Everyone experiences the occasional upset stomach.
But for people living with ulcerative colitis, symptoms of digestive distress can become so severe that they lead to potentially serious complications, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, you might be looking for solutions to help with symptom management.
Perhaps it’s time to consider naturopathic medicine.
At The Mindful Healing Clinic, a digestive issues naturopathic doctor can help to manage your ulcerative colitis symptoms and get you back to feeling your best.
Keep reading to find out more about ulcerative colitis and how a naturopathic doctor near me can help.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is the most common type of inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are a group of diseases which affect the gastrointestinal tract.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, the lining of your colon, rectum, or both become inflamed.
In addition to the creation of tiny sores, this inflammation causes your bowels to eliminate waste both frequently and rapidly.
Over time, the cells in the lining of bowel die off and are replaced by ulcers, which subsequently cause blood and mucus to be present in your stool.
Ulcerative colitis affects people of all ages; however, it typically develops between the ages of 15 and 30.
Additionally, men over the age of 50 have a higher likelihood of developing ulcerative colitis or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
Other inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and microscopic colitis.
These diseases are different from IBS – irritable bowel syndrome – which is a group of symptoms with no immediately obvious cause.
However, they do have overlapping symptoms.
Types Of Ulcerative Colitis
Depending on the parts of the gastrointestinal tract affected, ulcerative colitis can be further classified by subtype.
Ulcerative proctitis is a type of ulcerative colitis which only affects the rectum.
This form of ulcerative colitis is typically mild.
Left sided colitis, otherwise known as distal ulcerative colitis, causes inflammation between the upper and lower parts of the colon.
Proctosigmoiditis is another type of left sided colitis which causes inflammation in the rectum and parts of the lower colon.
Lastly, extensive colitis, otherwise known as pancolitis, causes inflammation throughout the entirety of the colon.
This form of ulcerative colitis is typically severe.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
The severity of ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary from person to person.
Additionally, your symptoms can also change over time.
Some general symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Diarrhea, which often contains blood or mucus
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Rectal pain and bleeding
- An urgent need to go to the bathroom
- Inability to do so, despite urgency
- Weight loss
- Fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Symptoms of anemia
- Stunted growth in children
You may experience periods of remission where your symptoms are mild or nonexistent.
However, symptoms typically return and get more severe during periods of flare up.
Left untreated, ulcerative colitis may lead to potentially serious health complications, such as:
- Severe bleeding
- Severe dehydration
- A hole in the colon
- Liver disease
- Bone loss
- Skin, joint, and eye inflammation
- Mouth sores
- Increased risk of colon cancer
- A swollen colon
- Increased risk of blood clots in your veins and arteries
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
Research suggests that ulcerative colitis might develop due to an overactive immune system that mistakenly begins attacking the large intestine.
However, the cause for this autoimmune response remains unclear.
Additionally, there are a few risk factors for developing ulcerative colitis, such as:
- Having a parent with ulcerative colitis
- Being diagnosed with another type of autoimmune disorder
- Environmental factors, such as bacteria, viruses, and antigens
Naturopathic Solutions For Ulcerative Colitis
Unfortunately, researchers have yet to identify a cure for ulcerative colitis.
However, naturopathic medicine can be an excellent choice for managing your condition.
If you visit the Mindful Healing Clinic, let’s take a look at some of the solutions we might use to help you manage your ulcerative colitis.
1. Eating An Ulcerative Colitis Diet
While there is no specific diet for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, making the following changes to your diet can help to minimize your symptoms and prevent flare ups:
- Eating a low fat diet
- Eating foods high in vitamin c, such as kale, apples, avocados, spinach, and berries
- Eating fiber during remission, but avoiding it during flare ups
- Drinking plenty of water or electrolyte beverages
- Eating small, frequent meals
Additionally, consider avoiding foods known to exaggerate symptoms of ulcerative colitis, such as:
- Carbonated drinks
- Dairy products
- Dried fruit and seeds
- Dried beans, peas, and legumes
- Foods high in sulfur or sulfates
- Nuts and nut butters
- Popcorn, especially with movie theatre popcorn “butter”
- Refined sugar
- Spicy foods
Finally, it may be helpful to start a food diary to keep track of the foods that worsen your symptoms.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and digestive track.
When these bacteria are healthy, your body is more capable of fighting off inflammation and other symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Eating foods rich in probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, can help to boost the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Additionally, you can take probiotic supplements.
However, there is a wide variety of different probiotic supplements, so it’s a good idea to speak to your naturopathic doctor before taking them.
Turmeric is a spice that originates in India.
If you’ve ever had a good curry before, turmeric is the stuff that gives it its distinctive yellow colour.
A lot of this is related to its active ingredient, curcumin.
Aside from being an antioxidant, it also has anti inflammatory properties that can help calm your ulcerative colitis symptoms.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that became popular in the Western hemisphere starting in the 1970’s.
During acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted along your body’s meridian lines in order to help with a variety of conditions.
Research suggests that acupuncture may be able to help manage ulcerative colitis symptoms.
4. Boswellia Serrata
Boswellia is an herb found in the resin underneath the Boswellia serrata tree.
Research suggests that this herb can help limit the chemical reactions that are responsible for inflammation inside of your body.
A 2005 research paper by Pawel et al. found improvements in mice with ulcerative colitis after taking this herb.
More research is needed, but it shows promise so far.
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
At The Mindful Healing Clinic, we know how much the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can interfere with your everyday life.
We can help provide some relief to your symptoms and improve your overall well being.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.