Crohn’s disease belongs to the group of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). It is characterized by chronic or aggressive inflammation of the digestive system, due to idiopathic activation of the immune system.
It is a chronic disease, meaning that most patients will experience ongoing symptoms and attacks, ranging from minor to life-threatening.
The infection can involve any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, but in most cases the inflammation occurs at the end of the small intestine and in the nearby large intestine. The inflammation usually involves all layers of the intestinal wall, and therefore complications may appear, such as constriction of the intestine, abdominal ulcer, or fistulas between adjoining intestinal loops or between the inflamed loops and adjoining organs – the bladder, the vagina, or the abdominal wall.
The human immune system is designed to attack foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, but in people suffering from Crohn’s, the immune system attacks the harmless bacteria normally found in the digestive tract derived from food or natural flora. There is evidence of continuing activation of the immune system, creating inflammation in the intestinal wall.
The cause of the immune system activation is not clear; whether it is due to an as-yet unidentified pathogenic microorganism, or to a loss of normal immune tolerance.
Studies show that there is a genetic element; the risk for a first-degree relative of a Crohn’s sufferer to develop the disease is 14-15 times greater than the risk in the general population. The increased frequency of the disease in recent decades, and the link between incidence and socioeconomic status hint at the importance of environmental factors. Apparently it is due to an absence of early exposure to generators such as worms and bacteria from various animals. Such exposure is important for the development of the immune system.
Common symptoms of Crohn’s include loss of appetite, weight loss, temperature, fatigue, abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, bleeding, and in more serious cases, also inflammation of the skin, eyes and joints, and affecting the liver and gallbladder.
Complications may be expressed by ulcers and intestinal blockages, with an increased risk of colon cancer.
It is impossible to predict how the disease will affect each patient. Tikun Olam conducted a study in collaboration with Dr. Naftali and the research team. They used the Erez strain and found that 45% of participants in the study achieved full remission and 90% reported a significant reduction in symptoms, with no significant side effects.
At Tikun Olam House, our team of nurses will use the findings of such research to adapt the specific treatment to the symptoms of each individual patient, with the focus on the patient’s needs and the doctor’s prescription.
Prospective study of Crohn’s
Observational study of Crohn’s