Medical Therapies and IBD


Drug therapy plays a major role in the management of IBD. Although there is no medical cure for IBD, a number of different medications have proven effective in helping to control the disease. The main treatment goals for IBD are to:

To achieve these goals, therapy must suppress the chronic intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms of IBD. The success of therapy is determined by its ability to induce and maintain remissions without incurring significant side effects.

Type Purpose
5-Aminosalicylic Acid Effective in inducing and maintaining remission of ulcerative colitis by modulating the chemical mediators of the inflammatory response, particularly prostaglandins and leukotrienes. May be used in selected instances in Crohn's disease.
Corticosteroids Decreases inflammation by multiple actions. They have been the mainstay of treatment for acute flare-ups since these drugs were first introduced for IBD in the 1950s.
Antibiotics Control and reduce the intestinal bacteria as well as treating infectious complications such as abscesses.
Immunosuppressive Drugs These drugs reduce the activity of the immune system and its inflammatory response, which plays a key role in producing the inflammatory symptoms of IBD.
Biologic Response Modifiers Biologic therapies are made from living organisms and their products - such as proteins, genes, and antibodies. The advantage of biologic agents is that they have a very specific and targeted mechanism of action (i.e. altering immune system factors.) Unlike corticosteroids, which block many immune system and inflammatory factors and thereby cause significant side effects, biologic agents can be engineered to act selectively to restore balance - without disturbing other important immune functions.

Antidiarrheal Medications

Control the diarrhea caused by Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and pouchitis but without controlling the underlying inflammation