Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic problem of the colon. Regular inflammation causes damage to the colon. This leads to bleeding, loose or bloody stools, pain, cramps, and weight loss. Problems tend to come and go over time.
There is no cure for UC. Medicines and changes in how you eat can help to control it. The goal is to control flare-ups and increase symptom-free time. Serious problems may need surgery.
Natural therapies may help to lessen the effects of UC and improve quality of life. It may also help to keep remission. It works bets when combined with standard care.
- Acupuncture and moxibustion (use of heat to stimulate acupuncture points)B1-B3
- Fish Oil —Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.D1-D3
- Myrrh, chamomile, and coffee charcoal blend E1
- Probiotics —may help reduce symptoms and maintain remissions. The probiotic VSL#3 appears to have the best results.F1-F7
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction —does not appear to UC itself, but may improve quality of life.G1-G2
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.
A1. Tang T, Targan SR, Li ZS, Xu C, Byers VS, Sandborn W. Randomised clinical trial: herbal extract HMPL-004 in active ulcerative colitis - a double-blind comparison with sustained release mesalazine. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011;33(2):194-202.
A2. Sandborn WJ, Targan SR, Byers VS, et al. Andrographis paniculata extract (HMPL-004) for active ulcerative colitis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(1):90-98.
B. Acupuncture and Moxibustion
B1. Joos S, Wildau N, Kohnen R, et al. Acupuncture and moxibustion in the treatment of ulcerative colitis: a randomized controlled study. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006;41(9):1056-1063.
B2. Lee DH, Kim JI, Lee MS, Choi TY, Choi SM, Ernst E. Moxibustion for ulcerative colitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Gastroenterol. 2010;10:36.
B3. Ji J, Lu Y, Liu H, et al. Acupuncture and moxibustion for inflammatory bowel diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:158352.
C1. Hanai H, Iida T, Takeuchi K, et al. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;4(12):1502-1506.
C2. Singla V, Pratap Mouli V, Garg SK, et al. Induction with NCB-02 (curcumin) enema for mild-to-moderate distal ulcerative colitis - a randomized, placebo-controlled, pilot study. J Crohns Colitis. 2014;8(3):208-214.
D1. Stenson WF, Cort D, Rodgers J, et al. Dietary supplementation with fish oil in ulcerative colitis. Ann Intern Med. 1992;116(8):609-614.
D2. Hawthorne AB, Daneshmend TK, Hawkey CJ, et al. Treatment of ulcerative colitis with fish oil supplementation: a prospective 12 month randomised controlled trial. Gut. 1992;33(7):922-928.
D3. De Ley M, de Vos R, Hommes DW, Stokkers P. Fish oil for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(4):CD005986.
E. Myrrh, Chamomile, and Coffee Charcoal Blend
E1. Langhorst J, Varnhagen I, Schneider SB, et al. Randomised clinical trial: a herbal preparation of myrrh, chamomile and coffee charcoal compared with mesalazine in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis--a double-blind, double-dummy study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013;38(5):490-500.
F1. Mallon P, McKay D, Kirk S, Gardiner K. Probiotics for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(4):CD005573.
F2. Mallon P, McKay D, Kirk S, Gardiner K. Probiotics for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(4):CD005573.
F3. Naidoo K, Gordon M, Fagbemi AO, Thomas AG, Akobeng AK. Probiotics for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(12):CD007443.
F4. Sang LX, Chang B, Zhang WL, Wu XM, Li XH, Jiang M. Remission induction and maintenance effect of probiotics on ulcerative colitis: a meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol. 2010;16(15):1908-1915.
F5. Naidoo K, Gordon M, Fagbemi AO, Thomas AG, Akobeng AK. Probiotics for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(12):CD007443.
F6. Shen J, Zuo ZX, Mao AP. Effect of probiotics on inducing remission and maintaining therapy in ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and pouchitis: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014;20(1):21-35.
F7. Derwa Y, Gracie DJ, Hamlin PJ, Ford AC. Systematic review with meta-analysis: the efficacy of probiotics in inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2017;46(4):389-400.
G. Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction
G1. Elsenbruch S, Langhorst J, Popkirowa K, et al. Effects of mind-body therapy on quality of life and neuroendocrine and cellular immune functions in patients with ulcerative colitis. Psychother Psychosom. 2005;74(5):277-287.
G2. Jedel S1, Hoffman A, Merriman P, et al. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to prevent flare-up in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis. Digestion. 2014;89(2):142-155.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Richard Glickman-Simon, MD Last Updated: 3/2/2019