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What you need to know about Ulcerative Colitis

Stop the flares by finding the cause

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon. Chronic inflammation of the colon can lead to damage to the lining of the colon producing symptoms.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon (large intestine).  Chronic inflammation of the colon can lead to damage to the lining of the colon (large intestine).

What causes Ulcerative Colitis?

There are many factors that contribute to UC including:

  • Food allergies/sensitivities
  • Stress
  • Genetics/family history
  • Infections
  • Weak immune system

What are signs and symptoms of UC?

Symptoms of UC can include the following:

  • Increased urgency for bowel movements (up to 10-20 times/day)
  • Bloody, watery and mucous bowel movements
  • Abdominal cramping
  • In severe acute attacks: sudden, extreme diarrhea, fever

How is it diagnosed?

UC is diagnosed based upon a complete patient history and a thorough clinical evaluation.  To help confirm diagnosis laboratory tests maybe done which may include colonoscopy.  During a colonoscopy, a flexible lightened instrument is used to visualize the lining of the colon.  This examination is usually done through a referral to a gastroenterologist.

What are conventional treatment options?

Prescription medication including: Asacol, Pentasa, Azulfidine, Apriso

What are natural support options?

Several options are available for the support of a healthy GI tract.  Naturopathic options would include finding the root cause of why the body developed ulcerative colitis and to reduce factors causing inflammation:

  1. Diet: Identify and Avoid allergic foods
    1. Food allergies/sensitivities would be explored
  2. Nutrition/lifestyle changes/stress management techniques
  3. Acupuncture: may help with rebalancing energy in the body as well as decreasing symptoms of UC while gut is being repaired
  4. Supplementation: to help strengthen and rebuild healthy gut flora
  • L-glutamine: to repair and reduce inflammation in gut lining
  • Fish oil: 1000-2000mg/day
  • Curcumin: 2g/day, anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown it reduces rate of relapse.
  • Vitamin E has been shown in clinical trials to reduce symptoms of UC.
  • Probiotics: clinical trials have shown introduction of probiotics help rebuild gut flora, reduce inflammation, as well as strengthening the immune system.

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc is a Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist in Bothell, WA. Dr. Heintze specializes in digestive health. For more information, please visit: www.startingpointacupuncture.com

References:

  1. Rectal administration of d-alpha tocopherol for active ulcerative colitis: a preliminary report. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Oct 21;14(39):5990-5
  2. Usefulness of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in addition to mesalazine in maintaining remission in pediatric Crohn’s disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 7;11(45):7118-21.
  3. Omega-3 free fatty acids for the maintenance of remission in Crohn disease: the EPIC Randomized Controlled Trials. JAMA. 2008 Apr 9;299(14):1690-7.
  4. Hanai H., et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol (2006): 4: 1502-1506.

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