There was a new study published in the May 29, 2008 issue of Nature, a science and medicine journal, which may point researchers and pharmaceutical companies in a new direction of how to treat IBD. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School teamed up to conduct a study using mice and one of the thousands of bacteria found in the mammalian gut. The researchers identified a potentially beneficial bacteria known as, Bacteroides fragilis which showed promise in restoring an immune system balance in the mice used in the study.
In the study, immune compromised mice who were identified to have a specific pathogen-free microbiotica, were administered a dose of Helicobacter hepaticus, an intestinal bacterium, and developed what the researchers called a "rip roaring" case of IBD. But, when the researchers combined B. fragilis with the Helicobacter the mice remained fine. Through further experimentation, researchers found that a particular sugar molecule in the B. fragilis called polysaccharide A, or PSA, seemed to be the key factor in the prevention of IBD in the mice. In a follow-up study, mice that were given Helicobacter combined with PSA purified from the B. fragilis bacteria no IBD symptoms appeared.
Even though the findings are potentially promising, the researchers have cautioned that while positive results were seen in the study's mice, PSA might or might not have the same effect in humans. The study's results, however, should prove helpful to scientists and pharmaceutical companies who continue to look for new sources for treating both Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Considering the study I cited above I've also decided a discussion about gut bacteria and the use of colonics seems prudent. Over the years I've received numerous questions from both IBD and IBS sufferers about using colonics to help ease their symptoms of diarrhea, cramps, and gas. While it is strictly up to each patient to make their own well-informed decision about treatment options in conjunction with their doctor I firmly believe that colonics are not beneficial for people with IBD or IBS, and could possibly cause worse problems in the end.
Our gut has thousands of bacteria that live there - both good bacteria and bad bacteria, and in order to function properly the gut needs both kinds. There are those people out there who believe the colon is dirty and the debris in the colon is the cause of all ills in the body. However, a great number of doctors I've talked to claim, and rightly so, I believe, that the colon eliminates the waste and bacteria that it needs to eliminate as well as absorbing proper amounts of nutrients, water, and sodium to maintain the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes. Colon cleansing, or detox, as it's sometimes called, disrupts the balance and in certain people can be downright dangerous by causing dehydration or salt depletion.