Both Western and Chinese medicines recognize the importance of diet and its role in prevention and treatment of ulcerative colitis. Western medicine acknowledges dietary intake of certain factors (such as certain chemicals and drugs) may be linked to increased incidence of ulcerative colitis; Chinese medicine recognizes that dietary intake with excessive cold or raw food may injury the spleen and the stomach. Therefore, diet plays an important role in both prevent and effective treatment of the illness.
Food won’t prevent or cure IBD, but the right diet may diminish symptoms. The strategy is to focus on foods that reduce inflammation, to reestablish healthy bacteria in the gut and to pamper your intestinal tract. Keeping a food diary helps determine which foods trigger flare-ups and which seem to help.
Things to Avoid
- Avoid any food which may trigger recurrence, such as certain chemicals, raw or cold food. Milk, cheese and other dairy products should be avoided especially if the patients have lactose intolerance.
- Avoid sugar of all forms; avoid any wheat products especially during acute flare-ups.
- High roughage food such as raw fruits or vegetables sometimes worsen intestinal obstruction and colic.
- Alcohol should be avoided as it may be irritating to the stomach and the intestines.
- Caffeine and carbonated drinks
- Nuts, seeds, dried fruits
- Spicy food may trigger certain nerve reactions in the digestive tract.
- Certain over-the-counter or prescription antidiarrheal drugs may worsen the condition and create toxic megacolon.
What to Add
Everyone has different triggers; therefore it’s difficult to recommend certain types of food and/or supplements. In addition to avoiding the “wrong food,” it is equally important to have adequate calorie and fluid intake as malnutrition and dehydration are common problems associated with ulcerative colitis. In general, two strategies that work are:
- A bland, low-fiber may best during acute flares.
- Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day.
All of the following recommendations should not be taken unless supervised by a qualified health care provider.
- Oral iron supplements for those with frequent bleeding.
- Folic acid: Many people who have ulcerative colitis have low levels of folic acid in their blood.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil: DO NOT take high doses of fish oil if you take blood-thinning medication.
- Probiotics: Consult your doctor to be sure probiotics are appropriate for your case.
- Vitamin D: is necessary to maintain strong bones. People with ulcerative colitis, especially those who take corticosteroids, often have low levels of vitamin D and are at risk for osteoporosis.
- Calcium: is also needed for strong bones. Ask your doctor if you need a calcium supplement.
- N-acetyl glucosamine: Preliminary research suggests that N-acetyl glucosamine supplements or enemas may improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Psyllium seeds: Psyllium is a type of insoluble fiber, and may be irritating to some people, especially during flares. Some people may have better results using soluble fiber, such as flax seed or oat bran, in combination with or instead of psyllium.
- Boswellia: Boswellia has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Curcumin or turmeric: This has anti-inflammatory properties. People with gallbladder disease or gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), hormone-related cancers, or people who are taking blood-thinning medications, should not take curcumin without first consulting with their doctors.
- Slippery elm: is a demulcent (protects irritated tissues and promotes their healing). Women who may be pregnant should never take slippery elm.
- Marshmallow: is a demulcent and emollient. Avoid marshmallow if you have diabetes.
- Chamomile: is often used to soothe digestive tract. It is usually taken as a tea. Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people, particularly those who are sensitive to ragweed. Medicine
We have successfully treated a number of patients with chronic ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis (caused by small pouches of inflammation in the large intestines), and other irritable bowel syndromes with nutrition response testing.
All patients were instructed to stay away from three No-No: Wheat, Sugar, and Dairy Products.
Sometimes, the major cause of ulcerative colitis was found to be over-growth of particular bacteria strains in the liver; at other times, the kidneys overloaded with chemical toxins were the underlying reason for ulcerative colitis. Most patients also demonstrated weakness of the thyroid glands, the thymus glands, and the stomach and spleen.
Although it takes some time to see marked improvement, some patients responded almost immediately with just two supplements: standard process’ Zymex and Spanish Black Radish.
Other supplements we typically recommend for the bowel-related diseases are: Multizime, Spleen PMG, Gastrex, Livaplex, and Thymex—all from standard process. We also incorporate certain Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture in nutrition response testing when it comes to ulcerative colitis.
If you or your loved ones demonstrate symptoms of ulcerative colitisis and other bowel-related diseases, please call us at 201.760.8811
Chinese medical texts rarely differentiate Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other chronic inflammatory intestinal disorders. In Chinese medical terms, most ulcerative intestinal disease is classified as spleen deficiency type, because it is believed that the spleen Qi is necessary to maintain the health of the intestines.
More specifically, any bowel-related issues can be caused by four major factors, all of them involving stomach/spleen deficiency.
- Stomach/Spleen Deficiency: Most common cause of any bowel-related and any other digestive disorders.
- Deficiency Complicated by Cold: Usually cold in the stomach and spleen meridians affect either the small or the large intestines.
- Deficiency Complicated by Damp Heat: Severe pain and/or bleeding can be caused by damp heat lodged in the intestines.
- Qi and Yin Deficiency: deficient Qi causes stagnation of the stomach and the spleen over time; not enough Yin (cooling element) makes Yang (hot element) invading the stomach, spleen, and liver meridians.
Chinese medical practitioners can establish protocols by examining the underlying causes of ulcerative colitis, not just symptomatic demonstrations. Quite often, acupuncture alone cannot effectively deal with this particular disease, and Chinese herbal concoctions (most notable is Jianpilling) are strongly recommended, along with strict diet changes.
A word of caution is that Chinese medicine, however, has its limitations. If the patient has such complications as toxic colitis or toxic megacolon, immediate hospitalization is required. In addition, serious complications such as massive hemorrhage, free perforation, or fulminating toxic colitis require immediate surgical intervention.
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.
In conventional western medicines, no one knows what causes ulcerative colitis. The most likely theory is that it is caused by several factors ranging from genetics, faulty immune system reactions, and environmental influences, and over-consumption of saturated fat and/or processed foods. Most prominent risk factors for ulcerative colitis include:
- Family history of the disease
- Jewish heritage, especially Ashkenazi (European) Jews
- A diet high in sugar, cholesterol, and fat (particularly from meat and dairy products)
- Psoriasis. Studies show that psoriasis is associated both with Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis.
The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary depending on the severity of inflammation, and where it is located. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, ranging from mild to severe. They may come on either very suddenly or more gradually.
Other common symptoms include:
- Frequent, even continuous diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stool
- Urgent need to defecate
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Weight loss
- Joint aches
People with ulcerative colitis are at increased risk for malnutrition. The condition is also associated with other health problems, including arthritis, eye infections, liver disease, skin rashes, blood clots, or gallstones. Although western medical doctors cannot figure out why such problems occur outside the colon, if we take a look at this disease from a Chinese medical perspective, cross-functional aspects of different organs will make sense.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes ongoing inflammation and ulcers (open sores) in the innermost layers of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The ulcers bleed and produce pus and mucus, and the inflammation causes the colon to empty frequently, causing diarrhea.
Ulcerative colitis is similar to Crohn disease, another IBD. Crohn disease can happen anywhere in the digestive tract, often in patches, and can spread deeper into tissues.
Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is usually confined to the innermost layers of tissue and is uniform throughout the colon. Ulcerative colitis can be painful and have life-threatening complications.