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Friday, 7 February 2014

Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel and Homeopathy

Ulcerative colitis is the inflammatory condition of the digestive tract, and is usually classified with  Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is the inflammation in the large intestine (the colon) and the rectum. It affects the lining of the large intestine and rectum, and can produce painful ulcers. 

Ulcerative colitis is usually a long-term, or chronic condition. As the NHS Choices website says, the symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, a frequent need to go to the toilet and weight loss. Loose stools mixed with blood are characteristic of ulcerative colitis, and the weakness caused by recurrent bloody diarrhoea can seriously affect quality of life, and lead to life-threatening complications.

However, the individual experience of Ulcerative Colitis, and IBDis very variable. It i for this reason that homoeopathy, as an individualised, and symptom based system of medicine, can be helpful in treating these conditions. 


As the NHS Choices website says, “there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis so the aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms during a flare-up and prevent symptoms from returning during remission – this is known as  maintenance therapy”.  

These drugs are the first treatment option for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. They can help reduce inflammation. NHS Choices says that the side effects of aminosalicylates can include:
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • skin rashes
NHS Choices says that Corticosteroids (steroid drugs) may be used when the ulcerative colitis is more severe or not responding to aminosalicylates. Steroids act like aminosalicylates in reducing inflammation “except they are a lot stronger”. NHS Choices goes on to warn that the long-term use of steroids, especially oral steroids, is not recommended “as they can cause potentially serious side effects”

The side effects of short-term use of steriods mentioned by NHS Choices are:
*     changes in the skin such as acne
*     sleep and mood disturbance
*     indigestion
*     swelling

The side effects of prolonged steroid use (more than 12 weeks) include:
*     osteoporosis – weakening of the bones
*     high blood pressure (hypotension)
*     diabetes – or worsening of existing diabetes
*     weight gain
*     cataracts – where cloudy patches in the lens of the eye can make vision blurred or misty

NHS Choices goes on to say that you may be given immunosuppressants “if your condition is still not responding to treatment, sometimes in combination with other medicines”. It says that Immunosuppressant drugs work by “reducing or suppressing your body's immune system”

NHS Choices describe the drawback to immunosuppressants is that “they affect your whole body, not just your colon. This may make you more prone to infection, so it is important to report any signs of infection, such as inflammation, fever or sickness, promptly to your GP. They can also lower the production of red blood cells, making you prone to anaemia. You will need regular blood tests to monitor your levels of blood cells and check for any other problems”.

This drug is described as the ‘preferred’ immunosuppressant drug’ used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, but NHS Choices says that the long-term use of azathioprine has been linked to a small increase in the risk of cancer, particularly skin cancer! It also not normally recommended for pregnant women.

“However, if it is the only treatment that successfully controls your condition, it is likely you will be advised to continue taking it. Any risk to you or your child is far outweighed by the risks presented by ulcerative colitis”.

NHS Choices continues by saying that severe active ulcerative colitis “should be managed in hospital to minimise the risk of dehydration, malnutrition and potentially fatal complications such as your colon rupturing”.

NHS Choices says that Infliximab is “a new type of medication only used to treat severe active ulcerative colitis if you are unable to take steroid medication for medical reasons, such as being allergic to it”. The describe the side effects of this drug to be
*     joint and muscle pain
*     itchy skin
*     high temperature
*     rash
*     swelling of the hands or lips
*     problems swallowing
*     headaches

NHS Choices then says that “there have been a number of cases where infliximab has "reactivated" a previously dormant tuberculosis (TB) infection. Therefore, it may not be suitable if you have a previous history of TB. The same is also true with the viral infection hepatitis B. Infliximab is also not recommended for people with a history of heart disease. Infliximab will make you more vulnerable to infection, so avoid contact with people who have a known chickenpox or shingles infection.

NHS Choices says that if ulcerative colitis does not respond to intensive medical treatment, then surgery may be required, and that patients may wish to consider this if “the condition is affecting quality of life”.

According to NHS Choices, surgery involves permanently removing the colon – a colectomy, and the re-routing of the small intestine so that it can pass waste products out of your body. Apparently, according to NHS Choices, this surgery can now be done without the requirement to carry an external pouch.

Alternatively, of course, patients may want to choose a safer, more effective treatment for this disabling disease.


In comparison with conventional medicine, homeopathy has a lot to offer patients with Ulcerative Colititis (and IBD).

The description of the main remedies used for the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis come from the website. It describes a safer, and more effective treatment for this painful and disruptive disease than is offered by conventional medicine.

“As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several well-proved medicines are available for ulcerative colitis treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, condition, sensation and modalities of the complaints. For individualised remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following well proved medicines which are much helpful for the treatment of ulcerative colitis:

This is a remarkable remedy for ulcerative colitis, since the emotional element is uppermost in Ignatia, relationship of this physical irritation first needs to be established. To resolve this emotional state Ignatia is much helpful.

Natrum Mur
This remedy is the ‘chronic’ of Ignatia. Ill effects of grief, fright and anger aggravations by consolation are the characteristic features. Cutting pain in abdomen and the abdominal ring, burning and stitching pain in the rectum after a copious diarrhoea.

This remedy is for a nervous personality with marked irritability. This irritability is reflected in temper as well as in function of the digestion. The peristalsis is aggravated with the emotional outburst.

Aurum Met
The patient has feeling of self-condemnation and utter worthlessness, profound despondency that affects the digestion.

Nux Vomica 
An excellent medicine for ulcerative colitis, if one studies the Nux Vomica, one sees a clear picture of this condition.

This is another remedy that has a very close resemblance to the condition.

Merc Sol
This remedy also has a very close relationship with the pathology of ulcerative colitis (for instance, where the symptoms are of bloody slimy stools with a strong and constant desire to pass stool, and the ‘never get done’ feeling.

Yet there are many other remedies that match the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis, including Merc Cor, Sulphur, and Phosphorus.

Hamemelis is a useful remedy for controlling the bleeding aspect of the disease. 

Ferrum phos and Ferrum metallicum are useful for correcting anaemia.


Study Proves the Effectiveness of Homeopathy for Managing Ulcerative Colitis
Maas HPJA. “Ulcerative Colitis treated with Homoeopathy” British Homoeopathic Journal, July 1993, 82, 179-185.

In this retrospective case analysis, 24 people suffering from ulcerative colitis were treated in an Argentinian clinic using constitutional homoeopathy over periods of up to 19 years. Of these 24, 16 patients were assessed as having good outcomes.