Ulcerative colitis causes attacks of bloody diarrhea, cramps, blood in stools, and mucus. Spastic colitis causes abdominal pain, abdominal distention, cramps, gas, constipation, diarrhea, but no blood in stool. In both cases, symptoms may disappear between episodes.
What is Colitis?
From Modern Western Medicine
Literally, inflammation of the colon, colitis arises from unknown causes. It usually begins in young adulthood, and may be due to viral infection or a bacterium that produces poisons that irritate the intestinal lining. Colitis may also be caused by antibiotics that are taken for two weeks or more. Antibiotics kill friendly bacteria, which are replaced by hostile flora (usually Clostridium difficile), which produce toxins that can injure the intestinal wall. Often, the infections that give rise to symptoms of colitis are defeated by the body without treatment.
Antibiotics are the most common form of treatment. Corticosteroid drugs are also prescribed for both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, occasionally, special diets and supplements are recommended.
From Traditional Medicine
Colitis, like other so-called civilized disease, is rare in countries that subsist on the traditional human diet and avoid pharmaceutical drugs. Traditional healers regard diet as the central cause of the illness, especially the consumption of animal proteins and refined foods, both of which give rise to constipation and an unhealthy bacterial environment. Another cause is the lack of exercise.
Animal foods cause poor intestinal health in several ways. They are difficult to digest and eliminate and thus promote constipation. The caliber of chewed piece of meal is small and requires the intestines to contract significantly in order to move the meat through the colon. The degree of contraction causes pockets to form within the intestine (diverticula) that become storage area for waste and toxins. These toxins can produce fissures and sores within the intestinal lining that eventually become ulcers, cysts, or polyps. Red meat also encourages the growth of unfriendly bacteria that produce toxins that further exacerbate the unhealthy environment and can even injure the intestinal lining. Finally, meat products increase levels of bile acids within the intestines, which can further damage the organ.
Refined foods lack fiber, which makes elimination difficult and encourages the accumulation of waste products within the intestines. Such waste products ferment, irritate, and eventually can cause inflammation and ulcers on the organ’s lining. The repeated use of harsh laxatives and antibiotics contribute to the disorder. Laxatives force the colon to function temporarily, but the long-term effects of laxatives weaken the organ.
- A high-fiber, low-protein diet is the best prevention and cure. However, initially the person’s colon may be so irritated that fiber can further exacerbate the symptoms. Thus fibrous foods must be introduced slowly.
- Mix whole grains with refined ones, such as brown rice with white or whole wheat noodles with white noodles to reduce the fiber content of the food and make it easier for the intestines to adapt to the new diet.
- Boil or pressure cook grains with plenty of water so that the grain dish is wet, with the consistency of a soupy porridge.
- Eat alkalizing fermented foods, such as miso soup and tamari- and shoyu-based broths, with vegetables.
Foods to Eat
- Brown rice, boiled and served soupy, mixed with white rice to reduce fiber
- Whole grain noodles mixed with white noodles
- Basmati rice
- Wild rice
- Squash, boiled or baked until soft, two to three times per week
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Boiled carrots, served soft
- Root stews, composed of rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, and onions, boiled till soft
- Onions, baked and boiled
- Miso, shoyu, and tempeh (only of the highest quality, organic fermented soybean products to replace friendly bacteria that have been destroyed by antibiotics)
- High-quality (preferably organic) sauerkraut
- Carrot juice
- Apple juice
Also include the following fruits:
- Stewed or bakes apples
- Applesauce, warmed slightly before eating
Meat and other animal proteins, which cause an overproduction of acid in the intestines, are the primary cause of inflammation, along with the stagnation of the liver, which may be caused in part by repressed emotions. Lifestyle changes that include a significant reduction in all animal foods, an increase of whole grains, vegetables, and alkalizing foods; deep relaxation; regular exercise, and some form of therapy to release inhibited emotional stress are all strongly recommended. All food must be chewed thoroughly (35 to 50 times per mouthful) to make the food less irritating to the intestines. Chewing also enhances secretion of pancreatic enzymes and provides the initial step in digesting the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Finally, chewing increases saliva content of the food; saliva is highly alkalizing and acts as a healing salve on the intestinal wall.
Use soothing, mucilaginous foods and preparations:
- Waters, soups, or congees of oats, barley, or rice
- Honey water
- Soy milk
- Cereal grass, microalgae, liquid chlorophyll
Foods to Avoid
- Dairy products
- Fried foods
- Heated or poor-quality vegetable oils
- Red meats
- Hot spices
- Excessive salt
Herbs to Treat Colitis
- Comfrey root decoction. Drink 2 oz., four times a day
- Psyllium: powder or soaked seeds will assist easy evacuation during colitis. Take a teaspoon of powder or ground, soaked seeds in warm water, three times a day. For children, take ½ tsp.
- Kelp: Sprinkle on food, 1 tsp., one to two times daily; or take 3 to 5 #0 capsules, one or two times a day
- Comfrey tablets: when the condition clears, take 10 – 20 daily with meals
- Slippery elm tea (warm, not hot)
- Comfrey tea (warm, not hot)
- Cold compress: Apply over abdomen to reduce inflammation
- Warm fomentations over the lower spine and stomach
- Warm, full-body baths
- Beta-carotene: 500 IU per day
- Vitamin B complex: liquid B is best, taken once daily
- Vitamin C (buffered): take in powdered form diluted in water, 100 mg per day
- Calcium: 800-1000 mg per day
- Spirulina: 1 teaspoon daily
- Bifidobacteria (including B. bifidum, B. infantis, and B. longum)
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus