CCFA Webcast Recap

On Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America did webcast titled, “Progress In CD: An Update On The Advances In Crohn’s Disease” by Dr. Jonathan Braun. Dr. Braun is Professor and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

The event was sponsored by Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc, the makers of Remicade. The presentation materials can be found here and here.

I had a chance to listen to the presentation and was quite pleased that Dr. Braun talked about how gut bacteria both good and bad play an important role in Crohn’s disease. He also said it is important to understand a patient’s ecology of friendly bacteria and the CCFA has a “Microbiome Initiative” being headed up by Jeffrey Gordon and Rob Knight. Their project aims to identify which bacteria species and strains live inside of us, what their roles are and to create a “toolkit” and “dashboard”. Details are light on the toolkit and dashboard, but it sounds like it should help patients monitor and adjust their intestinal bacteria. That would be extremely helpful, if possible.

It was also refreshing to hear that diet, lifestyle, environment, probiotics and antibiotics all do play a role in kinds and numbers of bacteria we have in our guts.

What was not so great to hear was that when answering a question by a woman who believes antibiotics contributed to her child’s Crohn’s disease, Dr. Braun said antibiotics were like mowing the lawn and that good bacteria grow back. I strongly disagree with this and think it’s a dangerous thing to say.

Antibiotics are more like atomic bombs, creating widespread devastation to both good and bad bacteria, killing them both. My Naturopathic doctor told me during my interview with him that good bacteria are essential to life and antibiotics kill a lot of good bacteria in our GI system. He also said that people who have IBD have a history of taking strong antibiotics. This is exactly what I’m finding as I talk to many people for my documentary.

Amazingly, one of my own questions was asked by the moderator. I asked Dr. Braun why GI doctors are not telling patients about more alternative treatments like diet and supplements when thousands all over the world are having amazing results, even going med free and in remission for 5+ years.

Disappointingly, Dr. Braun gave the standard, ignorant answer that there is no one diet that works for everyone and therefore, diet and supplements can’t be recommended.

A few questions later a woman told about her 60 year old relative who failed to improve on Humira and now Remicade was failing to work as well and wondered what else she could do. Dr. Braun, completely oblivious to the contradiction now presented to him said that maybe a combination of drugs may work better.

My point is that sure, not all diets work for everyone, but neither do drugs! Why is there a double standard for drugs and food? When a prescription drug doesn’t work for a patient, no doctor believes that no drug works, instead they find another drug that might work. Why is there a blanket belief that if one diet doesn’t work for someone, all diets will have the same result?

That is simply not correct. There are in fact about six, possibly more diets out there that have helped tens of thousands overcome their Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. They are:

I’ve heard of people trying the SCD and needing to switch to GAPS or IBD Remission Diet before they saw permanent improvement in their health. Many of the above diets have a common set of guidelines such as elimination of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Some go further and eliminate dairy, which can be a huge problem for people.

I’m hoping to contact Dr. Braun and talk to him about what I know, because people with Crohn’s or Colitis need to know this. They have a right to be made aware of all of their options.

In the next few weeks, I will give an overview of most of the above diets and then bring in guest bloggers who have personal experience with their chosen diet so that you can see that they do work and choose the one that fits your preference.