Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic condition involving the digestive system. It often results in symptoms such as:
- frequent, urgent diarrhea
- bloody stool
- abdominal pain and cramping
- rectal pain
- weight loss
There’s no cure for UC, but remission is possible with proper treatment and management.
The first step toward remission is finding the right treatment regimen. Many people turn to alternative therapies and natural remedies to help manage UC alongside conventional treatments.
These natural remedies, management strategies, and treatment options may help.
Some herbal or organic remedies may help promote gut health and prolong remission. A few familiar supplements and herbal remedies may be effective for managing UC.
Probiotics introduce healthy gut bacteria to restore and maintain a natural microbial flora in the gut. This may reduce harmful inflammatory responses and maintain remission.
There is a lack of human research studying how ginseng affects UC. An
Psyllium seed/husk enhances gut motility, alleviates the symptoms of constipation, and improves the elimination of waste.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, may help ease UC symptoms and reduce the frequency of flares. It’s proteolytic, which means that it helps break down proteins.
Turmeric, the Indian spice used in curry, may help people with UC.
Specifically, the curcumin found in turmeric is an antioxidant and appears to decrease inflammation while improving the effectiveness of traditional medical therapy.
Many people living with UC find that making simple lifestyle modifications helps provide some relief. Start with these strategies.
Dietary changes may help some people with UC. For example, a relatively high proportion of people of European descent are allergic or sensitive to gluten, a substance found in wheat.
Eliminating these foods and beverages may also decrease the frequency and severity of flares:
- processed foods
- high carbohydrate foods
- sugar alcohols
Lower fat diets seem to be particularly useful in delaying the recurrence of UC. Olive oil, medium-chain triglycerides, omega-3 fatty acids, and certain types of fiber might have a beneficial effect.
High fiber intake may also help some people. In addition to improving bowel regularity, it may improve the consistency of the stool.
High vitamin C intake may have a protective effect, and vitamin C–rich foods may be associated with a longer remission phase. Some of these foods include:
- bell pepper
UC leads to several symptoms, not just gastrointestinal ones. Aside from medications, other interventions and lifestyle changes, such as the following, can help improve health and quality of life.
Staying active is important for everyone’s overall health. Exercise comes with a variety of health benefits, from boosting immunity to improving mood and strengthening bone health.
Not sure where to start? A few low impact, UC-friendly workout options include:
When UC-related digestive symptoms crop up, working out can feel like the last thing on your mind. It’s important to take it easy during a flare and listen to your body.
Managing a chronic condition like UC can feel stressful. What’s more,
Taking steps to manage and relieve stress can help you cope with and prevent a UC flare. Try these strategies to help keep stress at bay:
- Make time for a hobby, like reading or listening to music.
- Try meditating.
- Practice breathing exercises.
- Open up to a friend, family member, or other loved one about what you’re going through.
- Join a support group.
- Talk with a therapist.
Experiment with various stress-relief strategies to determine which ones work best for you.
When it comes to managing UC, finding the right treatment regimen is the most important step. A number of options are available, both to control UC flares and to manage the condition long-term, including:
- aminosalicylates (5-ASAs)
- biologics and biosimilars
- targeted synthetic small-molecule medications
- surgical procedures
UC treatment is very individualized, and recommendations will vary based on a variety of factors, such as:
- your symptoms
- the severity of your UC
- your personal preferences
Work with your doctor to establish the best treatment or combination of treatments for managing UC.
Be sure to mention any other medications you take to prevent unnecessary issues or drug interactions. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be associated with UC flares. UC can also lead to low iron levels, and some medications can interfere with iron absorption.
Check in with your doctor regularly to monitor how well things are going and evaluate whether you’d benefit from a change in treatment.
Taking natural remedies along with conventional treatments may help further eliminate symptoms of UC better than just conventional treatments alone.
However, before starting any alternative treatments, you should talk with your doctor about which remedies might be best for you. They can help guide you to finding the best treatments for you.