For people with Crohn’s disease and similar inflammatory bowel disorders, the choice of treatments is often a choice between one type of discomfort or another. With no specific cause identified by medical science, the current course of treatment usually involves either anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs or, in some cases, both. These formulas often carry side effects that may be as debilitating as the condition being treated. Recent studies, however, are offering a new perspective on Crohn’s disease treatment through the use of hormone therapy.
A research team, headed by Dr. Alfred Slonim of the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, conducted a study on the use of hormone therapy as an effective and less detrimental way of treating bowel disorders. Slonim used the hormone compound somatropin (Humatrope®) in conjunction with a high-protein diet. Somatropin, a growth hormone, is used to treat short stature associated with Turner Syndrome and pituitary conditions resulting in growth hormone deficiency.
The research involved additional variables such as voluntary follow up visits after the initial administration of the compound, decrease in the use of any medication the individuals had been taking for their symptoms, and recording any side effects from the treatment. The test period ran for four months with subsequent observations three months beyond that time.
A key feature in this study was the way in which the formula was administered. In traditional studies, protocols begin with small amounts and then increase dosage. Slonim based his experiment on studies that showed that higher concentrations of growth hormones increased amino acid levels in the small intestine. He decided to start with high levels of somatropin and then reduce it to a lower level for maintenance during the remainder of the trial period.
The results of this clinical trial revealed that patients who received hormonal therapy showed marked improvement at the end of one month and continued to show a reduction in both symptoms and the amount of medication taken for Crohn’s disease. These results are significant, especially given the difficulty of pinpointing the actual cause of the disorder.
Slonim noted that no evidence currently indicates whether this method of therapy would be useful at the onset of symptoms, and recommends further testing with a larger sample to explore the possibilities. For people who must face this illness, however, this research now provides a reason for hope.