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New Relief for those suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

guest article by Barrie Carlsen, President at Vitex Nutrition, Ltd.

Recently Health Canada has issued a Natural Health Product (NPN) license for a proprietary formula containing N, Acetyl glucosamine (NAG) and vitamin C for managing the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Inflammatory Bowel disease refers to a number of digestive tract disorders which includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Crohn's disease, also known as ileitis or regional enteritis, is a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain and diarrhea, sometimes bloody, caused by inflammation of the intestines. Crohn's disease usually affects the lower part of the small intestine, which is called the ileum. The disease, though, can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal system. Thus, the disorder may affect the large or small intestine, the stomach, the esophagus, or even the mouth. Crohn's can occur at any age. It is most commonly diagnosed in people who are between the ages of 20 and 30. In Canada approximately 170,000 people are being treated for this condition.

How can NAG help?

In IBD the mucus lining of the gastric intestinal tract (GI) becomes thinner and eventually becomes perforated leading to inflammation. This mucus lining of the GI tract serves mainly as a lubricating and insulating barrier to contain the stomach contents and to allow easy passage of the partly digested food bolus to reach the small intestine, and to further facilitate easy passage of the stool through the bowel. This mucus lining is composed mainly of N, Acetyl glucosamine, and a healthy body can manufacture adequate amounts of NAG to keep pace with the body’s demand for this critical structural component.

Normally, the mucosal cells of the digestive tract have a high turnover rate, so that the whole layer of surface cells may be renewed in 3-4 days. In IBD the tissues are damaged by the disease and need repair. This poses extra demands on biosynthetic processes and the body cannot make enough NAG to keep pace with the increased demand: In these cases supplemental NAG can prove helpful as it allows the body to adequately repair the digestive tract lining. And the good news is that NAG is entirely harmless: NAG is stable, neutral, tasteless, freely water soluble and is readily absorbed from the intestines.

NAG also plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Celiac disease and Nephrotic syndrome as all of these conditions are related to amino sugar abnormalities.

Amino sugars and disease

There is suggestive evidence that certain disease processes are related to PG abnormalities. Thus in diabetes mellitus, the basement membranes are thickened and poorly formed and deficient in sialic acid. This narrows and weakens the wall of small arteries and capillaries (very small blood vessels next to cells), thereby impairing blood circulation. Furthermore, the “pore size” of the filtering mechanism in the kidneys is altered, so that large molecules like proteins may “leak through” into the urine. Patients with Nephrotic Syndrome (a primary kidney disease) are similarly affected.

In Cystic Fibrosis, thick and sticky mucus tends to block smaller tubes lined by mucous membrane, such as the pancreatic duct (which leads the digestive enzymes into the small intestine) and the smaller branches of the respiratory tract. Such obstruction encourages infection and “ballooning” (cystic formation) of the passages behind the block.

Celiac disease is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate. Similar to IBD, the digestive tract tissues damaged by Celiac disease need repair and the bodies normal production of NAG is not able to keep up with the excessive demand. Supplemental NAG can help make up the deficiency and help restore the normal function of the digestive tract.

Autoimmune diseases are triggered when receptors on the outside of immune cells called T-helper 1 (Th1) cells start binding “self” antigens rather than pieces of invaders. NAG decreases the amount of “binding” which suppresses the autoimmune response.

NAG is not available from our diet, and if taken directly into the stomach in conventional capsules or tablets, stomach acids quickly decompose it into simple glucose. To overcome this problem, a revolutionary new technology called DRcaps is used. DRcaps resist the acid environment of the stomach and delivers NAG directly to the small intestine, where it is rapidly absorbed.

Finally NAG, a natural substance which is part of every cell is now available in a safe, low cost supplement to help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with IBD and related conditions.