MAP – The Deep End

I prefaced this blog with MAP, now we delve deeper into this centuries old hellacious bacterium. This post is more involved than the previous, you may want to come into this read bearing popcorn and a bean bag chair.

I have MAP (mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) – an infectious bacterial disease found in increasing numbers of UC/CD patients and treated long term with antibiotics for eradication from humans. Let me reiterate, MAP is one cause of UC/CD. There is no way to tell if MAP caused my Crohn’s Colitis, but I believe it did. My exposure is difficult to pinpoint as exposure areas are widening and include water supplies, meat (not just beef), and dairy, for starters.

Humans either have a pre-disposed genetic susceptibility to this bacteria, or not; those who are pre-disposed are more likely to develop UC/CD, but not always. This genetic defect makes the MAP organism invisible (unless it is reproducing) to white blood cells (cells of the immune system), leaving them vulnerable to invasion. Not everyone with UC/CD tests positive for MAP. Anyone can be exposed to MAP, however years of research have proven that not everyone becomes infected with this bacteria: it’s not in their DNA to become infected because their immune systems recognize and destroy the organism. Some have argued that dysbiosis (gut flora imbalance) can make the immune system susceptible to invading organisms. Again, adapting, evolving MAP generally does not infect those without a pre-disposition to developing disease from MAP, yet.

Long-term anti-biotic treatment is necessary as MAP lives within the blood stream and hides in white blood cells (WBC), to name a few. Remember that MAP is undetectable to WBC, unless it remains in the bloodstream long enough to produce and surround itself with biofilm, at which time it can reproduce; this biofilm production is recognized by WBC, signaling them towards MAP, triggering the inflammation process.

How strange that WBC can detect the biofilm of an organism within their territory, yet cannot detect the same organism once its within their own cell wall – this is how MAP wreaks havoc on our immune system; coincidentally we are all told that UC/CD is a disease process of the immune system. In actuality, our immune system is invoking its working response to this foreign invader, doing its job to knock out this bacterium, by making us sick; however, when it comes to MAP, our immune systems cannot fight alone. This medical breakthrough was recognized for years, until the 1930’s and standard protocol was to treat UC/CD as an infectious bacterial disease.

Mainstream medical are heavy proponents of biologics to suppress the immune system and keep our symptoms manageable, not cured. While these regimens have helped me and countless others short term, consider the bigger picture of low immunosurveillance; instead of supporting our immune systems in carrying out their designed purposes, we are suppressing the very means by which our bodies expel foreign invaders. Why? Because in the 1960’s, immunology, or the autoimmune theory of treating immune responses as the main cause for UC/CD, became standard teaching for mainstream medical students and continues to this day. Most students are taught to categorize UC/CD as an auto immune response and to treat that innate response by lowering the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. In other words current medical students are taught that the body is attacking its own tissue by way of overactive immune response. Quite simply, most medical students are not familiar with MAP, certainly not viewing UC/CD as a bacterial infection – because it was not within the scope of their education; this important factor is where patient advocacy comes into view. It’s up to you to either locate a qualified GI who recognizes MAP or take conclusive literature to your current GI for referral.

My own disease process has been like others; we’re either in remission or in a flare. Dr. Shafran explained to me that “MAP is like a stealth bomber, you never know when it will hit or remain quiet.” The reason MAP positive patients can present with less symptoms is because their MAP infection is hidden deep within the bowel, hence the stealth mode; patients with severe symptoms have MAP that is more surface level. MAP does not necessarily lay dormant. A flare does not always mean MAP is active, as there are many variables to UC/CD symptoms, such as consuming a known trigger food or taking ibuprofen (these are two of my triggers, may not be yours). As I’ve learned the hard way, these flares don’t disappear as quickly as they appear, heavy medication is needed to make them less an issue, hence heavy immunosuppressant use. The tides are turning here! Targeted anti-biotic therapy is once again being recognized as a scientifically proven, well validated method to reduce flares and gain remission, long term!

While MAP may not be the sole reason someone develops UC/CD, there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is. In the past the only testing procedure for MAP involved culturing tissue samples from Crohn’s patients, which equated a much longer process for detection. Today a revolutionary blood test has been skillfully developed to determine presence. John Aitken, a microbiologist with extensive background in medical microbiology and a sincere passion to help humanity through research and education, developed this test.

I’ve read studies about the high prevalence of MAP in UC/CD patients and met a former UC patient who was successfully treated for MAP after testing positive, and who has not had symptoms of UC for almost two decades. Two decades! That is a long time to be symptom free. On the contrary, I know a CD patient who has never tested positive for MAP.

I highly encourage you to have yourself tested for MAP. You can easily have your labs drawn independently and sent via Fed Ex to this lab Otakaro Pathways and once results are released (30 days), you can decide how to proceed with your treatment. Mr. Aitken’s test is able to detect even MAP in stealth mode by a process which triggers response, much like waking the bacteria from a deep sleep. Amazing!

My GI at the time I was informed about MAP refused to test me, which was a good thing as I was recommended to Dr. Shafran, a world-renowned MAP expert with vast, superior knowledge regarding UC/CD, causes, treatments. Dr. Shafran conducts his own studies regarding the many intricacies of MAP. The discoveries and impacts Dr. Shafran, Mr. Aitken and their colleagues have made are ground breaking and life changing. Be encouraged, you have options – if MAP has thrown you into the deep end, butterfly out! You owe it to yourself to get better, not just feel better.

References Cited:
MAP in Water Supplies
MAP in Dairy
MAP in Dairy UK

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