What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disorder that affects the large intestine (colon) lining and rectum. The inflammation typically begins in the rectal area and lower portion of the colon and might spread to the whole large intestine with time. Its onset is usually slow. Typically, an attack starts with a heightened urgency to defecate, moderate lower abdominal cramps, and the appearance of pus and blood in the stools. The seriousness of the condition varies between people.
Ulcerative colitis usually begins between ages 15 and 30 or occasionally between ages 50 and 70. However, it may occur in people of any age. It usually affects men and women alike, and sometimes, there might be a family history of the problem. Individuals with ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, especially if the problem is extensive. Acupuncture for colitis conditions can be beneficial for this particular illness.
What causes ulcerative colitis?
The specific cause of the problem is unknown, but researchers think a variety of factors are involved. Ulcerative colitis is supposed to be what is called an autoimmune condition. Some researchers believe that the body’s immune system reacts to a virus or bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestinal wall. Others feel that no disease is involved and the immune system just malfunctions alone. A significant view is that the immune system mistakes benign bacteria within the colon as a threat and attacks the colon’s cells, causing them to be inflamed.
Why the immune system behaves and functions this way is unclear. Experts believe a combination of environmental factors and genetics is involved. It’s believed that ulcerative colitis isn’t directly brought on by emotional distress or sensitivity to certain foods or food products, although these factors may trigger symptoms in some people.
Symptoms and complications of ulcerative colitis
Inflammation can lead to the colon becoming empty often and more frequently, causing diarrhea. Tiny open sores formed on the colon’s lining’s surface can lead to stool blood. The inflamed lining also generates a larger-than-normal quantity of intestinal mucus, occasionally containing pus. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis may fluctuate based on the amount of inflammation and colon infection. Typical symptoms include:
– Bloody diarrhea with mucus
– Abdominal pain
– Appetite and weight loss
– Tiredness and fatigue
When inflammation has penetrated deeper into the walls of the colon, severe complications like profuse bleeding from acute ulcers and perforation of the colon may emerge. Other complications like cirrhosis, eye inflammation, arthritis, or osteoporosis may occur when the immune system triggers inflammation in other body areas.
Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis can be challenging to diagnose, as symptoms are similar to other intestinal disorders, notably irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis can be similar to Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis differs from Crohn’s disease because the inflammation is confined to the upper layers of the intestinal lining. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation throughout the full depth of the intestinal wall. Additionally, ulcerative colitis affects only the large bowel (colon and rectum). Crohn’s disease, on the other hand,Â can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus.
The distinction between ulcerative colitis and IBS is that the gut function is affected in the latter, but its appearance remains healthy, and there’s no inflammation.
A thorough physical examination and a series of tests may be required to diagnose ulcerative colitis. Most people will need a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or barium enema to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests can reveal whether you have anemia or any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Stool tests can show if you have bleeding and disease.
Ulcerative colitis can cause troubling symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and fatigue. While there is no cure for UC, several treatment options are available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. In addition to medical treatment, developing a wellness plan can benefit individuals with UC.
Wellness Plan For Ulcerative Colitis
A wellness plan is a personalized approach to health that incorporates lifestyle modifications to improve overall well-being. For individuals with UC, a wellness plan may include dietary changes, stress management techniques, and exercise. Here are some tips to consider for a wellness plan for UC:
- Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is important for managing UC symptoms. Some people with UC find that certain foods, such as spicy foods or dairy products, can trigger symptoms. Keeping a food journal can help identify trigger foods. Additionally, anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation. Working with a doctor or registered dietitian is important to ensure the diet is balanced and meets individual needs.
- Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate UC symptoms. Therefore, incorporating stress management techniques into a wellness plan can be beneficial. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Engaging in activities or hobbies that bring joy can also help reduce stress levels.
- Exercise: Exercise can improve overall health and well-being and may also be beneficial for managing UC symptoms. Moderate exercises like walking or cycling can help reduce inflammation and improve gut function. However, talking to a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine is important, as some forms of exercise may exacerbate symptoms.
- Medication: Medication is often used to manage UC symptoms. Several types of medication are available, including anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and biological drugs. Working with a healthcare professional to determine the best medication regimen for individual needs is important.
- Support: Living with a chronic illness can be challenging, and having a support system can be helpful. This support may include family, friends, support groups, or online communities. Connecting with people with similar experiences can provide emotional support and practical advice.
In addition to these tips, working with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized wellness plan is important. This plan may include regular check-ins to monitor symptoms and adjust the plan. Additionally, staying up-to-date on the latest research and treatment options for UC is important.
There are other natural therapies to consider for people wanting to manage UC.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
From the view of TCM, ulcerative colitis could be caused by the invasion of the exterior pathogenic factors, inherent deficiencies, or an unbalanced diet. Constitutional deficiencies usually refer to spleen, gut, and kidney deficiencies. The invasion of exterior pathogenic factors refers to damp-heat or damp-cold. An unbalanced diet, like one high in cold or raw foods, may harm the spleen and stomach by blocking functions in transforming and transporting nutrients and food. Therapies, including acupuncture, could bolster a change of diet.
Eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, may help handle UC. Probiotics are bacteria or germs that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Some foods, like kimchi and yogurt, contain natural probiotics. Alternatively, someone could buy probiotics over the counter at most major food stores and drugstores.
A 2019 research looked at how individuals with UC responded to using probiotics. Researchers found that 57 percent of people who used the probiotics reported a positive overall experience. Also, 50 percent of the responders noted improved symptoms, such as stool frequency and it’s feel.
Individuals interested in probiotics should speak with a healthcare professional who can recommend reputable supplement brands. But a probiotic can’t replace conventional medication. Individuals must continue to take their medications according to their prescriptions.
Herbal medicines for UC
Herbal medicines, also known as botanicals, are plant-based remedies used for thousands of years in various cultures to treat various health conditions. Many herbs have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties, making them potentially effective in managing the symptoms of UC.
Here are some herbal medicines that have been traditionally used to manage UC:
- Aloe Vera is a succulent plant used to treat various digestive disorders due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a compound called acemannan, which can help reduce inflammation in the gut. Aloe vera can be consumed orally or applied topically as a gel.
- Slippery elm is native to North America and is used to soothe irritated tissues in the digestive tract. It contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that coats the lining of the intestines and reduces inflammation. Slippery elm can be consumed as a tea or in supplement form.
- Turmeric is a spice in Indian cuisine with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contains curcumin, a compound proven to reduce gut inflammation and improve UC symptoms. Turmeric can be taken as a spice in food or supplement form.
- Boswellia: Boswellia, also known as frankincense, is a resin extracted from the Boswellia tree that has been used for centuries to treat various inflammatory conditions. It contains boswellic acids, which have been shown to reduce gut inflammation and improve UC symptoms. Boswellia can be consumed in supplement form.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is an aromatic herb traditionally used to soothe digestive discomfort. It contains menthol to help relax the digestive tract muscles and reduce inflammation. Peppermint can be taken as a tea or in supplement form.
While herbal medicines can be effective in managing the symptoms of UC, it is important to remember that they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new herbal supplement, as some herbs can interact with medications or have side effects.
Lifestyle behavior changes
Sometimes, someone with UC may realize that simple lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms. These changes could be beneficial such as group therapy to help with the psychological ramifications of UC, and exercise, which may support weight control and boost energy levels.
Particular dietary changes can make a difference in helping people reduce symptoms and flare-ups. These modifications may require the person to:
– drink lots of water to stop dehydration
– drink electrolyte beverages
– eat many smaller meals instead of three big ones
– eat well and avoid restrictive diets
– reduce fatty, buttery foods intake
– eat a low-fiber diet
– use calcium and vitamin D supplements
– avoid milk products, as many people with UC have lactose intolerance.
Some people may discover that keeping a food journal can be helpful. By recording their food intake and symptoms, someone could work out which foods trigger flare-ups and eliminate them from their diet. There’s not any specific research supporting a particular diet program for UC. However, some research suggests that certain chemical plant chemicals known as phytochemicals can help alleviate symptoms of UC. In 2014, a review of research found that phytochemicals from apples, cocoa, green tea, and other foods and nutritional supplements could decrease UC symptoms in animals. However, the review suggests a need for additional studies to ascertain the benefits of these compounds in humans.
Conventional UC treatments
Some traditional treatments can send UC into remission. Herbal remedies work best alongside more conventional treatments, which individuals with UC generally tolerate well, despite some side effects. Drugs and therapies carry a risk of side effects. It would be best if you spoke with their doctor about possible side effects when they get a prescription for new medicine.
Developing a wellness plan can be beneficial for individuals with UC. A wellness plan may include dietary changes, stress management techniques, exercise, medication, and support. It is important to consult a doctor to develop a personalized plan that meets individual needs. With proper management, individuals with UC can lead healthy and fulfilling life.