Nov 24 2019

Ulcerative Colitis – Part 2

Published by at 11:31 am under Colon Cleanse,probiotic supplements

Ulcerative Colitis…what it is and what can be done – Part 2

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, are particularly perplexing forms of Colitis.

During our last blog, we started our series on Colitis. We covered the different types of colitis, the symptoms and how to determine if it is time to seek medical care.

One of the most commonly diagnosed types of colitis is Ulcerative colitis. It is one of two conditions classified as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease with the other being Crohn’s Disease. These two conditions can be particularly frustrating because their causes are often unknown and those suffering have to deal with them their whole life. It occurs when the immune system overreacts to bacteria and other particles in the digestive tract, yet health experts can’t pinpoint why this happens. (1,2)*

Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the colon that can cause the tissue to break down, resulting in the formation of ulcerations along the colon. Depending on the type, it can involve the entire colon or only parts of it. “…The common types of Ulcerative Colitis include proctosigmoiditis, which affects the rectum and lower portion of the colon, left-sided colitis, which affects the left side of the colon beginning at the rectum and pancolitis, which affects the entire large intestine…” (1,2)*

Ulcerative colitis in almost all cases requires some form of treatment. Unlike other forms of colitis that are caused by external influences such as bacteria, antibiotics, chemicals, chemotherapy, etc., ulcerative colitis is believed to be caused by a genetic mutation that allows bad bacteria to irritate the intestine. While the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, it is believed to be related to abnormal immunologic reactions by the body to normal bacteria that typically reside in the colon. The body’s immune system reacts by attacking the colon which causes inflammation.1*

“…Ulcerative colitis is a disease that occurs in developed nations and is more common in cities than in the countryside. Approximately 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer from ulcerative colitis. Individuals with ulcerative colitis usually develop the disease between ages 15 and 25 although the disease may begin at any age. There seems to be a genetic component since ulcerative colitis is more common among relatives of individuals with ulcerative colitis. Caucasians and individuals of eastern European Jewish descent are more likely to develop ulcerative colitis…”1*

Crohn’s disease, another form of inflammatory bowel disease, is different in that it is not isolated to the colon. Crohn’s disease most often usually involves the small intestine, sometimes the small intestine and colon and then sometimes just the colon. Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are chronic gastrointestinal disorders with the symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea with the cause being dysfunction of the nerves and muscles of the intestines with no identifiable inflammation.1*

What are the warming signs?

The main symptoms caused by ulcerative colitis are abdominal pain and diarrhea, usually bloody. Ulcerative colitis can fluctuate in terms of severity over time, with symptoms going from mild to severe and back to mild. It can even “burn out” over time and become inactive. If not controlled, the chronic inflammation and symptoms of ulcerative colitis can affect the patient’s nutritional intake, leading to weight loss and a decreased rate of growth in children.(1,2)*

How to determine if you have Ulcerative Colitis

The best way to determine if ulcerative colitis is present is with a colonoscopy. It can also be diagnosed with a barium enema, which is a procedure that takes X-rays of a barium-filled colon, but the colonoscopy is more effective at identifying lower levels of inflammation and scarring left from the ulcers. Additionally, during a colonoscopy, biopsies can be taken from the lining of the colon which helps confirm the diagnosis.1*

In cases of severe flare-ups, it is necessary to seek treatment so as to avoid scary complications. One such complication is bleeding that can be so severe it leads to anemia. The colon can also dilate to the point that it stops working. Without treatment, the colon can rupture and this is a medical emergency that requires surgery. Unsuccessful surgery can lead to the removal of the colon altogether. 1*

 Another risk of ulcerative colitis is that it puts people at an increased risk for colon cancer, with that risk increases the longer the duration and the extent of the disease. Prevention includes annual screening via colonoscopy in which biopsies can be taken to detect precancerous cells early so that portions of the colon can be removed surgically before cancer develops. 1*

Other complications in other parts of the body can result from having ulcerative colitis. Inflammation can lead to arthritis of the spine and large joints, skin ulcerations may occur and it can lead to a serious liver disease called sclerosing cholangitis, which happens in a small number of people. All of these complications are associated with inflammation and the immune system.1*

There are several treatments for ulcerative colitis all aiming to reduce the inflammation in the colon. While there are several drug treatments commonly prescribed, let’s look at how Probiotics can help those with Ulcerative Colitis. *

Probiotics work in various ways. They act as a barrier by lining the intestinal tract and when taken regularly, prevent other bacteria from reaching and penetrating the mucosal immune system. Probiotics also enhance mucus production, helping produce a thicker mucus layer, which protects against invasive bacteria. They also can alter the consistency of the mucus, thereby “…changing bacterial adherence patterns…” 3*

Additionally, “…probiotics cause the mucosal immune system in the patient’s intestinal tract to secrete protective immunoglobulins (Ig) such as secretory IgA and a host of protective defensins and bacteriocins into the lumen. Finally, probiotics alter the function of the mucosal immune system to make it more anti-inflammatory and less pro-inflammatory; specifically, probiotics can stimulate dendritic cells to make them slightly less responsive and slightly less reactive to bacteria within the lumen. This latter mechanism appears to be particularly important in ulcerative colitis (UC). Working via these mechanisms, probiotics can downregulate the effects of luminal bacteria in initiating and sustaining an intestinal inflammatory response…”3*

Because Ulcerative Colitis is believed to be the result of an underlying genetic mutation that allows  “…aggressive luminal bacteria to initiate a mucosal inflammatory response that is never terminated…” the rationale is that Probiotics help change the existing bacteria so that it is not as aggressive and more anti-inflammatory. The second thought is that Ulcerative Colitis is a mucosal disease, so a therapy that works at the level of the mucosa should be beneficial. Research has been done on probiotic bacteria similar to the strains found in Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™. Probiotics showed to be effective for inducing remission and maintaining a benefit over 24 weeks. More research needs to be done, but multiple studies have concluded that certain strains of bacteria can help prevent a relapse of the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis. (3,4)*

Drugs used to treat Ulcerative Colitis

Commonly prescribed drugs for Ulcerative Colitis are anti inflammatory  drugs such as aminosalicylates, which are related to aspirin. If those are not effective, corticosteroids are used. Lastly,  immunomodulators, which lower the immune response aim to reduce inflammation. These drugs can take weeks to months for maximum benefit to be realized. 1*

Biologic Therapies

Another recent treatment for ulcerative colitis is biologic therapy. Antibodies target inflammation-causing molecules produced by the immune system. These antibodies are administered intravenously every few weeks. The one used most often is directed against a protein called tumor necrosis factor, which is produced by the immune system.1*

Surgery for Ulcerative Colitis

Despite drug therapies, approximately one-third of people with ulcerative colitis will need to undergo surgery to treat the inflammation, prevent or treat cancer, or to treat complications such as the rupture of the colon. Surgery in which the entire colon is removed cures the person of their ulcerative colitis. Medical advancements have made it so that patients are not always left with ileostomies, (external bags into which the small intestine emptied). Instead, surgical techniques have been developed that allow the colon to be removed without the need for an ileostomy.1*

Helminth or Whipworm Therapy

A far out sounding, but possibly promising observation by some researchers is that the pig whipworm could be an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis. “…Scientists believe that the worms that inhabit the colon alter the immune response reduce the inflammation. In one study, 43% of patients with ulcerative colitis improved after ingesting pig whipworm eggs for 12 weeks. The impetus for investigating treatment with the whipworm came from the observation that ulcerative colitis was not common in developing countries where intestinal parasitic diseases are common…” This may be worth exploring further and possibly in a future blog.(1,5)*

I hope this information has been helpful. The more we know, and the more steps we take daily for prevention, such as taking Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ to protect our health, the better. Staying informed and ahead of problems before they get worse, is a big part of this.*

Healthiest wishes,



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