Ulcerative Colitis: causes, symptoms, diagnoses and treatments

September 23, 2008

Overview

Colitis (also called ulcerative colitis) is associated with bleeding ulcers and inflammation of the mucosa, the inner lining of the colon. The colon also can be called large intestine. Ulcerative colitis occurs in the large intestine. It can start in the rectum (known as ulcerative proctitis), and proliferate gradually throughout the entire colon (known as pancolitis).

Causes

Certain factors such as virus, bacteria, parasites, prolonged use of antibiotics, food allergies or food sensitivities may trigger the disease.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of UC is bloody diarrhea coupled with abdominal cramps, pain and frequent urge to have a bowel movement. UC patient ends up running to the bathroom from 3 to 30 times a day. Abdominal pain is usually relieved by passing some gas, mucus, blood and stool. Other symptoms: weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte disbalance, fever, nausea and sweats. Due to systemic colon inflammation and immune dysfunction UC patients often develop other diseases: anemia, arthritis, osteoporosis, skin rashes, liver problems( fatty liver, cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis), gallstones, kidney stones, pancreatitis, inflammation of the eye, and colon cancer.

Diagnosis

Gastroenterologist starts with complete physical examination together with a medical history. Physician usually recommends the following tests:

1. Blood work – CBC (complete blood count)to check for anemia, thrombocytosis, high platelet count, low albumin). Both C-reactive protein and ESR indicate inflammation process.

2. Electrolyte Studies

3. Urinalysis

4. X-rays

5. Stool culture for ova and parasites In certain cases, a physician will order renal and liver function test.

Also, a colonoscopy is ordered, which is used by a physician to view the mucosa ( the inner lining of the colon) to identify what part of colon is inflamed, to locate polyps and tumors and to perform biopsies (removal of a tissue sample). Biopsy samples are sent to laboratory pathologist to analyze for dyslplasia (precancerous cells)and cancer cells.

Medical Treatment

Drugs and surgery are two ways modern medicine treats colitis.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs are used to reduce colon inflammation.

Example: Azulfidine, Asacol, Rowasa, Colazal, Dipentum and Corticosteroids.

Side Effects of Anti-inflammatory Drugs: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, headache. Corticosteroids may trigger very serious side effects including depression, moon face, high blood pressure,bone fractures, osteoporosis and even diabetes. Immunosuppressive Drugs are used to inhibit colitis patients overactive immunity. The latest scientific theory that colitis is “autoimmune disease” in which the body’s immune system attacks its own digestive system. Immunosuppressive drugs override the body’s overactive immunity, and it is usually takes 10-12 weeks for drugs to start working. Example: Imuran, Purinethol,Remicade, Sandimmune, Neoral.

Side Effects of Immunosuppressive Drugs: inflammation of pancreas and liver, severe infections and allergic reactions, increased risk of tuberculosis and cancer (lymphoma). Galina’s opinion: I cannot find any logic in suppressing our immune system further with immunosuppressive drugs when it should be strengthened and rebalanced via diet, physical execrcise,relaxation technique, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.

Antibiotics are used to reduce bacterial overgrowth and suppress infection in the gut. Example: Metronidazole(Flagyl), Ampicillin, Ciprofloxacin(Cipro).

Side effects: Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, yeast infections, loss of intestinal microflora. Antibiotics can cause clostridium difficile colitis by suppressing good bacteria in the gut and giving bad bacteria a chance to multiply uncontrollably. C.difficile is a spore forming bacteria, which produces toxins. These toxins are responsible for the intestinal inflammation and diarrhea. Steroids are used in combination with other medication to induce remission in IBD. Example: Different forms of steroids are available: pills ( prednisone), enemas (hydrocortisone), suppositories, rectal foams and injectable ( methyprednisone).

NEVER DISCONTINUE STEROIDS ABRUPTLY. A sudden change imposes a great deal of stress on your body and can cause another flare. Taper steroids slowly. Consult your physician on a tapering schedule.

Colitis Healing Manual

I am creating a unique, comprehensive program that will help you to heal your colon once and for all.

My manual: “Colitis Healing”  will give you step by step clear instructions on

• How to stop bleeding , diarrhea and cramps.

• How to manage colitis flare-ups using secret European system.

• Which foods can heal your colon, and which foods may trigger diarrhea.

• Which drugs/foods/nutrients can spell disaster for your colon.

• How to prevent loss of vitamins/ minerals and remedy malnutrition.

• Research tested foods and supplements to use for long-lasting colon healing.

KnowYourGut Protocol for Colitis Healing

1. First identify and remove the possible cause of the disease.

Example: perform stool culture for ova and parasites to identify possible bacteria/parasite infestation. Food allergies/sensitivities (especially gluten, dairy) may cause intestinal irritation resulting in diarrhea.

2. Reduce colon inflammation and heal colon mucosa by using therapeutic foods /supplements.

Example: pau-d’arco tea infusion, medicinal clay, pharmaceutical grade L-glutamine.

3. Normalize intestinal flora (1) by removal of Candida albica overgrowth and (2) introduction of gut beneficial bacteria.

Example: use specific probiotics (good bacteria) for large intestine (Bifidobacterium bifidum strain) and small intestine (Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 strain).

4. Improve digestion and absorption of foods by introducing colitis healing diet and enzymes.

Example: Hydrolized collagen for protein, combination of flaxseed tea and chlorophyll plus German manufactured enzymes.

5. Eliminate diet and lifestyle risk factors, which can trigger flare-up.

Example: gluten/gliadin containing foods, artificial sweeteners, dairy, emotional stress, exc.

23 Responses

  1. Sweet! Let me know as soon as you get that manual out. I have UC and really want to heal myself naturally. I’m sick of how these steroids make me feel! Thanks!

  2. Hello Alyssa! I definitely know how you feel – I’ve been there. When I was on steroids for my colitis, I had moonface, mood swings, joint pain…you name it! Believe me, I’m incredibly glad I don’t have to take them anymore. And if my program can help you and people like you, that would make me very happy.

    When the manual comes out, we’ll announce it in the newsletter, so make sure to click here to sign up for the announcement and to get health tips and tricks from the blog.

    Stay strong!

    -Galina

  3. I have recently been diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis – Nov. 1, 2008 and was hospitalized for a DVT blood clot in my leg on Dec. 20. I had a CBC this week and my platelets were 1108. Could this all be caused by the Ulcerative Colitis. I am on Prednisone, Asacol, and Coumadin. My WBC was elevated also. My colitis seems to be doing better – I am not really having any problems right at the moment but the blood clot happened in the last two weeks. I am just looking for answers as to why my Platelets could be so elevated.

  4. Hello Tamara! Thanks for your question.

    Platelets could be elevated due to any of the following reasons: acute blood loss, trauma (surgery, fractures), metastatic carcinoma, tuberculosis, polycythemia vera.

    Because I don’t have your complete medical history, physical examination, and all diagnostic tests, I can’t answer your question very precisely. So, for further clarity, discuss your lab results with your doctor.

    Galina

  5. Galina,

    I happened across an article that said something about artificial sweeteners causing an overgrowth of certain bacterias in the colon which could cause the immune system to attack the colon therefore causing colitis. But then I lost it and can’t find it again. Have you heard of this? My friend has been suffering from UC for four years now and in the last two months has been put on a heavy duty immunosuppressive drug that is a known serious carcinogen and I’m worried about him. He said that he will probably have to be on it for life! It’s primarily used for organ transfer patients for anti rejection purposes. Have you any advice for him? Thanks in advance.

    Renee

  6. Thanks so much for the really quick reply and information, Galina! I have given your link to my friend and he is checking out the information as well. Thank you for sharing your discoveries and knowledge here. Maybe something will “click” for him and be just what he needs to get into a permanent remission? Thanks again!

    Renee

  7. hi I just discover your website is very interesting…I’m looking forward to see this colitis healing manual…I’ve been suffering from ulcerative proctosigmoiditis for two years..but I’m looking for natural cure and I’d like to find the cure before the deasise spread higher…do you known when is gonna be ready…please let me known..

  8. I’s me again I forgat to ask since my colitis is pretty much under control because of medication that I’m taking can juicing every day…cabbage..carrot ..wheat grass..can help to keep it under control or meaby just only juice fastening which means you can’t eat any food besaides juice can bring benefits to your body…………….sorry for my language
    I’m polish and I’dont speak english very well….

  9. Hello Bartek! Dzie? dobry!

    Since your colitis is under control (congratulations!), adding fresh-squeezed vegetable juices (cabbage, carrot, and wheatgrass) can give significant support for your immune system and provide additional, easily absorbable vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

    Add 1-2 cups of juice to your daily diet and see how you like it. You can also try a short 24-hour fast (e.g. from 7pm to 7pm), drinking 8 oz of juice every 3 hours. If that juice is too strong for you, you can add 2oz water to 6oz of juice and drink that instead. Drink up to six 8-oz cups a day. You can also have 3-4 cups of hot herbal tea (chamomile, peppermint) in between.

    Our colitis manual will be released in the second half of 2009. It’ll give detailed instructions on how to do longer juice fasts, together with nutraceuticals and herbs, to help repair the villi in the colon lining.

    I see you subscribed to the newsletter, that’s fabulous. We’ll be sending subscribers updates on the manual, so you’ll be the first to hear about it.

    To make sure that you get updates on the manual, make sure that you confirm your newsletter subscription (in the email titled “Confirm your subscription to Know Your Gut”). Just click on the link in that email to confirm and you’ll be good to go!

  10. Learn about a low-fat high fruit high greens raw vegan diet. Check out Dr. Graham 80-10-10 diet or other low-fat raw vegans, practice proper food combining, fruit by itself or with greens, don’t mix sweet fruit and acid fruit. Try a diet of just bananas for 7 days, (or melon), ripe banans are brown and spotty (sugar not starch), then introduce more, veggie fruits are ok-> cucumber, tomato. and greens/celery as well.
    Get excercise daily, sleep as much as you need, meditate, have emotional poise, be sweet and nice, love yourself and others. Explore spiritual life.

  11. Hey there, Rick. Some of your advice is good. Yes, it is important to exercise and have a positive attitude.

    However, your food advice is very far off the mark.
    Raw vegetables have insoluble fibers that are very hard to digest, particularly for people with digestive conditions like colitis, Crohn’s, and IBS. So, people could actually hurt themselves with a raw diet, especially during flare-ups. Here’s a post we just published on vegetables and IBS, Crohn’s and colitis.

    Also, according to the Colitis and Crohn’s Foundation of Canada, “fructose […] can be poorly absorbed by your gut and cause trouble in your colon with increased gas and diarrhea”. So, for people with these conditions, a 7-day diet of sugary bananas or melons is a terrible idea. This is true especially during flare-ups. Here’s another article on fruit that is also applicable to colitis.

    Again, every person is different. So remember, everyone: keep a food diary, learn from scientific studies, and know your body.

  12. Galina,
    I was totally healed, I had no symtoms at all. Then I got on a diet to lose weight that consisted of artificial sweetners in a lot of the nutrient bars. I noticed that I started flaring up after that and it seems to be getting worse. I don’t want to go back on the medications. What can I do to stop the bloody mucus and the urgency? I need your help now. Thanks

  13. Hello Valerie!
    I know how you feel having bowel urgency with bloody mucus. My heart goes out to you. First of all, avoid any kind of artificial sweetners, yeast, lactose, and gluten containing foods. Stay away from any kind of nutrient bar at the time of a flare-up and start drinking gut healing tea. These are things you can do right now.

    To heal your gut takes patience, and understanding of the disease and healing process. It involves appropriate diet, herbs, nutraceuticals and other modalities ( ex. acupuncture). This process is too complicated to write in one page, let alone one paragraph! That’s why I am in the process of writing a step-by-step colitis healing manual based on my own personal and medical experience. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

    Thanks for writing and let me know how you feel!

  14. Hi Galina,
    I have been suffering from UC for two years. I am currently on
    Mesasal pills and I have just started on SCD by Elaine Gottschall. Have you heard of it? if not, please visit http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info

    Please let me know when Colitis Healing Manual is out.

    Thank you.

  15. Hello Igor!

    The Specific Carbohydrate Diet has many positive aspects – you are doing the right thing by trying it out. SCD didn’t help me, but it’s helped many of my patients. I turned your question into a post where I go into more detail about that: The Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Good luck with SCD, please tell me how it works out for you!

    -Galina

  16. Hello Atorina!
    I would love to help you! But you must provide more details on your diagnosis, current treatment, and history of your disease.
    -Galina

  17. Hi Galina,
    I have been suffering from colitis for 5-6 years i am now 21 years old.
    I used to have a mild case but as soon as I switched from a pediatric GI to an adult GI my colitis has been a total roller coaster. This is my 6 flare for the year and its seems like i get them monthly once my period ends. I think i have an abnormal amounts of prostaglandins. My cramps are abnormally unbearable and usually by 4th day I start getting symptoms of flaring. I currently take 8 Asacols a day but i feel like its getting my nowhere. I don’t even know what food disagree with my gut because everything feels fine until I flare. Please help!!

  18. My daughter has Type 2A vonWillebrands Disease ( clotting disorder) and chronic inflammation of colon. It has been severe. Her biopsies continue to come back ” non specific ” inflammation. It has been going on for over a year. It is assumed she has crohns after being evaluated @ two of the best known centers in the country. She just started drinking aloe juice and switched to an inflammatory diet. How do you get the colon ulcers and inflammation under control?
    Thank you,
    Christine

  19. Hi Bunty!
    I am planning to release my Colitis Healing System later this year, which will describe the best treatment for UC. I will let me you know when it will become available.
    Regards,
    Galina

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