Essential oils for colitis

Can Aromatherapy Help Ease Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms?

If you have ulcerative colitis (UC), you may already be taking medication, such as an anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid, to address symptoms and to help stave off flare-ups. And while conventional medical treatment can be effective, many longtime UC sufferers are continually casting about for alternative treatments to go along with what their doctor has prescribed — from therapy to reduce the stress that can trigger symptoms, to acupuncture or herbal concoctions.

Aromatherapy, or the use of naturally derived aromatic oils from various plants as a health and wellness aid, is another tack to try.

“Studies have shown that ingredients in essential oils used in aromatherapy may have anti-inflammatory or analgesic properties, and some may help boost your mood and energy,” says Hallie Armstrong, ND, a naturopathic physician at Beaumont Health in West Bloomfield, Illinois. “It may be that these properties can help you manage symptoms, like pain and fatigue, that come with UC.”

There is research to support the effectiveness of aromatherapy in treating a range of medical conditions. A review published in August 2015 in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that essential oils extracted from plant parts can effectively reduce inflammation, relieve symptoms of indigestion, and treat skin infections, among other benefits.

Most essential oils should not be ingested. Instead, you can try adding a few drops of an essential oil to a neutral carrier oil, such as jojoba, and massaging that into your stomach. Or you can pour the oil into an aromatherapy diffuser to enhance well-being through inhalation of essential oils.

Here are some essential oils you can try using to relieve symptoms of UC:

Patchouli Used as a medicinal aid in Eastern cultures for centuries, patchouli oil may be helpful for ulcerative colitis sufferers. A study published in July 2017 in the journal Pharmacological Research found that mice with induced colitis that were given patchouli (in the form of patchouli alcohol) had better repair of their intestines than those treated with an anti-inflammatory drug.

Peppermint Oil This aromatic oil helps with general digestive symptoms, mostly because it has anti-spasmodic (soothing) properties. It can also ease complaints like gas and bloating, says Dr. Armstrong. Peppermint can be sold as oil or as a supplement that you take orally. If using peppermint as a supplement, Armstrong says to be sure you choose enteric-coated capsules for best absorption.

Basil Oil The essential oil derived from this delicious herb acts as a carminative, which means it can help ease gastric upset, potentially by calming intestinal spasms. Eating basil leaves or making basil tea may also have stomach-soothing benefits.

Turmeric Oil You may know and use this spice, often enjoyed in Indian dishes, but turmeric can also be used as an essential oil. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, a key factor in ulcerative colitis. A report published in September 2011 in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that oil of turmeric offers significant anti-inflammatory properties.

Finally, notes Armstrong, be sure the oil you buy is pure. To find out, “release a drop on a white piece of paper. After it evaporates, a pure oil won’t leave a stain.” Also, she adds, don’t stop taking medication, and tell your doctor about any essential oils or supplements you may try.

Any alternative therapy is a complementary therapy, which means that it should work alongside your conventional treatment. Check with your doctor before trying any alternative therapy, including aromatherapy, says Armstrong.

The positive health effects of turmeric have long been touted by age-old healers as well as modern science. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent free radical damage and calm the inflammatory process at the root of many chronic diseases.

However, the use of turmeric in treating chronic illness on a grander scale has been limited due to its relative low bioavailability, or “the proportion of a drug or other substance that enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect.”

Because of this limitation, research has primarily focused on ways to enhance absorption. Past studies have shown that combining turmeric with other compounds, one such example being piperine (found in black pepper), can increase bioavailability, and there are supplements* now available formulated to allow maximum absorption. Adding to this research, a new study authored by Dr. Ajay Goel, director of gastrointestinal research and translation genomics and oncology at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, and published in Nature: Scientific Reports, confirmed that combining curcumin with essential turmeric oils (ETO-curcumin) significantly enhanced anti-inflammatory efficacy in DSS-induced colitis animal models (dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) is frequently used to induce colitis in experimental animals).

Possible clinical applications of curcumin currently include neurodegenerative diseases, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. There is also evidence that curcumin can kill certain types of cancer cells, as well as reduce the development of several forms of cancer in lab animals. Dr. Goel’s research highlights the anti-inflammatory potential of turmeric and suggests it may also have a place in the treatment of large intestinal diseases like ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are autoimmune, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that can cause a lifetime of painful symptoms. It is estimated that nearly 3 million people in the United States are living with IBD. Conventional treatment typically involves medications such as antibiotics, immunomodulators, or corticosteroids, amongst other types. However, a growing population of patients are exploring natural healing options instead of – or in conjunction with – medications. Our experience with IBD has shown that with the right lifestyle changes and dietary modifications, including supplementation and nutritional support, many people will see an improvement of symptoms.

“The takeaway for patients who want to experience the health benefits of curcumin through a commercially available supplement is to look for products that include additional compounds of turmeric – specifically, essential turmeric oils,” says Dr. Goel.

Remember, supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so before purchasing or taking any commercial supplements, speak to your physician who can recommend trusted sources – and more importantly rule out any possible interactions with other medications.

*Patients of the Kaplan Center can purchase Theracurmin® HP from the Kaplan Medical Center Store.

Turmeric Essential Oils for the Treatment of Colitis

Written by Angeline A. De Leon, Staff Writer. In a mouse model of ulcerative colitis, a combination of turmeric essential oils and curcumin significantly decreased disease severity compared to controls.

In the field of complementary medicine, curcumin, the most active constituent in turmeric, has a well-established history of therapeutic use, with applications ranging from arthritis and depression to anorexia and chronic inflammatory diseases 1. Newer research also shows that like turmeric, essential turmeric oils (ETO), comprised of aromatic-turmerones (ketones with anti-cancer effects), also possess critical anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties 2, with the added benefit of enhanced bioavailability in the body 3. In fact, curcumin complexed with essential turmeric oils (ETO-curcumin) has been shown to be up to ten times more absorbable, compared to standard curcumin 4. ETO-curcumin also demonstrates powerful anti-tumor properties in cancer studies 5. Recent evidence indicates that curcumin may be helpful in managing inflammatory disorders such as ulcerative colitis (UC, an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the digestive tract) 6, by attenuating inflammatory burden. However, its exact mechanism of action is still under study. In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers at Baylor University conducted a comparative trial looking at the anti-inflammatory effects of ETO-curcumin vs. standard curcumin in animal models of dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis (DSS).

A total of 15 male mice (five weeks old) were induced with chronic colitis by administration of DSS dissolved in drinking water. Severity of colitis was evaluated daily after DSS treatment using disease activity index (DAI, measuring changes in body weight, stool consistency, and fecal blood). Mice belonging to the treatment arm were administered either ETO-curcumin (n = 10) or standard curcumin (n = 10) at a dose range of 5, 25, and 50 mg/kg daily for seven days. A smaller group of five mice were allocated to untreated control.

At a treatment dose of 25 mg/kg body weight, both ETO-curcumin and standard curcumin groups resulted in decreased severity of colitis, compared to control, based on DAI scores on Day 6 (p < 0.001, p < 0.01, respectively). Both treatment groups also showed lower histological scores, relative to control (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, respectively). At a treatment dose of 50 mg/kg body weight, ETO-curcumin was associated with significantly lower DAI at Day 7, compared to both control and standard curcumin (p < 0.001, p < 0.05, respectively). Also, although both ETO-curcumin and standard curcumin were equally effective in maintaining fecal consistency (both p < 0.05, compared to control), ETO-curcumin was superior to standard curcumin in maintaining body weight (p < 0.05). Analysis of colonic tissue samples also revealed that the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines, IL-10 and IL-11, was significantly upregulated by ETO-curcumin, compared to controls (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, respectively).

Overall findings confirm that although both standard curcumin and ETO-curcumin effectively attenuate inflammatory burden, the anti-inflammatory efficacy of ETO-curcumin is significantly greater than that of standard curcumin, particularly at higher doses. Evidence also suggests that ETO-curcumin’s protective effects against colitis are accomplished through modulation of the immune response. Further work is needed to understand the effects of ETO-curcumin in a human model of ulcerative colitis.

© The Author(s) 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Click here to read the full text study.

Posted January 29, 2018.

Angeline A. De Leon, MA, graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010, completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a concentration in neuroscience. She received her master’s degree from The Ohio State University in 2013, where she studied clinical neuroscience within an integrative health program. Her specialized area of research involves the complementary use of neuroimaging and neuropsychology-based methodologies to examine how lifestyle factors, such as physical activity and meditation, can influence brain plasticity and enhance overall connectivity.

  1. Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytotherapy research. 2012;26(11):1719-1725.
  2. Singh G, Kapoor I, Singh P, De Heluani CS, De Lampasona MP, Catalan CA. Comparative study of chemical composition and antioxidant activity of fresh and dry rhizomes of turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.). Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2010;48(4):1026-1031.
  3. Maheshwari M. Comparative bioavailability of curcumin, turmeric and Biocurcumax™ in traditional vehicles using non-everted rat intestinal sac model. Journal of Functional Foods. 2010;2(1):60-65.
  4. Antony B, Merina B, Iyer V, Judy N, Lennertz K, Joyal S. A pilot cross-over study to evaluate human oral bioavailability of BCM-95® CG (Biocurcumax™), a novel bioenhanced preparation of curcumin. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2008;70(4):445.
  5. Buhrmann C, Kraehe P, Lueders C, Shayan P, Goel A, Shakibaei M. Curcumin suppresses crosstalk between colon cancer stem cells and stromal fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment: potential role of EMT. PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e107514.
  6. Liu L, Liu YL, Liu GX, et al. Curcumin ameliorates dextran sulfate sodium-induced experimental colitis by blocking STAT3 signaling pathway. International immunopharmacology. 2013;17(2):314-320.

Using Essential Oils to support Colitis

If you have ulcerative colitis (UC), you may already be taking medication, such as an anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid, to address symptoms and to help stave off flare-ups. And while conventional medical treatment can be effective, many long time UC sufferers are continually looking for alternative treatments to go along with what their doctor has prescribed — from therapy to reduce the stress that can trigger symptoms, to acupuncture or herbal remedies.

Aromatherapy, or the use of naturally derived aromatic oils from various plants as a health and wellness aid, is another tack to try.

“Studies have shown that ingredients in essential oils used in aromatherapy may have anti-inflammatory or analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, and some may help boost your mood and energy,” says Hallie Armstrong, ND, a naturopathic physician at Beaumont Health in West Bloomfield, Illinois. “It may be that these properties can help you manage symptoms, like pain and fatigue, that come with UC.”

There is research to support the effectiveness of aromatherapy in treating a range of medical conditions. A review published in August 2015 in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that essential oils extracted from plant parts can effectively reduce inflammation, relieve symptoms of indigestion, and treat skin infections, among other benefits.

Some essential oils can be ingested. You can try adding a few drops of an essential oil to a neutral carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba, and massaging that into your stomach. Or you can add a drop of the oil into an aromatherapy diffuser to enhance well-being through inhalation of essential oils.

Here are some essential oils you can try using to relieve symptoms of UC:

Peppermint Oil This aromatic oil helps with general digestive symptoms, mostly because it has anti-spasmodic (soothing) properties. It can also ease complaints like gas and bloating, says Dr. Armstrong. Peppermint can be sold as oil or as a supplement that you take orally.

Basil Oil The essential oil derived from this delicious herb acts as a carminative, which means it can help ease gastric upset, potentially by calming intestinal spasms. Eating basil leaves or making basil tea may also have stomach-soothing benefits.

Turmeric Oil You may know and use this spice, often enjoyed in Indian dishes, but turmeric can also be used as an essential oil. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, a key factor in ulcerative colitis. I have found that oil of turmeric offers significant anti-inflammatory properties.

There is also a blend that can also support you called ZenGest here is some further information:

  • Ginger Rhizome/Root oil
  • Peppermint Plant oil
  • Caraway Seed oil
  • Coriander Seed oil
  • Anise Seed oil
  • Tarragon Plant oil
  • Fennel Seed oil

ZenGest can support the following:

  • Before a road trip, apply one to two drops for a calming aroma.
  • Have ZenGest on hand when enjoying heavy holiday meals to promote digestion.
  • When traveling or trying new foods take ZenGest to soothe occasional stomach discomfort.
  • Add to water or tea to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
  • Eases feelings of queasiness.
  • Use with fractionated coconut oil for a soothing abdominal massage.
  • Helps reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion.

Why this combination of oil?

Ginger, Fennel and Coriander are in the mix to help with occasional stomach discomfort like indigestion and motion sickness.

Peppermint, Tarragon, Anise and Caraway help to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract; they help with digestion.

The combination of these oils are ideal to help with any stomach discomfort! My favourite part about using ZenGest is that I don’t have to worry about any “side effects” that I have had previously from the many prescribed digestive medications I have taken. Knowing that it is 100% pure and all natural, gathered from the plants in their natural habitat puts my mind, and gut, at ease.

Why the oil blend when there are supplements I can take?

I love the oils for “on the go” situations, and immediate relief! The best part about having ZenGest oil on hand is that within seconds of rubbing it on my belly I feel relief!

You know those days when you feel nauseous and it just won’t go away? Or when you are so bloated that you feel miserable? A drop of ZenGest rubbed directly onto your gut and you will feel instant relief! I have literally watched my clients bloat go down within minutes after rubbing ZenGest oil on their tummy!

Can I use ZenGest oil other ways besides just rubbing it on my tummy?

There are lots of ways to use ZenGest. Many new mothers, unfortunately, have to deal with a restless baby at night, often caused by stomach discomfort. ZenGest, diluted with fractionated coconut oil, on the bottom of the feet of those sweet babies, is a great way to use ZenGest. I have had multiple new mothers tell me how thankful they are for this oil because they are now able to get a good night’s sleep, along with their baby!

You can also take the pure ZenGest oil internally, in a capsule is perfect. I can also recommend the softgels they are a great way to use them too.

You can also use ZenGest oil for a stomach soothing tea! Just add 1 drop to a cup of warm water. I personally am a bigger fan of Peppermint oil tea to help soothe an upset stomach! I think personal preference is what it comes down to.

Any alternative therapy is a complementary therapy, which means that it should work alongside your conventional treatment.

Colitis Ailment

Essential Oil Treatments for Colitis

Colitis is one of the most common types of IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Symptoms include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, the feeling of fullness, and weight loss. This is all caused by inflammation in your digestive tract. While your healthcare professional can prescribe you medication to help with symptoms, it takes a while before it starts to work.

You should try to Cinnamon Leaf, Lemongrass, and Rosemary essential oil at least until the medication starts working, When it begins to do its job, you might find that it works but not perfectly and use the essential oil to cover what the medication doesn’t.

The Power of Essential Oils in Combating Colitis Symptoms

Colitis is a disease that causes recurring inflammation of the large intestine or colon’s inner lining. It comes with several common symptoms that vary in severity, often starting gradually and worsening over time. Many people suffering from colitis are on prescription medication to help control their symptoms. Yet, many people are turning to natural remedies to help prevent flare ups from occurring and/or combating them when they do occur. The use of essential oils has become extremely popular with people suffering from ulcerative colitis.


Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcer symptoms, or sores in the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum.

This inflammatory disease can be debilitating, and sometimes it can even lead to life-threatening complications. Ulcerative colitis may lead to a narrowed area of the intestines, making it harder to pass stool. It may also lead to swelling in the colon, intense diarrhea, joint pain, and scarring of the bile ducts and pancreas.

Ulcerative colitis most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. The symptoms of this inflammatory disease can be mild to severe, and most people have periods of remission, times when the symptoms disappear, which can last for weeks or years. While there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis, there are natural treatments that can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and result in long-term remission.

New research continues to come out with hope for a more permanent treatment for ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. A 2017 study found that the protein NLRP12 regulates inflammation in the body. Analysis found low levels of NLRP12 in twins with ulcerative colitis, but not in twins without the disease. When NLRP12 was low, there were lower levels of friendly bacteria as well as high levels of harmful bacteria and inflammation. Researchers believe they could add back more of the friendly bacteria in people with inflammatory bowel diseases with reduced NLRP12 expression to reduce inflammation and restore healthy bacteria, ending the cycle and offering treatment to those with ulcerative colitis. (1)

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs; they typically develop over time. Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms, but the course of ulcerative colitis may vary and some people have long periods of remission. The symptoms depend on the location of the disease-causing inflammation. If you have ulcerative colitis, you may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgency to discharge stool
  • Inability to discharge stool, despite the urgency
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fever
  • Failure to grow (in children)

Living with ulcerative colitis can lead to some serious health conditions and complications. These occurrences include:

  • Severe bleeding
  • A hole in the colon
  • Severe dehydration
  • Liver disease
  • Bone loss
  • Inflammation of the skin, joints and eyes
  • Sores in the lining of the mouth
  • An increased risk of colon cancer
  • A rapidly swelling colon
  • An increased risk of blood clots in veins and arteries

Causes

Diet and stress were always known to be the root causes of ulcerative colitis, but recently doctors have concluded that these factors may aggravate the inflammatory condition but do not cause it, according to the Mayo Clinic. (1b) One possible cause is an immune system malfunction. When the immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract.

Ulcerative colitis usually begins before the age of 30, but there are some cases when people did not develop the disease until after age 60. You are at a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis if you have a close relative with the disease, such as a parent or sibling. Another major risk factor is a certain medication used to treat scarring cystic acne, called isotretinoin. In studies published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, a link between the development of ulcerative colitis and isotretinoin was established. (2)

Stress can also cause a flare-up. It’s important to avoid stress, particularly chronic stress, by exercising, stretching, and practicing relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.

Natural Treatment

Conventional ulcerative colitis treatment usually involves either drug therapy or surgery, and according to a review done at Harvard Medical School, anti-inflammatory drugs are typically the first step in treatment. (3) Two common anti-inflammatory medications that are prescribed for ulcerative colitis include aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. Although these medications can be effective in reducing symptoms of ulcerative colitis, they come with a number of side effects.

For instance, some aminosalicylates, including mesalamine, balsalazide and olsalazine, have been associated with kidney and pancreas problems. Corticosteroids, which are given to patients with moderate to severe symptoms, have numerous side effects, including a puffy face, excessive facial hair, night sweats, insomnia and hyperactivity. More serious side effects of this type of medication includes high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, bone fractures, cataracts, glaucoma and increased chance of infection. This is why these conventional medicines and treatments are not utilized for long periods of time.

Immunosuppressant drugs are also used to treat ulcerative colitis. These medications suppress the immune system response that starts the process of inflammation in the first place. According to a study published in Digestive Diseases, the standard treatment of ulcerative colitis is directed towards inducing and maintaining remission of symptoms and mucosal inflammation. (4)

The key factor that is used by doctors to access the most appropriate treatment is the severity and extent of inflammation. Some other conventional treatment medications include antibiotics, which are given when a patient has a fever, anti-diarrheal medications, pain relievers and iron supplements, which are needed by patients who experience chronic intestinal bleeding and may develop iron deficiency anemia. Of course, relying too much on antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.

In severe cases, surgery can eliminate ulcerative colitis, but it usually involves removing the entire colon and rectum. (5) According to a scientific review published in Surgical Treatment, the underlying rationale for surgical treatment of ulcerative colitis is that the disease is confined to the colon and rectum, and therefore proctocolectomy (rectum and colon removal) is curative.

In most cases, this involves a procedure called ileoanal anastomosis that eliminates the need to wear a bag to collect stool. In this case, a pouch is constructed at the end of the small intestine and then attached directly to the anus, allowing for the discharge of waste. In some cases, the surgeon is able to create a permanent opening in the abdomen so stool can pass through into a small bag that is attached.

To treat ulcerative colitis naturally, it’s important to understand that a healing diet is the foundation. Certain foods trigger an aggressive immune response and inflammation in the digestive tract, and these foods need to be pin-pointed and removed from your diet. Some problematic foods include dairy products, spicy foods and refined sugar. There are also beneficial foods that reduce inflammation and help with nutrient absorption, like omega-3 foods and probiotic foods.

Exercise is also an important factor in treating ulcerative colitis, since the benefits of exercise are so wide-ranging. Moderate-intensity exercise reduces stress, which is a root cause of this inflammatory disease. Exercise (especially yoga and swimming) also stimulates digestion, boosts the immune system and aids relaxation.

Relaxation is a vital element in combating ulcerative colitis because it calms the body and allows it to digest food more easily. Meditation, stretching and breathing practices can help improve circulation, regulate the digestive system, and keep the body out of fight or flight mode.

Foods to Avoid

The foods that make ulcerative colitis worse typically depend on the person and the location of inflammation. For some people, fiber is bothersome during flare-ups because high-fiber foods are harder to digest. Removing fibrous foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables from the diet is sometimes called a low-residue diet. Although this can help people with ulcerative colitis to ease pain, cramps and other symptoms, it does not get rid of inflammation.

If raw fruits and vegetables lead to discomfort, it may help to steam, bake or stew them. This makes foods in the cabbage family, such as nutrient-dense broccoli and cauliflower, easier to digest. Some other problematic products include spicy and fatty foods and caffeinated, carbonated drinks.

People with ulcerative colitis may have trouble with these foods and drinks:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • carbonated drinks
  • dairy products (for people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive)
  • raw fruits and vegetables
  • seeds
  • dried beans, peas and legumes
  • dried fruits
  • foods that have sulfur or sulfate
  • high-fiber foods
  • meat
  • nuts and crunchy nut butters
  • popcorn
  • products that have sorbitol (like sugar-free gum and candies)
  • refined sugar
  • spicy foods

The Ulcerative Colitis Diet

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies have found that an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (known as EPA) has the power to fight inflammation. It blocks certain chemicals in your body called leukotrienes. A benefit of fish oil is it’s a good source of EPA, and in some tests, people benefited from very high doses of it.

A 2010 case report published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine evaluated a 38-year-old woman who had ulcerative colitis and used omega-3 fatty acids as part of her treatment. (6) In 1998, at the age of 27, she went to the emergency department after 10 days of bloody diarrhea and lower abdominal cramping pain. She described up to 15 bowel motions daily with urgency, and she lost approximately six pounds. She was also clinically dehydrated.

After weeks of various treatments that only led to short-term results, the patient turned to omega-3 fatty acid treatments. The EPA and DHA doses were well-tolerated and had no side effects. Her bowel frequency slowly decreased, and within a week all rectal bleeding had resolved. The woman continued to take one gram of omega-3s and 2.4 grams of mesalazine, an anti-inflammatory medication that did not have the same reactions when given alone. The patient went into remission after adding omega-3s into her diet.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Probiotics crowd out bad bacteria, yeast and fungi. They also create enzymes that destroy bad bacteria that can lead to inflammation and infections. Probiotics have the power to boost the immune system and improve digestive function.

Digestive experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. If this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that affects the body in a negative way. By consuming certain types of probiotics foods and supplements, you can help bring these ratios back into balance.

Probiotics work by acting as a barrier; they line the intestinal tract and prevent bacteria from stimulating an immune response. They also enhance mucus production, which protects the body from invasive bacteria. Probiotics alter the function of the mucosal immune system and make it more anti-inflammatory and less pro-inflammatory, which makes probiotic foods also excellent anti-inflammatory foods. They have the power to stimulate dendritic cells to make them slightly less responsive and slightly less reactive to bacteria, thereby reducing the inflammation that leads to ulcerative colitis symptoms.

According to a peer-review published in Gastroenterology and Hepatolgy, when probiotic treatment was compared to mesalamine treatment, a medication used to reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis patients, the two were found to be equally effective. (7) In clinical trials, probiotic benefits have proven to be effective in treating ulcerative colitis because of its ability to stimulate mucus and alter the mucosal immune system that triggers inflammation.

Top probiotic and fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, probiotic yogurt, miso, kombucha and raw cheese. Another food that helps with ulcerative colitis is Manuka honey. In fact, Manuka honey ulcerative colitis research on rats showed it “possesses a potent antiulcer activity, which may be due to its antioxidants abilities which result in reducing lipid peroxidation and interfering with the inflammatory process.”

3. Iron-Rich Foods

A major symptom of ulcerative colitis is anemia, which occurs when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Bleeding ulcers and bloody diarrhea can cause anemia, and to fight it you need to boost your blood iron levels.

Aside from preventing anemia, iron is a nutrient needed to maintain general well-being, energy and a healthy metabolism because it helps support overall cellular health and is involved in many enzyme functions. An iron deficiency can mean that you aren’t able to produce enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells; therefore, your body struggles to transport oxygen to your brain, tissues, muscles and cells, leaving you feeling exhausted and weak. Iron-rich foods include liver, beef, navy beans, black beans, spinach, Swiss chard and egg yolks.

4. Folate-Rich Foods

Folate is another important vitamin for people with ulcerative colitis because it helps the body make new cells, specifically by playing a role in copying and synthesizing DNA. A folate deficiency causes anemia, poor immune function and poor digestion.

According to a publication for the American Association for Cancer Research, folate supplementation may even reduce the risk of colorectal dysplasia and cancer in patients with chronic ulcerative colitis. (8) The top folate foods include chickpeas, lentils, asparagus, avocado, beets and broccoli. Keep in mind that these foods can be difficult to digest when eaten raw, so if you notice an increase in symptoms when eating these foods, try to steam or bake them.

5. Turmeric

One of the most powerful aspects of turmeric, or curcumin, is its ability to control inflammation; it’s actually one of the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world! Oftentimes, people with digestive and stomach complaints become intolerant to medical interventions because the stomach flora is already compromised and drugs can literally tear up the mucosal lining.

An in-depth analysis of all the studies evaluating curcumin’s ability to manage inflammatory bowel disease found that many patients were able to stop taking their prescribed corticosteroids because their condition improved so dramatically by taking curcumin. For many patients with ulcerative colitis, taking corticosteroids reduces their pain symptoms but damages the intestinal lining over time, which actually makes the condition worse. However, supplementing with curcumin did not have these side effects, and because of its anti-inflammatory properties, actually helped heal the gut and supported the growth of good bacteria.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, powerful turmeric benefits may help people with ulcerative colitis stay in remission. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people whose ulcerative colitis was in remission took either curcumin or placebo, along with conventional medical treatment, for six months. Those who took curcumin had a significantly lower relapse rate than those who took placebo. (9)

A great way to incorporate turmeric into your diet is by drinking my Turmeric Tea Recipe that I refer to as “liquid gold.” This tea recipe is sure to help heal your body from ulcerative colitis and a number of other inflammatory health conditions.

Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis

Because ulcerative colitis may interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients, it’s important that you use supplements to ensure that your body gets the vitamins and minerals that are necessary. Some supplements that may be helpful when combating the symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  1. Calcium — improves bone strength and hormone secretion
  2. Vitamin D — fights autoimmune diseases and contributes to bone health
  3. Multivitamin — ensures that you are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals
  4. Probiotics — provide good bacteria, reduce inflammation and minimize immune responses
  5. Fish oil — fights inflammation and blocks chemical reactions

Natural Remedies

1. Keep a Food Journal

Because ulcerative colitis is triggered by a variety of foods, it’s important to evaluate which foods are problematic for you. I suggest you keep a food journal for a few weeks or months, until you understand what foods aggregate your symptoms and what foods soothe them. Write down what you eat throughout the day and how your body reacted to those foods. This will give you some insight about your own specific sensitives and intolerances.

2. Drink Plenty of Liquids

It’s common that people with ulcerative colitis become dehydrated. It’s important that you drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to protect yourself from dehydration. It’s also essential that dehydrating liquids, like alcohol and caffeine, are avoided.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has traditionally been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in China and is increasingly applied in Western countries. A 2006 study done at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture treatment on 29 patients with mild to moderately active ulcerative colitis. (10) As a result of 10 acupuncture sessions over a 10-week period, patients experienced a significant improvement in general well-being and quality of life.

4. Essential Oils

Using essential oils like peppermint, fennel and ginger essential oil may reduce ulcerative colitis symptoms because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Add one drop of these essential oils to water three times daily, or rub two to three drops over the abdomen two times daily.

5. Eat Small Meals and Drink Smoothies

Because cramping is a common ulcerative colitis problem, try eating five to see small meals throughout the day. It’s easier for the digestive system to deal with smaller amounts of food, and if the digestive system is able to work with these smaller batches of food, it’s also able to absorb the nutrients that are needed. Consuming smaller amounts of food reduces pain and provides the body with a stream of vitamins and minerals.

Smoothies and meal-replacement drinks can also be a good way to get nutrition when you can’t handle solids. If you are having trouble keeping on weight, smoothies provide nutrients and calories. They also lower your chances of dehydration, as they supply a good amount of fluid. For some smoothie ideas, check out these 20 Greatest Green Smoothie Recipes.

Total Time: 2 minutes Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ finger length ginger
  • 5 little pieces pineapple
  • 1 large tomato cut into slices

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth

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