Irritable Bowel Disease can be viewed as a battleground in the gut, where the body’s immune response struggles to defeat the invading armies of foreign substances.

Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) is no less than a series of battles going on in the digestive tract of your dog. The collateral damage suffered from these conflicts result in the symptoms of IBD. The thing is, just like in the case of actual wars being fought between countries, these clashes and brawls in your dog’s gut can be avoided.

Many years ago I heard a lecture by a veterinarian highly renowned for his research in the field of Irritable Bowel Disease. Experience had taught me that questions asked privately were often times more candidly answered. That’s why I discreetly asked, “Why do you think we’re seeing an epidemic rise in IBD?” He replied, “We’re vaccinating them with the same stuff we’re feeding them.” That was almost 20 years ago.

Why would the stuff in vaccinations cause IBD? You may already be familiar with the fact that vaccines contain chicken embryo and bovine serum. During vaccination, these food proteins are introduced into the body along with the other vaccine components. A dog’s immune system identifies all of these vaccine components as enemies, and, far as the immune system is concerned, when any enemy shows its ugly face, it’s time for battle. IBD in our dogs comes about when the battlefield is in the gut.

Know The Signs Of War: The Soldiers Set Up Base Camp

When a dog has IBD, the soldiers (inflammatory cells) infiltrate the intestinal walls and set up base camp. In the trenches are the regiments made up of different types of white blood cells such as lymphocytes, plasmacytes, eosinophils, and sometimes neutrophils. After many battles, the intestinal walls become thickened and nutrients are not absorbed as well. This collateral damage within the walls of the intestine commonly results in symptoms such as diarrhea, mucous or blood in the stool, vomiting and weight loss. 

Three-Letter Agencies: IgA and IgM

In governments, three-letter agencies like the CIA and FBI provide intelligence services identifying enemies. The immune system uses immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, to identify enemies: three-letter agencies protecting your dog’s body.

Special immunogloblins live in your dog’s digestive tract. The immunoglobulins IgA and IgM serve as the gut’s intelligence service by identifying enemies. They initiate the battle in the gut by calling in the regiments: the eosinophils and plasmacytes. This starts the battle of food intolerance or food sensitivity, battles that can easily escalate to the War of IBD.

It’s important to know that food intolerances and sensitivities cause a delayed response in the intestine. In other words, your dog can eat the offending food on Monday and the reaction can occur much later in the week.

Most dogs are fed the same thing day after day, and this repetition tends to actually create food intolerances and sensitivities. It’s pretty typical for a dog parent to sigh in relief, if not jump for joy, when a food that agrees with a dog with IBD is finally found. Unfortunately they then feed that food day after day, greatly increasing the chance of later developing a reaction to that same food!

The Instigators: Phenolics

Phenolics are compounds that are naturally present in foods. They’re some of the most basic building blocks of food and are responsible for a food’s taste and smell.

The reaction to phenolics occurs in the intestinal tract as the inflammatory immune components, IgA and IgM, are produced in the intestine as a result of their presence. The phenolics activate the immunoglobulins which then bring in the regiments. Phenolics are not easy to avoid. One food alone can contain several phenolics while one single phenolic can be in hundreds of different foods.

As an example, wheat contains several phenolics (gallic acid, coumarin, quercetin and rutin) that commonly cause food intolerances and sensitivities. Yet one single phenolic can be in hundreds of different foods. For example, gallic acid is present in wheat bran, beef, corn, soy, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, cow’s milk, eggs, yeast, barley, oats, millet, barley, rice and sweet potatoes. It often takes time and repeated exposure for food intolerances and sensitivities to manifest and that’s why it’s important to feed a rotational diet. Interestingly, rabbit only contains one phenolic and that’s why it’s so successful as a choice of protein for pets with sensitive gastrointestinal (GI) tracts.

Stealth Invaders: Mycoplasma

Your dog’s body is equipped with a variety of defense mechanisms to help prevent the entrance of perceived intruders like pathogens or act to destroy them if they do enter the tissues.

But what if that intruder is almost impossible to find?

Super tiny pathogens called mycoplasma – the smallest known microorganisms that self-replicate — elude the immune system. These amorphous little creatures can change their shape to appear and disappear at will (sort of like jellyfish), concealing themselves within body tissues and body fluids, and becoming very difficult to track down.

Because they don’t carry any antigenic markers that the immune system can recognize and attack, their presence isn’t revealed by blood tests used to detect disease. They can also re-emerge from their hiding places inside cells once the coast is clear.

What makes mycoplasma particularly pernicious is their ability to move into cells and steal the protein, fats and vitamins they need to survive (which they lack the genes to make themselves).

Sometimes described as parasitic bacteria, mycoplasma have been known to squeeze through filters used to maintain sterility in hospitals and laboratories, and to have been sources of contamination in everything from important experiments to the routine vaccination of your dogs.

To conceal themselves in your dog’s body, mycoplasma use a trick known as molecular mimicry – disguising themselves to resemble the host cell, for instance, by incorporating the cell’s surface material into their own jelly-like surfaces. This is what may confuse the immune system into attacking the body’s own tissues. Your dog’s immune system will try to eliminate the mycoplasma hiding in his GI tract. The immune system will fail to locate the stealth pathogen but in the attempt will create inflammatory reactions, causing IBD.

What You Can Do

Defense: Jaffe-Mellor Technique (JMT)

Holistic practitioners Carolyn Jaffe D Ac Dipl NCCA and Judith Mellor RN identified mycoplasma as the prime suspects in triggering a host of ailments, including many autoimmune diseases, and developed a revolutionary technique to reprogram the immune system that was destroying the body’s tissues in its attempt to root out stealth invaders. It’s called JMT, which stands for the Jaffe-Mellor Technique. JMT involves an advanced muscle testing method, desensitization, deactivation, intervention and acupressure.

Jaffe and Mellor’s work has been invaluable to me in curing all kinds of autoimmune disease in my patients. Like Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET), JMT works to correct the reaction to the agent and rectify the confusion within the immune system. So when I treat to neutralize and eliminate the allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances, I also utilize JMT to handle the mycoplasma. The mycoplasma are usually a very important culprit in the gut of dogs with IBD.

The avenue that I choose for dogs with IBD is usually a NAET-like Allergy Elimination Technique and JMT approach.

Other helpful therapies include feeding novel proteins, a rotating diet, Omega-3 oils (I prefer plant based or krill oil) and the amino acid L-glutamine. A Chinese herbal supplement, Po Chai, is readily available from Chinese food stores or online, and is excellent in treating the acute diarrhea phase.

Click here to read more about the problem with fish oils and how to make sure they are safe to give your dog!