Exploring Natural Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis

Natural Ulcerative Colitis Treatments

Exploring natural remedies for managing Ulcerative Colitis (UC) can be a valuable part of a holistic approach to treating this complex condition. While these treatments can offer significant benefits, including reducing symptoms and potentially extending periods of remission, the integration process requires careful consideration to maximize effectiveness.

This article aims to provide an in-depth exploration of various natural remedies known to support the management of ulcerative colitis. From dietary adjustments and herbal supplements to lifestyle changes that enhance overall gut health, we will cover a range of options that have helped some individuals manage their symptoms more effectively. Each option will be discussed with an eye toward scientific backing and practical application, giving you a comprehensive understanding of how these natural approaches can be integrated into a broader treatment strategy for UC.


Probiotics play a crucial role in managing Ulcerative Colitis by helping to maintain and restore the balance of the intestinal flora, which is often disrupted in individuals with this condition. The gastrointestinal tract of a person with UC typically shows a marked imbalance in its microbial populations, a state known as dysbiosis. This dysbiosis can exacerbate the symptoms of UC, including inflammation, urgency, and frequency of bowel movements. By reintroducing beneficial bacteria through probiotics, this imbalance can be mitigated, potentially reducing the severity of symptoms and aiding in long-term disease management.

The Role of Probiotics in UC Management

1. Enhancing the Gut Barrier: One of the primary benefits of probiotics in the context of ulcerative colitis is their ability to enhance the mucosal barrier of the gut. This barrier protects intestinal tissues from pathogens and prevents harmful substances from triggering immune responses that can lead to inflammation. Certain probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus produce substances that strengthen this barrier, effectively reducing the likelihood of flare-ups.

2. Modulating the Immune Response: Probiotics can help modulate the immune system, reducing its tendency to overreact to harmless substances. This modulation is crucial in UC, where an inappropriate immune response to gut microbiota contributes to tissue damage and inflammation. Strains such as Bifidobacterium have been shown to promote the production of regulatory cytokines, which play a role in dampening inflammatory responses in the gut.

3. Competing with Pathogenic Bacteria: By colonizing the gut, probiotics compete with pathogenic bacteria for nutrients and attachment sites on the mucosal walls. This competition helps prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can exacerbate UC symptoms.

4. Production of Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Some probiotic bacteria ferment dietary fibers to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, which provide energy to colon cells and have anti-inflammatory properties. SCFAs also help in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining and can reduce the permeability of the gut wall, thereby decreasing the chances of an immune response triggered by translocated bacteria.

Specific Strains Recommended for UC

The effectiveness of probiotics can vary depending on the strains used. In the case of UC, several specific strains have been studied and recommended:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: Known for its ability to adhere to intestinal walls and form a barrier against pathogenic microbes.
  • Lactobacillus casei: Has been shown to modulate the immune system and enhance the mucosal barrier functions.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum: Helps in the digestion of dietary fibers and the production of SCFAs, particularly butyrate.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: Although not a bacterium but a yeast, this probiotic is often used in the management of UC due to its beneficial effects on the gut mucosa and immune system. Jarrow Formulas Saccharomyces Boulardii Probiotics + MOS is a great option for people with Ulcerative Colitis.

Incorporating Probiotics into UC Management

For individuals with UC, incorporating probiotics into their treatment regimen should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Probiotics are available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and fortified foods. It’s important to choose products that guarantee live bacteria up to the point of consumption and contain the strains that are specifically beneficial for UC.

While probiotics are not a cure for UC, they offer a complementary approach to managing the disease by addressing one of its fundamental issues—the imbalance of gut microbiota. With careful integration into a broader treatment strategy, probiotics can play a significant role in improving the quality of life for those living with UC.


Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that play a crucial role in the management of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) by fostering a beneficial gut environment. Unlike probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria, prebiotics serve as food for these bacteria, helping to stimulate their growth and activity. This relationship is essential for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which can be significantly disrupted in individuals with UC.

How Prebiotics Benefit Ulcerative Colitis

1. Nourishing Beneficial Gut Bacteria: Prebiotics are primarily non-digestible fibers that pass through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remain undigested until they reach the colon. Once there, these fibers are fermented by the beneficial bacteria residing in the colon. This fermentation process not only helps these bacteria to grow and multiply but also enhances their ability to colonize the gut, making it harder for harmful bacteria to establish themselves and cause disruption.

2. Enhancing Gut Barrier Function: One of the critical features of UC is a compromised gut barrier, which can lead to increased intestinal permeability (often referred to as “leaky gut”). This condition allows pathogens and toxins to enter the bloodstream, triggering inflammatory responses that exacerbate UC symptoms. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics help strengthen the gut barrier. These beneficial bacteria produce metabolic products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, which provide energy to colon cells and enhance the structural integrity of the gut lining.

3. Reducing Inflammation: The SCFAs produced from the fermentation of prebiotics have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Butyrate, in particular, has been shown to be a key regulator of inflammation in the gut, helping to control and reduce inflammatory responses associated with UC. It modulates the immune response by influencing the function of leukocytes and cytokine production, which are critical components of the inflammatory process.

4. Supporting Overall Digestive Health: By enhancing the growth and activity of good bacteria and the production of SCFAs, prebiotics help maintain an overall healthier digestive system. This improved gut health can lead to better bowel regularity and reduced symptoms of UC, such as abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements.

Sources of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are found in a variety of foods, particularly those containing complex carbohydrates, such as fiber that humans cannot digest. Common sources include:

  • Garlic and Onions: These vegetables are rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides, two types of prebiotic fibers that significantly boost beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Bananas: Unripe (green) bananas are particularly high in resistant starch, which functions as a prebiotic. Even ripe bananas contain small amounts of inulin.
  • Other Sources: Asparagus, leeks, chicory root, and Jerusalem artichokes are also excellent sources of inulin and other prebiotics.

Integrating Prebiotics into a UC Diet

Incorporating prebiotics into the diet of someone with UC should be done thoughtfully, as excessive fiber can sometimes exacerbate symptoms during flare-ups. It’s important to introduce prebiotics gradually and monitor their effects on symptoms. Consulting with a healthcare provider or dietitian specializing in UC can provide tailored guidance on how to effectively incorporate prebiotics into the diet, considering the unique aspects of the individual’s condition.

By fostering a healthier gut microbiome, reducing inflammation, and supporting overall digestive health, prebiotics offer a valuable dietary approach to managing Ulcerative Colitis. They represent a fundamental component of a holistic dietary strategy aimed at controlling UC symptoms and promoting long-term remission.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats known for their significant anti-inflammatory properties, making them a potentially beneficial addition to the dietary management of Ulcerative Colitis. These fats are not synthesized by the human body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. The primary sources of omega-3s are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, as well as plant-based sources like flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. For individuals with UC, incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into their diet can play a crucial role in reducing intestinal inflammation and possibly contributing to longer periods of remission.

Mechanisms of Action

The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids are primarily attributed to their ability to be converted into bioactive lipid mediators called eicosanoids. These substances, which include prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes, play key roles in the inflammatory process. Omega-3 fatty acids help to alter the synthesis of these eicosanoids, leading to the production of less inflammatory compounds:

  1. Eicosanoid Modification: Omega-3 fatty acids compete with omega-6 fatty acids (which tend to be pro-inflammatory) for the same enzymes involved in converting fatty acids into eicosanoids. By increasing the omega-3 intake, the inflammatory effects of eicosanoids derived from omega-6 fatty acids are diminished.
  2. Production of Resolvins and Protectins: Omega-3 fatty acids are also precursors to a class of compounds known as resolvins and protectins, which are involved in the resolution phase of inflammation. These substances help to bring the inflammatory response to a close, promoting healing and returning the tissue to a state of homeostasis.
  3. Regulation of Gene Expression: Beyond eicosanoid production, omega-3 fatty acids influence gene expression related to inflammatory processes. They interact with nuclear receptors and transcription factors, which can decrease the expression of inflammatory genes.

Clinical Evidence

Several studies have explored the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in managing ulcerative colitis. Clinical trials have indicated that supplementation with fish oil (rich in omega-3s) may reduce both the severity and duration of flare-ups in UC patients. While results are promising, they are mixed and suggest that omega-3s may be more effective when used as part of a comprehensive treatment approach that includes medication and other dietary adjustments.

Dietary Sources and Supplementation

To incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into a diet, particularly for those with UC, consider the following sources:

  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are excellent sources of EPA and DHA, the most potent types of omega-3 fatty acids available through diet.
  • Seeds and Nuts: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts provide ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that the body can partially convert to EPA and DHA.
  • Supplements: Fish oil supplements are a direct source of EPA and DHA and can be useful for those who do not consume enough fatty fish. Algal oil supplements offer a plant-based alternative, providing EPA and DHA without the need to consume fish.

Considerations for UC Patients

While omega-3 fatty acids offer promising benefits, it’s essential for individuals with UC to introduce them cautiously and under medical guidance, especially during flare-ups when certain fats might exacerbate symptoms. Monitoring the intake and adjusting it according to individual tolerance and response can help optimize the anti-inflammatory benefits while minimizing potential gastrointestinal discomfort.

In summary, omega-3 fatty acids represent a compelling adjunctive treatment for reducing inflammation in Ulcerative Colitis. By influencing eicosanoid production, promoting the resolution of inflammation, and modulating gene expression, these fatty acids can help manage the symptoms of UC and improve the quality of life for those affected by this chronic condition.


Curcumin, the primary bioactive compound found in turmeric, has been widely researched for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can be particularly beneficial for managing inflammatory conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis (UC). As UC is characterized by chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, curcumin’s ability to modulate inflammation and immune responses offers a promising complementary approach to traditional treatment methods.

Mechanisms of Curcumin’s Action in UC Management

1. Inhibition of Inflammatory Pathways: Curcumin is known to inhibit major molecular pathways involved in inflammation. It can suppress the activity of NF-kB, a protein complex that plays a crucial role in regulating the immune response to inflammation. By inhibiting NF-kB, curcumin helps reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are signaling proteins responsible for aggravating inflammation in the gut.

2. Modulation of Immune Responses: Curcumin can modulate various aspects of the immune system. It affects both innate and adaptive immune responses, helping to regulate inflammatory processes without completely suppressing the immune system’s ability to fight infections. This modulation is crucial for UC patients, as overly aggressive immune responses to gut bacteria are a key feature of the disease.

3. Oxidative Stress Reduction: Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the pathogenesis and progression of UC. Curcumin’s antioxidant properties allow it to scavenge free radicals and upregulate the activity of antioxidant enzymes, thus reducing oxidative damage in the colon tissues.

4. Barrier Function Enhancement: Curcumin has been shown to enhance the integrity of the gut barrier, which is often compromised in UC, leading to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). By strengthening this barrier, curcumin helps prevent pathogens and toxins from entering the bloodstream and triggering immune responses that can lead to inflammation.

Research and Clinical Evidence

Several studies have highlighted the effectiveness of curcumin in managing UC. Clinical trials have demonstrated that when curcumin is added to conventional therapy (such as aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, or immunomodulators), it can significantly improve the symptoms of UC, reduce the need for corticosteroids, and help maintain remission. Some studies suggest that curcumin is most effective when used in conjunction with other treatments, offering a synergistic effect that enhances overall outcomes.

Practical Application and Dosage

To incorporate curcumin into the management of UC, several approaches can be considered:

  • Dietary Inclusion: Regular consumption of turmeric in foods can provide some level of curcumin, though the concentration is typically low. Incorporating turmeric into the diet through curries, teas, or other dishes can contribute to its overall anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Supplementation: Given the higher doses required for therapeutic effects, curcumin supplements are often recommended. These supplements are usually available in capsule form and are sometimes combined with piperine (black pepper extract) to enhance bioavailability.
  • Optimal Dosage: The optimal dose of curcumin for UC has not been definitively established and can vary based on the individual and the formulation of the supplement. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure that it is used safely, especially considering its potential interactions with other medications.

Curcumin presents a valuable adjunct treatment option for those managing Ulcerative Colitis. Its ability to modulate inflammatory pathways, enhance immune responses, reduce oxidative stress, and improve gut barrier function makes it a compelling choice for inclusion in a comprehensive UC management plan. As with any supplement, it is crucial to approach its use under the guidance of a healthcare professional, ensuring it complements existing therapies and aligns with individual treatment goals.

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is derived from the resin of the Boswellia serrata tree and has been utilized for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various inflammatory conditions. In recent years, its potential benefits for treating chronic inflammatory diseases like Ulcerative Colitis have captured the interest of the medical community, leading to several preliminary studies examining its efficacy and mechanisms of action.

Mechanisms of Action of Boswellia in UC Management

Boswellia acts through several pathways to exert its anti-inflammatory effects, which can be particularly beneficial for managing UC:

1. Inhibition of Pro-inflammatory Enzymes: Boswellia contains active compounds known as boswellic acids, which have been shown to inhibit 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO), an enzyme that plays a key role in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are inflammatory mediators that are significantly involved in the inflammatory processes associated with UC, contributing to tissue damage and the exacerbation of symptoms. By inhibiting this pathway, Boswellia can potentially reduce inflammation and provide symptomatic relief.

2. Suppression of Cytokine Production: Boswellia has been found to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-1 beta, which are elevated in UC and contribute to the inflammation and ulceration of the colon. Reducing these cytokines can help manage the inflammation and promote healing of the mucosal lining.

3. Modulation of Immune Responses: The immune-modulating properties of Boswellia are also significant in its effectiveness against ulcerative colitis. It helps in regulating the immune system’s response, thus preventing it from attacking the body’s own tissue, which is a characteristic complication of autoimmune disorders like UC.

Clinical Evidence Supporting Boswellia’s Efficacy

Several clinical studies and trials have provided encouraging results regarding the use of Boswellia in the treatment of ulcerative colitis:

  • Clinical Trials: Research studies have compared the efficacy of Boswellia extracts to conventional anti-inflammatory medications used in the treatment of UC. These studies have shown that Boswellia can be as effective as some pharmaceuticals in bringing about remission, with fewer side effects reported.
  • Safety and Tolerability: Boswellia is generally well-tolerated by most individuals, making it a viable option for long-term management of UC. Unlike NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory drugs, Boswellia does not appear to cause significant adverse effects on the stomach and liver, which are common concerns with prolonged use of traditional anti-inflammatory medications.

Practical Application and Dosage

Incorporating Boswellia into the management of ulcerative colitis involves consideration of dosage and form:

  • Supplementation: Boswellia is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powdered resins. The extract should be standardized to contain a specific percentage of boswellic acids, which are the active ingredients.
  • Dosage: The effective dose of Boswellia can vary based on the concentration of boswellic acids and the individual’s specific condition. Clinical studies often use doses ranging from 300 mg to 500 mg of Boswellia extract taken three times a day. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it is used safely, particularly in conjunction with other UC treatments.

For even more about Boswellia for Ulcerative Colitis be sure to read Boswellia Serrata’s Potential in Treating Ulcerative Colitis.

Qing Dai (Indigo Naturalis)

Qing Dai (Indigo Naturalis) is a traditional Chinese medicine derived from the indigo plant and has been utilized for centuries in East Asia to treat various ailments, particularly those involving inflammation. In recent years, the therapeutic potential of Qing Dai for Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, has gained significant attention in the medical community. This is largely due to its demonstrated efficacy in reducing inflammation and promoting remission in UC patients through several promising studies.

Understanding the Therapeutic Actions of Qing Dai

Qing Dai’s effectiveness in treating ulcerative colitis is believed to stem from its potent anti-inflammatory properties. The active components of Qing Dai, including indirubin, indigo, and isoindigo, have been shown to have multiple mechanisms of action:

1. Inhibition of Nuclear Factor-kappa B (NF-κB): NF-κB is a protein complex that plays a crucial role in regulating the immune response to inflammation. Qing Dai inhibits this pathway, which can reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines and mediators that are typically upregulated in UC.

2. Modulation of Cytokines: Qing Dai has been observed to downregulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-6, which are key contributors to the inflammatory process in UC. By controlling these cytokines, Qing Dai can help alleviate the mucosal inflammation characteristic of UC.

3. Antioxidant Properties: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are often elevated in UC and contribute to oxidative stress and tissue damage. Qing Dai exhibits antioxidant effects that help scavenge these free radicals, reducing oxidative stress in the colon.

Clinical Evidence Supporting Qing Dai

The therapeutic potential of Qing Dai for ulcerative colitis management has been substantiated through various clinical trials and studies:

  • Clinical Trials: Several trials have demonstrated that Qing Dai can effectively induce remission in UC patients who are refractory to conventional therapies. In these studies, patients treated with Qing Dai showed significant improvement in clinical symptoms and endoscopic appearance of the colon.
  • Safety and Efficacy: While Qing Dai is generally well-tolerated, it is important to monitor for potential side effects, such as liver enzyme elevations and pulmonary arterial hypertension, especially with long-term use. However, these occurrences are rare and Qing Dai is considered safe for short to medium-term use under medical supervision.

Practical Application and Dosage

Qing Dai is typically administered in the form of a powder or pills, and the dosage can vary based on the preparation and severity of symptoms:

  • Formulations: Qing Dai can be consumed directly as a powder, mixed into water or another neutral base, or taken in pill form. The powder form allows for dosage flexibility and adjustment based on individual patient needs.
  • Dosage Recommendations: Dosages in clinical studies have varied, but a common regimen is 1 to 2 grams of Qing Dai powder taken orally two to three times daily. It’s crucial to start with lower doses to assess tolerance and gradually increase as needed and guided by a healthcare provider.

Qing Dai for Ulcerative Colitis

Qing Dai offers a promising alternative or adjunct treatment option for managing Ulcerative Colitis, especially for patients who may not fully respond to conventional therapies. Its anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties make it a valuable component in the broader strategy of UC management. As with all alternative treatments, it is essential to use Qing Dai under the guidance of a healthcare professional familiar with both traditional Chinese medicine and conventional medical treatments to ensure its safe and effective integration into the overall treatment plan.

It is essential for UC patients to discuss any natural remedies or supplements with their healthcare provider to ensure they are used safely and effectively, and to ensure they do not interfere with conventional UC treatments. Integrating natural approaches should be done thoughtfully, aiming to complement medical treatment and improve overall quality of life.

Treasure of the East Qing Dai is to brand of choice for people with Ulcerative Colitis.

Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery Elm Bark, derived from the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree (Ulmus rubra), has been used as a traditional herbal remedy by Native American tribes for centuries, and its use has continued into modern herbal medicine. It is especially valued for its ability to soothe mucous membranes. Due to its mucilage content—a gelatinous substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water—Slippery Elm Bark can provide a protective lining on irritated tissues, which is particularly beneficial for managing symptoms of inflammatory conditions like Ulcerative Colitis.

Therapeutic Actions of Slippery Elm Bark in UC Management

Slippery Elm Bark’s benefits for ulcerative colitis stem primarily from its demulcent properties, which can soothe the lining of the colon affected by inflammation and ulceration. Here’s how Slippery Elm Bark acts beneficially:

1. Protective Barrier: When consumed, the mucilage from Slippery Elm Bark forms a gel-like substance that coats the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract. This coating can act as a barrier against acidity and irritation in the gut, protecting the intestinal wall from further damage and allowing it to heal.

2. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Slippery Elm is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce the inflammation characteristic of UC. By soothing the inflamed mucosa of the intestines, it can alleviate symptoms such as pain, discomfort, and frequent bowel movements.

3. Promotes Healing: The protective layer formed by Slippery Elm Bark not only shields the mucous membranes but also promotes healing. This can be crucial for UC patients who suffer from ulcers and erosions in the lining of their colon.

4. Fiber Content: Slippery Elm Bark contains considerable amounts of fiber, which can help regulate bowel movements and prevent diarrhea, a common symptom in ulcerative colitis flare-ups. The fiber adds bulk to the stool and can help maintain regularity.

Clinical Evidence and Usage

While there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence supporting the benefits of Slippery Elm Bark for digestive health, clinical research is limited. However, its longstanding use in traditional medicine for treating gastrointestinal issues, including those involving inflammation and ulceration, supports its potential efficacy:

  • Safety Profile: Slippery Elm is generally considered safe for use, with few reported side effects. However, because it can coat the digestive system, it may slow the absorption of other medications, so it should be taken several hours apart from other treatments.
  • Preparation and Dosage: Slippery Elm Bark is typically administered as a powder or in capsule form. The powdered bark can be mixed with water to form a smooth gel. A common dosage is one to two tablespoons of the powder mixed with water, taken after meals and at bedtime. Adjustments might be necessary based on individual responses and specific conditions.

Slippery Elm Bark offers a natural, supportive treatment option for managing Ulcerative Colitis. Its ability to form a soothing barrier on the gut lining makes it particularly useful for alleviating the painful symptoms associated with UC. While more clinical studies are needed to fully understand and validate its effects, Slippery Elm Bark remains a respected and potentially beneficial herbal remedy in the holistic management of UC. As with all herbal treatments, it should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure it is appropriate for your specific health needs and does not interfere with other treatments.

Embracing Natural Solutions For Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

In conclusion, while Ulcerative Colitis remains a challenging condition, the integration of natural treatments offers a promising avenue for managing symptoms and enhancing quality of life. From the soothing properties of Slippery Elm Bark and the anti-inflammatory effects of Curcumin and Boswellia, to the beneficial impact of dietary interventions such as Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, these natural remedies provide diverse mechanisms of action that can support traditional medical treatments.

It is important for patients to remember that while these natural options can be effective in alleviating symptoms and potentially reducing flare-ups, they should be approached as part of a comprehensive treatment plan under the guidance of healthcare professionals. This ensures that any natural interventions are used safely and effectively, considering each individual’s specific circumstances and medical background.

Ultimately, by carefully selecting and incorporating these natural strategies, individuals living with Ulcerative Colitis can hope to achieve better control over their symptoms and lead fuller, more comfortable lives. However, ongoing research and consultation with healthcare providers are essential to optimize treatment strategies and to stay updated with the latest advancements in UC management.