Ulcerative Colitis is a condition I have treated quite often in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice. It presents itself in males and females of all ages, from children to seniors. This autoimmune disease is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the large intestine and rectum. Symptoms can include abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, blood and mucus in stools, and urgent bowel movements. Eventually fatigue, weight loss, and anemia can occur. Diagnosis is typically made by a colonoscopy and tissue biopsy, as well as blood testing. Ulcerative Colitis is lumped under a category of diseases called “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” along with Crohn’s disease and Microscopic Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis is a difficult condition to live with, as it can significantly impact ones quality of life. Often patients are afraid to wander too far from home in case they need to find a bathroom urgently, and are scared of the different drug options available to them, especially with steroids and Biologic drugs.
I find that many different triggers are linked to the initial development of this disease, as well as the flare ups. Diet, stress, lifestyle, and genetics are all involved. Keep reading below to learn what Naturopathic Medicine can offer in the treatment and management of this life altering condition.
Diet and Nutrition for Ulcerative Colitis
The food a patient is consuming is a very significant part of the treatment of this condition, both in treating a flare and prolonging periods of remission. Typically in an acute flare the patient should avoid foods that are hard on the digestion such as raw fruits and vegetables, red meat, and high fiber foods. Rather they should consume foods that are cooked, baked, and steamed, and temporarily switch to lower fiber foods until their digestion is back to normal. Of course this advice will vary according to the patient I am treating, and once I do a health history on the patient I can make diet suggestions specifically for that patient. You can read more about Diet and Nutrition here.
Food Sensitivity testing
Because Ulcerative Colitis is an auto immune condition affecting the digestive system, I always test the patient for their food sensitivities. In this way we can remove offending foods that are triggering the immune system to hyper regulate. I have had great success with this in my practice with treating flares and prolonging periods of remission. You can read more about Food Sensitivity testing here.
Vitamins and Supplements
This is a very important treatment because typically, due to inflammation of the digestive tract, patients are unable to absorb enough nutrients. In addition, the drugs that are used to treat Ulcerative Colitis can cause significant nutrient deficiencies. I assess a patients blood test reports as well as their symptoms and then determine which supplements I want to prescribe. I typically will prescribe them in a liquid form versus tablet or capsule, to increase digestion and absorption of the prescribed nutrients. You can read more about Professional grade supplements here.
B12 deficiency is very common in patients suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. Injection of this vitamin, along with folic acid, increases percentage of absorption into the system, compared to tablets you would swallow or even sublingual tablets. Patients experience higher energy, better mood, and overall feeling of wellness. You can read more about B12 injections here.
Botanical Medicine and Herbs
Herbs are a very significant part of my treatment protocols in my patients. Herbs can act as anti-inflammatories for the digestive system. We can also use herbs to modulate stress levels, since we know that stress is a significant trigger in the development and reoccurence of Ulcerative Colitis. You can read more about Botanical Medicine and Herbs here.
Acupuncture is very helpful in my patients suffering from this disease. It helps with bowel movements and urgency, loose stools and diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cramping. It also helps with mood support, stress, and overall feelings of well being. Points are chosen according to the patients tongue and pulse analysis and symptoms. You can read more about Acupuncture here.
Stress Management and Lifestyle Counseling
As I mentioned above, stress is a huge contributing factor in Ulcerative Colitis. Stress is a constant in our lives, and so our perception and experience of that stress is where Naturopathic Medicine can make a difference. In addition to the above treatments, it is important for the patient to have a healthy outlet for stress, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or talking to friends or loved ones. Balance in life is important, and developing a hobby can be helpful as well. You can read more about this here.
As you can see, Naturopathic Medicine has a lot to offer in the treatment and management of Ulcerative Colitis. If you have any questions on how I can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice at (403) 719-2594. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
#205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW