We all have trillions of bacteria in our gut that protect our bodies, but researchers have recently started to recognize that managing gut bacteria is an important factor in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For people with IBD, they may have too many bacteria in their gut or the balance between good and bad bacteria can be uneven.
Many different antibiotic drugs that interact with our gut bacteria have been tried for the treatment in IBD, but often the amount of the drug needed causes unwanted side effects. However, Rifaximin, also known as Xifaxan, works differently than many of the other antibiotics that try to control our gut bacteria.
How is Rifaximin different than other IBD drugs?
Rifaximin is targeted to only interact with our bodies at the location of the disease. Through the rest of our body the drug is essentially unabsorbed after consuming it and mostly passes through the body. Therefore Rifaximin does not cause many side effects.
Rifaximin works against a wide spectrum of bacteria in the digestive tract. On top of that these bacteria do not end up learn to avoid the drug so it continues to be effective.
This drug has been shown to accelerate healing by preventing the bacteria in our guts from communicating with each other, as well as reducing inflammation by blocking the inflammatory agents from acting on cells.
Research studies have shown that Rifaximin does a good job treating IBD.
In Crohn’s disease multiple studies were carried out to test the effectiveness. Researchers tried various dose amounts and methods of receiving the drug. So far they have found that an 800mg dose of Rifaximin drove the highest rates of success causing remission in up to 63% of patients.
Researchers also carried out similar research studies in patients, trying various doses, methods, as well as combinations with other drugs. Studies were carried out in patients to see the effectiveness in causing or maintaining remission in patients who had anywhere from mild to moderate colitis up to those who had severe colitis, or those who had surgery to remove part of the digestive tract.
It was found that up to 76% of those with ulcerative colitis had an improvement in their condition from solely using, or adding Rifaximin to their care.
What does this mean for patients?
Thanks to Rifaximin having almost no intestinal absorption, it represents a safer and more attractive alternative than other antibiotics. This makes Rifaximin a promising drug for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Still, further research should be conducted to expand what we know about how it interacts with patients, and the best dosage of Rifaximin still needs to be better defined.