• Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease)
Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the colon that is closely related to
The major symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. When the disease becomes severe, individuals may develop fever, weight loss, dehydration, and anemia. Sometimes, constipation develops instead of diarrhea. Arthritis, skin sores, and liver inflammation may occur as well.
One of the most feared consequences of ulcerative colitis is dramatic dilation of the colon, which can lead to fatal perforation of the colon. Ulcerative colitis also leads to a greatly increased risk of colon cancer.
Ulcerative colitis tends to wax and wane, with periods of remission punctuated by severe flare-ups. Medical treatment aims at reducing symptoms and inducing and maintaining remission.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
People with ulcerative colitis can easily develop deficiencies in numerous nutrients. Chronic bleeding leads to iron deficiency. Malabsorption, decreased appetite, drug side effects, and increased nutrient loss through the stool may lead to mild or profound deficiencies of protein, vitamins A
Essential Fatty Acids
Fish oil and evening primrose oil contain healthy fats called essential fatty acids. According to some, though not all, of the small,
Regular use of fish oil alone, or in combination with gamma-linolenic acid (found in evening primrose oil), has not been found effective for
disease flare-ups in people whose ulcerative colitis has gone into remission.
Friendly bacteria, or probiotics, might be helpful in ulcerative colitis.
A double-blind trial of 116 people with ulcerative colitis compared probiotic treatment against a relatively low dose of the standard drug mesalazine.
Probiotics might be useful for people with ulcerative colitis who have had part or all of the colon removed. Such individuals frequently develop a complication called "pouchitis," inflammation of part of the remaining intestine. Two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies found that probiotics can help prevent pouchitis and also reduce relapses in people who already have it.
In addition, some evidence hints that probiotics might reduce the joint pain that commonly occurs in people with inflammatory bowel disease.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 44 people hospitalized with severe active ulcerative colitis were given oral aloe gel or placebo twice daily for 4 weeks.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Researchers have recently become interested in the use of phosphadylcholine as a supportive treatment in severe ulcerative colitis. There may be an insufficient quantity of phosphatidylcholine in the mucus lining the colon in patients with ulcerative colitis. Taking phosphatidylcholine may correct this deficiency. A small double-blind, placebo controlled study of 60 patients whose ulcerative colitis was poorly responsive to corticosteroids were randomized to receive either phosphadylcholine (2 g per day) or placebo for 12 weeks. 31 Half of the participants taking phosphadylcholine showed a significant improvement in symptoms versus only 10% taking placebo. Moreover, 80% taking phosphadylcholine were able to completely discontinue their corticosteroids without disease flare-up compared to 10% taking placebo.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 24 people with ulcerative colitis examined the effects of
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
8. Mulder TP, van der Sluys Veer A, Verspaget HW, et al. Effect of oral zinc supplementation on metallothionein and superoxide dismutase concentrations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1994;9:472-477.
21. Gionchetti P, Rizzello F, Venturi A, et al. Oral bacteriotherapy as maintenance treatment in patients with chronic pouchitis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2000;119:305-309.
28. Merchant RE, Andre CA. A review of recent clinical trials of the nutritional supplement Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the treatment of fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7:79-80,82-91.
34. Dainese R, Galliani EA, De Lazzari F, et al. Discrepancies between reported food intolerance and sensitization test findings in irritable bowel syndrome patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1999;94:1892-1897.
35. Middleton SJ, Naylor S, Woolner J, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of essential fatty acid supplementation in the maintenance of remission of ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2002;16:1131-1135.
36. Ben-Arye E, Goldin E, Wengrower D, et al. Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2002;37:444-449.
40. Kato K, Mizuno S, Umesaki Y, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing the effect of bifidobacteria-fermented milk on active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004;20:1133-1141.
43. Hanai H, Iida T, Takeuchi K, et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Nov 10. [Epub ahead of print]
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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