Boosting immune system?

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 2/18/2010 7:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I'm new here but have read this forum from time to time.  My daughter, 14, was diagnosed with crohn's 3 years ago and has had no problems since the initial healing.  Lately, she seems to get every illness coming and going, colds, virus, flu, respiratory, etc..  I am thinking about seeing a nutritionist about some vitamins that will help to boost her immune system.  However, last night while I was laying in bed not able to sleep, I realized that her meds are keeping her immune system low to keep this dreadful disease in remission.  She takes sulfasalazine, azathioprine, folic acid, and pepcid AC daily.  Will it do her more harm than good to take supplements that claim to boost the immune system?  I'm just trying to get a handle on keeping her from being sick all the time.  Thank you so much for any insight you can give me!!!

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 2/18/2010 7:42 AM (GMT -7)   
One thing that every Crohnie needs that will help her immune system is Vitamin D3. I am currently taking 3400 units of Vitamin D3 and it is helping my immunity alot. You should get her D3 levels checked, it is a simple blood test.
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Crohns Disease & Anxiety/Panic
Crohn's Disease for over 34 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium, Vit D, and Xanax prn. Resections in 2002 & 2005. Also diagnosed w/ Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, & Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
*Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith"*

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3763
   Posted 2/18/2010 9:20 AM (GMT -7)   
What is hard to understand is that our immune system is in overdrive attacking itself. So while we are taking medications to suppress our immune system, we also have an over active immune system. So perhaps the medications are just bringing our immune system back in line with everyone else. I have been on 6MP for over 12 years and while I have had a year here or there where I thought I caught every bug out there, if I look back over the 12 years, I have not been sicker than the average person, cold and flu wise. I don't think that my immune system has been "compromised" to the point that I need to be an alarmist and stay away from everyone. I do take every precaution I can and wash my hands frequently, care hand sanitizer...., but I'm not sicker than anyone else in my family.

CD 20 years officially, 30 unofficially. 3 resections '93, '95 '97
Managing with strict low residue diet, keeping symptoms to a minimum. All test show small amount of ulceration, still have occasional blockages. But still have a great time with my 2 daughters and husband!

Prednisone, 6MP,Prevacid, B12 shots, Bentyl, Xifaxan.....

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 990
   Posted 2/18/2010 9:53 AM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Nanners--vitamin D3.

Don't worry about the conflict of whether to boost her immune system. Doctors and experts are VERY confused about this w/regard to Crohn's, as well.

Fresh fruits and veggies--particularly veggies; specifically greens--are important, too. If they bother her, consider a high-quality juicer (I have an Omega) that removes all the fiber. You can juice sweet veggies like carrots, add in a half of an apple, and then sneak in the greens.devil Just a few greens will really make a difference (high in vitamin A)! We used to catch every little bug that came down the pike, too, but not any more! I attribute it to D3 and juicing!

Remember, sadly, all labs are not equipped to run D3 blood tests accurately. Ask your doctor to send your blood test to LabCorp or DiaSorin.
Mom to 17 year old son diagnosed in June, 2007.
Omega 3s, digestive enzymes, probiotics, vit. C, calcium, vit. D3, a good multivitamin and SCD legal yogurt
Started The Maker's Diet in Sept. '07. Incorporate Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) recipes, too. Med-free.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 1632
   Posted 2/18/2010 1:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Don't forget simple behavioral changes, such as avoiding touching her mouth and nose and washing her hands frequently. It takes conscious effort to learn new behaviors (or to unlearn existing ones), but it really can help.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1885
   Posted 2/18/2010 3:43 PM (GMT -7)   
The overdrive theory is a traditional one...but keep in mind nobody has proven that Crohn's is due to an overactive immune system. Actually, recent research shows just the opposite: that Crohn's patients have underactive, not overactive, immune systems.
This could mean there's just enough inflammation to fester, but not finish the job of eliminating whatever is causing the Crohn's. ALL doctors agree Crohn's patients have some sort of immune system dysfunction - it's out of whack but they don't know why.
Sooo...since docs can't figure out how to cure Crohn's they use meds to tamp down the inflammation where it is doing damage. Unfortunately even where damage isn't being done, the immune system is suppressed. Also, the meds deplete vitamins and minerals, causing more immune system issues.
So yes, it needs to be boosted -- or maybe a better word is "regulated" - by yogurt, healthy food, supplements like vitamin d3/folic acid/B12/iron/zinc - it's a good idea to have blood tests done to discover deficiencies.
"Boosting" or better regulating a body's immune system does not mean you are doing things to trigger Crohn's inflammation. And you don't have to worry about vitamins, healthy food, etc, getting in the way of the meds. It just doesn't work that way. If anything, my daughter's protocol has helped the meds to work. 
Daughter (22) Dx'd Crohn's 3/06. Misdiagnosed for two years, including by top pediatric Crohn's specialist as stress. No symptoms for the past two years. Recent colonoscopy shows stricture gone but still two spots of inflammation in TI. Used LDN to taper off Entocort. Was on Entocort since April 06. Never had D. 4.5 mg LDN, SCD multivit, homemade yogurt, 5000IU vit D3, 500 mg calcium, 27 mg iron, monthly B12 shots, daily oral B12 1000. SCD diet modified to include potatoes and rice. 

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 2/23/2010 11:40 PM (GMT -7)   
My understanding of what might be called the "overdrive theory" is that there is a problem with the regulatory T cells, which means that the immune function is not able to turn itself off and cascades out of control causing inflammation which ultimately damages the intestinal mucosa. It's not that the immune function is incredibly strong, but that it can't regulate itself to calm down once the infection has been dispelled, which results in a constant cytokine storm.

Also, it is believed that perhaps IBDers immune functions misread good bacteria as bad foreign invaders and therefore are constantly trying to eradicate even the good bacteria, which of course can never fully happen because there is like 5 pounds of bacteria in your intestines. Leading again to constant cytokine storms that can't be down regulated.

My son just turned three and practically lives in the hospital, where i am writing from now. He just received four blood transfusions during our two week stay this time. His hemoglobin was down to 6.8, which is extremely critical. This was a week after he received an earlier blood transfusion, so that puts his total number of transfusions over the past four weeks at 5. He is also on TPN (IV nutrition) which we are going home on for at least four weeks because he has been losing weight for months. We are so desperate our next drug to try is leukine, which actually ramps up white blood cell production in the bone marrow, effectively boosting his immune function They give the stuff to chemo patients to try and help them reproduce their immune system after chemo. The hope is that the boost will somehow create more regulatory t cells in conjunction with the helpers and killers etc. Clinical trials haven't been real promising though.

Our real hope is to get him into a stem cell transplant trial once he turns five, if we can get him to that age.
Father to 2 year old son diagnosed with acute Crohn's.
Imuran (60mg's a day), 30mg Prednisolone, SCD diet, Mutaflor, Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics 12 plus, Homemade Goat Milk Kefir, Vit. D3, Vit. K2, Calcium Orotate, Epicor jr., Fucoidan, Hemp Milk, Tried LDN, did not help, Always flares when we dip below 5mg Pred. Just got over C. Diff

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 2/24/2010 6:13 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you all so much for the reply's. I am definitely going to check out the D3 and other stuff...
I am finding out the others who have been there have much better info than books and the internet.

MemoryTheatre, I can't imagine what you are going through trying to battle this horrible disease for your son. My issues with my daughter's crohn's are so trivial in comparison. I have thought about your family all day and I hope his doctors will find the answers that you need soon.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 25
   Posted 2/27/2010 9:15 PM (GMT -7)   
Sorry to have brought this thread to a halt. I must have needed to vent the other night. Thank you Beth for your kind words.
Here is my son when he was a little chubby while on Prednisolone.
Father to 3 year old son diagnosed with acute Crohn's.
Currently trying Leukine (Sargamostim), Vit D, TPN (IV Nutrition)
Tried Sulfasalazine, did not help, Tried LDN, did not help. Tried Remicade, did not help. Tried Imuran, did not help. Always flares when we dip below 5mg Pred. Just got over C. Diff for third time. Tried probiotics, scd diet, elemental diet, did not help much if at all.

Post Edited (memorytheatre) : 2/27/2010 9:29:46 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 145
   Posted 2/27/2010 9:51 PM (GMT -7)   
Man, my heart breaks seeing your son's pictures.  I have two kids of my own, 6 and 7.  I can't even imagine how you hold on.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.
newfoundsun  (my blog about this journey I have just started)
CD diagnosed 11/12/09
Seeing a Naturopath and modifying my diet, so far

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 134
   Posted 2/28/2010 12:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Just a clarification about the newer research dispelling if we have "overactive" immune systems....these studies are not indicating that our systems are underactive, but more so that they are not responding properly. In other words, they are more so "defective" then they are "over" or "under". This sort of inclusion has implications beyond gastroenterology and another reason why we must continue to support stem cell research.

And to answer your question, like everyone else has mentioned, usually behavioral changes and taking vitamins can ward off colds, germs, etc. Oddly enough, I had the swine flu last spring and felt less crummy than a lot of other people I know who also had it. Go figure.
22 Female, currently on MTX. Previously on Imuran, Remicade, Pentasa, etc. Ileocolic resection in 2006.

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