According to western medicine, ulcerative colitis is a chronic non-specific idiopathic gastrointestinal inflammatory disease. Several etiologic factors have been suggested, but none are proven at the present time. Since there is no known cause, specific therapy is not available and all available drug treatment focus on symptomatic relief. Surgery cures the disease but will require permanent ileostomy (cutting off a portion of the large intestines) in addition to physical and emotional burden.
Most common medications to treat ulcerative colitis include: Aminosalicylates, Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), Mesalamine (Asacol, Rowasa), Balsalazide disodium (Colazal), Corticosteroids (such as budesonide, prednisone, and prednisolone). In addition, immune system suppressors, nicotine patches, anti-diarrheal medications are often used.
20 to 30% of people with ulcerative colitis must eventually have their colon or colon and rectum removed (colectomy or proctocolectomy) because of massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon, or the risk of cancer. Although the surgery often eliminates the disease, it may result in having 5 to 7 watery bowel movements a day, and up to one-third of people who undergo this procedure develop pouchitis, an inflammation of the pouch that was created to reconnect the severed intestines to the rectum.