Severe Crohn’s disappeared with antibiotic treatment for MAP
Doctor Judith Lipton leads a busy life. She travels the world, raises many animals at her horse farm, visits family and friends, trains her dogs and enjoys multiple hobbies. Crohn’s is no longer a concern for her.
Dr. Lipton struggled with IBD from 1986 until 2004. She had multiple flares, sometimes called Ulcerative Colitis, but finally Crohn’s. Her colonoscopies in 2003 showed multiple penetrating abscesses throughout her colon and she was hospitalized twice in 2004 from blood poisoning due to the holes in her colon.
One day, as she was resting in bed recovering from a flare that landed her in the hospital, she read a medical magazine and came across an article about a microbial agent, Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis (MAP), and its potential connection to Crohn’s disease in humans. This was a light bulb moment and the beginning of her journey back to wellness. Her search for IBD experts who are informed about MAP led her to Professor Thomas Borody, a world renown gastroenterologist from Australia.
On 12/10/04 Dr. Lipton began a special antibiotics regimen guided by Dr. Borody. She responded to the treatment well, all her Crohn’s symptoms vanished, and she was able to resume all her activities. She returned to her medical practice, and then retired for personal reasons to Costa Rica in 2009. In Central America, she ate normal street food and seafood, and even milked a cow for café con leche in Nicaragua.
She spent 5 years on the antibiotics, ensuring that all the harmful MAP bacteria were eradicated (this kind of bacteria is a very slow propagator, so the working assumption is that it takes a long time to ensure all traces are eliminated). She decided to stop the antibiotics treatment in 2010, feeling that this allowed plenty of time to assure her sustained wellness.
These days, Dr. Lipton continues to be in complete and total remission, without any special diet and without any maintenance medications. Her colonoscopies and inflammatory parameters are all normal.
Dr. Lipton explains: "The way this happened was not magical or spiritual, involved no diet or psychotherapy or stress reduction. I learned a lot of microbiology, and was able to link my own internist to a specialist who taught her how to help me. I was treated from early 2005 to 2010, and that seems to have eradicated my illness.
Treating my Crohn’s with antibiotics, under the theory that Crohn’s disease is an infection caused by MAP bacteria (mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) saved my life. I do not consider myself ill from IBD in any way."
Since recovering, Dr. Lipton has felt obligated to share her experience and knowledge in an effort to help other IBD patients and to advance research and solutions. She wrote about her personal journey publicly, authored medical papers, and participated in MAP focused conferences of the American Society of Microbiology in 2007.
While she continues to care deeply about the urgency of addressing all the challenges that MAP presents, these days Dr. Lipton is focused on other areas of interest. Now a neighbor and friend, she was gracious to find time and get together to share some of her observations on the current state of MAP research. Here are the key points:
We must treat MAP at the source and eliminate it out of our food chain.
At this point in time MAP is not considered to be a “zoonotic pathogen” in the United States and Canada, although it is in other countries. As a result, sick cows and goats are killed for food and placed into the human food chain. Lack of laws and regulations means that herds are not being tested and the bacteria can easily transfer and infect humans. As a reference point, some countries in Europe require MAP testing of herds and restrict cows from other countries from entering their borders. 1% of retail milk in the US tests positive for viable MAP, and traces of MAP has been found in some infant formulae (see resources below). Whether meat or milk is organic does not affect this problem. It is possible that ultrapasteurized milk might be safer.
- Scientific evidence from around the world suggests that Crohn’s Disease in people is the same as Johne’s Disease in animals, a systemic infection caused by a germ related to tuberculosis and leprosy called Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, called MAP.
- The difference between Johne’s and Crohn’s is that MAP in cows can easily been seen with a microscope, but as of now there is no easy way to visualize MAP in people.
- There are no validated ways to test for MAP infections in people as of 2017. Some commercial labs charge money for “MAP tests” – but these labs utilize no proven method and no peer reviewed publications exist to prove or demonstrate their reliability.
- There are a few gastroenterologists who specialize in treating human MAP infections. Dr. Thomas Borody in Australia and Dr. John Hermon-Taylor in the UK are 2. Most doctors in the US and Canada don’t know a thing about it, and are resistant to learning.
- Where to find help for IBD patients who suspects a MAP infection?
- Dr. Thomas Borody in Australia.
- Dr. John Hermon Taylor in England.
- Red Hill Biopharma is conducting a major study of Dr. Borody’s triple antibiotic treatment program and is seeking participants.
- It is possible to educate local physicians in GI or primary care who may be willing to do the MAP protocol. The MAP protocol is not illegal or any more dangerous than conventional Crohn’s treatment.
- Recent information can be obtained from the Consensus from the MAP Conference, Baltimore, 2017.
Additional information and Resources
- The International Association for Paratuberculosis
- Johne's Information Center, and its leader, Dr. Michael Collins at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
- MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM PARATUBERCULOSIS: Infrequent Human Pathogen or Public Health Threat?
American Society for Microbiology
- Paratuberculosis Disease Card, World Organization for Animal Health.
- Detection of viable Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in powdered infant formula by phage-PCR and confirmed by culture, International Journal of Food Microbiology, September 2015.
- Culture of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis from the blood of ..., Saleh A Naser; George Ghobrial; Claudia Romero; John F Valentine. The Lancet; Sep 18-Sep 24, 2004; 364, 9439; Research Library pg. 1039
- Centre for Digestive Diseases
- Johne's Information Center
- Crohn's MAP Vaccine: a potential Crohn's disease cure?
- RedHills Biopharma RHB-106
- The Consensus from the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) Conference 2017