A Japanese study evaluated the role of dietary factors on inflammatory bowel disease. Included in the study were 111 people with ulcerative colitis who were given food questionnaires.
The survey found a higher consumption of sweets was positively associated with ulcerative colitis risk. Vitamin C was found to have a protective effect. A higher intake was associated with a lower risk of ulcerative colitis. Examples of foods rich in vitamin C are red bell peppers, parsley, strawberries, and spinach.
A study in the journal Gut monitored ulcerative colitis patients in remission for one year using food questionnaires. Consumption of meat, particularly red and processed meat, protein, and alcohol increased the likelihood of relapse. Researchers speculate that the high sulphur or sulphate compounds in many of these foods is the culprit, since high sulfur or sulphate intakes were also associated with relapse.
Carbohydrates may be a culprit for some people. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was popularized by Elaine Gottschall after she used it to help her daughter recover from ulcerative colitis.
Gottschall later wrote a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle. The premise of the book is that carbohydrates, being forms of sugar, could promote and fuel the growth of bacteria and yeast in the intestines, causing an imbalance and eventually bacterial overgrowth or yeast overgrowth. The bacteria and yeast produce toxins and acids which injure the intestine lining and they also impair the function of digestive enzymes, which impairs the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. For more information about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, read Specific Carbohydrate Diet: What You Need to Know.
6) Folic Acid
People with chronic ulcerative colitis are at greater risk of colon cancer. A University of Toronto study found that dietary folate supplementation at four times the basic dietary requirement significantly suppressed ulcerative colitis-associated colon cancer. The incidence of high grade lesions in the folate-supplemented group was 46 percent lower than that in the control group.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain results from blocked energy along energy pathways of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these invisible pathways.
A scientific explanation is that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.
An acupuncture treatment generally costs between $60 and $120. Acupuncture is tax-deductible (it's considered a medical expense) and some insurance plans pay for acupuncture.
If you want to try acupuncture, plan on going one to three times a week for several weeks initially.
Bromelain, a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes derived from pineapple stem, is believed to reduce inflammation. A Duke University animal study found that daily treatment with oral bromelain decreased the incidence and severity of colitis.
For more information about bromelain, read Bromelain: What You Need to Know.
9) Mind-Body Therapies
Although stress is no longer believed to be the main cause of ulcerative colitis, chronic stress can worsen symptoms, decrease coping, and increasing the chance of remission of the disease.
A small study at the University Clinic of Essen in Germany investigated the effects of mind-body therapy on thirty paients with ulcerative colitis in remission. Patients were randomly assigned to an intervention group consisting of a structured 6 hour a week training program for 10 weeks that included stress management training, moderate exercise, Mediterranean diet, behavioral techniques and self-care strategies or a usual care waiting control group. The study showed improvement in quality of life assessed by standardized questionnaires. However, there were no differences on clinical or physiological parameters.
Breathing techniques that make use of the mind-body connection have been found to reduce pain. These techniques integrate body awareness, breathing, movement, and meditation. What's great about breathing techniques is that you can do them yourself at home at no cost. Here are some mind-body therapies to try:
Other Natural Remedies
These are just some of the natural remedies that are showing promise for ulcerative colitis. All remedies should be used with caution and under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
There are serious consequences to untreated ulcerative colitis, so it is important not to shun complementary therapies but instead to take a complementary approach.