Ulcerative Colitis (UC)is a serious life-long disease that affects thousands of Australians with an estimated 800 new cases of the disease diagnosed each year. Treatments for UC can be very intimidating and hard on the body. At AcuNatural Health we like to work with doctors to reduce the stress of ulcerative colitis on the body in the hopes to reduce the need for drastic surgery.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large bowel, i.e. colon or rectum. This disease causes long-lasting inflammation that damages the digestive tract. Additionally it  causes ulcers in the lining of the bowel, making the act of digestion at times bloody and painful.

There is no known cure for UC and treatments vary from medications (antibiotics, steroids and medicines to suppress the immune system) to surgery to remove the colon, which leads to other lifelong concerns.

Symptoms

Symptoms of UC vary from person to person, especially as ‘flare ups’ or ‘relapses’ are typical of the disease. However, the most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Blood or mucus in stools

  • Diarrhoea

  • Pain (abdominal or rectal)

  • Sudden need to go to the toilet

  • Inability to use toilet despite urgent feeling

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue

Ulcerative Colitis and TCM

In TCM Ulcerative Colitis is attributed to two main factors. Firstly is a qi deficiency in either or a combination of the spleen, kidney or large intestine. To understand the roles of the digestive organ energies in TCM read this article. Secondly is damp heat or damp cold which makes the body sluggish and produce phlegm.

When qi deficiencies occur it means the body is working harder to function, weakening the integrity of our systems, especially our immunity. Accumulated damp, whether with heat or cold, in the case of Ulcerative Colitis breaks down the digestive system allowing for toxins to build up and unhealthy bacteria to foster. Consequently, inflammation and the ‘flare ups’ associated with UC occur.

How We Help

Acupuncture and TCM can help with symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis and for some people help go into remission. By building and unblocking qi pathways and helping the body fight off the dampness in the system, the condition should calm down.

Benefits of TCM for Ulcerative Colitis

  • Inflammation in the body, especially colon and rectum, will reduce

  • Conditioning the bowel to become stronger and more efficient

  • Regulating the immune system so it remains strong but not overactive

  • Combating stress which is a common contributor to flare ups

  • Increasing healing of tears in the anus caused by constipation using Chinese herbs externally

Diverticular disease affects the large intestine

Lifestyle Advice

In addition to treatments, we can help provide lifestyle advice to manage Ulcerative Colitis. This can include dietary advice, exercises and stress handling techniques.

For example, here are some tips that will help with Ulcerative Colitis:

  • Eat foods that will support spleen qi such as starchy vegetables, whole grains, soups and stews. The softer and easier to digest the food the better.

  • Avoid raw food and cold drinks as this slows down the digestive process and can negatively impact the spleen.

  • Avoid or reduce dairy intake as this can cause inflammation. For similar reasons steer clear of deep fried and fatty foods

  • Limit or cut out alcohol and caffeine

  • Make sure to drink enough water as dehydration aggravates Ulcerative Colitis

  • During remissions incorporate low to moderate exercising into your routine (such as yoga, walking or swimming) as this can help strengthen muscles and bones, aid digestion, reduce stress and increase mood

Ulcerative Colitis Isn’t The End

In conclusion, acupuncture and TCM can help those suffering from Ulcerative Colitis by addressing the symptoms and the underlying causes. Although it is a lifelong disease, working with both western and Chinese medicine can make living with this disease comfortable.