crohn’s disease

What is Colitis?

Often, this kind of infection occurs when certain bacteria, typically C. diff, outgrow and dominate other bacteria in the gut.

Sadly, the over-prescribing of antibiotics — think ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and amoxicillin — to patients by doctors for unnecessary reasons, especially in hospitals, has created opportunities for drug-resistant infections to harm greater numbers of Americans and trigger C. diff infections. And, this exposure to antibiotics doesn’t include those contained in the flesh foods we eat either. Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, but that’s as simple a definition as you’ll get for this intestinal condition. Its symptoms include cramping, bloating, diarrhea (sometime bloody) and abdominal pain.

Defining it and naming its common symptoms are the easy parts, however.

Unfortunately, people use colitis as a catchall term to describe a lot of different conditions. Plus, colitis comes in many types, including ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, microscopic colitis and chemical colitis.

Interestingly, a common kind of colitis that you may already be pretty familiar with — but call it something else like food poisoning — is infectious colitis.

Infectious colitis can come from having person-to-person contact (usually dirty hands), consuming foods and water contaminated with E Coli, Salmonella or parasites or having indirect contact with common items you may handle that are unclean (think toothbrushes, eating utensils and clothing).

Another form of colitis — pseudeomembraneous colitis — has risen greatly in popularity over the last decade or so, but you’ve likely heard it called by the name of the bacteria, specifically Clostridium difficile or C. diff infections.

Other factors cited by the Mayo Clinic that may make you more vulnerable to pseudomembranous colitis apart from too many antibiotics:

  • Receiving chemotherapy
  • Suffering from colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Living in a nursing home
  • Staying in a hospital

Probiotics to the rescue

The good news about these kinds of infections: Studies have shown how probiotics can dramatically reduce the incidence of diarrhea, among of the key symptoms associated with C. diff infections.

In fact, an extensive 2013 review of 31 studies by the Cochrane Library concluded probiotics significantly reduced the risk of diarrhea associated with C. diff infections by an amazing 64 percent.

So, how do you choose the right probiotic? Cheaper brands of probiotics tend to restrict their blends of beneficial bacteria to one or a few, yet small amounts don’t do much to cultivate the diversity your gut needs to reduce your risk of infections or their symptoms and promote better immune health.

If you’ve been looking for a proven probiotic, consider a product that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria already living in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Junior (for kids).

 

 

More And More Research Affirms The Benefits Of Healthy Bacteria

Dear EndoMune subscribers,

This month’s newsletter looks at some of the recent research on the positive effects healthy bacteria can have on the digestive system.

When I went into medicine, we spent a long time studying how bacteria caused serious infectious diseases. We learned about the importance of antibiotics and when to use them.

We never had a lecture on how certain bacteria (microflora) have co-evolved with us and how they help maintain our health.

No one really knew much about these healthy bacteria. But it turns out that they are essential for human life. We need them in our gut to digest food, synthesize certain vitamins and form a barricade against disease-causing bacteria.

But what do they look like in healthy people, and how much do they vary from person to person?

“Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune system from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.”

Human Microbiome Project

The National Institute of Medicine launched the Human Microbiome Project1 (HMP) in 2008. It’s a five-year program to better understand how the bacterial communities (microbiome) that live on and in the human body protect our health.

The HMP involves 200 scientists at 80 institutions. Using the latest genetic techniques, they collect samples of bacterial genetic material from 242 healthy people.

The samples have been collected from five areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose and the vagina.

The projects reveal some of the ways in which invisible or microscopic bacteria shape our lives from birth to death. The ultimate goal is to test whether changes in the human microbiome are associated with human health or disease.

Benefits of a Healthy Microbiome

For example, researchers2 at Baylor College of Medicine have found that the vaginal bacterial flora or microbiomes change during pregnancy. Particular species, like Lactobacillus johnsonii, become dominant. This bacteria is usually found in the human intestinal tract where it produces enzymes that promote digestion of milk and substances that destroy harmful bacteria.

These findings have implications for the newborn. Before birth, the infant is in a sterile environment. The initial exposure to the world of bacteria is during the passage through the birth canal. It has been speculated that the baby will ingest some of the Lactobacillus johnsonii which will aid in digesting breast milk.

Babies born by Caesarean section start out with different microbiomes, but it is not yet known whether their microbiomes remain different after they mature.

During infancy, the baby’s intestinal microbiome expands and is impacted by breastfeeding. A study of 16 lactating women3 found that human breast milk had up to 600 bacterial species and resistant starches. Breast milk helps to promote the healthy intestinal bacteria which aid in digestion, immune function and protection from harmful bacteria.

Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune systems from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.

Future Research Projects

In addition to the above studies, the HMP is doing research on the how the skin microbiome may play a role in skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema.

Other research projects are evaluating the intestinal microbiome in obese versus normal weight individuals. Previous studies have found that there is a difference in the bacterial flora in obese and thin animals and humans. Hopefully, the flora can be manipulated to lessen obesity and the associated disorders of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The point of this newsletter is that the scientific community now recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome. The concern is that antibiotics can upset the healthy microbiome and can contribute to chronic disorders like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and allergies.

Take Home Message

Consider taking a high quality probiotic like EndoMune to maintain a healthy microbiome balance.

Remember, EndoMune contains 10 strains of bacteria, and it is the only probiotic on the market developed by a board certified gastroenterologist.

Eat healthy, exercise and live well!!!
Best Wishes,
Dr. Hoberman

 

1) Structure, function and diversity of the healthy human microbiome. Human Microbiome Project Consortium.Nature. 2012 Jun 13;486(7402):207-14. doi: 10.1038/nature11234.

2) A metagenomic approach to characterization of the vaginal microbiome signature in pregnancy. Aagaard K, Riehle K, Ma J, Segata N, Mistretta TA, Coarfa C, Raza S, Rosenbaum S, Van den Veyver I, Milosavljevic A, Gevers D, Huttenhower C, Petrosino J, Versalovic J. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e36466. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

3) Characterization of the diversity and temporal stability of bacterial communities in human milk.Hunt KM, Foster JA, Forney LJ, Schütte UM, Beck DL, Abdo Z, Fox LK, Williams JE, McGuire MK, McGuire MA.PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21313. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Study Links Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis to Antibiotic Use

Many physicians are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics for many reasons. In fact, it’s not uncommon for physicians to use antibiotics as a last option for treatment. Those who are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics now have one more reason – Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (Here is more information on “What Is Colitis?“).

A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology has found that people who are prescribed larger amounts of antibiotics have a higher risk for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s Diease and Colitis are the most common forms of IBD and can cause inflammation in the intestines, which then can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss.

The article can be found at length at the American College of Gastroenterology website.

Gut Microbes: From Bugs to Drugs

Spring has finally arrived! With the new season, it’s time to start thinking about how you can add new healthy habits to your daily routine.

This last month I read a very interesting article(1) by Dr. Fergus Shanahan – the chairman of the Department of Medicine/Director of Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork in Ireland. His research interest is in the area of the intestinal immune system and the way in which intestinal bacteria interact with the intestinal immunity.

The title of the article is: “Gut Microbes: From Bugs to Drugs.”

Dr. Shanahan starts by pointing out how the scientific community had been misled for decades with their efforts to determine the cause of stomach ulcers. In the 1970s, discoveries revealed that peptic ulcer is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori(2). Instead of the standard practice of operating on the stomach to reduce the acid production or by giving medications to lessen acid output, peptic ulcers are now cured with antibiotics!

Recently, discoveries revealed that cervical cancer is caused by a virus, and now there is a vaccine to prevent this cancer(3) as well.

The point is that the solutions to a number of chronic human diseases will come as we gain a better understanding about how the bacteria and viruses in our environment interact with the cells in our body.

For example, new research on the cause of Crohn’s disease has discovered a genetic mutation in affected individuals(4). This mutation causes the intestinal immune cells to produce an excessive immune response to normal intestinal bacteria. This inappropriate reaction results in the development of inflammatory bowel disease.

Recent studies using probiotic bacteria, like those in EndoMune, have discovered how these bacteria can down regulate the immune response that occurs in Crohn’s disease.

Segments of intestines that have been surgically removed from patients with Crohn’s disease have been cultured with certain Probiotic bacteria. These bacteria release messenger proteins that inhibit the immune mediated inflammation in the lining to the intestinal segment(5).

The goal would be to develop a strain of bacteria or isolate the messenger protein that could then be used as a safe, essentially natural therapy for Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Shanahan suggests that studying how our diet, intestinal immune cells and intestinal bacteria interact can potentially lead to new drug therapies for intestinal disorders like irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease and even colon cancer.

The Implication for Future Cures

Dr. Shanahan believes that the future pharmalogic cures for intestinal disorders will come from studies on how to manipulate our intestinal bacteria with diet and probiotics. He uses the term, pharmabiotics, to refer to “any material with a potential health benefit that can be mined from the host-microbe-dietary interactions.”

An example of a pharmabiotic is ‘bacteriocin’ which is a protein produced by certain strains of bacteria that acts as an antibiotic. One strain of Streptococcus produces a bacterocin that suppresses the bacteria in the mouth that causes halitosis or bad breath.

Another bacteriocin that belongs to the family called ‘thuricin’ acts as a strong antibiotic against a bacteria called Clostridia difficle. This bacteria can cause life threatening colitis. The hope is that this chemical can be developed as a drug to use against Clostridia difficle as this dangerous bacteria is becoming resistant to the currently available antibiotics.

Research in the area of probiotics has produced a number of very interesting and potentially new therapeutic options for dealing with some chronic human illnesses.

As Dr. Shanahan titled his paper, the idea is to find “drugs from bugs.”

Reading this article provides new understanding how ongoing research is identifying the biologic benefits of probiotics. I am amazed how often someone tells me that EndoMune has made such a difference in his/her life!

Take Home Message

Probiotics can suppress harmful bacteria and down regulate intestinal inflammation. Consider EndoMune Advanced for adults or EndoMune Junior for children to help improve gastrointestinal function and ease intestinal symptoms.

Eat healthy, exercise and live well!
Dr. Lawrence Hoberman

(1) Gut microbes: from bugs to drugs.Shanahan F. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Feb;105(2):275-9. Epub 2010 Jan 12

(2) Helicobacter pylori’s unconventional role in health and disease. Dorer MS, Talarico S, Salama NR.PLoS Pathog. 2009 Oct;5(10):e1000544. Epub 2009 Oct 26

(3) HPV vaccination: the beginning of the end of cervical cancer? – A Review.Lepique AP et al. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. (2009)

(4) The genetic basis of inflammatory bowel disease.Cooney R, Jewell D.Dig Dis. 2009;27(4):428-42. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

(5) Lactobacillus casei downregulates commensals’ inflammatory signals in Crohn’s disease mucosa.Llopis M, Antolin M, Carol M, Borruel N, Casellas F, Martinez C, Espín-Basany E, Guarner F, Malagelada JR.Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009 Feb;15(2):275-83.

Scroll to Top