Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and treatment for the condition depends on its severity. A combination of both medical and natural remedies can benefit patients with ulcerative colitis, with diet in particular playing a large role.
Common treatment options for ulcerative colitis include medication, combination therapy, which mixes two types of treatments together, changes in diet and nutrition, and, lastly, surgery – when medications are not successful or complications arise.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary from person to person and may respond differently to different treatment methods. Symptoms may respond well to antidiarrheal medications, enemas, suppositories with medication, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid medications, and changes to diet. Working closely with your doctor can help you choose the proper treatment that will offer you the greatest success.
But along with medical treatments, natural home remedies – such as diet and exercise – can help aid with ulcerative colitis symptoms, too. Let us explain how you and your condition can benefit from these natural remedies.
Natural home remedies for ulcerative colitis
Dietary measures for ulcerative colitis
Diet can play a large role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Although there is no solid evidence that certain eating habits can cause bowel disease, there is evidence that certain foods can aggravate your condition or cause symptoms to flare up.
There are common foods that have been found to cause problems in ulcerative colitis, but in order to know your specific food triggers, it’s important to keep a food diary to log your meals and document how you felt during and after the meal was completed.
Here are some foods to limit or avoid if you have ulcerative colitis:
- Limit dairy products or try using a digestive enzyme to break down lactose if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Try eating low-fat foods. Foods higher in fat are more difficult to break down and can cause your digestive system more stress. Furthermore, any damage on your intestines may make it difficult to absorb fat, so it simply passes through your system contributing to diarrhea.
- Limit fiber-rich foods, as these may be difficult to digest. If possible, cook them for easier digestion.
- Avoid other problem foods such as alcohol, caffeine, and spice, which can worsen the symptoms.
- Some other dietary recommendations include eating smaller meals, staying well hydrated, considering multivitamins, and talking to a dietician.
Other lifestyle changes for ulcerative colitis
Along with diet changes, there are lifestyle changes that can help improve ulcerative colitis. For example, stress has been found to trigger or worsen ulcerative colitis symptoms, so it’s important that you reduce it as much as possible. Some effective ways to reduce stress are exercise, biofeedback, and regular relaxation and breathing techniques.
Exercise is not only an effective way to reduce stress, but it has also been shown to help improve ulcerative colitis overall. Let us further explain the benefits of exercise for ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis and exercise
Benefits of exercise in ulcerative colitis
Exercise is a fundamental part of overall well-being and good health, so it’s not surprising that it can help improve ulcerative colitis, but it does so in more ways than you would think. Here are eight benefits of exercise in ulcerative colitis.
Helps strengthen bones – for this, partake in weight-bearing exercise, climb stairs, or dance.
Helps keeps your muscles and joints working – patients with IBD often have joint inflammation as well, and regular exercising keeps muscles strong and improves joint mobility.
Speeds up surgery recovery time – regular exercise contributes to strong muscles and improved blood circulation, which can help reduce recovery time after colitis surgery (if necessary).
Helps lower stress, which can trigger or worsen symptoms.
Prevents colon cancer – some research suggests that regular exercise can lower the risk of colon cancer, which is generally seen to be higher in ulcerative colitis patients.
Improves mood – living with ulcerative colitis can be stressful and worrisome and really get you down. Exercise has been shown to naturally improve mood thanks to the release of feel-good hormones.
Fights depression – many patients may experience anxiety or depression when living with ulcerative colitis, and exercise can help combat these feelings once again with assistance of feel-good hormones.
Best exercises for ulcerative colitis
If you want to receive all the benefits that exercise has to offer for ulcerative colitis, here is a list of some specific exercises that can max up the value for you.
- Weight-bearing exercises
- Dancing, climbing stairs
- Yoga, tai chi
- Fitness video or fitness class
Essentially, all forms of exercise are suitable for ulcerative colitis – unless you underwent a surgery, in which case some of these exercises should not be performed. Speak to your doctor about any concerns your may have when it comes to exercise as they may set you up with a physical therapist to get you started.
Ulcerative colitis exercise dos and don’ts
Although majority of exercises are safe for ulcerative colitis, there are some key Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when embarking on a fitness plan.
Do: Use home fitness videos so that you can reach a bathroom quickly in case exercise causes you diarrhea.
Do: Use a treadmill as opposed to running outside in case you need to use a bathroom immediately.
Don’t: Exercise outdoors when it is very hot as it can speed up dehydration.
Do: Exercise post-surgery, but opt for gentler forms of exercise.
Don’t: Lift weights after the surgery.
Do: Drink plenty of fluids during exercise to prevent dehydration.
Herbal remedies for ulcerative colitis
Herbal medicine refers to plants, leaves, stems, and fruit, which are used in medicinal ways. Herbal medicine is widely used among native populations and it is spreading across the Western society with 28.9 percent of U.S. citizens using herbal medicine regularly.
Herbal medicine may be able to offer you some symptom relief from your ulcerative colitis, but it’s important that you speak with your doctor or pharmacist prior to using herbal medicines. Sometimes, even these natural products can have negative interactions with medication you may be already on. Furthermore, because these medicines are natural, you could be allergic to them, so get tested for allergies prior to use.
Some herbal remedies for ulcerative colitis include:
- Olive oil
- Aloe vera
- Wheat grass juice
- Fish oil
- Slippery elm
- Psyllium seeds
Many of these items can be incorporated into your diet or steeped in a drinkable tea, and are effective thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
If you need more support managing your ulcerative colitis, these dietary tips, exercise guidelines, and herbal remedies may be able to give you that little bit more relief that you seek.