Eating Healthy with Ulcerative Colitis
6 Ways to Naturally Manage Ulcerative Colitis
Is yoga the key to soothing ulcerative colitis? Will an herb provide relief? Natural remedies for ulcerative colitis (UC) may not be your primary treatment approach, but they can help you manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of flares.
To date, there is no cure for UC, a chronic disease of the large intestine (colon) in which inflammation brought on by a faulty immune response creates sores or ulcers in the lining of the colon.
The chronic condition affects nearly 1 million Americans and tends to run in families. Epidemiological research shows that “westernized” populations and people with diets high in fat are at higher risk for UC, as well as Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews. But no one has yet uncovered the main source of the disease.
“Although the official cause of ulcerative colitis has evaded the medical community, it’s important to understand that it results from an interaction of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors,” says Benjamin Snider, ND , a naturopathic doctor in private practice in Kitchener, Ontario.
Treatments for ulcerative colitis include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, and steroids to control inflammation and other symptoms of the condition. Surgery to remove the colon and rectum is another form of treatment if medication doesn’t prove effective.
Still there are other, nonmedical forms of relief. Research shows that there are a number of effective natural treatments for colitis that include everything from lifestyle changes to herbal medicine. Exercise, stress reduction techniques such as tai chi and yoga, and a healthier diet full of foods with soluble fiber have all been identified as beneficial to managing UC symptoms. A review article published in July 2014 in the journal PLoS One found that mind-body practices like tai chi, qigong, meditation, and yoga reduced inflammatory markers in the body.
Less is known about other natural treatments like herbs and supplements. But they’re a valid form of UC therapy that doctors are prescribing more and more. A review published in October 2014 in theWorld Journal of Gastroenterology found that herbal therapy in combination with traditional medicine may provide new and better alternatives to ulcerative colitis treatment. The list of herbs that work the best, include:
- Aloe vera gel
- Tormentil extract
- Wheatgrass juice
- Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric)
Snider stresses that a holistic approach that factors in lifestyle, stress, supplements, and some natural remedies for ulcerative colitis offers the best chance at healing.
Read on to learn about some different kinds of natural therapies.
Video: Ulcerative Colitis Module 6: Nutrition
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