Is healing ulcerative colitis naturally really possible? Ulcerative colitis is a significant health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. If you’re living with ulcerative colitis, you’re part of the estimated 1.3 million people in the United States living with an inflammatory bowel disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies suggest that the prevalence of ulcerative colitis varies across different regions and populations. In the United States alone, it is estimated that approximately 907,000 adults are affected by ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis can have a significant negative impact on quality of life. The condition’s chronic nature, physical symptoms, and potential complications can lead to limitations in daily activities, disruptions in education and employment, and emotional distress.

In this article, we will explore what living with ulcerative colitis is like, strategies for managing the condition, and tips for healing ulcerative colitis naturally.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease affecting different colon and rectum parts. It involves inflammation and the formation of ulcers in the lining of the large intestine (colon).

This ongoing inflammation can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss

When someone is living with ulcerative colitis, their gut lining undergoes significant changes. Chronic inflammation damages the gut barrier, compromising its ability to absorb nutrients and protect against harmful substances properly.

This increases intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut,” allowing toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream, triggering immune responses and further inflammation. If you want to learn more about leaky gut, listen to my podcast episode about leaky gut.

Types of Ulcerative Colitis

There are three different types of ulcerative colitis. They include:

Ulcerative Proctitis

In ulcerative proctitis, bowel inflammation is limited to the rectum. This condition typically affects less than six inches of the rectum. It is not associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Symptoms of ulcerative proctitis include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal pain
  • Urgency for bowel movements
A wooden figure sitting on a toilet to represent the uncomfortable symptoms of living with ulcerative colitis.

Left-Sided Colitis

In this form of ulcerative colitis, continuous inflammation begins at the rectum. It extends as far into the colon as the splenic flexure, which is a bend in the colon near the spleen. The sigmoid colon, the lower segment of the colon located right above the rectum, can also be affected in left-sided colitis.

Symptoms of left-sided colitis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Pain in the left side of the abdomen

Extensive Colitis

This type of ulcerative colitis affects the entire colon. Continuous inflammation begins at the rectum and extends beyond the splenic flexure.

Symptoms of extensive colitis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis is crucial for early detection and effective treatment. In addition to the previously mentioned symptoms, people may experience a sense of incomplete bowel movements, joint pain, skin rashes, and inflammation of the eyes.

What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?

While the exact cause is not fully understood, ulcerative colitis is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors.

Genetic predisposition plays a role, as specific gene variants increase the likelihood of developing this condition.

Environmental triggers, such as a diet high in processed foods, chronic stress, gut dysbiosis, toxin overload in your body and exposure to certain medications or infections, can also contribute to developing ulcerative colitis.

However, it’s essential for people living with ulcerative colitis to understand that no single cause or contributing factor made them develop the condition. Instead, it’s a combination of various factors that leads to its development.

How is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing ulcerative colitis involves a comprehensive approach. Healthcare professionals, including gastroenterologists and functional medicine practitioners, will evaluate your medical history, perform a physical examination, and order specific laboratory tests.

Blood tests are conducted to assess markers of inflammation, iron levels, and other nutritional deficiencies. Stool samples may be analyzed to rule out infections and evaluate the gut microbiota composition.

Getting a correct diagnosis is essential because ulcerative colitis can lead to complications if left untreated or unmanaged for a long time. Chronic inflammation can interfere with nutrient absorption, leading to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It can also impair growth and development, increase the risk of osteoporosis, and weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to infection.

Functional Medicine and Ulcerative Colitis

Functional medicine takes a holistic approach to treating ulcerative colitis by addressing the root causes and focusing on the individual as a whole.

Nutrition and lifestyle modifications are foundational, but some individuals may need support with natural and herbal supplements to complement their treatment plan. However, it’s important to approach these supplements cautiously and consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional before trying them.

Some commonly discussed supplements include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Turmeric (curcumin)
  • Aloe vera
  • Probiotics

However, the efficacy and safety of these supplements can vary among individuals, so professional guidance is crucial.

Healing Ulcerative Colitis Naturally

Here are five actionable steps that people living with ulcerative colitis can use to manage their symptoms and, in some cases, put ulcerative colitis in remission:

1. Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that support gut health and reduce inflammation. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods.

Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and trigger foods that may worsen symptoms.

A birds-eye-view bowl of anti-inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, lettuce, bell pepper, cabbage, sweet potato, avocado, radish, and chickpeas.

2. Identify Trigger Foods

Keep a food diary and observe how different foods affect your symptoms. Certain foods may trigger flare-ups or worsen symptoms for some people living with ulcerative colitis.

Common triggers include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • High fiber foods

You can manage your symptoms more effectively by identifying and avoiding your personal trigger foods.

3. Practice Stress Management

Chronic stress can worsen symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Try to engage in stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices.

Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your daily routine to promote relaxation and well-being.

4. Stay Hydrated

Drinking adequate fluid is essential for maintaining gut health and preventing dehydration, which can worsen symptoms.

Aim to drink at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water daily, and adjust your intake based on activity level and climate.

5. Get Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity can help improve overall health and reduce inflammation. Engage in moderate exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen.

A woman running on top of a hill at sunset to represent exercise to help manage symptoms of living with ulcerative colitis.

Final Thoughts

The functional medicine approach to helping people living with ulcerative colitis is personalized and tailored to each person’s unique needs. By treating root causes, optimizing nutrition, and embracing lifestyle modifications, we can work towards managing symptoms, healing ulcerative colitis naturally and achieving remission, and improving the overall quality of life. If you are suffering and struggling with digestive issues, have been to multiple healthcare providers and are STILL looking for answers, or are new in your gut healing journey and unsure how and where to start, I have a free guide that can help you. I have created a comprehensive free guide called Fix Your Gut that you can download today. This guide provides a step-by-step framework to start your gut healing journey the right way.