6 Natural Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis

Supplements prove beneficial in treating inflammation

Close-Up Of Aloe Vera Slices With Bowls On Cutting Board.
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Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, typically the colon and the rectum. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and difficulty with bowel movements.

There is currently no known cure for ulcerative colitis. As a result, natural therapies have grown in popularity among unable to achieve sustained symptomatic relief.

While some of these remedies are strongly believed to be effective in alleviating symptoms, none have undergone the burden of extensive clinical research. Here are six, however, that has begun to attract the attention of medical researchers:

1.Probiotics

Probiotics are believed to be beneficial in managing ulcerative colitis and other chronic digestive disorders. These "friendly" bacterial agents are often able to control more harmful bacteria while reducing inflammation and improving the protective mucus lining of the gut. Moreover, they are considered safe with no significant side effects.

A University of Alberta study examined 34 people with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis who were unresponsive to conventional treatment. The researchers gave each a probiotic supplement, called VSL3, for a period of six weeks. At the end of the study, 18 people (53 percent) demonstrated remission, while a further eight (24 percent) had a favorable response.

Similarly, an Italian study treated 25 people with Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast found to be beneficial in managing Crohn's disease. When used in conjunction with the anti-inflammatory drug mesalazine, S. boulardii was found to achieve clinical remission in 17 of the participants (72 percent).

2. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel has been found in studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect in people with ulcerative colitis. One double-blind, randomized trial explored the effectiveness of the oral gel in 30 people prescribed a twice daily, 100 mL dose. After four weeks, clinical remission was seen in nine people (30 percent), clinical improvement was seen in 11 (37 percent), and clinical response was seen in 14 (47 percent).

3. Boswellia

Boswellia is a medicinal herb derived from a tree native to India. The active ingredient found in the resin of the bark and is believed to have robust anti-inflammatory effects. In it extract from, Boswellia is popularly used to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis but without the stomach irritation often seen with conventional pain relievers.

One study found that 82 percent of people who took 350 milligrams of a Boswellia extract thrice daily experienced remission from mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. Boswellia is available in pill form and standardly contains 60 percent boswellic acids. While considered safe, Boswellia extract should not be used for more than 12 weeks unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.

4. Dietary Vitamin C

A Japanese study, evaluating the effects of diet on IBD, surveyed 111 people with ulcerative colitis about their dietary habits The survey found that the higher consumption of sweets was positively associated with ulcerative colitis risk. Vitamin C, by contrast, was found to have a protective effect. A higher intake of the vitamin from food sources was associated with a lower risk of ulcerative colitis. Examples include red bell peppers, parsley, strawberries, and spinach.

5. 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 recommended dietary requirement significantly suppressed ulcerative colitis-associated colon cancer.

Moreover, the incidence of high-grade lesions in the folate-supplemented group was 46 percent lower than in people not provide the supplement.

6. Bromelain

Bromelain, a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes derived from pineapple stem, is believed to reduce digestive inflammation. A Duke University animal study found that daily treatment with oral bromelain decreased the incidence and severity of colitis. The research was instigated by reports in 2000 about two individuals who had achieved remission from ulcerative colitis after being treated with the product, popularly marketed in food stores as a "digestive aid."

A Word From Verywell

Supplements and other forms of alternative therapy have not been stringently tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, or individuals with medical conditions. While there are ways to take supplements safely, they should never be used as a replacement for standard medical care. Always advise your primary care provider or any supplements, Chinese herbs, or homeopathic remedies you may be taking.

Delaying or avoiding standard medical care based on anecdotal or unsubstantiated evidence may have serious consequences.

Sources:

Fedorak, R. "Probiotics in the Management of Ulcerative Colitis." Gastro Hepatol. 2010; 6(11): 688-690.

Ke, F.; Yadav, P.; and Ju, L. "Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis." ​Sau J Gastroenterol. 2012; 18(1):3-10.

Qin, T.; Du, M.; Du, H. et al. "Folic acid supplements and colorectal cancer risk: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Scient Rep. 2015; 5:12044.

Rathnavelu, V.; Alitheen, N.; Sohila, S. et al. "Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications." Biomed Rep. 2016; 5(3):283-288.

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