Research & Education

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis as the name implies includes characteristic ulcers or open sores that can lead to symptoms of abdominal pain diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease with periods of exacerbated symptoms and periods that are relatively symptom-free. The condition has similarities to Crohn's disease another form of IBD. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's are chronic conditions that can last years even decades. They affect approximately 500000 to 2 million people In the United States with men and women being affected equally. They most commonly begin during adolescence and early adulthood but also can appear during childhood and later in life.

Some scientists think a microbe such as a virus or bacterium may trigger ulcerative colitis while others feel that the condition may stem from an autoimmune reaction. Still others suspect that genetic makeup may be a contributing factor. However most people who have ulcerative colitis don't have a family history of this disorder. Additionally food allergies or sensitivities can certainly play a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Conventional medical treatments normally center the on use of various medications including steroidals immune suppressive drugs and anti-inflammatories while has gone on the record citing the potential solution of removing the colon cures ulcerative colitis.

Alternative choices

Alternative treatments for ulcerative colitis are not so dramatic and invasive. Fortunately there are several natural compounds that can at least help mitigate and manage some of the signs and symptoms of the condition.

Extreme levels of inflammation and oxidation can be very damaging to the gastrointestinal lining and as such may be useful therapeutic targets. In patients suffering with ulcerative colitis the classic anti-inflammatory agent curcumin was shown to significantly reduce remission of the condition.

Resveratrol a powerful anti-inflammatory was shown to modulate pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha and the inflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) subsequently reducing the signs and symptoms of the condition in animal models of inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.

Aloe vera is a soothing mucilaginous substance that can help decrease inflammation and demonstrated an improvement in clinical response and remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Extracts of pomegranate displayed antiulcerative effects by the attenuation of histamine and a reduction of inflammatory and oxidative markers. 

The steroidal hormone DHEA when used in patients at a dose of 200mg per day was shown to induce remission in most of the study subjects used in the following study.

Many times ulcerative colitis along with dietary restrictions stress management techniques and use of natural therapeutic agents can be well managed.  Thus there appears to be enough evidence in the scientific literature to consider these modestly conservative measures before resorting to more aggressive allopathic methods to treat this and other gastrointestinal conditions.

by Michael Fuhrman D.C.