Before delving into homeopathic treatment let us first discuss the conventional or allopathic treatment available.
The allopathic treatment consists of giving combination of large number of medicines which usually leave the patient with lot of side effects and a condition which is even worse than ulcerative colitis itself.
The various medicines prescribed in allopathy including surgery and their side effects are:
Steroids like prednisone are employed to reduce inflammation; prednisolone, hydrocortisone, and methylprednisolone are the most common corticosteroids. These drugs are administered orally, intravenously, by injection, by enema, or by suppository. Their side effects are as follows:
- Increased rate of infection or decreased immunity
- Weight gain
- Accelerated osteoporosis
- Diabetes (type 2)
- Cataracts or glaucoma
- Menstruation irregularities
- A whole slew of emotional disorders: irritability, insomnia, psychosis, and depression
A number of medications used to treat ulcerative colitis; all have as their active ingredient 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA). These include sulfasalazine (trade name Azulfadine), a compound that has been used for more than half a century. Its side effects are:
Immunosuppressive Drugs (Immunomodulators)
The most common examples of immunosuppressive drugs are azathioprine (AZA), Imuran, 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) (Purinethol). Side effects are:
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Liver inflammation
Tumor Necrosis Factors (TNF) Modifiers
Infliximab (Remicade) is an antibody or biologic response modifier that interferes with the body’s inflammatory response. These drugs target the inflammatory immune factor of a molecule called tumor necrosis factor or TNF. Side effects are:
- Nausea, fever, dizziness, chills
- Low blood pressure
- Labored breathing
- Pruritus (sensation of itching)
- There may be an increased risk of lymphoma or cancer of the lymph glands. Studies are currently being conducted to determine the link between taking infliximab and lymphoma.
This is the last option. There is only one surgical treatment and it is total colectomy, which is removal of the colon. This surgical procedure cures the disease, since the diseased organ is removed. But this surgery is life altering, since other methods must be used after the surgery for elimination of the waste from the body which significantly affects the life style of a patient.
Homeopathy is an elaborate and very detailed medical science based upon the principle of stimulating the body to heal itself. It is very effective in the treatment of UC; especially in the early stages of the condition. The goal in treating is to eliminate symptoms, prevent flare-ups (maintain long-term remission) and restore the quality of life.
Research shows that homeopathy offers effective treatment for ulcerative colitis, which has been scientifically documented. It is very safe and can be combined with the conventional modern treatment if required.
For most people, going out to eat or visiting a friend’s house is a pleasurable activity. But for those with ulcerative colitis, the need to learn ahead of time where the bathrooms are located, or the fear of not reaching on time, can turn simple pleasures into anxiety-filled events. Because they have special needs, people with ulcerative colitis can start thinking of themselves as outcasts. All this stresses the patient.
These patients are usually tired of taking various steroids and other allopathic medicines. A large number of people never get treated because they believe that nothing can be done.
Homeopathic treatment for ulcerative colitis is based on the concept of immuno-correction. While choosing the medicine the cause of various symptoms like bloody stools, persistent diarrhea, crampy pain in abdomen and so on are evaluated. These may be dietary errors, faulty feeding habits, mental stress.
Medicines will help in reducing the frequency of stools, the urging and discomfort associated with the condition, the passage of mucus and blood in the stools. This way homeopathy will help the patients gradually reduce the various steroidal and immunosuppressive drugs which they have been taking for a long time.
Homeopathic medicines also help in slowing down the progress of the disease and the development of complications. The treatment can help in inducing the periods which are symptom free and can also assist in improving the immunity so that the patient does not face frequent relapses. Remedies also improve mental and physical ability to deal with stress, and alter the hereditary predisposition to the disease.
At a later stage of the disease when structural changes have taken place in the body, homeopathy has a palliative role to play reducing the need for steroids and other immunosuppressive medications.
The remedies soothe and recover the digestive function allowing improved absorption and assimilation of nutrients from food eaten. The nutritional status of the patient also improves with regular medication.
Homoeopathy can also help to prevent the need for surgery if the treatment is opted for at the right time.
Remedies are non-habit forming and have no addictive characteristics. The treatment comprehensively helps improve the quality of life.
There are 38 homeopathy medicines which give great relief in ulcerative colitis or UC or colitis ulcerosa. However, the correct choice and the resulting relief is a matter of experience and right judgment on the part of the physician. The treatment is decided after thorough case taking of the patient. Thus, remedies are designer made unlike allopathy in which all patients receive the same surgery or drugs although trade name may be different.
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What is UC or Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). In patients of this problem, ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms like pain in abdomen, constant diarrhea mixed with blood to an extent that the patient cannot stay out of the toilet or will think of where the toilets are located before leaving for an outing.
The colon is the part of the digestive system where waste material is stored. The rectum is the end of the colon adjacent to the anus. In this the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed and weak, making digestion difficult and leading to general physical debility.
Ulcerative colitis has a gradual onset. It is also called colitis ulcerosa or UC and is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that includes characteristic ulcers or open sores in the colon. It is an intermittent disease, with periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom-free.
UC is closely related to another condition of inflammation of the intestines called Crohn’s Disease (CD). Together, they are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases are chronic conditions that can last years to decades. They affect approximately 500,000 to 2 million people in the United States of America. The main difference between UC and CD is the area of the digestive tract they affect; Crohn’s disease or CD can occur along the entire digestive tract and spread deep into the bowel wall. In contrast, UC usually only affects the top layer of the large intestine.
About 1 in 1000 people in the UK develops UC. It can develop at any age but most commonly first develops between the ages of 15 and 40. About 1 in 7 cases first develop in people over the age of 60. It can occur in people of any age, but it usually starts between the ages of 15 and 40 and less frequently between 50 and 70 years of age. It affects men and women equally and appears to run in families, with reports of up to 20 percent of people with ulcerative colitis having a family member or relative with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
It is found worldwide, but is most common in the United States, England, and northern Europe. It is especially common in people of Jewish descent. It is rarely seen in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America, and is rare in the black population. For unknown reasons, an increased frequency of this condition has been recently observed in developing nations like India.
No one knows what causes ulcerative colitis. The theories suggest various intrinsic and extrinsic factors:
Intrinsic or internal factors
- Hereditary factors / genetic factors: It is seen that if there is immediate family member having ulcerative colitis, then your chances of having the disease increases.
- Faulty immune system: It is believed that it is responsible for the inflammation of the colon. The disturbance is thought to be either of two:
a. Allergy: Studies suggest that UC is a form of increased allergic response to certain food or to the presence of some microorganisms in the intestine.
b. Autoimmunity: Most recent research indicates that ulcerative colitis can be a form of autoimmune disease in which body’s defense system starts attacking body’s own organs and tissues; in UC colon is being attacked.
Extrinsic or external factors / triggering factors
- Diet: Certain food items are known to trigger UC like junk food, dairy products.
- Infections: Studies suggest that certain bacterial and viral infections like CMV (cytomegalo virus) are known to trigger ulcerative colitis.
- Drugs: Recent research shows that certain drugs like antibiotics, aspirin, contraceptive pills, NSAID’s are known to flare up UC.
How to Diagnose
- Blood tests: A sample of blood is studied in a lab to find signs of inflammation and anemia.
- Stool sample: A sample of a bowel movement is tested for blood or infection.
- Barium Enema: The doctor injects fluid containing a substance called barium into the rectum. Barium enema: The doctor injects fluid containing a substance called barium into the rectum. The barium allows the doctor to see the colon on an x-ray. Using this x-ray, doctors can ‘see’ if there are any ulcers or other signs of UC.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: The doctor puts a thin tube with a light into the rectum. It allows the doctor to check the rectum and the lower part of the colon for signs of UC.
- Colonoscopy: The doctor puts a thin tube with a light through the rectum and into the colon. This allows the doctor to ‘see’ the lining of the whole colon and check for signs of UC.
Symptoms vary. They may be mild or very severe. They may come on suddenly or develop gradually. In some people the severity of the symptoms may vary with the season; worse in winter and less in summer.
Three classic symptoms are:
- Persistent or recurrent diarrhea: This diarrhea is often bloody or full of mucus. When severe, the patient cannot stay out of the toilet. The disorder typically begins gradually, with crampy abdominal pain and diarrhea that is usually bloody.
- Abdominal pain: Abdominal pain is often crampy in nature and most intense immediately before a bowel movement.
Other symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss and loss of appetite.
UC can cause a number of problems outside of the colon including:
- Joint pain or arthritis
- Inflammation in the eye
- Liver and bile duct disease
- Skin rashes
- Kidney stones
Stress and Ulcerative Colitis
Mind plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy or diseased condition of the body. Recent studies have accepted the fact that any kind of emotional stress has definite detrimental effect on the immune system; and hence can be the root cause of chronic disease like ulcerative colitis.
When someone is under stress, the body gears up for a fight-or-flight response by secreting certain hormones, including adrenalin, as well as molecules called cytokines. They stimulate the immune system, which triggers inflammation. In people whose ulcerative colitis is in remission, this sets the stage for the return of their symptoms, known as a flare-up.
- Life threatening bleeding
- Perforation of the intestines and inflammation of the abdominal cavity
- Involvement of the joints, eyes, skin
- Colon cancer: The risk for development of colon cancer increases after 10 years of ulcerative colitis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis: An inflammatory disorder of the small and large bile ducts tends to be progressive in nature
- C-Reactive proteins: Raised levels are indicative of an active inflammatory process in the body