Mycoplasma bacteria and IBD

by Elizabeth Roberts Patient Expert

In deciding what I should write about today I reread Dr. Eisner's January 24th post. In it he answers a readers question about the possible cause for IBD. The first time I read his post I was traveling and gave it a quick gloss, but today one word stuck out to me like a neon sign - mycobacterium. It has been nearly one year to the day that I was hospitalized with a 103 degree fever. I spent five days in the hospital and only after I was discharged did my Internist finally figure what had caused me to be so ill - I'd had mycoplasma pneumonia. It was a strain of pneumonia that didn't present as typical pneumonia, the chest x-rays that had been taken came back clear, and all the other CTs, MRIs, and blood work-ups that had been done while I was in the hospital showed nothing too far outside of normal ranges.

It wasn't until today, after reading Dr. Eisner's post that I put the two - mycobacterium and mycoplasma - together. Dr. Eisner suggests that mycobacterium could be a cause for IBD. I did an internet search and came across an article that said just that - and in fact could also be the cause for a number of other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, MS, chronic fatigue.

The article, written by Leslie Taylor, a board certified Naturopath (, says that Mycoplasmas, or stealth pathogens, are a specific and unique species of bacteria. Unlike other bacteria that have a solid cell-wall structure, mycoplasmas do not have a cell wall but have a pliable membrane that can take on many different shapes which make them difficult to identify.

In fact, testing for these mycoplasmas is so much harder and more complicated than testing for other bacteria that conventional medical practitioners mis-diagnose or miss the infections all-together. There are specific tests that your doctor can order to test for mycoplasma but they can be expensive if not covered by your insurance plan.

So far as I can tell, the therapy for treating a mycoplasma infection is with long-term antibiotic use but this can have side effects that in some cases are as bad as the illness. So, the conventional thought process is to boost the immune system to fight off the little parasites. Trying to identify and figure out what nutrients and vitamins you need to boost is something that I think you will need to talk to your doctor about.

But in the meantime I just wanted to pass along this information as I am finding it simply fascinating. I've done research on IBD and IBS for years and this is the first time I've come across this possible cause for either.

Elizabeth Roberts
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Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Digestive Health.