Crohn’s Research: Recent Recaps, What’s Going on Behind the Scenes

babesa_research_donate_plasma_medical_lyme_tickborne_babesia clinical studiesAlthough there is an abundance of researchers working on developing effective treatments for Crohn’s, it can be hard to keep up on all the different things that are currently being done. In attempt to make research more transparent for all, here’s a few recaps on what researchers are finding– right now.

Artificial sweetener could intensify symptoms in those with Crohn’s disease

The new findings, recently published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, revealed increases in the numbers of Proteobacteria, a large phylum [group] of microbes, in the intestines of mice drinking water supplemented with Splenda. Half of the mice studied, belonging to a genetic line that suffers a form of Crohn’s disease were more affected than the remaining half of mice, which belong to a healthy mouse line. Splenda produced intestinal overgrowth of E. coli (a member of the Proteobacteria group) and increased bacterial penetration into the gut wall, but only in Crohn’s disease-like mice.

The researchers also found that Splenda ingestion results in increased myeloperoxidase activity in the intestines of mice with the bowel disease, but not in the healthy mice. Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme in leukocytes (white blood cells) that is effective in killing various microorganisms. The inference is that the increased presence of E. coli intensified the myeloperoxidase activity in the bowel as the body sought to fight off the invader. The findings suggest that consumption of Splenda may increase myeloperoxidase production only in individuals with a pro-inflammatory predisposition, such as Crohn’s disease or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease patients. As part of this process, inflammation and its attendant consequences could exacerbate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

“Our findings suggest that patients with Crohn’s disease should think carefully about consuming Splenda or similar products containing sucralose and maltodextrin,” said the study’s lead author, Alex Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, MSc, DVSc, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Several studies have examined the ingredients found in this widely available product, separately. Here, we used Splenda as a means to test the combined effect of the commercial ingredients and used one of the best animal models of ileal Crohn’s disease.” This study demonstrates that the sweetener induces changes in gut bacteria and gut wall immune cell reactivity, which could result in inflammation or disease flare ups in susceptible people. On the other hand, the study suggests that individuals free of intestinal diseases may not need to be overly concerned.”

Find out more, here: Source

Engineering the gut microbiome with ‘good’ bacteria may help treat Crohn’s disease


Penn Medicine researchers have singled out a bacterial enzyme behind an imbalance in the gut microbiome linked to Crohn’s disease. The new study, published online this week in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that wiping out a significant portion of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, and then re-introducing a certain type of “good” bacteria that lacks this enzyme, known as urease, may be an effective approach to better treat these diseases.

“Because it’s a single enzyme that is involved in this process, it might be a targetable solution,” said the study’s senior author, Gary D. Wu, MD, associate chief for research in the division of Gastroenterology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “The idea would be that we could ‘engineer’ the composition of the microbiota in some way that lacks this particular one.”

An imbalance in the gut microbiome — more “bad” bacteria than “good” — is known as dysbiosis, which is caused by environmental stressors, such as intestinal inflammation, antibiotics, or diet. Gut dysbiosis is believed to fuel Crohn’s disease and other diseases, but the mechanisms behind that relationship is not fully understood by researchers looking to strike a healthier, bacterial balance for patients. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects nearly one million children and adults in the United States.

In a series of human and mouse studies, the researchers discovered that a type of “bad” bacteria known as Proteobacteria feeding on urea, a waste product that can end up back in the colon, played an important role in the development of dysbiosis.

The “bad” bacteria, which harbor the urease enzyme, convert urea into ammonia (nitrogen metabolism), which is then reabsorbed by bacteria to make amino acids that are associated with dysbiosis in Crohn’s disease. “Good” bacteria may not respond in a similar manner, and thus may serve as a potential therapeutic approach to engineer the microbiome into a healthier state and treat disease.

“The study is important is because it shows that the movement of nitrogen into bacteria is an important process in the development of dysbiosis,” Wu said. “It also proves using a single enzyme can reconfigure the entire composition of the gut microbiota.”

Using this approach, in the current study, researchers showed that inoculating pre-treated mice with a single bacterial species, Escherichia coli, altered the gut microbiome in a significant way, depending on the presence of urease. Mice injected with urease-negative E. coli did not lead to dysbiosis, while mice with urease-positive E. coli did. The urease-positive E. coli also exacerbated colitis in the mice.

The research was conducted by Wu and colleagues from Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), under the PennCHOP Microbiome Program with funding from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Similar to mice, treating five human subjects with the same two antibiotics and PEG also successfully reduced bacterial load in their intestinal tract by 100,000-fold, suggesting that it might be possible to engineer the composition of the gut microbiota in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Find out more, here: Source

Dysfunctional gene may be culprit in some Crohn’s disease cases


Sundrud’s laboratory, from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), is working to understand the characteristics and functions of TH17 cells, a subset of immune cells that circulate throughout the body. These cells protect many types of tissues from infection, but they can also promote chronic inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, which specifically targets the intestinal tract.

Knowing TH17 cells need to function in a variety of tissue environments throughout the body, Sundrud’s team wondered if and how these cells might use different tools to behave normally in one environment — or tissue — than they’d use in another. Perhaps activating one gene could be useful in the lungs, while activating another would be useful in the gut, the same way you might bring a bathing suit on a trip to Florida and a jacket if you’re headed to Canada.

This study built on previous research from the Sundrud lab, which showed that when TH17 cells entered the intestine in human tissue samples, they increased the expression of a gene called MDR1.

But MDR1 is only known to transport chemotherapeutic drugs out of tumor cells, so why would it be expressed in immune cells in the gut?

The new study suggests that MDR1 is responsible for protecting TH17 cells in the gut from bile acids — detergent-like molecules produced by the liver that break down fats. Normally, the liver secretes bile acids after we eat to aid digestion. As food moves through the digestive tract, these acids are reabsorbed when they reach the ileum — the final portion of the small intestine — and the site of ileal Crohn’s disease, the most common form of Crohn’s.

“T cells only see high levels of bile acids in the ileum. They know this, and they adapt once they get there,” says Sundrud.

This discovery led the researchers to identify a mechanism where ileal Crohn’s disease appears to be induced by bile acids when T cell adaptation does not occur the way it should. The team used a genetically modified mouse model to observe the expression and function of MDR1 in mice. They found that the gene’s expression increased when the cells entered the ileum. But, in mice where the gene couldn’t be activated in the gut, TH17 cells that were exposed to bile acids suffered severe oxidative stress. This stress caused the TH17 cells to become overactive, leading to Crohn’s disease-like intestinal inflammation in mice.

Using bile acid sequestrants, an FDA-approved class of drugs used in transplant patients that absorb bile acids like a sponge, scientists were able to restore normal T cell function in the ileum and attenuate Crohn’s disease in mice.

To establish the relevance of their findings, the team tested blood samples from healthy humans, as well as those with a variety of inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s. They found a subset of patients with Crohn’s disease had severely impaired MDR1 expression.

Not only does this suggest that the cause of Crohn’s disease in these patients may be oxidative stress due to dysfunctional MDR1, but that for the subset of patients with this dysfunction, bile acid sequestrants may be an effective treatment. Together with his collaborators, Sundrud hopes to fund a clinical study to test exactly that.

Find out more, here: Source

Blood Test for Colitis Screening Using Infrared Technology Could Reduce Dependence on Colonoscopy, Study Finds


A fast, simple blood test for ulcerative colitis using infrared spectroscopy could provide a cheaper, less invasive alternative for screening compared to colonoscopy, which is now the predominant test, according to a study between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

The researchers used Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to examine the blood serum of mice with colitis and found nine absorption peaks that could be used to indicate the presence of the disease in the blood sample.

The findings, recently published in the Journal of Biophotonics, suggest a new testing procedure that could be developed to help doctors more easily screen patients for ulcerative colitis.

More than 1.6 million people in the United States suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. Adults 50 and older are expected to get a colonoscopy, a test that allows a doctor to look at the inner lining of the large intestine (rectum and colon), every five years or more frequently if abnormalities are found. The test can help find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors and other areas of inflammation or bleeding.

However, many people don’t like getting colonoscopies because the procedure is uncomfortable and requires them to fast an entire day and clean out their colon by drinking a liquid solution. Colonoscopies can also be costly because they require sedation and several medical personnel and have risks of complications. There remains a great need for simpler and cost-effective techniques to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, according to Dr. A. G. Unil Perera, Regents’ Professor of Physics, and Dr. Didier Merlin, professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

“Colonoscopy is used as a screening technique, so even if you don’t know if a person has colitis or not, that’s currently the only way to clearly check and say they do,” Perera said. “We are not talking about replacing colonoscopy. We have shown that a minimally invasive blood test can tell if a patient has an indication of colitis. Then, doctors can perform a colonoscopy to see how far the disease has spread and whether there are signs of cancer.”

This blood test using infrared spectroscopy is much quicker, less invasive and much less expensive compared to colonoscopy. There are no risks, except a simple finger prick to get a blood sample, Perera said.

In this study, the researchers used two groups of mice with different types of colitis, chronic and acute. The mice with chronic colitis, the interleukin 10 (IL 10) mice, had a gene modification that allowed them to develop colitis. The mice with acute colitis, the Dextran Sodium Sulphate (DSS) mice, were administered DSS in their drinking water for seven days, and they developed colitis over time. The control group in the study was mice before they were fed DSS.

Find out more, here: Source


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Thank you, and we look forward to working with you.


12 Healthy Diet Tips for Hepatitis C and Liver Disease

Dealing with liver disease or any chronic illness can be challenging enough and can bring an out of control feeling. Your diet is something you can control. It gives you a sense of being behind the wheel with your health.

The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is true.  What we eat affects our entire body, especially our liver.  The liver is the powerhouse of the body.  It is the second largest organ and helps with many vital functions.  When our liver is unhealthy, it affects our entire body, even your immune system, which helps you fight disease.

Think of your liver in terms of a highly efficient engine and filter.  What you eat, drink and expose to your body is chemically broken down by your liver and affects your immune system and many other functions of your body.


It’s important to eat and drink the right fuel in order to operate effectively. With having Hep C, I learned 12 healthy diet tips for Hepatitis C or any liver disease that help the liver do its jobs and help repair some liver damage.

The American Liver Foundation states that eating an unhealthy diet can even lead to liver disease.  For example, a person who eats a lot of fatty foods is at higher risk of being overweight and having (NAFLD) non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

An unhealthy diet and exposure to dangerous chemicals can do damage to your liver and cause it not to function properly.  Like ‘sludge’ in your gas tank an unhealthy diet can slow down or worse, lead to compromised liver function.

When I was first diagnosed with Hep C over twenty years ago, along with seeing my liver specialist, I saw a registered dietitian for nutritional counseling.  I wanted to know from having Hepatitis C what kind of diet was best.

12 Healthy Diet Tips for Hepatitis C and any liver disease is:

  1.  Eating foods from all food groups in healthy portions such as whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
  2. Eating foods with high fiber such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans and whole grains are liver healthy foods.  Fiber it up, it’s nature’s broom to help eliminate toxins from the body.
  3.  Eat a well balanced diet, but eat lean proteins from poultry, fish, and plant based proteins.
  4. Limit red meat due to this is harder and takes longer for your system to break it down, plus it can contribute to bloating.
  5. Avoid uncooked shellfish such as oysters and clams or other uncooked meats.
  6. Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar and salt.
  7. Limit eating high fatty foods.
  8. Limit eating fried or processed foods.
  9. Stay within a healthy weight range because the liver can function better than if we’re over or under weight.
  10. Eating smaller meals throughout the day is also better than large meals.  Your liver has to work harder to break down high fat and larger meals.  This will also help stabilize blood sugar, cravings, and the bloated, sleepy feeling that can come from eating larger meals.
  11. It is best to limit foods that have a lot of sugar and high sodium (salt). High sodium foods and eating too much protein will make you retain fluid and can lead to excess toxins in your blood stream.   Be careful not to limit your protein too much because it can result in a lack of certain amino acids that is essential for your body to function properly.
  12. Drink plenty of pure water, filtered if possible.  Drink at least 64 ounces a day.  Avoid Alcohol.  Alcohol is like throwing gas on a fire with liver disease and increases damage.


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Always consult your physician before beginning any treatment program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.

Article Source:

How to Prevent the 2018 Allergy Season From Getting the Best of You


As February drags on, many of us find ourselves at the point where we would give almost anything for a time machine that can catapult us into spring, when we can finally put away our bulky jackets, we won’t have to worry about every flight being cancelled due to snow or ice, and this year’s dangerous flu season finally starts to wind down. “Everything will be better in spring,” we wistfully tell ourselves, conveniently forgetting that the warming temperatures are the bearers of another big annoyance: allergies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Those allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can cause all sorts of pesky symptoms, like itching, sneezing, sinus pain, and more. As we inch closer to spring, here’s what you should know about what the upcoming months mean for your allergies — and how to keep the downsides to a minimum in 2018.

When is “peak” allergy season?

We throw around the term “allergy season” a lot, but the reality is there isn’t one season when everyone’s allergies collectively flare up. “‘Peak’ allergy season varies for each individual depending on what they may be allergic to and the region of the country they live in,” Sindhura Bandi  an allergist and immunologist at Rush University medical center tells Allure. 

Seasonal allergies generally hit in waves. Bandi explains that tree pollen season usually goes from late February/early March through May; followed by grass season, which holds on until July; then August and the fall bring about mold spores (which take their toll in humid climates) and ragweed, which holds on until approximately November.

That said, none of that is an exact science. “In areas that do not experience frosty conditions, certain allergens may persist for longer seasons,” Bandi says. “In addition, with the more temperate climates we have been seeing nationally, certain pollen seasons are lasting for longer than usual.” And as if that weren’t enough, there are also perennial allergens that persist year-round, such as dust, pet dander, and some types of mold.


What’s the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies?

Darria Long Gillespie a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and head of clinical strategy at Sharecare, explains that seasonal allergies are only present during peak pollination times of specific allergens (like the aforementioned trees, grass, mold, and ragweed). Perennial allergies are not only present all the time, but they’re also caused by different allergens, with the exception of mold, which can cause both seasonal and perennial allergies. Instead of plants, Long Gillespie says that year-round allergies are typically triggered by insects (like dust mites and cockroaches) and animals (cats and dogs).

But that’s where the differences stop. “Whatever the trigger of the allergy, the body’s response is the same,” Long Gillespie says. “It recognizes these things as something ‘harmful’ and mounts an immune response, which leads to the classic allergy symptoms, [like] stuffy/runny nose and sneezing, sore or itchy throat, and itchy/red eyes.”

How can I prevent or minimize both kinds of allergy symptoms?

The CDC explains that you can’t prevent allergies, but you can prevent allergic reactions. Doing so requires you to take control of your environment and minimizing those triggers as best you can.

If you have seasonal allergies, keep tabs on the daily pollen count, which you can get from most weather forecasting service. When it’s high, try to stay inside as much as you can. Both Bandi and Long Gillespie also recommend keeping your windows and doors (to your home and car) closed to minimize your exposure to pollen.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you can avoid going outside at all during peak pollination times, but there are still things you can do to help prevent reactions when you do. “When you come in from the outdoors, change your clothes and take a shower to rinse pollen out of your hair and off your skin,” Long Gillespie says. If you can’t shower right away, she recommends at least doing so before you go to bed. And if you have pets, wipe them down after they come inside, too.

Dandelion seeds in the morning sunlight blowing away across a fresh green background

Speaking of pets, a HEPA filter, as well as regular vacuuming, can also help ward against pet dander. It’s also worth noting that, Bandi says, cat dander can linger in a home up to six months. In the event that you used to have a cat — or have simply done a bit of cat-sitting, for that matter — and are still experiencing allergy symptoms, you may need to do a deep clean and replace your filters.

If possible, Long Gillespie suggests keeping the carpeting in your home to a minimum, as it attracts both pollen and dust. And if dust is your big allergy trigger, Bandi recommends keeping your home’s humidity below 50 percent (you can test the level with a hygrometer) and using dust mite-proof pillows and mattress covers. “In addition, frequent vacuuming and using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in the home can reduce dust mite exposure,” Bandi says.

Long Gillespie also says that nasal rinses, such as neti pots, can clear pollen out of your nose before the allergy symptoms start. If you go that route, be sure to closely follow the FDA’S safety recommendations. Whatever your specific trigger, Long Gillespie also recommends cleaning all air, duct, and air conditioner filters before allergy season begins each year.

How can I fight them once they show up?

“Of course, prevent[ing] complete exposure is often not possible, and your allergist can recommend various medical therapies to reduce the symptoms,” Bandi says. “Allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can be helpful in desensitizing your body to the allergens in which you are allergic.”

Long Gillespie also recommends options like antihistamines (which come in many forms to block your body’s immune overreaction to the trigger, steroid nose sprays to fight congestion and post-nasal drip, and decongestants in oral or nasal spray form.

If you’re not sure what exactly is causing your symptoms, Bandi suggests making an appointment with an allergist who can help you identify the trigger. And even if you do have a good idea of what allergen is causing you to sniffle and sneeze, a specialist can guide you on the best path for warding off and treating the symptoms, so you can get back to enjoying the season


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This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.

Article source:


Tea: A Supplemental Treatment for Eczema

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 6.36.35 PMEczema affects 35 million Americas, yet this chronic skin condition does not have any known cure. There are a lot of researchers studying the condition and there is a variety of topical treatments and medications available however some individuals turn to herbal supplements and tea to relieve their symptoms.

It is important to talk with your doctor about whether these may be appropriate treatments for your skin condition and whether they can interact with any medication you currently take.

Green Tea for Eczema


Drinking green tea on a daily basic allows you to enjoy many of its health benefits, including the anti-inflammatory effects that can fight the case of eczema.

In a study published in the Korean Journal of Dermatology, researchers conclude that moisturizers containing green tea extracts can be effective for improving dry skin conditions. Due to the anti-inflammatory effects, green tea extracts can be used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis or xerotic eczema.

In 2012 a publication in the Mycobiology Journal, researchers also provide evidence that a bath therapy with extracts of green tea can be an safe and effective method treating patients with atopic dermatitis related to Malassezia Sympodialis (1).

Oolong Tea for Eczema

An early study in 2001, Japanese scientists investigated the effect of oolong tea against eczema.

Before we discuss this study, we would like to point out that oolong tea is in fact made from the same tea plant as green tea. However, unlike the minimally fermented leaves of green tea, oolong teas are semi fermented.

In the Japanese study mentioned above, 118 patients with eczema (atopic dermatitis) where asked to drink 3 times oolong tea per day. After just 1 month, 74 patients showed moderate improvement in their skin condition. After 6 months, even 64 patients showed a good improvement.


The researchers believe that the effectiveness of oolong tea might be attributable to the antiallergic properties of tea polyphenols. This study is important because it demonstrates that eczema can be reduced by drinking tea, instead of tea extract based creamed that are applied on the skin.

Red Clover Tea for Eczema 

Ask your health-care provider if red clover tea may be helpful. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that red clover is effective in treating eczema or psoriasis, and the tea may be prepared by using 1 to 2 tsp. of dried flowers steeped in 8 oz. of hot water, and drink two to three cups daily (3).

Burdock Root Tea for Eczema 

Burdock Root Tea has been found to be helpful for patients with acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Make burdock root tea with 2 to 6 g of burdock root steeped in approximately 2 cups of water, and drink this three times daily, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center. Burdock root has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of eczema, acne and psoriasis (3).


Choosing Your Best Tea for Eczema

If you consider drinking tea for eczema, we also advise to look after the potential side effects of tea. As said, green tea contains the most tea polyphenols that can fight the inflammation that cases eczema. However, because green tea is the most ‘raw’ kind of tea, it can upset the stomach of some people. To avoid such side effects it’s better to drink green tea about 30 min after meals. If your stomach doesn’t feel good, then switch to an oolong or black tea. Though in lesser amount, they still contain loads of tea polyphenols (1).

Another worry could be caffeine. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, then only drink tea after your breakfast and lunch. If skipping the afternoon session still isn’t enough to avoid sleepless nights, you should switch to caffeine free Chrysanthemum flower teas.AdobeStock_190389701.jpeg



Plasma Med Research is currently recruiting patients for atopic dermatitis (eczema) to participate in non-drug preclinical studies.

If you, or someone you know may be interested in taking part in research for compensation, please visit or message us on Facebook.




Reprinted partially from Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

What teas can help me with my autoimmune disorder?

Autoimmune disorders are very difficult to live with. With an autoimmune disorder, the body basically attacks its own cells and organs because it sees them as invading pathogens. Disorders such as Celiac disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, and Rheumatoid arthritis are all autoimmune, and they all have one thing in common: inflammation.

When the body attacks itself, it causes a lot of swelling around the part that is being attacked. This swelling is very painful, and it can be both debilitating and immobilizing. Countering the inflammation is the key to reducing pain, so here are a few teas to help you with the swelling caused by your autoimmune disorder:


Green Tea

A study conducted at the Oregon State University found that green tea can help to fight autoimmune disorders. Green tea contains EGCG, a polyphenol that provides dozens of other health benefits. ECGC can influence your immune system, to a certain extent preventing it from attacking your own cells. It can reduce the severity of the autoimmune disorder, though there is no known cure.


Rosehip Tea

Chronic pain can often be caused by inflammatory foods like white sugar, white flour, and artificial foods. Preventing the inflammation is possible thanks to the Vitamin C is rosehip tea, which helps to boost your immune health.


Eucalyptus Tea

The oil of the eucalyptus leaf contains a nutrient called eucalyptol, which has been found to reduce congestion in the lungs and inflammation in the body. Drinking eucalyptus tea will be a good way to get a low dose of this useful nutrient, which will reduce the swelling caused by your autoimmune disorder.


Ginger Tea

Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory root, as it contains zingerone, an antioxidant that can help to reduce swelling in your throat and lungs. You can drink a cup or two of ginger tea, and you’ll find that it can help to relax your muscles and reduce the swelling in your body.

fresh turmeric roots on wooden table

Tumeric Tea

You may not want to make a tea with only turmeric, as the bright yellow root has a very strong flavor. However, our Stimulating Tea contains the root, which has been used for centuries by Ayurvedic healers to deal with autoimmune disorders. Thanks to the curcumin in the root, you can reduce the inflammation and pain caused by your arthritis, tendonitis, and other autoimmune disorders.


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Always consult your physician before beginning any herbal treatment program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.


Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Effects on Digestion & Diet

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The real work of digestion goes on in the small intestine, which lies just beyond the stomach. In the small intestine, digestive juices from both the liver (termed bile) and the pancreas mix with food. This mixing is powered by the churning action of the intestinal muscle wall. After digested food is broken down into small molecules, it is absorbed through the surface of the small intestine and distributed to the rest of the body by the blood stream. Watery food residue and secretions that are not digested in the small intestine pass on into the large intestine (the colon). The colon reabsorbs much of the water added to food in the small intestine. This is a kind of water conservation or recycling mechanism.

Solid, undigested food residue is then passed from the large intestine as a bowel movement.

When the small intestine is inflamed—as it often is with Crohn’s disease—the intestine becomes less able to digest and absorb food nutrients fully. Such nutrients, as well as unabsorbed bile salts, can escape into the large intestine to varying degrees, depending on how extensively and how severely the small intestine has been injured by inflammation. This is one reason why people with Crohn’s disease become malnourished, in addition to just not having much appetite. Furthermore, incompletely digested foods that travel through the large intestine interfere with water conservation, even if the colon itself is not damaged. Thus, when Crohn’s disease affects the small intestine, it may cause diarrhea as well as malnutrition. Should the large intestine also be inflamed, the diarrhea is likely to be worse. In ulcerative colitis, only the colon is inflamed; the small intestine works normally. Because the inflamed colon does not recycle water properly, diarrhea can be severe.


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Dietary recommendations for people with IBD must be individualized: They depend on which disease you have and what part of your intestine is affected. Many people have food intolerances— far more than really have true food allergies. One of the more common intolerances, lactose intolerance, is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar), which is related to genetic tendencies and to small bowel function. Elimination tests are better at diagnosing which foods must be avoided or modified than the standard allergy skin or blood testing. Many good books discuss the proper way to follow such an “elimination diet,” which involves keeping a food and symptom diary over several weeks.

About two thirds of people with small bowel Crohn’s disease develop a marked narrowing (or stricture) of the lower small intestine, the ileum. For these patients, a low-fiber with low residue diet (see below) or a special liquid diet may be beneficial in minimizing abdominal pain and other symptoms. Often, these dietary modifications are temporary; the patient follows them until the inflammation that caused the narrowing responds either to treatment or to a corrective surgery. Individual experience, sometimes with the guidance of a registered dietitian, remains the single most useful guide to selection of foods for any person with IBD.


This diet minimizes the consumption of foods that add “scrapy” residue to the stool. These include raw fruits, vegetables, and seeds, as well as nuts and corn hulls. The registered dietitian associated with your IBD treatment program can assist you in devising such a diet when appropriate.


Yes, vitally so. IBD patients, especially people with Crohn’s disease, are prone to becoming malnourished for several reasons. First, the appetite is often reduced. Second, chronic diseases tend to increase the energy (calorie) needs of the body. This is especially the case when IBD is “flaring up. ”Third, IBD, particularly

Crohn’s disease is often associated with maldigestion and malabsorption of dietary protein, fat, carbohydrates, water, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Thus, much of what one eats may never truly get into the body. On the other hand, good nutrition is one of the assets the body uses to restore itself to health. Therefore, the tendency to become malnourished must be resisted. Restoration and maintenance of good nutrition is a key principle in the management of IBD.

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An appropriate diet should contain a variety of foods from all food groups. Meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products, if tolerated, are sources of protein; bread, cereal, starches, fruits, and vegetables are sources of carbohydrate; margarine and oils are sources of fat. Your physician and the registered dietitian with whom he or she is associated can help you with meal planning. Generally, if the colon is inflamed, avoiding scrappy foods such as nuts, corn hulls, and raw vegetables is advised until some healing has occurred.


Some people cannot properly digest lactose, the sugar present in milk and many milk products, regardless of whether they have IBD. This may occur because the inner surface of the small intestine lacks a digestive enzyme, called lactase. Poor lactose digestion may lead to cramps, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and bloating. Because symptoms of lactose intolerance may be very similar to the symptoms of IBD, recognizing lactose intolerance may be difficult.

A simple “lactose tolerance test” can be performed to identify the problem. If there is any question, milk ingestion may be limited. Alternatively, lactase supplements may be added to many dairy products, so that they no longer cause symptoms. Your registered dietitian may assist you and/or your child with this. It is desirable to maintain intake of at least some dairy products, because they are such a good source of nutrition, in particular calcium and protein.

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No. Although some people do have allergic reactions to certain foods, neither Crohn’s disease nor ulcerative colitis is related to food allergy. People with IBD may think they are allergic to foods because they associate the symptoms of IBD with eating.


Most often, yes. Patients with inflammation only in the large intestine absorb food normally. People with Crohn’s disease may have problems with digestion if their disease involves the small intestine. The degree to which digestion is impaired depends on how much of the small intestine is diseased and whether any intestine has been removed during surgery. If only the last foot or two of the ileum is inflamed, the absorption of all nutrients except vitamin B-12 will probably be normal. If more than two or three feet of ileum is diseased, significant malabsorption of fat may occur. If the upper small intestine is also inflamed, the degree of malabsorption in Crohn’s disease is apt to be much worse, and deficiencies of many nutrients, minerals, and more vitamins are likely. Some

IBD therapies, especially the 5-ASA medications (e.g., Asacol,® Canasa,® Colazal,® Dipentum,® Pentasa® and Rowasa®), cause interference with the absorption of folate, so this vitamin, so essential in preventing cancer and birth defects, should be supplemented.


Vitamin B-12 is absorbed in the lower ileum. Therefore, persons with ileitis (Crohn’s disease that affects the ileum) may require injections of vitamin B-12, because they cannot absorb enough from their diet. If you are on a low-fiber diet, you may be receiving an inadequate supply of certain vitamins common in fruits, such as vitamin C. In the setting of chronic IBD, it is worthwhile for most persons to take a multivitamin preparation regularly. If you suffer from maldigestion or have undergone intestinal surgery, other vitamins, particularly vitamin D, may be required. Vitamin D supplementation should be in the range of 800 U/day, especially in the non-sunny areas of the country, and calcium intake should be emphasized, with calcium citrate for those older or on acid reducing medications. Steroid use and Crohn’s disease itself are linked to bone thinning and osteoporosis, so screening with bone density studies is suggested for those at risk.

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In most IBD patients, there is no obvious lack of minerals. However, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium supplements may prove necessary in people who have extensive small intestinal disease or who have had substantial lengths of intestine removed through surgery. Iron therapy is helpful to correct anemia. Oral iron turns the stools black, which can sometimes simulate intestinal bleeding.


Yes. In a condition with chronic diarrhea, there may be a risk of dehydration. If fluid intake does not keep up with diarrhea, kidney function may be affected. Patients with Crohn’s and other diarrheal diseases have an increased incidence of kidney stones, which is related to this problem. Furthermore, dehydration and salt loss create a feeling of weakness. For these reasons, people with IBD should consume ample fluids, especially in warm weather when skin losses of salt and water may be high.


In young people with IBD whose IBD began before puberty, growth may be retarded. Poor food intake may contribute to poor growth. Thus, good nutritional habits and adequate caloric intake are very important. Control of the disease with drugs or, less often, surgical removal of a particularly diseased region of intestine, is most successful when appropriate dietary intake is maintained.


Because IBD, especially Crohn’s disease, may improve with nutritional support, enteral nutrition (a nutrient-rich liquid formula) or tube feeding may be necessary. Due to its taste, enteral nutrition is given overnight through a tube, most commonly from the nose to the stomach. Patients are taught to pass a tube each night, so that they can receive nutrition while sleeping. In the morning, they remove the tube and go about their normal activity. In this way, patients receive all the nutrition they need and are free to eat normally—or not—throughout the day. Enteral feedings can also be given through a gastrostomy tube (G-tube). This is a tube located on the abdominal wall that goes directly into the stomach. The feedings are most commonly given overnight, but they can also be given intermittently throughout the day Parenteral nutrition (nutrition delivered through a catheter placed into a large blood vessel, usually one in the chest) is rarely needed. Parenteral nutrition has more complications than enteral nutrition and does not nourish the gastrointestinal tract itself.


Eating to help the gut heal itself is one of the new concepts, and numerous experimental studies are being conducted in this area.  Probiotics are just beginning to be appreciated as a therapeutic aid in IBD. These are “good” bacteria that restore balance to the enteric microflora—bacteria that live in everybody’s intestine. Lactobacillus preparations and live-culture yogurt can be very helpful in aiding recovery of the intestine. There is much work being done in the use of diet and supplements to aid in the healing of IBD and much more to be learned.

In summary, while there is no evidence that diet and nutrition play a role in causing IBD, maintaining a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help you to live a healthier life. Proper nutrition depends, in large part, on whether you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and what part of your intestine is affected. It’s important to talk to your doctor. It also can be helpful to ask your physician to recommend a dietitian in order to develop a diet that works for you.

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Research is a vital part of developing new treatments and cures for autoimmune disorders. Plasma Med Research is currently looking for those with Crohn’s and UC to donate a small blood sample that will contribute to medical research.

If you, or someone you know is interested in participating, please reach out to us on Facebook, or at















Reprinted from:  Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Resources