Acupuncture for Colitis
Often called “colitis” or “proctitis”, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation throughout the lower colon and rectum, and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine. Lymphocytic colitis causes an inflamed colon, with chronic watery diarrhea.
The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, blood in the stool and diarrhea. The ulcers that form bleed and produce pus.
Diagnosis of Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is difficult to diagnose. Symptoms are much like those of Crohn’s disease, but this also shows symptoms in other parts of the digestive tract.
Ulcerative colitis may have unexpected side effects such as arthritis, skin rashes, inflammation of the eye, liver disease (hepatitis, cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis), osteoporosis, and anemia.
Non-specific symptoms, which also make diagnosis difficult, include:
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- rectal bleeding
- loss of body fluids (dehydration)
- Loss of nutrients (mineral salts)
Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis, when the condition is not serious, is treated symptomatically with medications to control inflammation. Drugs to address diarrhea, pain and infection often are prescribed. The range of drug side effects include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headache weight gain, acne, facial hair, hypertension, mood swings, and an increased risk of infection pancreatitis and hepatitis.
The course of colitis sometimes shows lengthy periods of remission but symptoms usually return. As a result,it is impossible to know if any symptomatic treatment actually has been effective.
It has been observed that highly seasoned foods, raw vegetables and fruits, and dairy products (lactose) aggravate the condition. Severe emotional situations also affect this disease. Avoidance of these triggers is recommended.
A short list of supplements has shown some promise. These include probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and psyllium seeds.
Serious cases require surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon and rectum. This situation is not common but when advised it does cure the condition.
Acupuncture is a Different Approach
Because acupuncture is known to be effective in combating inflammation and pain, acupuncture can be a superior symptomatic treatment for less-severe mild and chronic ulcerative colitis.
Combined with herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this combination treatment often produces effective symptomatic relief without the side effects common to drug therapy.
A combination of acupuncture with Western drug therapies often has been found more effective than either therapy alone.