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Researchers Use a Bacteria to Fight Itself to Help Stop Stomach Problems

Gastrointestinal map

Researchers have figured out using a nontoxic strain of one of the nation’s most most dangerous viruses can lead to reduced risk of infection.

In the most recent issue of JAMA, it was reported oral administration of the nontoxic strain of Clostridium difficile can contribute to lower frequencies of infection.

As C. difficile is one of the most common, as well as most deadly viruses seen in hospitals on a daily basis, these new developments bode well for those who are most at risk.

Presently, the rate of C. difficile is at an all-time high. In 2011 alone there were more than 500,000 cases. Within 30 days of diagnosis, more than  29,000 of those people died. A high mortality rate.

C. difficile is a bacterium which causes colitis, or colon inflammation.

Symptoms of infection include, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.  Typically, the elderly as well as those who are on antibiotics are most at risk for contracting C. difficile.

For many, the treatment of C. difficile includes taking patients who are on antibiotics off of their antibiotic regimen. In other cases, administration of new antibiotics (metronidazole and oral vancomycin) can help combat the growth of the bacterium.

But, researchers have found anywhere from 25-30% of patients who receive either kind of treatment will see C. difficile return.

In a novel new approach, Dr. Dale N. Gerding, of the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines and Loyola University Chicago – both in Illinois, sought to seek out a new treatment.

Based on previous studies, they were able to see marked improvement by using a non-toxic strain of the bacteria.

Medical News today writes about the recent discovery, saying:

Dr. Gerding and colleagues conducted a phase 2 randomized controlled trial involving 173 patients aged 18 and older who had been diagnosed with either a primary or recurrent C. difficile infection.

All patients had been successfully treated with either metronidazole, oral vancomycin or both.

For the study, the patients were randomly assigned to receive one of four different treatments: an oral liquid formulation of nontoxic C. difficile strain M3 (NTCD-M3) at 104 daily for 7 days, NTCD-M3 at 107 spores daily for 7 days, (NTCD-M3) at 104 daily for 14 days, or a placebo for 14 days. The team reports that 157 patients completed their treatment regimens.

They found that recurrence of C. difficile infection was significantly lower among patients treated with either NTCD-M3 regimen compared with those who received the placebo, at 11% vs 30%. The lowest recurrence rate was among patients who received NTCD-M3 at 107 spores daily for 7 days, at 5%.

What is more, the team identified high rates of fecal colonization among patients treated with NTCD-M3, and this colonization correlated with lower recurrence of C. difficile infection.

Thirty-one percent of patients who received NTCD-M3 but who did not experience fecal colonization had recurrent C. difficile infection, compared with only 2% of NTCD-M3-treated patients with fecal colonization.

The team found treatment with NTCD-M3 was generally well-tolerated. Diarrhea or abdominal pain was experienced by 46% and 17% of these patients, respectively, while 60% of patients who received the placebo reported diarrhea and 33% reported abdominal pain.

The researchers aren’t quite sure what causes the toxic strain to subside but theorize it could be that NTCD-M3 eventually takes up residence in the gastrointestinal tract and pushes the harmful strain out.

A study completed in Jan of 2014 said low vitamin D levels are an independent predictor of poor outcomes in Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea.

This means, to help work against C. difficile,, as well as to help gut-health overall, increased Vitamin D levels are necessary.

A caveat to all of this is when taking Vitamin D, it’s also important to take Vitamin K-2.

Studies have found Vitamin D without complimentary levels of Vitamin K-2 can actually lead to increased risk of heart attack.

Vitamin K-2 works synergistically with Vitamin D to help bring calcium out of the blood where it could possibly contribute to heart attack.

Vitamin K-2 has a long list of other health benefits including:

  • Helps reduce risk of some cancer
  • Helps reduce risk of diabetes
  • Helps reduce risk arteriosclerosis
  • Helps reduce risk of osteoporosis.

Always opt for soy-free Vitamin K-2 to reduce possible allergic reactions.