Ulcerative Colitis

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-15 (EDT)

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is one of two diseases classified as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is more common than Crohn’s in the United States and Western countries. These disease are two to four times more common in Caucasians over non-Caucasians and is rarely seen in Asia, Africa and South America.[1], [2]. The peak incidence of symptoms typically appears in ones early 20s.

Ulcerative Colitis
Causes Food Reactions, Stress, Infections
See Also Digestive Conditions, Constipation, Dysbiosis, GERD, Heartburn, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis
Books Books on Digestive and Liver Conditions
Articles Articles on Digestive Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

Ulcerative Colitis like may conditions, most likely is the result of a combination of effects including exposure to pathogens, imbalanced bacterial flora, poor dietary choices and stress triggers which combined can result in a state of immune system dysregulation.



  • Stress and other psychological factors are important considerations when assessing for the cause and treating IBD.


  • Infectious agents, such as microorganisms like rotavirus, Epstien-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and mycobacteria are associated with Ulcerative Colitis.
  • Other organisms also associated include: Pseudomonas-like organisms, Chlamydia and Yersinia enterocolitica.[1].


  • Smoking increases a person's risk of developing Ulcerative Colitis.

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications


  • Family History
  • There is a familial association with 20% of affected individuals also having affected relatives. Ulcerative Colitis is associated with HLA-DRB1 alleles.[2].

Diagnostic Testing

Whenever a person experiences blood in the stool it must be investigated by a trained medical practitioner.

The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is suggested by the symptoms of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and diarrhea. The actual diagnosis relies on a combination of a thorough medical history and physical exam and the following tests:

  • Stool Sample
  • Stool specimens are collected for analysis to exclude infection and parasites, since these conditions can cause colitis that mimics ulcerative colitis.
  • Stool test may also be used to assess for a protein called calprotectin which is a sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation, so elevated levels suggest inflammatory bowel disease in the right setting. This test alone, however, cannot distinguish between different diseases causing the inflammation so should be used with caution.
  • Imaging Studies including a sigmoidoscope and a colonoscopy or a barium enema X-ray.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is closely related with Crohn’s disease as they are both classified as inflammatory bowel diseases.

Other conditions commonly associated with UC includes:


As the name suggests Ulcerative Colitis is limited to the colon, but it shares a diversity of symptoms with Crohn’s disease as it also involves inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis begins in the rectum and spreads towards the colon. Unlike Crohn’s which affects the entire thickness of the bowel wall, Ulerative Colitis is limited to the mucosa and submucosa, except in very severe cases. [2].

Article Gluten Rock and Colitis Blues, NDNR [1], 2011 March
  • DNA repair mechanism defects in mucosal cells throughout the intestine may be implicated in this condition.[2].
  • Prostaglandin metabolism is affected in IBD leading to increase in synthesis of leokotrienes and amplification of inflammatory processes leading to pain and intestinal cramps.[1].
  • Glycoproteins known as mucins are altered in composition and content in Ulcerative Colitis, which are linked as a factor increasing the risk of cancer. More specifically it is sulfur-containing mucin deficiency however the cause of this deficiency is unknown.[1].

Common Symptoms

The symptoms associated with UC include:

  • Attacks of mucous and blood in diarrhea lasting days, weeks or months with periods of no symptoms.
  • Cramps, tenesmus and colicky pain in the lower abdomen that is relieved by a bowel movement.
  • Fever and weight loss may also be present during a flare-up.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Ulcerative Colitis is considered a chronic, progessive disease.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

Article Diet- based management of inflammatory bowel disease: The role of food intolerance, IHP, October 2008
  • It is important to take steps to address malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies and inflammation through diet and supplementation to assist with repair of the mucosa.[4]
  • Reducing inflammation through diet is achieved by eliminating meat and dairy products high in saturated fats while increasing consumption of omega 3 fatty acids such as those found in cold water fish; salmon, mackerel, herring and halibut.[1].
  • Low sulfur diet by eliminating alcohol, red meat, and processed meats can reduce relapse and reduce damage to colonic epithelium.[5]
  • Elimination or Oligoantigenic diet involves removing the most common allergens such as dairy, wheat, eggs and corn. This can greatly reduce symptoms [5]
  • Avoid carageenan, an additive commonly used in milk products and ice cream and many other products as a thickening/stabilizing agent [1]. Learn to become an avid label reader!
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.

Naturopathic Therapies

Naturopathic Therapies for ulcerative colitis includes:[5], [1]

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture. TCM differentials to consider include; Liver qi stagnation, Liver invading the spleen, qi stagnation with heat, damp heat, qi deficiency with food stagnation, qi and damp stagnation [7].
  • Acupuncture is used to increase the flow of energy through the colon.[7]
  • Constitutional hydrotherapy may be helpful.

Specialized Naturopathic Therapies

Article Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Ulcerative Colitis, NDNR [2], 2012 January
Article Intravenous therapy for inflammatory bowel disease, IHP, October 2008

Specialized therapies that are used to treat Ulcerative Colitis include:

  • Colon Therapy may be helpful especially in the treatment and management of chronic ulcerative colitis.


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [3]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Murray Michael, Pizzorno Joseph (1998) Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Three Rivers Press, New York.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kumar Vinay, Abbas Abul, Fausto Nelson, Mitchell Richard, editors. (2007) Robbins Basic Pathology 8th Edition. Saunders Elselvier, Philidelphia
  3. Pizzorno Joseph, Murray Michael (2006) Textbook of Natural Medicine e-dition: Text with continually updated online reference, 2-volume set, Churchill Livingstone.
  4. Smith Fraser, Winterstein James (2008) An Introduction to Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Medicine. CCNM Press.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Prousky Johathan, Hoffer Abram (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. CCNM Press
  6. Rose Barry, Scott-Moncrieff Christina (1999) Homeopathy for Women. Firefly Books.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kuoch David. (2011) Acupuncture Desk Reference. 2nd ed. Acumedwest Inc.