What is IBD?

The gastrointestinal tract acts as a selectively permeable barrier that allows the body to absorb water and nutrients from food and drink, while at the same time, blocking the absorption of harmful bacteria and lipopolysaccharides. IBD occurs when your immune system attacks the harmless food, bacteria or viruses in the gut, leading to inflammation and bowel injury. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic life-long condition of the gastrointestinal tract.

When someone has an IBD condition, the most common of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, various parts of the digestive system can become swollen, ulcerated and inflamed.

Ulcerative colitis occurs only in the large bowel, and the inflammation is confined to the mucosa or bowel membrane, while Crohn’s disease may occur anywhere in the digestive tract, from mouth to rectum, and it affects the entire bowel wall to form abscesses and fistulas in the skin or internal organs.

Not everyone experiences constant IBD symptoms – people may go through periods of good health and then have relapses or flare-ups.

Living with IBD

Significantly impacting over 10 million people worldwide, IBD can cause intense discomfort, stomach pains and cramping, diarrhea, weight loss, and extreme tiredness. However, the impact of IBD isn’t just on the physical body. Mentally, sufferers feel isolated and alone as the symptoms prevent many from being able to socialise freely and carry out everyday activities. Unfortunately, one of the most impacted demographics are teenagers and children, with roughly a quarter of all those diagnosed with IBD being under twenty years old.

Fucoidan and IBD

Is There a Cure For IBD?

Those living with inflammatory bowel disease  do so with the knowledge that there is no cure for the condition – at least not yet. Patients are using anti-inflammatory drugs to help ease the symptoms, as well as medication that is designed to slow or reduce immune system reaction. While these medications can work, they are not without significant side effects. People may experience:

  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and allergic reactions
  • Sleeping problems
  • Obesity

Fucoidan and IBD: A Natural Treatment Option?

With these side effects in mind, it’s easy to see why people are turning towards natural food supplements to help relieve their pain and symptoms.

One area of study that is showing particular promise is the use of fucoidan in treating IBD. In comparison to pharmaceutical medications, the side effects associated with fucoidan are well-tolerated, making it an attractive natural treatment option.

Whilst anecdotal accounts have long supported the concept of fucoidan alleviating the symptoms of IBD, the link between Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and fucoidan is a sophisticated one. Exciting new scientific research is helping us determine the mechanisms taking place.

What Does the Science Say?

To date, numerous pre-clinical studies have occurred using animal models to understand the relationship between fucoidan and IBD. To consolidate these pre-clinical studies, clinical trials are also now commencing.

The data is consistent across the board, with results showing that fucoidan helps to reduce inflammation caused by IBD in the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, research has shown that fucoidan can inhibit the production of key pro-inflammatory biomarkers that are clinically relevant in acute and chronic gut conditions, including IBD.

As early as 2001, scientists discovered that intravenous administration of fucoidan reduced colon damage and destruction in mice with chronic colitis.

In another study, the oral administration of Cladosiphon fucoidan “ameliorated” and showed a “positive effect” on both a colonic cell line in vitro and on mice with colitis cells in vivo. The researchers concluded that Cladosiphon fucoidan may be useful as a dietary substance for preventing inflammatory bowel disease in humans.

A 2013 study demonstrated that fucoidan protected the epithelial barrier function from oxidative injury of the tight junction as well as barrier disruption by upregulating the expression of claudin-1. The scientists concluded that fucoidan may be an appropriate therapy for the treatment of IBD because it protects and strengthens the epithelial barrier function, and thus reduces the permeability of intestinal cells.

In 2015, oral fucoidan was proven to effectively protect mice with acute colitis in five ways:

  1. Improving colitis-induced weight loss,
  2. Delaying the development of diarrhoea and the appearance of blood in stool,
  3. Protecting against changes to the colon and spleen,
  4. Decreasing colon damage and infiltration of inflammatory cells, and
  5. Peducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Scientists once again suggested in 2016 that a diet containing fucoidan is a possible nutritional therapy for ulcerative colitis patients based on their observations of the treatment ameliorating diarrhea, pathology score, and decreasing IL-6 expression in pigs with colitis.

Conclusions

  • Fucoidan is a natural bioactive compound found in brown seaweed that boasts a number of health benefits, including strong anti-inflammatory actions.
  • Not only has pre-clinical research shown that fucoidan helps to reduce cumulative histological inflammation but it also seems to make a significant impact on IBD side effects, such as weight loss and delaying the onset of diarrhoea.
  • Further clinical research will need to be on-going, as the mechanism of operation of fucoidan needs to be confirmed.
  • We believe that fucoidan can be used safely as adjuvant therapy for IBD conditions and should be added to the diet of IBD patients as soon as possible. Fucoidan could also be added into the diet to help people prevent an attack of IBD.
  • Our fucoidan capsules makes it super easy to add a healthy dose of fucoidan to your daily diet.
  • Fucoidan does not generally have side effects. But you should always take it (and any supplement) under the supervision of your physician.
  • It’s possible fucoidan may interact with certain medications. Consult your doctor before starting fucoidan if you take other medications regularly.