Considering that 18% of persons with ulcerative colitis suffer from an active form of the disease, and 30% of those patients need a colostomy within 10 years of diagnosis, it’s no surprise that treatment can be quite challenging. Factors such as the timing of identification, environmental elements influencing the colon, and side effects have lead researchers and doctors to look beyond the standard protocols to alternative approaches. Let’s take a look at five ways currently being used to manage this unfortunate problem.
Mainstream treatment of colitis uses a variety of drugs, mainly corticosteroids, depending on the severity of the disease and the responsiveness of the patient. With the use of drugs, about 30% of patients experience remission at 52 weeks of treatment.  
Probiotics have captured a lot of attention as a therapeutic option for ulcerative colitis.  Results of probiotic supplementation seem to prove favorable.  Adding probiotics by introducing kombucha, fermented sauerkraut, or a probiotic supplement can go beyond protecting the colon, with plenty of research showing positive effects on digestion and immune system health.
3. Fecal Matter Transfer (FMT)
The idea behind this approach involves relocating healthy colonic bacteria from a donor host to a patient. In other words, the technique essentially transfers fecal matter from one person to another. Yuck, right? Well, a study looking at the effectiveness of this procedure noted success in 1 out of 5 patients, or 20%.   For many, probiotics are a more preferred way to get healthy bacterial colonies into the gastrointestinal tract.
The most severe cases do not respond to drugs and may advance the problem, even to colorectal cancer. Surgery remains a regular practice for non-responsive patients. Some doctors have introduced a three-stage surgery for active ulcerative colitis; the standard procedure involves only two stages. Researchers recently evaluated both approaches and found the three-stage procedure to be note quite as safe as previously assumed.  Patients undergoing the traditional two-stage surgery had no difference in abscess formation or pouch failure (a surgical creation to replace the colon and rectum). 
The ancient practice of acupuncture has shown promise for ulcerative colitis, with numerous studies citing its effect on easing the severity of the disease. One study looked at moxibustion application (the heating of an acupuncture site) in tandem with a traditional ulcerative colitis drug. Patients with a mild to moderate condition experience much greater relief and symptom reduction than those who did not receive the moxibustion application. Another study examined the use of Kuijiening plaster to treat the spleen-kidney yang deficiency associated with ulcerative colitis and found that patients responded significantly better than those only receiving the standard drug.   The continued success of holistic treatments suggests the need for a broader consideration of the disease and its approaches.
Ulcerative Colitis: A Look to the Future
Although strides continue to be made to find safe, effective approaches for ulcerative colitis, alternative tools like probiotics and acupuncture have shown an immense amount of promise. Every patient facing the challenge of ulcerative colitis needs to keep informed of the advancements. Is ulcerative colitis a problem for you? How have you managed it? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.
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