Ulcerative colitis causes sores (ulcers) and inflammation to occur in the digestive tract. This inflammatory bowel disease affects the lining of the large intestine which includes the colon and the rectum. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis develop over a period of time, rather than suddenly. If left untreated, ulcerative colitis can cause debilitating symptoms and life-threatening complications. Although researchers have not found a cure for ulcerative colitis, there are treatments that can put the inflammatory bowel disease into remission. There are also some natural remedies for ulcerative colitis to help provide some relief.
Ulcerative Colitis Risk Factors
Ulcerative colitis affects men and women equally. However, there are certain risk factors that increase your odds of developing ulcerative colitis, including:
- Age – Although ulcerative colitis can occur at any age, most individuals begin experiencing symptoms before 30 years old. However, it should be noted that some individuals do not experience symptoms until they are 60 years of age or older.
- Family History – If you have a close relative (sister, brother, child, or parent) that has ulcerative colitis, you are at an increased risk of getting the disease.
- Race – Caucasians have a higher incidence rate of getting ulcerative colitis than other races; however, it can occur in any race. Those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have an even higher rate.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
There are number of symptoms of ulcerative colitis. These symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to quite severe and may include:
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Diarrhea that may include pus or blood
- Failure to grow in children
- Inability to defecate even though you feel the urge
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal pain
- Weight loss
Ulcerative colitis can also cause severe symptoms and complications, including
- Perforated Colon – a hole in your colon
- Severe bleeding
- Bone loss
- Inflammation in the eyes, joints, or skin
- Increased colon cancer risk
- Toxic megacolon – sudden swelling of the colon
- Increased risk of a blood clot
Natural Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
Natural remedies rely on the power of nature to alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Let’s take a look at some top remedies for ulcerative colitis to help improve your overall digestive health.
The digestive system contains beneficial and harmful bacteria. These bacteria must be kept in a delicate balance to maintain optimum digestive health. If this balance becomes off-kilter, it can activate the inflammatory response. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help balance the digestive tract and reduce the inflammatory response. Eating fermented foods like yogurt and taking probiotics helps to improve gut health and reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis by as much as 57 percent.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids are common foods that help reduce inflammation and ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Omega 3 fats decrease proinflammatory cytokines, which are known to cause systemic inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in a variety of foods, including cold water fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring; seeds and nuts like walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds; and plant oils like canola oil, flaxseed oil, and soybean oil.
Ginseng has been used for thousands of years to promote health and bring the body into alignment. Ginseng works to relieve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammation in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, ginseng helps to activate the body’s innate healing power to help heal ulcerations in the GI tract.
Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric; a spice used in Asian cuisine. This powerful spice has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine to relieve pain and inflammation. Turmeric offers many gastrointestinal benefits. It has been shown to relieve indigestion, protect the liver, and help soothe and prevent ulcers. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that curcumin can help individuals suffering from mild to moderate ulcerative colitis achieve remission.
Psyllium is a prebiotic, which is a type of food that probiotics need to colonize. When your intestinal tract has a colony of good bacteria, it can better fight off infection, maintain healthy cells and tissues, and reduce inflammation. Psyllium helps detoxify the intestinal tract for optimal health. Psyllium can help relieve your constipation. For best results, take a dose immediately following a meal and avoid taking it at bedtime.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme found in the core of a pineapple. Bromelain is used by the body to help break down protein. This delicious and nutritious enzyme reduces inflammation in the intestines and improves cell function in the digestive tract.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Ulcerative Colitis
There are many lifestyle changes that you can incorporate into your daily life to reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. These lifestyle changes are designed to improve your quality of life and overall health, which can help put your ulcerative colitis into remission.
- Manage Stress – Emotional and physical stress has been shown to increase systemic inflammation and ulcerative colitis. Stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises help you focus inwardly and release your stress.
- Exercise – Gentle exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling can help to reduce inflammation throughout your body. In addition to this, exercise helps to boost immunity. When it comes to ulcerative colitis, it is important that you find your personal rhythm to prevent overstimulation, which can cause your ulcerative colitis to flare up.
- Vitamin Supplementation – Digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis can cause nutritional deficiencies. Your digestive system may not be able to properly digest your foods and pull the nutrients out of your foods. A multivitamin and mineral supplement can help ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs.
Holistic Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
Natural remedies for ulcerative colitis when used in conjunction with conventional treatment methods can help to reduce your colitis symptoms. Our integrative medicine clinicians specialize in holistic treatment of digestive disorders. They will help create a comprehensive treatment plan for ulcerative colitis that may include natural remedies, conventional treatments, and lifestyle modifications tailored to your individual needs.