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Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatment What Works

Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatment: What Works?


According to the Chron and Colitis Foundation of America, nearly 70,000 new cases of ulcerative colitis are diagnosed in the United States each year. Ulcerative Colitis already affects 5 million people worldwide, causing patients to deal with lifelong symptoms such as abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, and bloody diarrhea.

Many patients opt for ulcerative colitis natural treatment instead of complete reliance on prescription medications to avoid the risk of potential side effects. Although this condition has no definitive cure, symptoms can be managed through consistent care. 

This article is a comprehensive guide on ulcerative colitis natural remedies.

Table of Contents

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) impacting the digestion process of an individual. This condition particularly affects the innermost lining of the colon and rectum, both organs that are part of the large intestine and responsible for processing undigested food. 

Here’s how the digestion process works: our body absorbs some amount of the food that we eat, with the rest being excreted. In biological terms, the colon absorbs minerals, nutrients, and water from the small intestine. All leftover waste is then sent on to the rectum where it is held before being discarded out of the body.

Chronic inflammation of the colon leads to the development of ulcers on its lining, which affects the overall digestive process. A person with ulcerative colitis may experience irritation, pain, bleeding, and leaking of pus from their large intestine as the condition progresses.

Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Some of the common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:

  • Bloody Diarrhea: This is often the very first symptom of ulcerative colitis. It can be mild or severe depending upon the inflammation of the colon. In severe cases, there may also be blood and mucus present in the stool. 
  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping: As ulcerative colitis primarily affects the large intestine, many people experience regular bouts of lower abdominal cramps. These can cause the patient discomfort and pain, particularly after a large meal.
  • Rectal Bleeding: Another common symptom of ulcerative colitis is rectal bleeding, which can be visible in stool or on toilet paper. The amount of blood can vary based on the severity of the patient’s condition, with some patients experiencing up to ten instances of bleeding in one day.
  • Increased Bowel Movements: Since the digestive system of a person is affected by ulcerative colitis, the body needs to defecate at shorter intervals. A patient suffering from this condition may feel the need to defecate more than 5 times a day.
  • Fatigue and Tiredness: Chronic IBDs like ulcerative colitis make it difficult for the body to absorb minerals and nutrients which results in lower energy levels, lethargy, and exhaustion.
  • Appetite and Weight Loss: Another common symptom of Ulcerative Colitis is loss of appetite due to inflammation in the digestive tract. This leads to weight loss, as the energy going into the body is less than the energy spent by the body to function properly. 
  • Joint Pain and Arthritis: Pain in joints has been documented to affect as many as 30% of people with ulcerative colitis. In some cases, the pain in knee joints, ankles, and hips is caused by inflammation.
  • Skin and Eye Problems: Though rare, there have been cases of ulcerative colitis where the patient suffers from eye inflammation, redness, and pain as symptoms. Other skin problems like rashes or sores may also occur on the body.

Some symptoms of chronic diseases are mild and can be dealt with through management. If paid attention to consistently, they can be mitigated and eliminated.

Common Causes of Ulcerative Colitis

Though the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not identified, several factors can lead to the prevalence of this disease in a patient.

  • Genetics: As with many other diseases like blood pressure and diabetes, ulcerative colitis can also be passed in generations. People with a family history of this disease are more likely to have it.  
  • Immune System Dysfunction: Ulcerative colitis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. This means that your body starts attacking the lining of the colon and rectum mistakenly, causing inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. If you have a weak or dysfunctional immune system, you may be more susceptible to this condition.
  • External Factors: Diet has a big role in how your body works. An unbalanced diet consisting of food difficult to digest such as fried items and red meat can magnify the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Other factors that may lead to ulcerative colitis include smoking, stress, and exposure to infections.
  • Triggering Events: Some people have sensitive stomachs, leading to gastric issues. Often, during instances of stress or a traumatic event, increased inflammation in the digestive tract can happen, leading to ulcerative colitis.

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10 Best Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatment

10 Best Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatment

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know that there is no defined cure for ulcerative colitis. However, there are a multitude of natural treatments you can opt for to manage your symptoms effectively. 

Below are 10 ulcerative colitis natural remedies that help manage the illness. 

1) Probiotics and Prebiotics

Many ulcerative colitis patients ask about taking probiotics and prebiotics for reducing and managing inflammatory bowel disease. Probiotics are live microorganisms that help restore the balance of the gut microbiome. They clear the digestive tract and compete with harmful bacteria to reduce the inflammation of the colon.

Similarly, prebiotics nourish beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to a healthier microbiome. As discussed above, a healthier microbiome reduces inflammation and clears the gastrointestinal tract.

Probiotics can be taken from natural sources like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, or supplements. The natural resources for prebiotics are fiber-rich foods, whole grains, flax, and chia seeds or supplements. However, It is always advisable to consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements. An excess intake of probiotics and prebiotics leads to increased risks of infection and inflammation.

2) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are present in fish, known as ‘healthy fats’. They are recommended for increasing immunity and development of brain cells. 

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which help patients with chronic gastro issues, including ulcerative colitis. The most effective types are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which have proven results of balancing gut microbiota and reducing inflammation in intestines resulting in improved digestion.

Omega-3 is found in fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. It is also present in chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds. Supplements are also available for people who prefer taking a fixed amount of omega-3 regularly

Consult your healthcare provider to choose the right omega-3 supplement for yourself. An excess intake of omega-3 can cause side effects like bleeding, blood thinning, and gastrointestinal disturbances. 

3) Turmeric

Turmeric is an old spice which is widely used in cooking. It is mainly used for pain relief, and brain development, and reduces the risk of cancer.

Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps ulcerative colitis patients by reducing inflammation of the colon. It also improves the immune system and helps grow beneficial bacteria which compete with bad bacteria to improve digestion.

Turmeric is commonly consumed as a spice in cooking dishes like, curry, soups, stews, etc. Other forms can be turmeric tea, turmeric extracts, or supplements.  Do consult your healthcare provider about the number of supplements you should be taking, as an excess of turmeric supplements can cause side effects like bleeding, gallbladder contractions, and kidney stones.

4) Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a plant with large leaves and a gel inside known as the aloe vera gel. It has a sticky texture and is widely used as a herbal medicine for skin remedies, digestion, and wound healing. Research indicates that the aloe vera gel has a soothing property that reduces inflammation in the digestion process. 

It can be consumed in the form of aloe vera gel or aloe vera juice which hydrates and detoxifies the body. Make sure you do not take an excess amount of aloe vera as it can have side effects like abdominal cramps, kidney dysfunction, and electrolyte imbalance.

5) Slippery Elm

Slippery elm aka Ulmus rubra, is a local tree with origins in North America, usually found in eastern USA and Canada. Its inner bark has been used in herbal remedies for centuries,  containing a gel-like substance known as mucilage. 

Mixing mucilage with water results in a thick, slippery solution. This solution is then used to treat sore throat, skin diseases, and digestion issues. Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis can ingest the solution as a form of digestive pain relief, soothing the large intestine while reducing inflammation in the colon. 

Mucilage solution should be consumed within the required limits or it can cause allergies, itching, and upset stomach. If you are taking the bark in its raw powder form, make sure you do not consume more than 3 tablespoons per day. In the case of supplements, it is best to follow the directions mentioned on the bottle.

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6) Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow Root 0

One of the most unique Ulcerative colitis natural remedies is marshmallow root. It is popular in Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa for herbal medicines and remedies. Similar to the slippery elm, it also contains mucilage which helps heal inflammation.

The sticky gel-like solution works as a coating on the affected tissues and saves them from coming in contact with the food and reacting. Studies indicate that marshmallow root cures inflammation, resulting in a clear gastrointestinal tract.

Marshmallow root is available in the form of powder, which is used to make marshmallow tea. You can also consume the gel-like concentrated solution directly. Supplements of marshmallow root are also available, though you should consult your healthcare provider before consuming any supplements. Excess intake results in allergies, rash, swelling, and indigestion.

7) Bone Broth

Bone broth is a soup made using chicken, beef, fish, turkey, or lamb. The main ingredients are bones, connective tissues, and vegetables which should be simmered in hot water for 12 hours or more. The nutrients extracted in this slow-cooking process are minerals, gelatin, amino acids, and collagen, all of which are very beneficial for the consumer.

Bone broth is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties. This ultra-nourishing dish heals inflammation and damaged tissues in the gastrointestinal tract and reduces diarrhea and rectal bleeding. It also helps maintain electrolytes in the body, reduces joint pain or arthritis, improves skin issues, and increases overall health. 

Bone broth can be consumed as is, or used as a base for other soups and stews. It is better to eat it fresh and natural, but supplements are also available for people who cannot take it in this form. 

Ensure that bone broth is consumed in a moderate amount. If taken in excess, the sodium content in the broth can lead to high blood pressure, abdominal pain, and allergies.

8) Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber-rich foods such as green veggies, fruits, whole grains, and nuts contain high amounts of dietary fiber which helps regulate bowel movements

These foods contain soluble and insoluble fiber which treats constipation, softens the stool, and forces regular bowel movements, all factors which can greatly improve the quality of life of an ulcerative colitis patient. Moreover, fiber also regulates blood sugar levels which strengthens your metabolism.

You can incorporate fiber into your Ulcerative Colitis diet recipes by eating more steamed or raw vegetables, consuming seasonal fruits, and snacking on nuts and whole grains. However, keep in mind that eating excessive fiber-rich foods may result in bloating or cramps.

9) Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is an aromatic plant classified as a cross between water mint and spearmint. Peppermint oil can be extracted from the leaves of the plant, containing compounds like methanol, menthone, and limonene. Each of these compounds is used to manufacture medicine as they contain properties that collectively aid in bettering health.

For ulcerative colitis patients, methanol is the most important compound extracted from this oil as it has anti-inflammatory properties. The compound causes peppermint oil to give an overall cooling and soothing effect to the consumer, making digestion easier.

Peppermint oil can be taken orally in liquid form or capsules. It is usually consumed by people to manage the symptoms of excess gas buildup and bloating in the stomach. 

In case you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be cautious about consuming peppermint oil to not harm your baby. Consulting your doctor is suggested for proper clarity.

10) Stress Reduction

While stress doesn’t directly cause ulcerative colitis, it can exacerbate symptoms and contribute to flare-ups. Stress also directly affects your metabolism and sleep cycle. Maintaining and reducing stress helps you manage ulcerative colitis and improves overall health.

Stress can be managed by yoga and relaxation exercises. You can also engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, taking a warm bath, or spending time in nature.

Lifestyle Tips for Managing Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Although chronic ulcerative colitis may not go away easily, it is not impossible to manage. You can guide your body into remission from this condition just by making a few changes to your lifestyle. 

Following are some helpful tips to diagnose and manage ulcerative colitis symptoms:

Lifestyle Tips to manage UC

  • Follow a Balanced Diet:  A balanced diet comprises vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole and healthy fats. Also cutting down on trigger food like fried items, spicy food, dairy products, and caffeine helps in managing ulcerative colitis.
  • Stay Hydrated: Water intake helps in digestion. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids will help manage ulcerative colitis by keeping the alimentary tract clear. Also, avoid carbonated drinks to not upset the stomach further.
  • Avoid Smoking: Research shows that smoking increases ulcerative colitis. Getting rid of any smoking habits ensures you are safe from the potential risks and severity of ulcerative colitis. 
  • Manage Stress: Managing stress is important for reducing ulcerative colitis. For this, you can look for triggers to avoid while also learning relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises. Moreover, daily yoga and meditation also help regulate stress.
  • Get Regular Exercise: It is important to have regular physical activity in your life, be it a thirty-minute walk or simple exercise. It directly impacts your bowel movements and digestion, reducing inflammation in the digestive tract.
  • Get Adequate Sleep: At least 7-8 hours of sleep are required for every adult to ensure their body functions at its best capacity. There is simply no replacement for nighttime sleep. Make a bedtime routine and make sure you follow it religiously.
  • Monitor Symptoms: As discussed in other sections, there are different symptoms of ulcerative colitis for different people. Hence, you should know your symptoms, and triggers and should monitor them to avoid chronic illness.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The only way to cure ulcerative colitis completely is to undergo surgery to remove the entire diseased colon and rectum lining. This will put an end to all the symptoms of ulcerative colitis like diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and increased bowel movements. However, this procedure is typically only done in severe cases where the disease has progressed past a mild level. The majority of ulcerative colitis patients use natural remedies or medication to manage their symptoms without opting for surgery.

Patients with ulcerative colitis usually require lifelong treatment in the form of either medications or natural remedies. Halting treatment at any time may lead to the worsening of symptoms, resulting in it becoming substantially more difficult to treat the disease. 

Studies indicate that patients with ulcerative colitis have about the same life expectancy as those without the disease. By sticking to a few key considerations, you can ensure you stay in remission from the disease for several years before being faced with another flare-up of symptoms.

Though natural remedies for ulcerative colitis are usually safe for most people, there can be exceptions like pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. You should consult a healthcare professional before going for a natural remedy for ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is a progressive disease, meaning the symptoms of this condition can get worse over time. As you get older, your body may become more sensitive to the medications or natural treatment methods you are taking to manage the disease. This can result in more severe, frequently occurring flare-ups, indicating worsening of the disease.

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