1 / 7 Soothing Additions to Your Care Plan
Is yoga the key to soothing ulcerative colitis? Will an herb provide relief? Natural remedies for ulcerative colitis may not be your primary treatment approach, but they can help you manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of flares. “Although the official cause of ulcerative colitis has evaded the medical community, it is important to understand that it results from an interaction of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors,” said Benjamin Snider, ND, a naturopathic doctor in private practice in Ontario, Canada. He stressed that a holistic approach that factors in lifestyle, stress, supplements, and some natural remedies for ulcerative colitis offers the best chance at healing
2 / 7 Eat Healthfully
Because a healthy diet is a cornerstone for overall health, it’s no surprise that it tops Dr. Snider’s list of natural remedies for ulcerative colitis. “Diet is a foundational treatment for patients with ulcerative colitis,” he noted, adding that there is often a dietary component to the disease. Research in animals indicates that foods high in solanine may worsen inflammation in the colon, which may aggravate ulcerative colitis symptoms. Though animal-based research doesn’t always translate to humans, Snider said it can’t hurt to limit foods high in solanine, and it might help you manage ulcerative colitis. These foods include eggplant, potatoes, hot peppers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. He also noted that it’s worthwhile to avoid sugar because its effect on the pancreas hinders the output of anti-inflammatory enzymes.
3 / 7 Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is useful in managing many of the complications associated with ulcerative colitis, said Snider. These complications include decreased bone density, a weakened immune system, emotional health problems, stress, and weight gain. Find what works for you in terms of type and frequency. Snider cautioned not to overexercise but to engage in a moderate-intensity exercise like swimming or biking on three or four days per week. Snider also strongly recommended yoga as a natural remedy for ulcerative colitis, as it promotes relaxation and targets the digestive system, flooding the area with oxygen and nutrition for healing
4 / 7 Ease Stress
Research indicates that stress plays a role in inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. A study published in 2013 in Systematic Reviews noted that 74 percent of people with IBD feel that psychological factors worsen their symptoms. Counteract stress with relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation, that help your body relax. “These modalities shift the nervous system away from fight or flight and into a rest and digest mode. In addition to heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate changing, blood and nutrients move into the core to support digestive function,” said Snider
5 / 7 Consider Therapy
Working with a therapist on certain mind-body techniques can provide natural remedies for ulcerative colitis that help control symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a technique called biofeedback may be useful, as these processes teach coping skills that can help manage stress and pain. In CBT, you learn to recognize and change behaviors and emotions that affect you physically. According to a 2012 study in the journal “Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology,” it can ease abdominal pain for some people. Biofeedback teaches how to identify and control some bodily processes, such as heart rate or tension in your muscles, and can be effective in helping manage chronic pain
6 / 7 Investigate Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In addition to a healthy diet, additional omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats found in foods like fatty fish, may keep inflammation at bay and ease ulcerative colitis symptoms. “Omega-3 fats are beneficial to patients with both UC and Crohn’s due to the strong anti-inflammatory action and ability to fuel the cells that line the intestinal tract,” said Snider. Though research results vary, Snider noted that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation holds promise for people with inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Note: Ask your doctor about adding other supplements to counter any nutritional deficiencies caused by your colitis
7 / 7 Consider Herbal Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
Many herbs can be useful in managing inflammation and easing ulcerative colitis symptoms. Snider recommended Boswellia serrata, curcumin (found in turmeric, which is used in Indian cuisine), and withania for their strong anti-inflammatory properties as well as their ability to support the body against stress. You may also find relief with chamomile and psyllium seeds. Since infections can be problematic for people with UC, Snider also recommended an herb known as artemisia, or wormwood.