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ULCERATIVE COLITIS

By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor

Ulcerative colitis

DEFINITION

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and ulcers (open sores) in the innermost layers of the large intestine. UC is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. In UC, swelling typically occurs in the rectum and lower colon, but the inflammation can spread throughout the entire colon. The ulcers bleed and produce pus and mucus, and the inflammation causes the colon to empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.

UC is a rare, but serious disease that affects 50 out of every 100,000 people in the United States. Although the condition most commonly affects those between the ages of 15 and 35, children and older adults may also develop the disease. UC occurs five times more frequently in those with a Jewish heritage than it does in the general population. Although most people with UC can be successfully treated without surgery, roughly 25% will need a colectomy (surgical removal of the colon).

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The most common signs and symptoms of UC include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may come on either very suddenly or more gradually.

Other common symptoms of UC include:

  • Frequent, even continuous diarrhoea

  • Bloody stool

  • Urgent desire to defecate

  • Abdominal cramps and pain

  • High fever

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Weight loss

  • Anaemia

  • Loss of appetite

  • Joint aches

People with UC are at increased risk for malnutrition. UC can also cause a host of other problems, including arthritis, eye infections, liver disease, skin rashes, blood clots, or gallstones. Although it is not clear why such problems occur outside the colon, some researchers speculate that they may be linked to a faulty immune response.

CAUSES

There are many theories regarding the cause of UC, but none have been proven. The most likely theory is that UC is caused by a variety of factors ranging from genetics, faulty immune system reactions, stress, environmental influences, and even diet. For example, some people are genetically at risk for UC (it runs in their family), and an infection or other toxin may stimulate inflammation of the large intestine. In some cases, stressful events or sensitivities to certain foods may trigger symptoms of UC.

RISK FACTORS

  1. Family history of UC

  2. Jewish heritage, especially Ashkenazi Jews

  3. A diet high in sugar, cholesterol, and fat (particularly from meat and dairy products)

  4. Stress

DIAGNOSIS

Physical exam as well as a series of tests. Blood tests may reveal a high white blood cell count (a sign of inflammation somewhere in the body). Stool samples may indicate whether there is bleeding or infection in the colon or rectum. Your healthcare provider may choose to conduct a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can reveal any inflammation, bleeding, or ulcers on the colon wall. Tissue samples (biopsies) may be taken from the colon wall for examination under a microscope in order to make a definitive diagnosis of UC.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT OUR NATUROPATHIC CLINIC?

The naturopathic approach includes identifying what the root cause of the problem is using various testing methods such as comprehensive stool testing and blood testing, and also doing an extensive intake of your symptoms.

At our clinic, during your initial 1 hour one –on – one consult with our Naturopathic Doctor, Sushma Shah, you will be undergo a comprehensive symptom intake in detail, and at the end of the visit, you will be required to do some blood and urine testing. Her assessment is oriented toward determining what is impeding your body's ability to function normally. She will determine which assessment tools are most helpful in establishing a treatment strategy specific to your health needs.

Naturopathic Doctor Sushma Shah may order some specialized testing, if need be in order to get all the necessary physiological information and to get a more complete picture of your symptoms – to get to the root cause of your symptoms. Following this visit, you will be coming in for your second visit, in which she will be doing a full physical check up, including a breast exam, a traditional Chinese medicine tongue and pulse diagnosis, body fat analysis and blood glucose testing. After having gone through your case, she will be giving you an INDIVIDUAL TREATMENT PLAN, that is specific to the symptoms you have. *

PREVENTIVE CARE

Sulfasalazine, one of the most common medications used to treat UC, is an effective means of reducing the number of UC relapses. This medication is usually recommend by the gastroenterologist.

Diet (especially a low-fat diet rich in fruits, fluids, magnesium, and vitamin C), exercise, and stress reduction techniques (including hypnosis) may also help prevent recurrences. Supplements and herbs are used successfully to treat UC.

TREATMENT APPROACH

  1. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, particularly for people with chronic stress in their lives

  2. Exercise may also be very helpful for those with UC

  3. Studies indicate that lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments (such as including a rich variety of fruits and vegetables and maintaining low levels of fat and sugar), specific herbs and fiber and mind/body techniques (such as hypnosis) can help prevent and/or treat the disease

  4. Certain foods may aggravate symptoms of UC (including chocolate, dairy products, fats, and artificial sweeteners) and should be avoided by people with the condition

  5. A bland, low-fiber diet is best during acute flare-ups

  6. Regular intakes of fruits and vegetables, and lowered fat and sugar consumption when UC is not active may reduce the likelihood of flare-ups

  7. High intakes of fluids and foods rich in magnesium and vitamin C on a regular basis may lower the risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases

Please ask your doctor or naturopath before starting on any supplements. Its is better to first identify the cause and then treat it with the right remedies, even though those mentioned above have minimal side effects.

The information on this handout is the property of SUSHMA SHAH N.D., and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. For any questions, concerns or to schedule an appointment, please contact me at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email me at info@naturesintentionsnaturopathy.com

* DISCLAIMER: The information on this article is the property of Dr. Sushma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases or promote any services or products mentioned on the website.


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