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.
A class of plant chemicals — known as bioflavonoids — has been found to dramatically reduce inflammation and improve symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders.
Both green and black tea contain the flavonoids catechins and theaflavins, which are beneficial in autoimmune disease.
Apples contain the flavonoid quercetin, which can reduce allergic reactions and decrease inflammation. Quercetin also occurs naturally in other foods, such as berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea.
Carotenoids are a family of plant pigments that include beta-carotene. A lack of carotenoids in the diet is thought to promote inflammation. Good sources of carotenoids include apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash and collard greens.
Recent studies show that ginger reduces inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin and suppresses the immune system’s production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, reducing disease severity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids can counter the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation. Good natural sources include flaxseed oil and salmon.
A healthy and active colon can decrease food sensitivity, which, in turn, can lighten the burden on your immune system.
Crohn’s disease is a medical condition that can cause chronic inflammation anywhere in the GI tract–from the mouth all the way to the rectum.
Often, the inflamed tissue is specifically found in the ileum (the end of the small intestine) and the beginning of the colon. Inflammation can spread into the deeper layers of the tract and frequently has what is known as a “cobblestone appearance.”
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, and may include persistent, recurrent diarrhea, bleeding from the anus, urgent need to evacuate the bowels, constipation or feeling of incomplete evacuation, abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, mental and physical developmental delays (in certain cases occurring amongst children), fever, night sweats, or irregular menstrual cycle
Crohn’s is a difficult condition to cure. In some cases, surgery to repair or remove affected areas of the GI tract is necessary.
It is important to receive an early diagnosis as untreated Crohn’s disease can eventually cause life-threatening symptoms such as tears in the lining of the rectum and fistulas.
Fissures can cause excess bleeding and pain. Fistulas happen when inflammation erodes tissue, causing the formation of a tunnel starting from the intestines, going to the urinary bladder, vagina or even the skin.
I cannot stress enough how important diet is in reducing some symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis is part of disease called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It presents with inflammation in the lining of the large intestine, specifically the colon and sometimes the rectum. The lining becomes inflamed due to small wounds or ulcers, which then produce mucus and pus.
The inflammation and ulceration an cause pain and different problems, including frequent, watery diarrhea, persistent diarrhea with pain and bloody stool, urgent bowel movements, incomplete evacuation of the bowels despite a feeling of urgency, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, weight loss, body fluid depletion, fatigue, fever or urgent diarrhea that wakes you up in the middle of the night.
How can Chinese medicine help patients with ulcerative colitis?
An article published in the 2013 issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded that “acupuncture and moxibustion (a traditional technique that uses the smoke from the herb mugwort to penetrate the skin) demonstrated better overall efficacy than oral sulphasalazine in treating inflammatory bowel disease.”
Sulphasalazine is a doctor-prescribed pharmaceutical drug that is commonly used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.