When we think of creatine bodybuilders and gym junkies tend to come to mind, why? Probably because it is the most well researched 'performance enhancing supplement' available on the market. But have you ever thought about the way it works for the rest of the body? It is commonly used for performance enhancement as it increases hydration within cells, particularly muscle cells; meaning increased ATP (energy) and fluidity within the muscle.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance which is found in the muscles cells. Its main purpose is to recycle adenosine triphosphate, by converting adenosine diphosphate back to adenosine triphosphate, which means more energy production within the cells. This allows the muscle tissue to work more efficiently.
Although it may assist in improving the functionality of the muscles it also has been found to do wonders for the gastrointestinal lining. One of the hallmark features of Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis is the impact to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, not only the inflammation, but also the damage caused by flare-ups. Management of this condition focused on reduction of flare-ups by reducing inflammation, controlling the immune system and repairing the lining of the digestive system.
As well as working within the cells, creatine has shown to be beneficial in reducing intestinal permeability. As creatine assists in energy production within the cells this directly affects the rate of cell turnover, meaning a greater chance for repaired cells or digestive lining with creatine supplementation. Aiding in both wound healing and improvement of the mucosal layer.
There has been some recent research surfacing, putting creatine in the spotlight for IBD treatment and management. One pilot study published in 2021 found 7g of creatine supplementation 2x per day was able to reduce mucosal inflammation in combination with mesalazine, more than mesalazine treatment alone. Additionally, studies from 2016 note the benefits of creatine supplementation in conjunction with medication for mild - moderate Crohn's disease. Further research is currently underway to give some more merit to creatine for IBD.