- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease)
- Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
- Other Proposed Natural Treatments
- Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the colon that is closely related to Crohn’s disease . The two are grouped in a category called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) , because they both involve inflammation of the digestive tract.
The major symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. When the disease becomes severe, individuals may develop fever, weight loss, dehydration, and anemia. Sometimes, constipation develops instead of diarrhea. Arthritis, skin sores, and liver inflammation may occur as well.
One of the most feared consequences of ulcerative colitis is dramatic dilation of the colon, which can lead to fatal perforation of the colon. Ulcerative colitis also leads to a greatly increased risk of colon cancer.
Ulcerative colitis tends to wax and wane, with periods of remission punctuated by severe flare-ups. Medical treatment aims at reducing symptoms and inducing and maintaining remission.
Sulfasalazine is one of the most common medications for ulcerative colitis. Given either orally or as an enema, it can both decrease symptoms and prevent recurrences. Corticosteroids , such as prednisone, are used similarly in more severe cases, sometimes combined with other immunosuppressive drugs, such as azathioprine and cyclosporine . Partial removal of the colon may be necessary in severe cases.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
People with ulcerative colitis can easily develop deficiencies in numerous nutrients. Chronic bleeding leads to iron deficiency. Malabsorption, decreased appetite, drug side effects, and increased nutrient loss through the stool may lead to mild or profound deficiencies of protein, vitamins A , B 12 , C , D , E , and K , folate , calcium , copper , magnesium , selenium , and zinc . 1-10 If you have ulcerative colitis, supplementation to restore adequate body stores of these nutrients is highly advisable and may improve specific symptoms as well as overall health. We recommend working closely with your physician to identify any nutrient deficiencies and evaluate the success of supplementation in correcting them.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.