Ganglioside for Irritable Bowel Disease and Resistant Diarrhea


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Gangliosides are glycolipids that form part of the cell membrane. Drawing by Dana Burns

Can Ganglioside Cure Antibiotic Resistant Diarrhea?

If ganglioside prevents infection and inflammation of the bowel, could it help those who suffer from severe diarrhea, such as C-diff? Decoded Science posed the question to Dr. Miklavcic, and he explained:

Gangliosides have shown therapeutic benefit against many pathogenic organisms which harm the gastrointestinal tract. Some of these pathogens include E. coli, H. pylori, giardia muris and giardia lamblia. Some studies analyze the ability of ganglioside to block the negative effects of specific bacterial enterotoxins or endotoxins. In this respect, ganglioside has been shown to prevent intestinal inflammation caused by lipopolysaccharide

Dr. Miklavcic goes on to discuss C-diff in particular:

It was recently shown that the C. difficile toxin interacts with cholesterol in the gut. The toxin uses cholesterol to influence cell behaviour to permit the binding and infection of C. difficile bacterium to intestinal cells. There is another body of work performed in rats that shows dietary ganglioside can lower the content of cholesterol in intestinal cells (Park et al. Glycobiology. 2005. 15(10):935-942). Therefore, there is strong evidence to suggest that regular consumption of ganglioside can lower cholesterol in intestine which may disable C. difficile toxin.

Sources and Availability of Ganglioside

Gangliosides are abundant in milk. Image by peachyqueen.

Ganliosides are abundant in the brain and nerve tissue.  However, other than colostrum (the precourser of milk when nursing a newborn), our bodies do not manufacture ganglioside, and we would have to consume huge amounts of dietary sources of ganglioside in order to achieve therapeutic value. Decoded Science  questioned Dr. Miklavcic regarding the feasibility of producing ganglioside in sufficient quantity to be therapeutic. He explained that, “Large-scale production of ganglioside occurs via enrichment of milk fat fraction. These lipids are abundant in the milk fat globule membrane, which is present in the buttermilk byproduct. As such, development of ganglioside-enriched milk fat fractions is an economically viable prospect for dairy farmers and industry since production of buttermilk may parallel that of butter.” Dr. Miklavcic goes on to tell us that, “Some work has been performed in quantifying gangliosides in cultured and sweet dairy product as well as colostrum and mature milk. There is appreciable variability within the content and composition of gangliosides and new high-throughput methodology is enabling us to better analyze which gangliosides are attributable to beneficial health effects seen thus far.

Ganglioside: Natural and Safer than Synthetic Drugs

Ganglioside is a natural, organic substance. Unlike antibiotics, bacteria will not have tendency to develop resistance to ganglioside. According to Dr. Miklavcic, as a naturally occurring fat, it is very unlikely that treatment with ganglioside would result in negative side effects:

A product containing ganglioside may be treated as a functional food or nutraceutical instead of a drug depending on the established regulatory agencies in different countries. As a naturally occurring lipid, it has no known toxic effects; and unlike drugs, individuals “treated” with ganglioside are unlikely to become resistant to its therapeutic effects.

Benefits of Ganglioside for Bowel Disorders

Ganglioside shows great potential for helping individuals with IBD and life-threatening bacterial diarrhea. Best of all, it is a natural substance that “will do no harm” — the principle that forms the foundation of the practice of  medicine.


Miklavcic, J. J., Schnabl, K. L., Mazurak, V. C., Thompson, A. R. B., & Clandinin, T. T. Dietary Ganglioside Reduces Proinflammatory Signaling in the Intestine. (2012). Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Accessed April 13, 2012.

Centers for Disease Control.  Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Accessed April 13, 2012.

Khanna, S., Pardi, D. S.  The growing incidence and severity of Clostridium difficile infection in inpatient and outpatient settings. (2010). Expert Review Gastroenterology, Hepatology Aug 4 (4):409-16. Accessed April 13, 2012.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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