If you have symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea with blood, you may be afflicted with the long-term condition called ulcerative colitis (UC). But what is Ulcerative colitis? Ulcerative colitis is, as mentioned earlier, a long-term condition or malady that usually results into ulcers and inflammation of the colon and rectum. Other symptoms of UC include fever, anemia, and weight loss. These symptoms also diminish during periods of hiatus or no symptoms, and these “no-symptoms” periods happen in between flares.
Understanding the Theories on the Possible Cause of Ulcerative Colitis
Medical science is at a loss as to what the causes of UC. There are various theories regarding the causes of this disease, but these theories still border on conjectures that are still not yet confirmed by medical science. One theory posits that it is the dysfunction of the immune system that may be the cause of this disease. This dysfunction of the immune system leads to tissue damage like that of ulcerative colitis. Yet, at present, there is no direct connection that is clearly established between the immune system and ulcerative colitis. Hence, this theory that implicates the immune system is still on the level of conjecture.
Genetics is also pinpointed as a possible cause of ulcerative colitis. Yet, at this point, medical science has not yet established a clear correlation between genetics and this disease. As such, this theory on the genetic origin of this disease still hangs in a balance. On the other hand, there are some medical experts who assume that the cause of this disease is the abrupt changes in the characteristics of normal gut bacteria. This theory assumes that the colon and rectum harbor normal and necessary bacteria. But once the characteristics of these bacteria change, they cause imbalance within the colon and rectum, leading to ulcers and eventual inflammation of the linings of the colon and rectum.
Another angle that is looked upon by medical science is environmental factors. Regular diets and lifestyles are also considered by medical science as a possible cause of UC, for there is a certain prevalence of UC in the western and highly developed countries than in less developed countries. It also appears that the removal of appendix at an early stage seems to preclude the onset of this disease. However, data and studies are still limited to conclusively correlate the appendix removal with the prevention of the onset of this disease.
An alternate theory may sound plausible at this point. This alternate theory states that the number of sulfate-reducing bacteria within the intestine of ulcerative colitis patient is higher as compared to those without. This imply that there is a higher amount of hydrogen sulfide within the intestine. Hence, the disease may be caused by hydrogen sulfide which has toxic effects on the intestinal linings.
So far, medical scientists are still trying to figure out the exact cause of this disease, and until such cause is determined, the exact cure for this disease will remain elusive, and the remedies given to those who suffer from this disease will only be curing the symptoms of the disease but not the disease itself. At present, there are around 11 million people across the globe who are afflicted with this disease, and in the United States alone, there are more than 1 million people who suffer from this disease.
Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
The contemporary medical remedies for Ulcerative Colitis are all designed to reduce the symptoms, but not to totally eradicate the disease. Because of this, many patients with ulcerative colitis are resorting to alternative medicines, hoping that what medical science cannot totally cure, could be cured by traditional medicines.
There are many herbs that are deemed capable of reducing the symptoms and eventually curing ulcerative colitis, and one of the most potential herbal remedy for this disease is that of Turmeric. The lowly turmeric is a common sight in most groceries and marketplaces. But it is native to southeastern Asia, especially, in India where it is a staple ingredient for most of their menus. In Hindu traditional medicine, the turmeric is one of the most valued medicinal herbs, especially for ulcerative colitis flare reduction.
Turmeric is widely studied by medical science. In fact, medical science has discovered the active ingredient of turmeric called “curcumin” which is known to have powerful medicinal effects. Regular intake of turmeric is believed to reduce cancer, skin disease, and digestive problems like that of ulcerative colitis. However, scientific medicine still must figure out the other beneficial chemicals contained in turmeric. Here are some of the known health benefits of turmeric:
Proven Anti-inflammatory Properties
Traditional medicines have long been recommending the use of turmeric to relieve intestinal problems. But this recommendation needs scientific backing for the Western medicine to accept it. In one study in 2013, rat models were induced to have ulcerative colitis and then later on given a dose of turmeric. The results showed that there were remarkable turmeric ulcerative colitis flare reductions, prodding the experimenters to conclude that turmeric has the ability to reduce inflammation and modulate the pathways of immune system. This research has also followed through with this type of experiment with rats and ended up with the same conclusion. There are many other studies conducted on the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and all these studies have proven categorically that indeed it has enough anti-inflammatory properties.
It is replete with Anti-oxidants
Several studies have shown the remarkable anti-oxidant contents of turmeric. Curcumin is one of the antioxidant contents of turmeric. Curcumin, as of now, is not scientifically proven to have medicinal use for it is both unstable and non-bioavailable as a chemical. But this doesn’t mean that it has no medicinal properties. It is just so unstable that it is hard to do scientific experiments on it. Its actual effects, however, like that of turmeric ulcerative colitis flare reduction, are clearly shown by studies on rats.
In one study, curcumin has been found to prevent lipid peroxidation, while also precluding oxidative stress. With this property, curcumin has been proven to provide relief to ulcerative colitis patients. Oxidative stress has also been found to cause colorectal cancer; hence, many researchers are looking closely at the possibility of using turmeric in treating patients with colorectal cancer.
Turmeric has Gastro-protective Properties
In a study conducted by Liju et al. in 2015, turmeric was shown to contain essential oils that contain gastro-protective properties, and it helps in reducing ulcers in the gastric linings. This study has shown that turmeric has the potential to reduce induced gastric ulcers. There were other studies designed to show the protective turmeric ulcerative colitis flare reduction properties on the gastrointestinal linings such as those of Yadav et al. and many more.
It Improves the Immune System’s Functions
If the cause of ulcerative colitis is that of the dysfunctional immune system, then turmeric with its arsenals of healthful chemical contents could be a potential cure for this disease. The reason for this is that turmeric has been shown to regulate the immune system. Various experiments on animal subjects showed that regular intake of turmeric could produce a remarkable effect on the natural killer cells, T cells, and macrophages. It also modulates the expressions of these cells. Lastly, clinical studies on patients with ulcerative colitis have shown that regular intake of turmeric have a lasting effect in maintaining the remission of UC.