The San Diego Chapter of Crohns and Colitis Foundation Association – CCFA – held a patient and family education workshop on Saturday, April 12th. It was an extremely informative and well attended workshop. Some of the attendees were people who had just recently been diagnosed, with both Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, while others had been suffering with symptoms of IBD for years. Some were in remission, other now. There were family members of patients who came as well. The common theme was
their desire to know more about the causes of IBD and how to control diarrhea, pain, bloating and other uncomfortable associated symptoms. Lots of pertinent questions were asked and fortunately, many were
The meeting was held at La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology. Dr. Mitch Kronenberg PhD, who welcomed us, told us that he was the one to actually start it in 1997. He is now the head of the division of Developmental Immunology. Dr. Kronenberg’s research focuses on what they call ‘natural killer T cells’, known as NKT. He studies their responses to bad (or pathogenic) bacteria. Most importantly, his laboratory also studies the causes and development of inflammatory bowel disease. He
told us that he has authored more than 250 publications. In fact, he is known as an Institute for Scientific Information “Highly Cited Scientist”.
It was very interesting to hear that his studies of Crohn’s and colitis investigate how these conditions are brought about by immune responses. What intrigued me the most is that he has found that it is the
uncontrolled response of white blood cells in the intestine that leads to chronic inflammation.
I was thrilled to see that Sigma Tau, the manufacturers of VSL#3 probiotics, was one of the sponsors included in the event. I have been advocating the use of VSL#3 for well over 10 years now. There are
lots of studies accumulated over the years to support the beneficial use of VSL#3 for IBD patients. Yes, research shows how loading doses of VSL3 are used to effectively control symptoms of ulcerative colitis as well as pouchitis.
You may not know that there are several kinds of VSL#3 now. We sell boxes of 30 sachet powders that contain 450 billion strains, convenient VSL 60 capsules of 122.5 billion strains each and VSL#3 Junior which are delicious watermelon flavored 30 powder sachets well suited for kids. I get great results using all three.
How much VSL#3 should you take?
Clinical studies that have evaluated VSL#3 for the dietary management of ulcerative colitis (UC), an ileal pouch or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) used varying daily amounts of VSL#3. Daily intake usually ranges from 225 (1/2 packet or 2 capsules) to 3,600 (8 packets of VSL#3 billion bacteria. Daily intake based on studies are as follows:
VSL#3 Capsules (112.5 billion in each): Consume 2-8 capsules daily or as directed
VSL#3 Packets (450 billion in each): Consume 1-8 packets daily or as directed
VSL#3 Capsules (112.5 billion in each): Consume 1-8 capsules daily or as directed
VSL#3 JUNIOR packets (225 billion in each): Consume 1-4 packets daily or as directed
VSL#3 Packets (450 billion in each): Consume 1-4 packets daily or as directed.
Chronic inflammation, that’s what I’ve been talking about for years. Now, finally, medical research has progressed enough to validate the understanding that we, who have used a functional medicine model long before it even had a name, have known about for a long time. Sometimes, new concepts are hard to welcome into our way of thinking. Fortunately, we are seeing this type of verification from many different reliable sources now and that makes it easier.
Dr. Leonard Smith MD who is a retired general, vascular, and cancer surgeon as well as an expert on nutrition and natural supplementation talks about chronic inflammation as well. He is currently on the volunteer faculty of the Department of Surgery and is a medical advisor and lecturer for the Division of Integrative Medicine at the University of Miami, Florida. Acknowledging the effectiveness of whole organic foods and nutritional supplementation, Dr. Smith stays on the cutting edge of research and
keeps pace with the latest advances in the field of functional nutrition.
He quotes a study to show that with aging there are marked reductions of several important species of probiotics, especially Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides, as well as a reduction in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
He explains how these bacterial imbalances lead to improper immune sensing by what they call, ‘the gut-associated lymphoid tissue’ (GALT). This is what leads to increased inflammation and leaky gut symptoms. What happens is that the inflammatory proteins increase and so your gut and immune system is kept out of balance. Then widespread inflammation is found everywhere.
Because the origin of chronic inflammation is in the gut, this is where the balancing out begins. Did you know that two-thirds of the body’s defenses live in the digestive (GI) tract? Intestinal bloating, frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation, gas and pain, heartburn and acid reflux are all early signs of an inflamed digestive tract.
Your immune system first manifests ‘over work’ in your digestive tract. It was designed to get rid of viruses and bacteria in your food before they infect your body. It has to take nutritional value from the food you eat and get rid of the rest. Now it has to do a whole lot more.
Today we give our digestive systems a lot more work to do. We have changed from eating a hunter-gatherer type diet to eating convenience and fast foods. This overwhelms our metabolism and GI tract. This breeds chronic inflammation. The modern diet gives us an eating pattern that has an upside-down ratio of fatty acids, high levels of wheat, dairy, and other common allergens and of course, way too much sugar and carbohydrates.
So the first step in reducing inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your diet, in particular your glycemic load, your intake of essential fatty acids, and being aware of food sensitivities. Unfortunately, as we get older, foods that never bothered us before, like dairy and wheat, may trigger chronic low-grade indigestion or other seemingly minor symptoms that put our immune system on guard — with additional inflammatory concerns to follow.
I am a firm believer in the use of probiotics on a daily basis. They help reduce chronic inflammation in all types of digestive complaints. In fact, there was a recent study on the effectiveness of probiotics by Yoonl et al published in Dec 2013 to show how the proportion of patients whose symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS – were substantially relieved, were significantly higher in the probiotics group than in the placebo group.
So, start taking probiotics on a regular basis today to reduce pain, increase energy and relieve chronic inflammation. You’ll feel the benefits immediately.