Q. Dear Terry, “My daughter is in her twenties and has been dealing with ulcerative colitis for about five years. Her main symptoms are abdominal cramping and pain, plus loose bowel movements. She’s under the care of a doctor and has regular checkups. The medications don’t seem to be helping her symptoms much. She’s looking for natural herbs or things that could help with her symptoms. Any advice for her?” – May W., Ames, IA
A. Dear May, Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that creates ulcers within the inner lining of the large intestine. Many people with ulcerative colitis have frequent bowel movements that can create a lot of pain or discomfort. Ulcerative colitis can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and many of the drugs used to treat this condition are considered immunosuppressants, which come with side effects. I highly recommend your daughter read the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall.
Because ulcerative colitis involves an excess of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, we need to use a compound that can help modulate a certain kind of inflammation-promoting pathway, called 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase). One of the best botanicals I know to control this type of inflammation is boswellia.
The boswellia I prefer is standardized to contain high levels of the key compound, AKBA, which gives boswellia many of its health benefits. While most of the compounds within boswellia are anti-inflammatory, there is one compound that is actually pro-inflammatory. Therefore, I recommend a boswellia that is low in beta-boswellic acid, which can actually cause inflammation.
In addition to boswellia, there are other safe and effective herbal medicines that keep the intestines free of inflammation and digestion running smoothly. Oils of coriander, fennel, caraway seed, and peppermint all help to regulate digestion through a variety of mechanisms.
I would take 400 mg of boswellia, coriander, fennel, caraway seed, and peppermint with each meal.
Curcumin has also been shown in many research studies to be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel conditions, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Not only has curcumin been effective in preventing ulcerative colitis, it can also help ease symptoms for those that are affected. Research studies have concluded that curcumin helps to modulate the immune system and decrease the production of inflammatory compounds. When combined with mesalamine, a common prescription medication used to treat ulcerative colitis, the combination of curcumin and mesalamine was shown to have a threefold better outcome versus placebo.
Because curcumin can be difficult to absorb, I prefer curcumin that is combined with turmeric essential oil. I would take 750 mg of curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil per day.
Terry . . . Naturally