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General characteristics

General characteristics

Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon (also known as the large intestine or bowel). This inflammation can occur as the result of an infection, poor blood supply to the bowel, poor diet, antibiotics and a proliferation of unhealthy bowel bacteria, stress, an overactive immune response and genetic predisposition.
There are several types of colitis such as ulcerative colitis, infectious or ischaemic colitis (see 'circulation' in the 'common ailments' section for suggestions on improving blood flow in the treatment of ischaemic colitis) but all are characterised by pain, blood in the stools and diarrhoea. In many cases, the colitis episodes can be chronic and long term but then go into remission for periods of time.
Dr Klein has this to say about the normal process of inflammation ......"The body enacts inflammation in the colon for the purpose of breaking down and eliminating extremely poisonous matter on and in its tissues. If a person with an inflamed bowel discontinues the unhealthful factors (e.g., diet) which toxify the body, and gives him/herself the rest needed to support healing, the inflammation will complete its job and the bowel spontaneously heal." He adds, "ulcers are also enacted by the body, in order to eliminate extreme overloads of toxic waste matter. The body intelligently creates ulcers as an open outlet for the elimination of toxins when the toxic load is too great for the body to neutralize and eliminate by inflammation alone. Ulcerations are manifestations of healing; they are part of the "curing" process. If one discontinues the unhealthful factors which toxify the body, ulcers will spontaneously heal. This is not a theory - - it is a scientific physiological fact, which I and others have experienced." His website is very informative.
Herbs and natural treatments aim to improve the overall health of the bowel, increase the population of beneficial bowel bacteria, enhance the immune response and relieve the inflammation and pain.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

As always try to eat a well balanced diet based on fresh, unprocessed raw or very lightly cooked living foods.

Drink plenty of water and fluids but limit caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol.

Include plenty of soluble fibre such as peeled vegetables and fruits, porridge and oats and white rice as these give bulk for the intestines to work on and prevent constipation. Insoluble fibre such as wheat and bran and vegetable and fruit peel, beans and pulses can irritate the condition so use sparingly.

Use dairy foods sparingly, especially during a flare up. The lactose contained in dairy foods can remain undigested and irritate the bowel and cause bloating and diarrhoea.

Avoid all junk, sugary and processed 'dead' foods, all margarines and processed fats and oils, and all artificial sweeteners as they are very harmful to the entire digestive system and ultimately, overall health. Try eating only fresh fruit and veg for a few weeks and see what happens!

Limit red meat intake.

Many sufferers advocate fasting for a few days whilst consuming only freshly prepared fruit or veg juices, healing herb teas, thin watery soups and spring water before slowly introducing foods like mashed bananas and steamed mashed fruits and veg (ie. home cooked baby food!) day by day.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Use turmeric liberally in your cooking or make capsules with the powder and take daily. Turmeric is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory herb.

Add a pinch of goldenseal powder or a few drops of tincture to herb teas or tinctures for its potent healing effect on mucous membranes.

Fenugreek seeds are soothing and healing to membranes and also assist the body in the normal cleansing and detoxifying processes. Use a teaspoon of crushed seed per cup and drink a cup before meals.

The mucilaginous herbs such as marshmallow root and leaf, comfrey leaf and slippery elm can be used to soothe inflammation and heal ulcerations. Use in powdered form or brew up a tea using a teaspoon of each and simmer for 20 minutes. Take half a cup twice daily.

Astringent herbs such as meadowsweet, american cranesbill (a geranium), lady's mantle, yarrow and agrimony can be used to stop bleeding and dry up the membranes. Use as tinctures or teas.

Wild yam and chamomile are also good anti-inflammatories.

A useful general formula for flare ups could include equal parts of tinctures of holy thistle, casacra bark, wild yam, meadowsweet, yellow dock, marshmallow root and barberry. Use a teaspoon 3 times daily before meals.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Enemas containing healing and soothing herbs such as meadowsweet, comfrey leaf, marshmallow root and goldenseal can provide relief and quickly goes to work on the bowel lining. You can make a tea by simmering a teaspoon of each and a pinch of goldenseal powder in a pint of water for 20 minutes or so. Enema kits are available at chemists or online and are easy to perform by yourself whilst in the bath for instance. Use every few days during a flare up, not when the colitis is dormant.
Take a good probiotic such as lactobacillus or cider vinegar (1 tablespoon in water twice daily).
Acupuncture has a beneficial effect on many sufferers.

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