• Dr A A Mundewadi

Ulcerative Colitis – Modern (Allopathic) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Updated: Mar 3

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease which typically affects only the large intestine, and usually involves only the inner layers (mucosa and sub-mucosa) in a continuous manner. This is unlike Crohn’s disease which may affect any part of the gastro-intestinal tract, has a non-continuous spread (skip lesions), and involves the entire depth of the intestinal wall. UC has many causative factors including genetics, immune system reactions, drug usage (mostly pain killers and oral contraceptives), environmental factors, stress, smoking, and consumption of milk products. Common symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen, frequent motions, mucus discharge, and rectal bleed. Patients with severe involvement may have fever, purulent rectal discharge, weight loss, and extra-colonic manifestations.

The modern (Allopathic) management of this condition is based upon the severity at presentation. Mild disease confined to the rectum is treated with topical Mesalazine suppository; left sided colonic disease is treated with Mesalazine suppository as well as oral administration of the same drug. Patients who do not respond well to this treatment are also treated with oral steroids, including budesonide. Patients who achieve remission are maintained on a once –a-day oral drug schedule. Patients with severe disease may need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous steroids and immune suppressant drugs, in addition to the treatment mentioned above. Surgery may be indicated for a select few patients.

Most patients may require treatment on a long-term basis or even life-long. People affected with this condition usually have an increased mortality, either due to the condition, or as a result of side effects of ongoing treatment. There is a risk of long term complications as well as an increased risk of cancer. Elderly patients are more vulnerable to an increase in mortality.

The Ayurvedic treatment of ulcerative colitis consists of giving symptomatic treatment as well as treating the root cause of the disease. Pain in abdomen, chronic diarrhoea, and blood in the stool is treated with Ayurvedic herbal medicines which help in digestion of food, and regulate the forward movement of the intestines. Ayurvedic herbal medicines are used to treat the inflammation in the intestines, to heal the ulceration, and bring the intestinal mucosa back to normal. Ayurvedic herbal medicines which strengthen the intestinal mucosa, and build up the normal cellular structure of the intestinal walls are used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Regular treatment for about four to six months is usually sufficient to bring about a significant healing of the inflammation and ulceration in the intestines, which is usually seen in ulcerative colitis.

In addition, Ayurvedic herbal medicines are also given to normalize and boost the immune status of the affected patients. These treat the root cause of the disease and help in early resolution of the symptoms as well as bring about a complete reversal of the pathology of ulcerative colitis. A complete course of symptomatic treatment as well as immunomodulation treatment helps in preventing further recurrences of this condition. Patients with severe symptoms who do not respond well to oral treatment may also require additional Panchkarma treatment in the form of medicated enemas (Basti). Overall, a patient with severe ulcerative colitis may require treatment from about twelve to eighteen months, in order to be completely cured of this condition.

Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment, Herbal medicines, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease

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