Ulcerative colitis affects only the colon and rectum. Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine. It usually affects the lower section (sigmoid colon) and the rectum but it can affect the entire colon in some severe cases. The more the colon is inflamed the more painful the symptoms are. The main two symptoms are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea with mucus alongside tiredness and fatigue, appetite and weight loss and anaemia.
Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract and like Colitis is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Parts of the digestive system get swollen and have deep sores called ulcers. Crohn’s disease is usually found in the last part of the small intestine and the first part of the large intestine but it can develop anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Similar symptoms to colitis are recurring diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping (the pain is usually worse after eating), extreme tiredness (fatigue) and weight loss.
I decided to include a post about natural soothing remedies for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis symptoms because my old school friend has recently had an ileostomy operation as his colitis was so severe. He’s been in my thoughts and prayers a lot recently. The lovely Lauren at EmpoweredSustenance.com also suffers from colitis and she has some great recipes for fellow colitis sufferers who are following the SCD / GAPS / Paleo diets to ease symptoms. Be sure to check her blog out. Ileostomy for those who don’t know is a medical term for the removal of the large intestine and rectum, leaving the lower end of the small intestine (the ileum). The surgeon sews the anus closed and makes a small opening called a stoma in the skin of the lower belly. The ileum is connected to the stoma, creating an opening to the outside of the body.
I was tested for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s back in 2007 when I started getting bad intestinal pains but after a colonoscopy and two endoscopies it turned out that my intestines are quite healthy. So this post goes out to those who like my friend also suffer with Colitis or Crohn’s Disease. It won’t cure it but I hope some of these remedies will help soothe a little of the pain. Doctors are not sure what causes Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis but many speculate that it has something to do with the bacteria in the gut and the immune system. I’ve done a bit of extra research online and in medical books for natural treatments you can do at home to help ease discomfort. I hope it helps. Make sure though that you don’t stop taking your prescribed medicine unless the doctor authorises it and do check over with your doctor any of the suggestions below that you are not sure about.
For Ulcerative Colitis:
- Stock up on zinc, folic acid, omega 3 oils, evening primrose oil, vitamins A, B12 and D and magnesium to help strengthen and heal mucous membranes and counteract the inflammation. Zinc = oysters, dark chocolate, and fortified cereals, seeds such as sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds, or foods containing seeds such as watermelon. Be careful with nuts though as they may not digest well and cause irritation. Vitamin A = sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens.
- Avoid orange Juice at all costs as this will inflame the inflammation.
- Aloe Vera juice and slippery Elm is a must for patients to soothe and cool sore ulcerated intestines.
- Avoid strong spices and heavy rich foods.
- Eat small and light but pack in plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins.
- Fatty acids found in oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel and hemp oil if you can handle solid food. Others like my friend may be on a liquid diet.
- Ginseng and frankincense is used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine to help reduce colitis symptoms.
- Get more vitamin C into your body through red bell peppers, parsley, strawberries, and spinach. Try making strawberry tea by dropping the strawberry leaves into hot water and drink when cool.
- .Hydration: Adequate hydration is important because you can lose a significant amount of fluid with diarrhea. Dehydration will potentially worsen the symptoms of abdominal pain and cramping.
- Buy Fennel seeds. Soak about half a teaspoon of seeds in hot water and drink a glass full once cool, you don’t need to eat the seeds. The water alone works.
- Try curcumin / turmeric. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Chamomile and Peppermint tea to calm and soothe the intestines.
- Coconut milk. It will help heal inflammation and soothe soreness from ulcers in the intestines. Try diluting a can of coconut milk with the same amount of water and drink as a light refreshing juice. Coconut oil is also very good for cooking with.
- Probiotics. They help control the number of potentially harmful bacteria, reduce inflammation, and improve the protective mucus lining of the gut.
- Boswellia. Boswellia is a herb that comes from a tree native to India. The active ingredient is the resin from the tree bark, which has been found to block chemical reactions involved in inflammation. It doesn’t seem to cause gut irritation that can occur with many conventional pain relievers. Boswellia is available in pill form. It should say on the label that it is standardized to contain 60 percent boswellic acids. It should not be taken for more than 8 to 12 weeks unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
- Reduce your intake of high sulfur or sulphate compounds. Eat less red and processed meats and avoid alcohol.
- Reduce or cut out sugar. Sugar fuels the growth of bacteria and yeast in the intestines, causing an imbalance and eventual overgrowth of bacteria and yeast a.k.a candida. To reduce candida or bacterial overgrowth try taking Olive Leaf Extract capsules and Lactoferrin.
- Avoid gluten, wheat and other grains that can trigger irritation in the gut. Try a paleo or SCD / GAPS diet.
- Try relaxing techniques, gentle exercise like yoga or tai chi, acupuncture and massage. This helps your body to relax, the cramps to soften and helps you focus on something other than your pain.
For Crohn’s Disease:
- Limit dairy and fibre as these can cause excess gas, bloating and irritation in the intestines.
- Pack in the calcium. It helps to reduce the risk for cancers associated with Crohn’s disease, such as colon cancer and generally prevents osteoporosis. Remember to take calcium alongside vitamin D for better absorption. Spinach and almonds and broccoli are good calcium sources.
- Eat or cook with Lemongrass. Research in Japan indicates that lemongrass could help ease some of the inflammation and irritation associated with Crohn’s disease.
- Liquid chlorophyll. It builds the immune system and brings essential nutrients to the body. Mix it into a drink, like cooled herbal tea, for better flavour.
- Reduce problem foods. Some may be gassy foods like beans, cabbage and broccoli, raw fruit juices and fruits, spicy food, popcorn, alcohol, and foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as chocolate and soda. Avoid artichokes, grape skins and seeds, roughage, raw foods, cold foods, peanuts, corn, soybeans, coffee, caffeine, oranges, hot sauces, spicy foods, fried foods, fatty foods, rich foods, salty foods, meat, sugar and sweet food, refined and processed foods.
- Take a good multivitamin. Crohn’s disease can interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients and because your diet may be limited, multivitamin and mineral supplements are often helpful.
- Eat small and often. Try these foods, which shouldn’t irritate your intestines:
- Cooked carrots, steamed zucchini and squash, papaya, grated raw apple, okra, steamed and mashed parsnips, squash, pumpkin, figs and flax seed tea, applesauce, ripe peaches without skin, rice porridge
- Miso soup, psyllium seed powder, flax seed powder
- Eat foods high in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids such as: black currant oil, flax seed oil, nuts, seed oils, cold water fish, evening primrose oil.
- Hydration: keep your intake of fluids high so that your intestines don’t cramp as much. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks as these can stimulate your intestines and make diarrhea worse.
- Avoid stress, try relaxation techniques. Try gentle exercise like yoga or walking.
- Seek support groups online and in your town / village. Some people take a spiritual route and find support in churches and spiritual organisations.
- All of the above natural home remedies for colitis are also suitable for Crohn’s patients too except Boswellia. It doesn’t make Crohn’s worse; it just hasn’t shown any results of being effective in Crohn’s patients.
I’d be happy to answer or discuss any questions you might have in the comments section below. Or maybe you have some other good tips that I don’t have here. It would be great to know what helps you. 🙂 These herbal remedies are to help ease temporary pain only. I am not a doctor and I don’t advise you to stop taking your prescribed medication to follow a natural alternative route. Any decisions regarding Crohn’s and Colitis treatments should be discussed and approved with a medical professional.