Ulcerative Colitis – Treating with Chinese Medicine

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.

  1. Stomach/Spleen Deficiency: Most common cause of any bowel-related and any other digestive disorders.
  2. Deficiency Complicated by Cold: Usually cold in the stomach and spleen meridians affect either the small or the large intestines.
  3. Deficiency Complicated by Damp Heat: Severe pain and/or bleeding can be caused by damp heat lodged in the intestines.
  4. 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.

Strengthen Your Digestive Health with Acupuncture

Our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. There are a number of diseases associated with our GI tract ranging from excessive gas build-up, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease. Most of these conditions are chronic, although some conditions of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can be life-threatening.

Early Chinese medical texts state that “The origins of any chronic disease can be traced back to compromised digestive function.” In other words, Chinese medicine views digestive health as the foundation to total health.

digestive health

According to Chinese medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. In fact, it’s not so much the stomach that holds the key in maintaining optimal digestive function, it’s the SPLEEN.

Unlike Western medicine that views the spleen as not-so-vital, Chinese medicine considers the spleen an extremely important organ, not only for digestive functions, but for reproductive health, immune functions, and vascular strength.

The spleen (which includes the pancreas in Chinese medical theory) takes a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and Qi (energy).

digestive health 2

The liver also plays a critical role in the digestive process. When the spleen is weak, the liver cannot move smoothly, so that the combined effects of weak spleen and liver often result in serious digestive disorders.

In addition, the large/small intestines, the gallbladder, and the kidneys are intricately involved in our digestive process. Therefore, maintaining optimal digestive heath always requires a holistic approach that takes into a whole body into account, not just the organs associated with the GI tract.

Crohn’s Disease Symptom Relief

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.”

crohns' diseqse

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 disease 2

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.