Prostaglandin Metabolism, Mucin Defects, Intestinal Flora
They are hormone like substances made from essential fatty acids which are responsible for many bodily functions, including inflammation. Levels of prostaglandin are substantially elevated in the colonic mucosa, serum, and stools of people suffering from IBD. These patients show an increase in
leukotrienes (1-4) which are responsible for synthesizing inflammation. These compounds are known to add to the inflammatory process and cause pain and cramping of the intestine. To reduce these compounds one should decrease meat and dairy consumption while increasing the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. A tablespoon of organic, cold pressed flaxseed oil per day is an essential preventative measure.
Mucins (glycoproteins with sugar molecules attached) are responsible for the gelatinous characteristics of secreted mucus. The mucosa is greatly disturbed in patients with ulcerative colitis. A factor might be the considerable decrease in the mucus content of the mucus producing cells, as well a decrease in the sulfur containing mucin. Herbs historically used to treat ulcerative colitis are demulcents (soothing irritated mucous membranes and further the secretion of mucus). Some of them are DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), marshmallow root, and slippery elm.
There are studies proving the fact that fecal flora of patient’s with Crohn’s disease is greatly abnormal. (5) It seems that this transformation in fecal flora is not a result of the disease. It seems that the most important thing is alterations in the metabolic activity of bacteria and not so much the alteration in the number of bacteria. It is also thought that bacterial cell building blocks are responsible for the destruction of the intestinal cells.
Next we will take a look at IBD’s effects on general nutrition.
1. Donowitz M. Arachidonic Acid Metabolites and Their role in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterol 88 (1985):580-7
2. Ford-Hutchinson A.W. Leukotrienes: Their Formation and Role as Inflammatory Mediators. Fed Proc 44 (1985):25-9
3. Sharon P., Stenson W.F. Enhanced Synthesis of Leukotriene B4 by Colonic Mucosa in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterol 86 (1984):453-60
4. Musch M.W., Miller R.J., Field M., Siegel M.I. Stimulation of Colonic Secretion by Lipoxygenase Metabolites of Arachidonic Acid. Science 217 (1982):1255-6
5. Hentges D.J. Human Intestinal Micro-flora in Health and Disease. New York Academic Press (1983).