Alternative Treatments for Colitis

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    Nutritional Supplements

    • If you have colitis, you are probably lacking adequate amounts of important nutrients since this condition impedes proper absorption; the following supplements can replenish your system and directly address the condition.

      Folic acid (800 mcg daily) can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate symptoms and prevent another flare-up; take 3.7 g of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA daily. If you are taking blood-thinning medications, talk to your doctor about how much fish oil is safe for you to take. Probiotics, known as the "good" bacteria can treat symptoms. They come in a variety of forms; take as directed on the product label. Vitamin D (1,000 IU daily) and calcium(1,200 mg daily) are necessary for strong bones; if you have colitis, you are at higher risk of osteoporosis since your body lacks inadequate amounts of these nutrients.


    • The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the following herbs based on a review of studies and other literature where they showed benefit.

      Psyllium seeds, especially when combined with the drug mesalamine, can help increase the length of remission. Take 20 g of ground husks twice a day with water. Boswellia has potent anti-inflammatory properties; take 550 mg three times a day for up to six weeks. Curcumin can reduce symptoms; take 2,000 mg daily.

      The following herbs are used traditionally to treat inflammation in the digestive tract but have not been studied specifically for colitis.

      Slippery elm forms a protective coating over the intestines that soothes irritation and encourages healing; take 60 to 320 mg daily or mix one tsp. of powder with water up to four times a day. Marshmallow tea acts in a similar fashion as slippery elm; drink one cup three times a day. Do not use marshmallow if you have diabetes. Chamomile tea eases symptoms of digestive upset; drink three cups daily.


    • Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine frequently use acupuncture to treat inflammatory bowel diseases and it appears to relieve symptoms of colitis. Be sure to go to a licensed acupuncturist. An acupuncturist usually will offer suggestions for lifestyle changes based on a TCM perspective that can also be helpful.

    Mind/Body Techniques

    • Stress often makes your symptoms worse. Several natural mind/body techniques can help relieve stress and reduce symptoms. Biofeedback helps you use your mind to control physical reactions in the body. Yoga, tai chi and meditation help you achieve a balanced and centered mind which reduces negative responses to stress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tightening and releasing one muscle group at a time and can be done anywhere. Deep breathing can relieve stress and also relax your abdominal muscles, reducing pain and discomfort. Hypnosis can promote muscle relaxation, reduce pain and bloating; be sure to consult a licensed practitioner.


    • What you eat is an important part of managing this condition whether you are using alternative or traditional treatments. Reduce consumption of dairy products to reduce diarrhea. Fruits and vegetables are important but you might find too much fiber aggravates your condition. Steaming or baking vegetables can make them easier to digest. During a flare-up, a bland diet low in fiber is best. Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big ones to reduce stress on the digestive system. Stay away from refined, white flour foods as well as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

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