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Immune System Question

My Butt Hurts

Maybe this is too simple, but I was thinking (haha - I know that is dangerous. I try not to do it very often...)

If our immune systems are overactive, and we take an immune suppressing drug, is it possible that instead of suppressing it so low that we catch every illness we come across, it actuallly just lowers it to a normal level??

I've been on Humira or Remicade or Imuran or Prednisone for 2 years now, and haven't noticed one single bit of lacking immune system. I think I have only had one cold this winter, and I used to get 4 or 5 each season. All 3 of my family members had the fever/diarrhea/vomiting bug this year once or twice, and I never caught it though I was the main caretaker of the vomiting ones.

I guess I should just be thankful, but it makes me wonder.

Here is my Crohn's math that seems to make sense to me -
High immune system + immunosuppressant = normal immune system.
Most people seem to think it means high immune system + immunosuppresant = low immune system.
What do you think?

Crohn's 35

Inactive Account
This is my theory... since our Crohns' fights your body and causes it to attack itself, I would think the level of dosages given to fight it would level it out. Everyone's immune system is different and I guess that is why getting the perfect dosage for immunosuppressants in conjuction of other drugs is hard to pinpoint to get the Crohn's under control.

Even normal conditions for healthy people get sick and virus' too. Pretty good only one cold. I went 7 years with no cold and only 1 flu bug up til last October and then all hell broke loose.

I also think we eat a little better or conscience of it and healthy eating is optimal!
Ridiculously overzealous immune system = immune system attacks own body.

Immunosuppressant meds = bash crazy overzealous immune system down a little, so that it is more or less at the level of 'normal' person's immune system.
WHen I was in highschool I had a thyriod problem and was sick all the time. SInce diag. with crohns I do not get sick that much. I have 2 little boys and I rarely catch their colds.
Prior to my Crohn's diagnosis, I though I had one heck of an effective immune system. My wife would get a Cold or Flu and I would get it also, but they did not bother me much. She would be missing work, and I almost never missed work because of the Flu, never for a Cold.

I have flipped the theory on its head now, due to a better understanding, hopefully.

The reason I would not get very sick is because my immune system was not responding like a normal persons. It was not because it was super effective. It was because it barely responded at all. I had the same viruses, but my body would only slowly take care of the problem.

My wife would get real ill because her immune system was very good, and triggered a high fever and the aches and pains that go with it. It is not the virus that causes most of the symptoms, it is the bodies response to it.

Once I started LDN I got a taste of the Flu with a normal immune system. I was so sick I thought I was going to die. I mean that literally. I had never had a normal reaction, so I did not expect anything like that.

I have had more than one Nurse confirm the weak immune system theory. The ones that have worked in Cancer wards notice that people with minimal immune response do not catch colds, or more accurately they do not get symptoms from a Cold. They simply do not respond to the viruses like normal people.

I think the immune system is too weak, or just dyfunctional in how it is working. It is too weak to kill the bacteria that is causing the Crohn's symptoms.

If that is the case, you only have two options. One is to boost the immune system so it can finally kill the offending bacteria. The other is to further damped the immune response, so it does not react to the same bacteria.

The problem with dampening, is that it leaves you open to other pathogens that may bring about another condition.

My take on it.

Glad to see a new picture Dan!!

I dunno what to think. Catch me on a different day and I think you'd get a different answer. But yes, if you follow the over active immune system school of thought, I always believed what MBH did.

I also know that when I was on 2 immunosuppressants and pred, I got the same cold as bruce because I gave it to him, and his are always worse than mine. But when I was only on the 2 immunosuppressants my sinus infection was WAAY worse.
I needed the picture for the LDN book, put out by LDN Research Trust of the UK. I do not know how I got wrapped up in that outfit, but somehow I am.

They put out a book, once a year, and they have my story in it. I sent it in quite a while go, and forgot about it. Then they asked for a photo a while back, and I was not going to send one, as I am not exactly "movie star" material.

They asked again, so I sent it in. I actually tested it on this forum, to see if it would scare small children, and the moderators have not warned me any incidents yet, so I think it is distant enough.

That is how the new picture came about.

I have had a lot of immune response experience in treating Lyme. That is actually my best test case, as Lyme reduces the immune response also. Lymies get autoimmune diseases, like Crohn's and Lupus, from the bacterial induced weak immune system. Some even use LDN to get it working again.

There is quite a bit of peripheral evidence of the weak immune system, but you have to look at several diseases to put it together.


Crohn's 35

Inactive Account
Don't worry Dan the pic is good! I mentioned it on another thread but forgot where lol. Hope you get some answers for the Lyme disease for your wife.
I, too, have wondered about this immune system thing... Since starting Humira, I thought I would be sick all the time and really have to watch myself in public places and at work (I work in a school setting where germs are flying around all the time)... So far, so good though! *knock on wood*
The jury is still out on whether it's over or under active....so it's considered "abnormal"..... The abnormal immune system response in a Crohn's patient attacks normal intestinal flora. According to Crohns.net, the immune system fights against food, normal bacteria and other substances.

The disease appears now to be far more complicated than that. In contrast to the classic view of Crohn's as an allergic reaction, in which the immune system goes into overdrive, another, more recent hypothesis about the origins of the disease -- based on the findings described above -- is that Crohn's patients are born with genetic mutations which, when combined with a "perfect storm" of environmental factors, actually causes the machinery of the immune system to malfunction. Crohn's disease, therefore, is an innate immune deficiency, in which the body compensates for the reduced function of the immune system by developing adaptive immunity in the form of an over-active Th1 cytokine response. In some cases the side effect of this "adaptive immunity" is chronic intestinal inflammation.

More specifically, among people with Crohn's disease, genetic mutations have caused the protective layer of mucus in the walls of the intestinal tract to be underdeveloped, or abnormally thin and weak. A variety of microorganisms take advantage of their host's weakened mucosal layer by multiplying in large numbers, and as a result, Crohn's patients have a difficult time clearing bacteria from the intestinal walls, and produce more cytokine to combat them, thus causing intestinal inflammation.

Simply put, healthy people have millions of bacteria in their digestive systems that help them process the food they eat. Their immune systems keep these useful intestinal microbes under control, preventing them from spreading to other parts of the body where they will cause harm rather than do good. Crohn's patients have the same intestinal microbes as healthy people, but their immune systems are too weak to prevent those microbes from multiplying in the intestine until they cause chronic inflammation.

The most recent gene to be implicated in Crohn's disease is ATG16L1, which may induce autophagy and hinder the body's ability to attack invasive bacteria. As a result, bacteria in the colon multiply and cause inflammation. An increasing body of evidence in favor of this hypothesis suggests that Crohn's disease results not from the overactive immune response, but rather from impaired cytokine secretion by macrophages as a result of a mutation on ATG16L1. When scientists combined results from genetic data with the direct assessment of patient immunity, they found that Crohn's patients were born with compromised immune systems with a greater-than-normal likelihood of malfunctioning. Scientists now believe there are over thirty genes that play a role, either by causing Crohn's directly, or by acting as a mediator variable that increases the likelihood of other genes causing the disease. For example, anomalies in the XBP1 gene have recently been identified as a factor, pointing towards a role for the unfolded protein response pathway of the endoplasmatic reticulum in inflammatory bowel diseases.

I rarely get sick myself, with colds/flues, but I've had sores on my ankles that have not completely healed and it's been 5 yrs now, go figure....that's just how nutty our immune systems are....fixing our immune system, would cure our IBD.

I like the idea of wrongly or poorly responding system as well. In my case I had problematic childhood allergies and allergic stimuli often triggered Asthma. The respiratory thing got so bad for me that I went on inhaled Constrictoroids permanently back in the late 80's. Its a preventative thing taken once or twice a day to control asthma. I have also had Erythema nodosum on my shins for the past decade leading up to this initial Crohn's attack that totally sidelined me for 6 months. And mysterious migratory arthritic pains for a bit longer than that.

I have been treated by the same GP for apx 20 years now and it was not until I was hospitalized with an abdominal abscess and multiple inter-abdominal fistula that a real medical history was done for me. It seems that the immune suppression is my best shot since so much of my grievances are tied into my immune system. I don't know if its overactive, underactive or just plain out to get me but I do feel a lot better over all with the therapy.

I see the GI disease management team tomorrow for an assessment on the suppression therapy so I have a lot to think about tonight. I wish I could get off the drugs and manage my Crohn's more holistically but what about all the other crap I have had to deal with. It seem to be keeping a lot of other issues at bay right now.
I am not sure if it is a weakened, or dysfunctional immune system, but since LDN is not known to weaken the immune response, it seems reasonable that it has to be one or the other or some of both.

I am quite sure of the bacterial element of the disease, but I doubt that it is normal bacteria that causes the problem. Normal meaning beneficial bacteria.

My use of Chlorine Dioxide (MMS) to eliminate my flare, and others that have done the same, to one degree or another, indicates an acidic bacterium involvement. Chlorine Dioxide only oxidizes acidic bacteria and most beneficial bacteria is not acidic.

I am not sure which bacteria, and there could be several, but to me the most suspicious are the MAP bacteria, a strain of E-Coli and H-Pylori. I also suspect yeast plays a pretty important role in breaking down the intestinal mucosa. I am still exploring the idea of a virus degrading the immune response, such as the XMRV virus.

All speculation, but following this general hypothesis has worked well for me so far. I won't speculate on what the future holds.



Thank you all for this great information. Being new to the Crohn's diagnosis, this is really helpful in determining what direction I would like to take with my treatment.
Great information here! I don't know whether the immune system in Crohn's patients is weak or overactive. What I do know is that I rarely get colds and don't think I ever have had the flu. However, I have always had allergies. Always seemed my allergies were seasonal and never that bad. Then, once I got off Entecort they got worse immediately. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and now am on a steroid nose spray and allergy pills. Seems every few months something else goes haywire!
D Bergy, "normal" isn't a good term to use regarding bacteria in this that context, it's usually termed as "harmless" which makes much more sense since it seems to be fact according to researchers that our bodies are attacking "harmless" bacteria mistaking it for a bad invador.

Yup, our immune systems are definitely confused.

The whole immune system thing confuses me.
Before I was on Imuran I would regularly get colds or respiratory tract infections. Not had one since I've been on the drug... so in some ways I think Dan's theory works. Another theory I have is that I'm just more careful now and wash my hands more often when I'm out and about. But my wife works in a hospital and has come home with colds, but I've not caught anything.
If they could name what bacterium our body is attacking, and it was present in normal people, I would agree with their conclusion. Many species have not even been identified or are notoriously hard to find or cultivate in a lab. Different bacteria also react with each other in unique ways, so it could be an interaction between more than one.

I do not discount that theory either, as it could be like an allergy to normally present bacteria, but it would require identification to confirm it. The job of detecting every species of bacteria present in the body, even assuming they have found all of them, would be nearly impossible. It may not even be bacterial in origin. It could also be viral. No one is really looking at that possibility that I am aware of. We carry around retroviruses that are influencing our bodies also. Who knows what impact they have?

The immune system is far more complex than I ever thought. That makes things even more difficult to decipher. I guess that is why I prefer to try make the immune system do its job, rather than suppress it. It would be impossible to duplicate its function by any other method. In the end, if you can get the immune system to work normally, the problem should be solved.
It knows how to do what is needed, if it can be normalized.

I have no doubt that the immune function is not working as it should. We simply would not get all of these conditions if it were normal.

i don't think i can shed any clarification on the immune thing... but for me, i've always found it a contradiction, either that or i just don't understand... i know Crohn's is an immune disorder, and it makes sense that now i have active Crohn's again, my allergies and sensitivities are heightened. what doesn't make sense is that i've been in prolonged and very close contact with people suffering all kinds of germs, including vomitting/diarrhea bugs, swine flu, tonsilitis.... and i don't come down with it. at the most, i get a little tummy ache which lurks for a few days, or a sore throat that comes and goes, the odd sneeze... but it doesn't go into full blown anything.

reading some of the posts in here about our particular immune issues meaning we don't necessarily catch things any differently, but how our bodies react to them differently, might explain things somewhat...
another difficult portion of the equation is IF bacteria/virus/viroids are even a cause as opposed to an occurrence due to other influences. I am still convinced by the evidence behind the occurrence of IBD within similar genetic population being inconsistent based on cultural diet. Danes vs the Greenlanders for instance. Or IBD in the Icelandic population.

I think what we are seeing here is growing % of the general population succumbing to a form of systemic failure based on that portions unsuitability to the present cultural dietary consumption and or environmental conditions. The medical community seems focused on correcting or altering that human component to match the cultural circumstances. People are NOT all the same for a good reason. So it stands to reason that we should react differently to a similar situation. Yet that different reaction is what doctors are referring to as a disease rather than the cultural setting that my be responsible for the defective performance.

I might see things a bit differently than most other people because of my training in disease management of plants. In horticulture we change the environmental conditions to match a certain goal for plant growth. Be that soil, temperature, light,water,nutrient availability,etc.. I never look at a plant and say, OK how can I change you to suit that spot. I say how can I modify the spot to suit your genetic makeup and allow you to fulfill your genetic potential. ( the definition of disease bing "A failure to fulfill genetic potential" irregardless of the cause being biotic or abiotic factors)

All that said people are people and not plants. You cant just cull a seed bed of people or dig one up and replace it with a better suited species. But overall there seems to be a fundamental difference in the perception of how to manage disease.
I think the difference you are so well illustrating, is the Louis Pasteur Germ Theory of disease versus the terrain theory of disease proposed by Antoine Beauchamp.

Pasteur's theory leaves a lot to be desired, and is not really wrong from what I gather, but it is limited in scope.

Beauchamp's terrain theory is true more often, in that a healthy person with the bodies terrain in more or less ideal condition, will not develop Chronic disease.

In defense of Pasteur, there are some bugs too strong for even the healthiest person to withstand. That is not normally the case, but there are some exceptions to the terrain theory. Lyme Disease is one good example. It may be an exception because it was created as a bio-weapon, but that has not been proven to my satisfaction, although there is some compelling evidence for that hypothesis.

Pasteur's model is what modern medicine is based on. With that model comes the inherent limitation of what it can accomplish. I prefer to use both models, as they both have their place.

I use the example of how plants and farm animal are raised and fed to guide my thinking. It does matter what you put into your body, regarding health and disease. At the same time not all disease can be prevented or resolved by a healthy terrain. For one thing, we do not control all aspects of our environment. We are somewhat forced to make due with what we have.

I don't think there is a contradiction in reality, but people like to "hang their hat" on one model, to the exclusion of the other, and that does not really get us anywhere.

New research by the University of Adelaide could help explain why some people are more prone to Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases.

A critical imbalance of the regulatory cells required to control the immune system has been revealed among people suffering inflammatory bowel disease.

In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology this month, Pathology researcher Dr Nicola Eastaff-Leung reveals that people suffering Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have fewer numbers of regulatory cells and more "attack" cells that cause inflammation.

"All the food that we eat is foreign to our body," Dr Eastaff-Leung says. "In healthy people the immune system has a mechanism to tolerate these foods and not react. But some people do not have enough of these regulatory cells and their body overreacts and goes into attack mode. That is where the inflammation occurs," she says.

Dr Eastaff-Leung says the results of her recently completed PhD at the University of Adelaide could help provide a diagnostic tool for gastrointestinal diseases, reducing the need for colonoscopies in future.

"If we can establish that all people suffering Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have an imbalance of these regulatory cells, we may be able to develop a blood test that confirms suspected cases of these diseases.

"The second, bigger challenge is to work out a treatment that can restore the balance of these cells and also to find out why this imbalance is happening in the first place."

Dr Eastaff-Leung, who has qualifications in both Pathology and Chinese medicine, says there is evidence to show that diet and lifestyle play a significant role in the development of gastrointestinal disease.

"Inflammatory bowel diseases and a lot of other autoimmune diseases are common in Western cultures but are rarely found in the developing or Third World countries.

"We need to look at our diet and also the obsession in Western countries with cleanliness and antibacterial disinfectants, which has gone overboard. Children need to be exposed to bacteria as they are developing in order to build their immune system naturally," Dr Eastaff-Leung says.

PhD supervisors Associate Professor Simon Barry, from the Discipline of Paediatrics at the University of Adelaide, and Dr Adrian Cummins from the Department of Gastroenterology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, believe the ongoing study of regulatory immune cells could help pinpoint the causes of a range of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and even asthma.

"In all autoimmune diseases, the immune system accidentally starts to attack tissues and organs that it should normally leave alone. The regulatory cells are obviously not doing their job and we need to understand why," Dr Barry says.

Dr Eastaff-Leung will spend the next 12 months working with Assoc. Prof. Barry developing a novel biomarker for these regulatory immune cells in collaboration with Professor Heddy Zola from the Cooperative Research Centre for Biomarker Translation.

"We are going to see if we can add a new layer of sophistication to this research," Assoc. Prof. Barry says. "If the new biomarker is a protein that plays an important functional role we can work on that to restore the balance in the immune system."

More than 700,000 individuals are living with inflammatory bowel disease in the US, UK and Australia.


Lack of a specific bacterium in the gut may be a cause of Cohn’s disease, an inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder, according to a team of French researchers

Researchers from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique have highlighted the bug, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which they show secretes biochemicals that reduce inflammation.

The researchers have already shown that patients with Cohn’s disease have a marked deficiency in bacteria from the Clostridium leptum group.

Now, their latest study shows that F. prausnitzii, a major component of this group, accounts for a large part of the deficit.

The researchers found that Cohn’s patients who underwent bowel surgery were more likely to experience a recurrence of the condition if they had low levels of F. prausnitzii.

And in experiments on cultured cells, they showed that liquid in which F. prausnitzii had been grown provided an anti-inflammatory effect.

According to researchers, if the ongoing animal trials prove successful, human patients could benefit from a probiotic treatment with F. prausnitzii.

Dr Anton Emmanuel, medical director of the digestive disorders charity Core, agreed that the study raised the possibility of a therapeutic ‘replacement’ therapy.

"It would be interesting to see how this finding relates to the emerging body of evidence looking at genetic changes in some patients with Cohn’s disease, with the known abnormal gene being one that codes for the body’s ability to recognise foreign bacteria," BBC quoted Emmanuel, as saying.

The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There are many factors that play a role in the development of IBD, it's not likely just one bacteria or lack of one bacteria either...regardless, so far according to researchers bacteria plays a key role in the development of IBD (for UCers as well) but that alone isn't the cause, if it were then with what researchers know so far, they'd have found a way to cure our disease...hormones play a huge roll as well.