Reader’s Question: My 13-year-old granddaughter has ulcerative colitis, and her doctors are talking about surgery. Obviously, we really want to avoid that if we can. Are there any natural treatments for the condition?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: First off, I truly sympathise with what your granddaughter must be going through. Ulcerative colitis is tough on anyone, but especially for children who spend so much time in school and around peers.
Let me talk generally about ulcerative colitis and what recent research has said, and hopefully you’ll find some information you can use.
Studies have shown that with ulcerative colitis, your immune system essentially attacks and disrupts the healthy bacteria in your gut. And lots of the inflammation, bathroom problems, and other issues are basically byproducts of that.
So working actively to keep gut flora healthy is a really big part of managing ulcerative colitis and its symptoms. That means taking daily probiotics, avoiding processed foods and added sugars that can further harm gut bacteria, and loading up on healthy fibres, including fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E also may play an important role in managing ulcerative colitis. In an animal study, it was shown to significantly reduce inflammation. Some foods that are especially rich in vitamin E are spinach, avocados, Swiss chard, turnip greens, asparagus, red peppers, wheat germ, almonds (and other nuts), and sunflower seeds.
Retinoic acid, derived from vitamin A, was also found in a Trinity College Dublin study to reduce symptoms from inflammatory bowel disease. Foods like kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, and apricots are all high in vitamin A.
Obviously, you can also get vitamins E and A as supplements just about anywhere.
There’s also been some interesting research on Qing Dai, which is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat ulcerative colitis. In one small study, published a few years ago, six of the seven patients with ulcerative colitis were able to stop using prescription meds completely. And that only took about four months.
Qing Dai can be a little tough to find online. A good TCM practitioner should be able to help you get your hands on some.
Keep sending me those emails! You can share your health questions with me at email@example.com.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing