteria that’s raising havoc in the intestinal tract.
Studies of patients of Crohn’s Disease taking probiotics with their regular medications versus patients not taking the probiotics garnished interesting results. Ten patients with Crohn’s Disease took a prebiotic supplement with a small does of psyllium and a probiotics supplement with Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus casei along with their regular Crohn’s medication for 13 months.
At the end of the study, six of the ten patients were in remission, three had no reaction to the additional treatment and one had fewer symptoms. Four of the patients refused to take the prebiotic supplement because of abdominal bloating. However, of the six that achieved remission, four were taking both the probiotics and the prebiotics.
So, are prebiotics and probiotics to be considered a good treatment for Crohn’s Disease? While it may not be definite yet, patients could consider taking the pre- and probiotic combination, along with their regular medications, as a safe way to relieve symptoms.