Ulcerative colitis can be a painful and life-altering disease. It’s a chronic inflammatory condition of your large intestine, which is the lower part of your digestive tract. It’s also called an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ulcerative colitis can affect anyone, but it most commonly occurs in people who are between the age of 15 and 30, or over the age of 60. People who have one or more relatives with an inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop ulcerative colitis.
The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea, which is often accompanied by pain and cramping. In addition, because of the inflammatory nature of this condition, stools may contain blood or pus. Other symptoms include urgency to have a bowel movement, fatigue, nausea or appetite changes, a low grade fever, weight loss, and a decrease in your red blood cells, which is a condition called anemia. It’s important to note that people with ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk for colon cancer.
For most people with ulcerative colitis, their symptoms are mild at first, but become more severe as time goes on. It’s common for people with condition to go through flare-ups and have periods of remission. Some patients with ulcerative colitis can be symptom-free for long periods, even years at a time.
It’s not clear what causes ulcerative colitis, but scientists have some theories; one of which is that it is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune illnesses are caused by a case of mistaken identity by your body. The role of your immune system is to identify pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria, and destroy them so they don’t make you sick. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy tissue. In the case of ulcerative colitis, your immune system targets your large intestine, which some scientists believe may have been triggered by bacteria or a virus in your large intestine.
Sometimes ulcerative colitis runs in families, which leads researchers to believe that it may also have a genetic component. In addition, research has pointed to other factors that may cause this condition, such as certain medications (NSAIDs, antibiotics, oral contraceptives), environmental exposure to toxins, and a diet that’s high in certain types of fat.
It’s commonly believed that stress or extreme emotions and your diet may also cause ulcerative colitis. However, the research hasn’t confirmed these theories. That said, stress or poor dietary choices can trigger a flare up or aggravate your symptoms.
Treating Ulcerative Colitis at BodaHealth
In Western medicine, treatment for ulcerative colitis may involve medications to control or reduce inflammation or tamp down your immune system. In some cases, where symptoms are severe and uncontrollable, or when your large bowel has been damaged, surgery may also be an option.
Many people with ulcerative colitis prefer not to take medications for long periods of time, find that the medications don’t work, or want to avoid the side effects associated with these drugs. At BodaHealth, we can offer patients with this condition a safe, natural, and effective option. Our primary goal for patients with ulcerative colitis is to help move them into remission from their symptoms. We do that by offering treatments that:
- Help decrease inflammation
- Support your immune system
- Enhance your digestion
- Identify and manage triggers that aggravate your symptoms
- Provide treatments to relieve stress and boost your emotional health
Effective treatments that we offer include:
-Acupuncture. A review of over 40 research studies found that acupuncture and moxabustion (a kind of heat therapy) was more effective in treating ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel disease than one of the most commonly prescribed medications for this condition. Acupuncture works because it can decrease inflammation, activate your body’s pain relief system, reduce stress, and promote healing.
-Chinese Medicine. In addition to acupuncture, we offer other treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. This includes the use of herbal formulas to enhance the healing effects of acupuncture, dietary therapy, and moxabustion, which promotes recovery through the application of heat.
-Naturopathic Medicine. Our naturopathic doctors combine the use of nutritional supplements, vitamins, nutritional strategies, and lifestyle modifications to effectively reduce symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis. They are able to conduct full assessments of your health, run lab tests, assess your nutritional status and digestive health, and test for environmental and other toxins that may be aggravating your condition. Our naturopaths are also primary care providers, and are able to prescribe medications when necessary.
-Nutrition. While your diet may not be the underlying cause of ulcerative colitis, what you eat can help or aggravate your symptoms. At BodaHealth, our practitioners of Chinese medicine, holistic nutritionists and naturopathic doctors are able to work with you to help identify foods that trigger your symptoms and develop dietary strategies to calm your symptoms, support your digestion, and decrease inflammation.
-Vitamin Injections. For many people with inflammatory bowel conditions, their absorption of vital nutrients suffers. We are able to offer injection therapy, which is a way to bypass your digestion and introduce nutrients directly into your system. We offer injections that address nutritional deficiencies, support your energy, and enhance immune function.
While ulcerative colitis is considered a chronic condition, it doesn’t mean that your symptoms need to be active to seek treatment. At BodaHealth, our goal is to help our patients with this condition move into and remain in remission, enhance function, and improve quality of life. Our practitioners are compassionate, skilled, and knowledgeable. If you or someone you love suffers from ulcerative colitis, we’d like to help. Contact us today for more information.