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2012-05-18

Elemental Diet as Effective as Drugs for Crohn's Disease

For those with Crohn's Disease, 6-Mercaptopurine is the the prescription drug often used as maintenance therapy. However, toxicities like myelosuppression limit its clinical benefit.

To evaluate the efficacy of the Elemental Diet versus 6-mercaptopurine as maintenance therapy in Crohn's disease--the first comparative study to pit nutritional therapy against 6-Mercaptopurine in a controlled setting.

95 patients with Crohn's disease were randomly assigned to: 6-mercaptopurine; an elemental diet; or none (control). Patients were observed for 2 years and the rate of relapse (Crohn's disease activity index ≥200) was monitored.

At 24 months, the fractions of patients who had maintained remission were 60%, 46.9% and 27.2% for 6-mercaptopurine, elemental diet, and the control groups, respectively. Results showed better efficacy for 6-mercaptopurine and elemental diet versus control, while no significant difference was found between 6-mercaptopurine and elemental diet groups. Further, in the 6-mercaptopurine group, 2 patients experienced liver injury and one developed alopecia (hair loss).

In the end, this 24-month study showed that nutritional intervention, in the form of an elemental diet, was as effective as 6-mercaptopurine, and should be considered useful for long-term maintenance therapy in Crohn's disease.

Source: Nutritional therapy versus 6-mercaptopurine as maintenance therapy in patients with Crohn's disease

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