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Natural Ways To Reverse Ulcerative Colitis

natural-ways-to-reverse-ulcerative-colitis_300Dietary supplements can be a great help for healing ulcerative colitis. In addition, a particular therapy that might make your skin crawl when I tell you about it (worm therapy) is also surprisingly useful.

Nutrient Supplements For Ulcerative Colitis

Previously, I discussed the importance of optimal nutrition and using digestive enzymes and probiotics for colitis. One caveat: Probiotics are not advised during a colitis flare-up. You can become sensitized to these bacteria during this time of most inflammation. But it is important to re-colonize the intestinal lining with probiotics in the post-flare period.

It is known that colitis patients have lower serum levels of beta carotene, magnesium, selenium and zinc when they are first diagnosed. Therefore, it is recommended that higher-than-usual doses of nutrients and supplements be used by the colitis patient. Some of these can be taken together as a multivitamin. Seriously consider the following supplementation for colitis:

  • Vitamin A: Directly absorbed for colonic cell health. Start with a high vitamin A dose (100,000 IU daily) and a low beta-carotene dose (100,000 IU) and switch over time to a low vitamin A dose (10,000 to 25,000 IU daily) and a high beta carotene dose (300,000 IU daily).
  • Vitamins B12 (2,000 mcg daily) and B complex: In a liquid form twice daily.
  • Buffered vitamin C with rose hips (4 grams twice daily): Anti-inflammatory.
  • Vitamin D (5,000-10,000 IU daily): Boosts calcium absorption and has other benefits.
  • Vitamin E (800-1,000 IU daily): An important antioxidant nutrient in colitis.
  • Folic acid (10-25 mg daily): Necessary for cell repair.
  • Magnesium (a low dose of 100-300 mg daily): Relaxes intestinal spasm without causing a laxative effect.
  • Selenium (200 mcg daily): An antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E.
  • Zinc (30 mg daily): The primary co-factor for the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A.
  • Calcium (500 mg daily): Provides extra calcium when prednisone or methotrexate restricts calcium absorption. Can also compensate for inadequate dietary intake of calcium if you forego dairy products in favor of rice, coconut or almond milk instead.
  • Iron in liquid form (Floradix 20-60 mg daily): Corrects blood loss anemia.

Healing Colitis

Important herbal and nutrient supplements can also help heal ulcerative colitis. I recommend taking as many of these as possible:

  • Aloe vera gel/liquid: Take 2 ounces six to eight times daily between meals. Use whole aloe vera. In a 2004 double-blind randomized clinical trial [1] of mild-to-moderate active ulcerative colitis patients, researchers gave 100 ml of oral aloe vera gel to 30 patients and 100 ml of a placebo to 14 patients twice daily for four weeks. They found clinical remission in nine (30 percent) of the aloe vera patients compared with one (7 percent) of the placebo patients.
  • Green drink (twice daily): Make a green smoothie (e.g., spinach, kale, celery, banana, wheatgrass, rice milk, ice and liquid stevia for taste) or purchase a powder green-drink mix containing spirulina and chlorella (blue-green algae), seaweed, wheatgrass, spinach leaf, alfalfa/barley grass, astragalus root, etc. Add four to six drops of liquid stevia for taste.
  • Liquid chlorophyll (1 teaspoon daily): Use along with aloe vera if no green drink consumed.
  • Omega-3 oil (fish oil, flaxseed oil, etc.): Taking 2 to 3 grams twice a day is a known anti-inflammatory, healing nutrient. Clinical trials [2] using fish oil supplementation have shown positive results.
  • Slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra) and marshmallow root (Althea officinalis): Contain mucilaginous components that are soothing to the digestive tract.
  • Boswellia serrate: An anti-inflammatory herb shown to improve ulcerative colitis. In a small clinical trial [3] reported in 2007, researchers compared boswellia serrata gum resin (350 mg three times daily) to standard treatment (sulfasalazine 1 g three times daily) for six weeks and found similar improvement in both groups for stool properties, rectal biopsy tissue health and blood measurements of hemoglobin, serum iron, calcium, phosphorus, proteins and white blood cells in patients with grade II and III colitis. Remission rates were better in the boswellia-treated group (82 percent) compared to the sulfasalazine-treated group (75 percent). Four years later, the same researchers did a follow-up study [4] of colitis patients treated with boswellia gum resin (300 mg three times daily) along with sulfasalazine 1 gram three times daily for six weeks and again showed similar improvements: 14 of 20 patients (70 percent) of those treated with boswellia serrate gum resin had remission compared to four of 10 patients (40 percent) treated with only sulfasalazine.
  • Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) enemas: Butyric acid and propionic acid are made naturally via fermentation of fiber in the colon and used for energy by the colonic cells. German studies have shown that two weeks of SCFA enemas significantly reduce colitis symptoms of diarrhea, pain and bloody discharge. A physician can order it from a compounding pharmacy this way: Sodium Butyrate + Sodium Chloride + Sodium Propionate 60 mL enema twice daily; once early in the morning (and retain for an hour before bowel movement) and again at bedtime (and retain all night) for a one- to two-week course. Compounding pharmacies include Key Pharmacy in Kent, Wash., at 800-878-1322 or Community Pharmacy in Salt Lake City, Utah at 801-270-0600. The cost is about $30 per week.
  • Quercetin (a flavonoid): Reduces allergic inflammation generally; it was shown to improve experimentally induced colitis in rats. [5]
  • Curcumin (aka the spice turmeric): Anti-inflammatory in ulcerative colitis. A Cochrane review in 2012 highlighted a trial [6] of 89 patients (45 patients took 2 grams of curcumin daily and 44 patients took a placebo) who were also on maintenance therapy with sulfasalazine or mesalamine. Colitis symptoms and their endoscopic findings were significantly improved in the curcumin group at six months compared to the placebo group.
  • A polyherbal ayurvedic formulation (Aegle marmeloes, Coriandrum sativum, Cyperus rotundus and Vetiveria zinzanioids): Showed significant healing with healing activity comparable to prednisolone according to a 2004 study. [7]
  • Metamucil: Before each meal to reduce diarrhea during symptom flare-ups.
  • L-Glutamine (5,000 mg twice daily) on an empty stomach: Research in animal models shows that L-glutamine shortens the time needed to replace injured colonic cells, but that has not been shown yet in humans.
  • Caprylic acid (600 mg twice daily 30 minutes before a meal): Can be taken, but with caution. It is a natural antifungal, and it was shown in a 2001 in-vitro study [8] to be effective at killing off candida albicans, although it can lead to more inflammation during active colitis. Probiotics and an anti-yeast diet should be enough to limit yeast growth in the gut.
  • Other nutrients that have healing effects on tissue and/or are anti-inflammatory and can be safely used for ulcerative colitis (but probably deserve more scientific data to support their use) include: calendula (shown to heal colitis as an enema in an animal study), fenugreek, devil’s claw, Mexican yam, tormentil, wei tong ning, Caryophyllus aromaticus, Woodfordia floribunda, Myristica officinalis, Withania somnifera, Bombax malbaricum and Holarrhena antidysenterica.

An interesting forum of ulcerative colitis patients who are sharing their success with natural therapies can be found at www.ihaveuc.com/how-i-put-my-colitis-into-remission/.

Worm Therapy

You may think I’m kidding here, but there have been clinical trials showing success and safety using whipworms to help heal ulcerative colitis. The effect is to cause an inflammation directed toward the whipworms which effectively prevents excessive inflammatory autoimmune effects upon the intestinal lining of ulcerative colitis. In a 2003 study, [9] researchers reported results using Trichuris suis (worm) in active Crohn’s disease and also ulcerative colitis. Since then, others have tried it and reported their apparent success. To read more about ulcerative colitis and helminthic therapy from practicing physicians who have used this, go here.

I think I’d choose the dietary and herbal interventions first.

To healing and feeling good for life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options


[1] Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, Holt H, Tsironi E, De Silva A, Jewell DP, Rampton DS. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Apr 1;19(7):739-47.

[2] Stenson WF, et al. Dietary supplementation with fish oil in ulcerative colitis. Ann Intern Med 1992; 116: 609.

[3] Gupta I, Parihar A, Malhotra P, Singh GB, Lüdtke R, Safayhi H, Ammon HP. Effects of Boswellia serrata gum resin in patients with ulcerative colitis. Eur J Med Res. 1997 Jan;2(1):37-43.

[4] Gupta I, Parihar A, Malhotra P, et al. Effects of gum resin of Boswellia serrate in patients with chronic colitis.  Planta Med 2001;67:391-395.

[5] Sánchez de Medina F, Vera B, Gálvez J, Zarzuelo A. Effect of quercitrin on the early stages of hapten induced colonic inflammation in the rat. Life Sci. 2002 May 17;70(26):3097-108.

[6] Kumar S, Ahuja V, Sankar MJ, Kumar A, Moss AC. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008424.

[7] Jagtap AG, Shirke SS, Phadke AS. Effect of polyherbal formulation on experimental models of inflammatory bowel diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Feb;90(2-3):195-204.

[8] Bergsson G, Arnfinnsson J, Steingrímsson O, Thormar H. In vitro killing of Candida albicans by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2001 Nov;45(11):3209-12.

[9] Summers RW, Elliott DE, Qadir K, Urban JF Jr, Thompson R, Weinstock JV. Trichuris suis seems to be safe and possibly effective in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Sep;98(9):2034-41.

Dr. Michael Cutler

is a graduate of Brigham Young University, Tulane Medical School and Natividad Medical Center Family Practice Residency in Salinas, Calif. Dr. Cutler is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder and editor of Easy Health Options™ newsletter — a leading health advisory service on natural healing therapies and nutrients.

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