• Abdominal pain on the left side.
• Diarrhea, with mucus and blood in the feces.
• In severe cases, fever and general malaise.
• Possible anemia and, if toxins get into the bloodstream, septicemia.
Although the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, it is believed that food allergy, infection, autoimmune problems, low levels of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, stress, and some antibiotics aggravate the condition. There may be a genetic tendency. Many sufferers are found to be emotionally stressed, especially if they are frustrated at work or grieving.
Conventional care
Diagnosis is by means of a barium enema and an endoscopy of the rectum and lower colon. If these are not conclusive, a biopsy, whereby a small piece of the bowel lining is removed, may be performed. Infections can be discounted by analyzing stool samples. Treatment is with sulfasalazine and its derivatives and possibly corticosteroid drugs. Ulcerative colitis is a potentially serious condition, and surgery may be necessary. In a few cases of persistent colitis, colonic cancer has been known to develop, so regular examinations are advisable.
Homeopathic medicine
Constitutional assessment is a prerequisite of effective homeopathic treatment. A full medical will include referral for colonic investigation if necessary. Specific symptoms will then be studied, along with any aggravating factors that have been observed, and emotional temperament.
The most important criteria in determining constitutional treatment are the individual’s symptoms. Some remedies have an affinity for the digestive tract, and are particularly effective in treating the symptoms of inflammation of the colon. Cantharis is prescribed for inflammation of the lining of the gut and the production of thick, sticky mucus. Colchicum is given for colitis with dysentery-like symptoms. Colocynthis is effective for colicky and neuralgic pains induced by irritation of the intestine; and Merc. corr. is used for constant straining of the rectum, which is not eased by passing stools. Arsen. alb., Nux vomica, and Sulphur are other commonly used constitutional remedies.
Remedies for acute flare-ups of colitis include Merc. corr., when there are hot, foul-smelling stools containing blood and mucus, and cutting pains in the abdomen on passing a stool, which are not relieved by emptying the bowel; Arsen. alb., for restlessness, anxiety, burning abdominal pains with vomiting, a frequent desire for sips of warm drinks, and attacks that come on around midnight; and Phosphorus, if stools are bloody, and pain is relieved by passing a stool but then the anus feels as though it is gaping.
Changing to a high-fiber diet with few dairy products may reduce the likelihood of further attacks. Other foods and drinks that are best avoided include refined carbohydrates, those containing caffeine, and alcohol. A nutritionist will be able to advise further. Smoking is inadvisable. When consulting a doctor about infections, colitis sufferers should draw attention to their condition, which may be exacerbated by taking antibiotics. Relaxation techniques and meditation are advisable for those leading stressful lives. During a colitis attack, the most suitable foods are those that are easily digested.

David was a 41-year-old stockbroker. Originally diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, his condition had since been identified by a colonoscopy as ulcerative colitis. He believed that an infection picked up while traveling had made his condition worse. He was taking a corticosteroid and a sulfasalazine derivative, before which he had five or six watery bowel movements a day. His anus was raw and sore. He had great flatulence, with some pain, and had to get up in the early morning to empty his bowels.
David’s father had died when he was eight, and his mother had relied heavily on him. He felt great relief on going away to college, and did well in his work, although it was his main source of stress. He had lost a nine-month-old daughter, a victim of crib death. David was not sure he had gotten over this. He described himself as solid, but feared being incapacitated by illness.
David had a fairly sweet tooth. He liked vinegar and spices, but avoided them in case they upset him. He believed that milk and cheese upset his bowel. He loved tea, and had not smoked for 12 years.
David felt better in dry heat and worse in humid conditions. He slept well and awoke refreshed, but had to get up immediately.
David was treated with Sulphur, after which his condition improved, with fewer and firmer bowel movements. The corticosteroid dosage was reduced, and David was able to sleep in later in the mornings. About this time he had dreams concerning his job and family, but he continued to improve, reducing his conventional drugs. He was then prescribed the nosode of measles since he had suffered a bad attack as a child. This remedy worked to good effect, so the potency was increased. David’s progress continued and he reduced his drugs further. When last seen, he was on a maintenance dose of mesalazine, and continued to improve.
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