Saturday, September 5, 2009

Link Between Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) Bacteria and Crohn's

Someone on one of the message boards was pretty passionate about a strong link between a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) and Crohn's Disease. The bacteria is found in milk and beef from cows and is known to cause a very similar disease (in terms of symptoms) in cows called Johne's Disease.

Here's an excerpt about Johne's Disease and how people may get exposed to MAP:
The microorganism, mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, has been established in the veterinary literature to be the cause for Johne's disease, a disease causing colitis in cattle, sheep, and subhuman primate species. This disease resembles, clinically, Crohn’s disease in humans and acts very much the same. Studies in England and in Wales have shown the presence of mycobacterium paratuberculosis in milk and water supplies. It is known that infected cows secrete this bacteria in milk and hence, milk borne infection appears to be theoretically possible.

Here's an excerpt from a Science Daily article (Dec 2007):

It is thought that the Mycobacteria make their way into the body’s system via cows’ milk and other dairy products. In cattle it can cause an illness called Johne's disease - a wasting, diarrhoeal condition. Until now, however, it has been unclear how this bacterium could trigger intestinal inflammation in humans.

Professor Jon Rhodes, from the University’s School of Clinical Sciences, explains: “Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been found within Crohn’s disease tissue but there has been much controversy concerning its role in the disease. We have now shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing a sugar, called mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cells, called macrophages, from killing internalised E.Coli.

Scientists have previously shown that people with Crohn’s disease have increased numbers of a ‘sticky’ type of E.coli and weakened ability to fight off intestinal bacteria. The suppressive effect of the Mycobacterial molecule on this type of white blood cell suggests it is a likely mechanism for weakening the body’s defence against the bacteria.

Professor Rhodes added: "We also found that this bacterium is a likely trigger for a circulating antibody protein (ASCA) that is found in about two thirds of patients with Crohn's disease, suggesting that these people may have been infected by the Mycobacterium."

MAP could release mannose (a sugar that acts as an immune inhibitor), which could then allow other bacteria to get overgrown (e.g. E. Coli).

Given today's milk processing, you might think that the pasteurization process would kill all bacteria in retail sold milk, including MAP. So how could someone ever be exposed to this type of bacteria in the first place? You'd be wrong, though. An excerpt from a article commenting on milk in the U.S. and the possible link between MAP and Crohn's mentions how 3% of US retail milk has live MAP bacteria:
As part of his research, Dr. Rioux is focusing on the MAP bacteria. He believes it's plausible the bacteria may be a trigger for Crohn's disease. A recent study showed it was present in the intestines of some Crohn's patients.

"It found there was a significant association, finding this mycobacterium in Crohn's patients versus those who do not have Crohn's disease...we can see the footprints of this organism associated with Crohn's disease, but we can't really prove it's at the scene of the crime so to speak," adds Dr. Rioux.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada says a Guelph, Ontario study in 2002 found the bacteria in Ontario milk, though it wasn't alive. Yet a 2005 study in the United States did find live bacteria in almost 3% of retail milk sampled.

"It can survive pasteurization in a limited number of samples, and only in low numbers, so that would not explain the high numbers of Crohn's disease patients we have in the developed world at all," says Barkema.

The Food Directorate of Health Canada calls MAP an "emerging organism of concern." At a recent meeting in Ottawa, it called for more research and testing of food products, to see just how often MAP is found in the products we consume.
Other theories about milk actually go even further, suggesting that any bacteria presence, dead or alive, can contribute to Crohn's disease. Even the bacteria that are killed during the pasteurization process still cause problems. Apparently, although the bacteria are dead, the cell walls and remnants of the bacteria are still present in the milk. These fragments would most certainly be present throughout your GI tract as well as around the body due to leakage through the intestinal wall and circulation around the body via the blood-stream. For example, the fragments could get lodged in your joints in your hands, leading to an immune response there, which would cause arthritis.

There do appear to be some trials being conducted to use antibiotic mixes to kill the MAP infection. Worth looking into more.


  1. good post, it's demostrated that this bacteria caused crohn's desease

  2. I don't think there's anything conclusive in that regard. There may be interactions with other bacteria (e.g. it causes an overgrowth of E.coli as I mentioned). There's more likely a more complex interaction going on. Here's a research paper that I'm looking into more:

  3. commensal theory is out to lunch.

    They may be involved on pathogenesis, but that is it. They do not cause CD.

    chocolate stains

  4. They do not cause CD? Have you done the required research to prove/disprove this? No one has, which is why you can't make an ASSumption like that. Be hopeful, dangit!

  5. 60-75% of crohn's patients are in fact infected with paratuberculosis. I have done my research and I am now Crohn's free after having adapted my diet to the theory that Map causes crohn's. I have been 10 years with no problems. Do the research, you will see that ParaTB most definitevely causes crohn's

  6. what diet do you follow then? kindly share as i am at my wits end with suffering.
    thank you

  7. I have crohns and I've only had it for three years,I've already had two blood transfusions,half of my colon and 4inches of my intestines removed....and I've tried asacol,pentasa,lilada,rowasa,asipro,(might all be spelled wrong)but they are all meslinine (spelled wrong too lol) and predisone..and the only time I don't have any problems is on predisone or if I constantly take imodiu
    ...I don't know what to do... Any suggestions?:(

  8. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the paleo diet. I bought the book from amazon and it has helped me considerably. Lean meats, fruits, and vegetables are the stipends of the diet along with "good" fats and certain types of nuts. Otherwise you eat no dairy products, grains(wheat, bread, rice, etc), starchy foods such as potatoes or any processed foods such as fast food. I went ahead and tried the diet for 2 weeks, following the instructions to a t. After the two weeks i went from feeling like total crap, taking 30 pills a day, using the bathroom constantly thus not being able to go to class, and feeling depressed due to the anemia i had, to feeling refreshed, having consistently high energy levels all day and feeling great. I had a second flare-up and i'm only convinced that that only happened because i started cheating on the diet and eating crap food again.

    None of the stuff the doctor's have told me including my GI doctor have been of much help since i got diagnosed with UC. In fact, my symptoms got worse due to the diet guidelines they gave me. So, hey guys it might be a hassle to eat like a caveman but then again i'd rather look great and feel great than have to take meds. GO PALEO AND DITCH THE MEDICATION!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. My son was diagnosed with Chron’s in 2012. He did not have stomach pain or diarrhea. The colonoscopy showed some inflammation is his Ilium and he got 4 anal abscesses. We did go from doctor to doctor. We were told that only treatment is Remicade but we could not accept that because of side effect. So we searched and searched and we finally found a doctor and Nutritionist, they are affiliate with Colombia University, their names are Dr. Slonim and Grovit.

      Dr. Grovit himself has Chron’s but he has managed not to take any medication since 1970’s . He has only 9” colon left because of all the surgeries that has been performed on him, you can listen link below and get his life story. So, back in 1970’s he decided to change his diet and he has been symptoms free since. So we decided to give his diet a chance. He has about 50 patients and they all symptoms free. For the past 4 months my son has been symptom free. This diet is not easy but it is doable. You need to stick to this diet 100%, there is no deviation. So, here it is:

      Foods to avoid:
      No dairy whatsoever, milk, cheese, yogurt and so on… (as you also recommend).
      No grain (wheat and so forth) (Causes bacteria growth)
      No Soy. Creates bacteria growth.
      No food that has Carrageean (brings inflammation) (look this up, this is thickening agent that companies put in the food)
      No corn or corn oil (Corn starch included). (brings inflammation)
      No food with titanium oxide (brings inflammation).
      Any food with preservative.
      No process food, such as hot dogs, bacon..
      No nuts except Almonds for now because of my son’s fistula; nuts can block the tracks. I guess it is OK if your condition is different.
      No food with very small seeds because of the fistula and it can block the track, such as blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, can be introduced later.

      Good Foods are:
      Meat, Chicken and fish
      Olive Oil.
      Rice and potatoes
      Eggs are fantastic.
      All vegetables
      Almond milk, almond yogurt.
      Beans are OK if they can digest it.

      This is his life story. It is about 30 minutes (Audio) – It was broadcast in US Public Radio. I recommend it you listen to it

      This is their scientific study:

      Web site and their work:

      With Love

    2. Thanks for this... but "breaking the vicious cycle" states no rice and no potatoes, including sweet potatoes... your version seems much more do-able!