Hi, I'll try to dig out some of the paper research I've looked at when I get more time. I was skeptical at first as well but noticed a pattern that when I took supplements that have antimicrobial & anti fungal properties, my condition gradually improved. I'm currently taking WOO & Thyme Oil for example. Qing Dai, 6MP and 5ASA's all have a detrimental effect on the population of MAP, which could be the real reason they do help a number of people. The article below probably answers your questions as to why some studies find a lot of success treating UC & Chron's as though it began as an infection, rather than focusing only on the inflammation/auto-immune side-effects...
I'd never try to roll this out as doctrine or anything but I do believe the best advances will come when we take the problem from a pathogenic point-of-view. Even just taking a laymen's view of the symptoms of a flare - high temperature, diarrhoea, deterioration of the mucosal wall, increased heart beat & weight loss - sounds like the body trying to fight off pathogens in the gut to me!
Then there's geographic and statistical evidence - for example, those researching this possibility have discovered a very strong link between areas where farm water overspills into local riverbanks have alarmingly higher 'outbreaks' of IBD.
That's not to rule out other causes and how they might also be implicated - for example, even in the UK we consume a lot of GMO's without realising it and certainly a lot of chemicals in our food that aren't meant to go through our digestive system. Then there are environmental causes much more difficult to attribute - the spraying of pesticides on crops and a bunch of stuff we put on our skin that all gets absorbed. These factors may play a role in our body's ability to heal naturally from the initial cause. What does tip me off most to a pathogenic cause is the fact that even when we can heal the mucosa completely (histological remission) it's still possible for the cycle of damage to begin again so there has to be something causing that. A pathogen like MAP, which is able to successfully evade the immune system so well, and whose life cycle is very similar to the pattern of flares in most sufferers, seems like it could be a candidate.
That said, I do accept the fact that it may not be the only causative agent. Right now, it's all just theory.
Kevin Watson - where do you see that all the evidence is pointing to MAP being the cause? My GI doc is an internationally leading GI researcher and said that he doesn't believe in the MAP theory.