New Treatment for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
Safer, greater efficacy, and a non-drug approach
By Dr. Brian Lum, DC
MY EXPERIENCE WITH IBD
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, otherwise known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are two diseases that I am most passionate about treating because of my mother’s experience with Crohn’s disease. Seeing my mother suffer from her illness opened my eyes to the extent to which inflammatory bowel disease can affect every aspect of daily life.
The current model for IBD treatment focuses solely on crisis management and neglects to treat what actually causes the disease to develop and exist, i.e. a genetic defect causing serotonin and dopamine imbalance. The treatment approach I will discus below does not replace acute/emergency management, but rather is designed to fix the cause of the disease to support healing. Through this new treatment, people with IBD may have an opportunity to be completely healed.
The brain and nervous system use signaling molecules to transmit messages from one place to another. The group of signaling molecules called monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine) is important for digestive health and brain function. The digestive system and brain must have the proper balance and sufficient levels of these signaling molecules in order to be healthy and function normally.
MAIN GENETIC CAUSE OF IBD
There is a known genetic defect of neurotransmitter transporters (OCTN1/OCTN2) in the gastrointestinal tract of IBD patients.1 OCTN1 and OCTN2 are responsible for the transport of dopamine and serotonin. Because these transporters are defective, serotonin levels are too high causing serotonin toxicity, tissue damage, and the generation of symptoms.2,3
The imbalance between serotonin and dopamine in the digestive system has been shown to be the primary cause of inflammation that leads to tissue destruction in the intestines.4 The high serotonin level in the GI tract is what initiates the inflammatory process and perpetuates tissue damage. Therefore, unless this genetic defect is addressed and treated, the disease process will continue to progress.
It should be noted that people with IBD often have associated anxiety and/or depression symptoms. This could be the result of the previously discussed imbalance between serotonin and dopamine, both of which are vital for mood, cognition, and general psychiatric health.
Genetic Defect and IBD-Flow Chart
Genetic Defect in OCT1/OCT2 transporters → Serotonin/Dopamine imbalance → Immune Activation → Chronic inflammation → Intestinal wall damage = disease (IBD)
THE SOLUTION – New Treatment Approach
A group of medical doctors developed a cutting-edge treatment protocol using 17 years of clinical research. This nutritional approach balances the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain and gastrointestinal system. When these two neurotransmitters are BALANCED, excessive serotonin will no longer trigger the inflammatory process and intestinal tissue can begin to heal.5
This approach bypasses the genetically defective neurotransmitter transporter, and thereby achieves balance and restoration of normal function. Treatment includes physician administration of serotonin and dopamine amino acid precursors using organic cation transporter(OCTN1/2) analysis testing.
Benefits of this approach:
- Treats and bypasses the main genetic defect that perpetuates these diseases
- Non-drug approach with proven efficacy
- Only documented treatment to achieve full disease resolution = no symptoms and complete tissue healing5,6
- Often times patients will experience relief of anxiety and depression symptoms through balancing serotonin and dopamine.
Delaying this approach:
- Continues intestinal and other bodily damage through chronic inflammation
- Continues exposure to powerful drugs their potential harmful side effects that suppress the immune system
- Increases the likelihood of surgery and disease progression
- Some may view their disease as mild and manageable but in reality Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are like a walking time bomb, at any moment disaster can happen leading to unexpected surgery or death.
Note: There are other genetic defects seen in IBD patients, but the previously discussed defect is among the most important for treatment. Other aspects of comprehensive integrative medicine IBD care include: treatment of identified nutritional deficiencies, optimizing digestion and assimilation of food/nutrients, optimizing gut microbes, patient specific nutritional regimen, and intestinal lining repair. Treating the neurotransmitter genetic defect is one of the most important factors for complete remission of inflammatory bowel disease.
Disclaimer: All medications are continued at the initiation of this treatment approach. Only until complete stabilization has been reached and upon the supervision and direction of a gastroenterologist are medications to be changed or altered.
This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user’s own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.
- Sartor RB. Mechanisms of disease: pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;3(7): 390–407.
- Itta M. Minderhoud, Bas Oldenburg, Marguerite E.I. Schipper, Jose – J.M. ter Linde, Melvin Samson. Serotonin Synthesis and Uptake in Symptomatic Patients with Crohn’s Disease in Remission. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. June 2007
- R. Spiller. Recent advances in understanding the role of sertonin in gastrointestinal motility in functional bowel disorders: alterations in 5-HT signaling and metabolism in human disease. Neurogastroenterology and Motility. Jul. 2007
- Jean-Eric Ghia, Nan Li, Huaqing Wang et al. Serotonin has a key role in pathogenesis of experimental colitis. Gastroenterology. Nov 2009
- Stein, A., Hinz, M., & Uncini, T. (2010). Amino acid-responsive Crohn’s disease: a case study. Clinical and experimental gastroenterology, 3, 171.
- Hinz, M., Stein, A., & Uncini, T. (2012). Relative nutritional deficiencies associated with centrally acting monoamines. Int J Gen Med, 5, 413-430.