Natural Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis, Part 1

Dr. Gabriel Ariciu, DC

Dr. Gabriel Ariciu, DC

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD for short, is an issue effecting about 1.3% of adults in the US.1 Now that is an old stat from 2015, it has certainly increased since then. Most are diagnosed in their 20s or 30s.1 The two most common are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Crohn’s is inflammation within the whole digestive tract whereas the UC is only the large intestine or colon.

Ulcerative colitis is a autoimmune condition. So it falls into the same category as Psoriasis or Hashimoto’s. Autoimmune diseases are where your body’s immune system has become heightened and begins to destroy its own tissue. Conventionally it is treated with long-term immune suppressants and sometimes surgery to remove part of the colon. Since ulcerative colitis can involve open lesions which bleed a lot, seeking medical advice is very helpful. Not seeking medical advice can be detrimental. So, I do recommend that you seek acute medical intervention. But after the condition is under control, you should seek a more holistic approach.

Signs and symptoms

  • Persistent diarrhea, with or without blood
  • Abdominal pain, cramping
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Rectal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Urgency often without defecating2

These are the main symptoms, but others can be involved too. Many deal with anemia not just from the blood loss but from the malabsorption of vital nutrients such as iron. This can cause further fatigue among other issues.

Those who suffer from UC are at higher risk for other autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, and others. These inflammatory issues can send you down a bleak road.

What it is not…

Often IBD can be confused with other issues. IBS is one of the most common. However, IBS is quite different from IBD. IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. There is some symptom overlap, but IBS is considered non-inflammatory. It also doesn’t have the characteristic damage to the digestive tract like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, essentially the intestines look normal.

Another common issue is to confuse it with Celiac disease which is also an autoimmune disease of the gut. The cause of Celiac is well-known, gluten. However, as you will see in part 2 there is much more in common here. While I am not saying they are the same by any means, their roots are quite similar.

Chicken or the egg

It is essential in treating ulcerative colitis that the root cause is found. But many treatments only tackle symptoms. Take the conventional medicine approach of long-term immune suppression. While this can be helpful, the root cause remains hidden. Many believe that it is just the immune system gone haywire, however, mounting evidence supports a deeper underlying cause at the root of these issues.

I was once at a lecture where the doctor presenting used this analogy. He spoke of someone being attacked by a bear. Conventionally the treatment is to patch up the wounds, the symptoms. The suppression of the immune system is likened to binding the wounds. However, a problem remains, the bear.

Here is another take on what I am talking about. In this video, the speaker likens it to children being thrown into a river. If you have the time it is worth it.

Ok, so what about natural treatment?

Same goes here. So many natural treatments are good but may not address the root cause. One that is very common is glutamine. Glutamine helps heal the gut lining, yet if you do not address the underlying issue the problem remains or should I say the bear.

I have many clients who come in with loads of supplements including glutamine. And I mean loads. Sometimes they bring in whole boxes of stuff they are taking. Some of which can be very helpful in repairing the gut and replenishing nutrients. But without addressing the root cause this is like adding water to a leaky barrel.

Stay tuned, next week I will break down the root cause and its natural treatment.

Sources:
1.CDC. “IBD: Data and Statistics.” Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/data-statistics.htm
2. CDC. “What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?” https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-IBD.htm
3. Featured image: Dragana Gordic/shutterstock.com