Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon. The disease results from prolonged irritation and inflammation of the delicate membrane which lines the walls of the colon. Chronic ulcerative colitis is a severe prolonged inflammation of the colon or large bowel, in which ulcers form on the walls of the colon.
Causes and Symptoms of ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative Colitis usually begins in the lower part of the colon and spreads upwards. The first symptom of the trouble is an increased urgency to move the bowel, followed by cramping pains in the abdomen and, sometimes, bloody mucus in the stools. As the disease spreads upward, the stools become watery and more frequent and are characterised by rectal straining. The loss of blood and fluid from the bowels results in weakness, fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and anaemia. Other symptoms are a bloated feeling, constipation alternating with diarrhoea or persistent diarrhoea for years together, and insomnia. The patient is usually malnourished and may be severely underweight.
One of the causes of colitis is chronic constipation and the use of purgatives. Constipation causes an accumulation of the hard faecal matter which is never properly evacuated. Purgatives used as a ‘cure’ only increase irritation. Often colitis results from poorly digested roughage, especially of cereals and carbohydrates, which causes bowel irritation. Other causes of the disease are an allergic sensitivity to certain foods, intake of antibiotics and severe stress.
Natural Remedies for ulcerative colitis
Banana: One or two ripe bananas taken every day are one of the most effective home remedies for ulcerative colitis. Being bland, smooth, easily-digestible and slightly laxative, they relieve the acute symptoms and promote the healing process.
Buttermilk: A glass of buttermilk taken daily is another effective remedy for colitis. It is the residual liquid left over after the fat has been removed from curd by churning.
Tender Coconut: Drinking the water of one tender coconut daily has been found valuable in colitis. It is soothing to the soft mucosa of the colon.
Apples: Steamed apples also aid the healing of ulcerative lesions because of their ample concentration of iron and phosphorus.
Drumstick: Drumsticks are also useful in colitis. A teaspoon of fresh leaf juice, mixed with an equal quantity of honey and a glass of tender coconut water, is given two or three times daily as a herbal medicine fur the treatment of this disease.
Rice: Rice has very low fibre content, and is, therefore, extremely soothing in colitis. A thick gruel of rice mixed with a glass of buttermilk and a ripe banana, given twice a day, forms a very nutritious, well-balanced diet in this disease.
Wheat-grass: The juice of wheat-grass (a grass which grows after sowing wheat grains in the earth) used as an enema, helps detoxify the walls of the colon. The general procedure is to first give an enema with lukewarm water. After waiting for twenty minutes, 90-120 ml of wheat-grass juice enema is given. This should be retained for fifteen minutes. This enema is very helpful in disorders associated with colitis. Wheat-grass can be grown at home in earthen pots if it is not available through dealers.
Diet plays an important part in the treatment of colitis. It is advisable to observe a juice fast for five days or so, in most cases of ulcerative colitis. Papaya juice, raw cabbage juice, and carrot juice are especially beneficial. Citrus juices should be avoided.
After the juice fast, the patient should gradually adopt a diet of small, frequent meals of soft cooked or steamed vegetables, rice, porridge, dalia, and well-ripened fruits like banana and papaya, yoghurt, and home-made cottage cheese. Sprouted seeds and grains, wholemeal bread, and raw vegetables may be added gradually to this diet after about ten days. All food must be eaten slowly and chewed thoroughly.
Foods which should be excluded from the diet are white sugar, white bread, and white flour products; highly seasoned foods; highly salted foods; strong tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages; and foods cooked in aluminium pans.
During the first five days of the juice fast, the bowels should be cleansed daily with a warm-water enema. A buttermilk enema taken twice a week is also soothing and helps in re-installing useful bacterial flora in the colon.
Complete bedrest is very important. The patient should eliminate all causes of tension and face his discomfort with patience.