10 Natural Ways to Ease the Pain of Ulcerative Colitis

During my last flare up, I spent hours researching natural remedies for ulcerative colitis symptoms. Here’s what I found: the 10 best ways to naturally ease the pain of colitis, plus links to helpful resources, books, and products.

natural remedies symptoms ulcerative colitis

Me (Laurie)

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis a month before my long-planned trip to Jerusalem, Israel to meet my dad for the first time. I was 29 years old. My gastroenterologist at the time advised me not to proceed with the trip, even though she admitted that the medical facilities in Israel were superior to ours. Since I thought my ulcerative colitis symptoms were killing me, I decided I might as well die in Israel. I spent six weeks in Israel (with a 2 week stopover in Italy), and made peace with my death.

Guess what? That was 16 years ago. I’m still alive! Not only did the symptoms of ulcerative colitis NOT kill me, I actually learned natural remedies for easing the pain of this dreadful terrible ugly gastrointestinal disease. And I made peace with my own death, which I wrote about in Are You Scared to Die? 5 Tips for Accepting Your Death. Hopefully, my tips below will give you a few ideas for easing the pain of your colitis…

Here’s a quick list of the natural remedies for symptoms of ulcerative colitis in this blog post:

  1. Listen to your body’s warning signs of a colitis flare up
  2. Connect with other people who have ulcerative colitis
  3. Learn how to get your colitis into remission
  4. Spend more time in delta sleep
  5. Experiment with prescription medication for painful flare ups
  6. Explore an “ulcerative colitis diet”
  7. Eat these foods to avoid a flare up of ulcerative colitis
  8. Don’t eat these foods
  9. Rebalance your intestinal flora with probiotics
  10. Stay calm and focused

And the resources I used:

  • WebMD’s Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms and Treatment
  • IHaveUC.com
  • Bel Marra Health
  • Everyday Health.com

The link to each website is included in the natural remedies below.

10 Natural Ways to Ease the Pain of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the colon’s inner lining and rectal wall, and makes it “flare up” into a red, swollen, ulcerated mess. The flare up causes stomach pain, cramping, rectal bleeding, whitish mucus, bloody poop and diarrhea. Other ulcerative colitis symptoms include fatigue, appetite loss (not for me, though), and anemia. Some people also have joint pain, redness, swelling, and liver problems.

Ulcerative colitis is not:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or spastic colon
  • Crohn’s disease

Colitis is often confused with IBS and Crohn’s disease, but they are different types of digestive disorders. IBS is also known as “spastic colon” and is easily confused with ulcerative colitis, but IBS does not cause bleeding. Crohn’s disease is a whole different ballgame. With some similarities.

My main symptoms of colitis are bloating, gassiness, intestinal pain, fatigue, anemia, bloody poop, mucus-y poop, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and constipation. Just writing that list is enough to make me want to cry! That’s why I think about my ulcerative colitis symptoms as little as possible. Instead, I focus on natural remedies for healing.

First – a “Fun Fact” About Dogs and Ulcerative Colitis

Did you know that dogs can get ulcerative colitis?

dog ulcerative colitis symptomsI was shocked to learn that my dog Georgie has inflammatory bowel disease, too! Shortly after we adopted her from the SPCA, she began pooping blood. Her tummy made really loud gurgling noises, and she wouldn’t eat. It didn’t take me long to realize that she had some type of inflammatory bowel disease because her stomach and intestinal issues were so similar to my symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

After trying a variety of natural remedies, I wrote about Georgie’s ulcerative colitis symptoms and treatment plan in Causes of Gurgling Noises and Stomach Problems in Dogs.

1. Listen to your body’s warning signs of a colitis flare up

This is one of the most important ways to ease the pain and find natural remedies for your symptoms ulcerative colitis. Try to connect to your body and learn when a flare up is coming. Experiment with different ways to prevent your colitis symptoms from forming, and try a variety of natural remedies to ease the pain. What are your guts’ signs that your colitis is going to flare? Learn what makes your guts tick, hum, and stall.

One of the most frustrating things about having ulcerative colitis is that the symptoms are not the same for everyone, and there is no one right “natural way” to ease the pain. I needed to experiment with different remedies and prescription medications until I found what brought my ulcerative colitis into remission. My research on natural remedies was a lot of work and it took time, but I eventually I found ways to ease my symptoms.

2. Connect with other people who have ulcerative colitis

Today I found a blog called IHaveUC.com, created by a guy called Adam. He recently wrote Go To Foods During Bloody Bowel Movements for a reader who asked for natural remedies for ulcerative colitis symptoms. He’s not a doctor, but he seems to have collected a vibrant, active community of people who are coping with colitis. He’s also written a couple ebooks that may offer different types of ulcerative diets and meal plans.

What I found most helpful about Adam’s ulcerative colitis blog, however, was the stories from other people. I’ve been dealing with my flare ups and symptoms alone for 16 years – I never joined an online community or forum. My colitis is mostly in remission these days, and I’m not keen on regularly visiting websites about inflammatory bowel disease! But if you’re dealing with painful symptoms of ulcerative colitis, please reach out and connect with other people. You will learn different ways to ease the pain and heal.

3. Learn how to get your colitis into remission

For me, it’s easier to avoid a flare up than to learn natural remedies to ease the pain of ulcerative colitis symptoms. I’ve learned to listen to my body. It is always talking to me. My guts tell me when they’re gearing up for a flare up, and I heed them very carefully.

natural remedies symptoms ulcerative colitisNo matter how bad or painful your symptoms of colitis are right now, don’t give up hope of going into remission! Your mind is so powerful. Make peace with your body, be friends with your guts.

Your body is telling you things all the time. Learn how to tune in to your symptoms and prevent a flare before it happens, so you can stop searching for natural remedies for the symptoms of a painful ulcerative colitis attack.

4. Spend more time in delta sleep

Sleep keeps my colitis in remission. When I travel, get jet lag, or even stay out past midnight, I know I’m setting myself up for a painful flare up. So I always say that one of the best ways to keep ulcerative colitis – or any inflammatory bowel disease – in remission is to sleep, sleep, SLEEP. I get eight hours a night, and often take a 30 minute nap during the day. I also try to get at least three hours of sleep before midnight. I’ve found that getting eight hours of sleep after midnight doesn’t make me feel as rested as sleeping before midnight does.

Sleep can keep the symptoms of ulcerative colitis in remission for so many reasons, both physical and emotional. Sleep helps restore brain and cell energy, recharges our minds and bodies, increases protein buildup, helps maintain social and emotional functioning, helps encode memories, improves learning ability, and helps process memories.

If you have trouble sleeping, read Natural Sleep Remedies for Sleepless Nights.

5. Use prescription medication for painful flare ups

I rely on natural remedies to prevent my symptoms of ulcerative colitis from flaring, and I use prescription medication to ease the painful symptoms when my colitis actually flares. I’ve learned how to recognize when my guts are gearing up to explode, and I try to head it off at the pass. How do I know when the colitis is about to flare? The very bottom of my rectum starts to feel swollen and slightly uncomfortable. I can literally feel it starting to swell! So I use an enema before bed; I’d rather prevent a flare than spend time trying to ease the pain of my ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Pentasa enemas work best for me. I’ve tried all sorts of suppositories, oral medications, and enemas to ease the painful symptoms of ulcerative colitis. A liquid enema is my best friend before and during a flare up. Enemas are more effective than suppositories because the liquid soaks into the bowel quickly and easily. I used suppositories for eight years after I was diagnosed with colitis, until a new gastroenterologist recommended enemas instead.

While I wish my first way to keep my ulcerative colitis in remission wasn’t with prescription medication, I haven’t found anything else that works as good as the drugs. It doesn’t matter what I eat – I can eat popcorn, nuts, caffeine, dairy – but when my colitis wants to flare, the only thing that tamps it down is an enema.

6. Explore an “ulcerative colitis diet”

I’m thankful to be able to eat whatever I want. If I overdo the spicy sauce on my Indian curry or pad Thai, my guts burn. That’s not a symptom of my ulcerative colitis, though – it’s a normal consequence of asking for 4 alarm spiciness at my favorite Thai restaurant.

But, most people with ulcerative colitis can’t – and shouldn’t – eat whatever they want. “While research into eating habits and inflammatory bowel disease continues, patient reports from around the globe indicate that changes in diet and lifestyle seem to help control symptoms and flare-ups for many who have the condition,” writes Dr Victor Marchione in Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) causes, symptoms, treatment, and home remedies on Bel Marra Health.

7. Eat these foods to avoid a flare up of ulcerative colitis

heal your gut ulcerative colitis symptomsThe Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet by Hilary Boynton contains more than 200 easy, straightforward recipes that restore the balance between beneficial and pathogenic intestinal bacteria. These recipes contains foods that are natural remedies for painful ulcerative colitis symptoms by “sealing the gut” through the elimination of grains, processed foods, and refined sugars.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) refers to disorders, including ADD/ADHD, autism, addictions, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, stemming from or exacerbated by leaky gut and dysbiosis. GAPS also refers to chronic gut-related physical conditions, including celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type one, and Crohn’s disease, as well as asthma, eczema, allergies, and thyroid disorders.

8. Don’t eat these foods

Some research shows that foods and beverages aggravate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis for some people. Take this natural remedy with a grain of salt, though. None of these foods make my colitis worse (except for dairy, which I recently started taking lactose intolerant medicine for. More on that below).

Foods that seem to make colitis symptoms worse:

  • Fried foods
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products (including butter and margarine)
  • Spicy dishes
  • Raw vegetables
  • High-fiber foods
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Caffeine

I just started taking Lactaid a few days ago – along with the probiotics mentioned below. Dr Marchione added that an ulcerative colitis diet involves using an enzyme product, such as Lactaid, if you want to consume dairy products such as yogurt, milk, ice cream, or cheese.

And finally, an “ulcerative colitis diet” also means steaming, baking or stewing vegetables instead of eating them raw.

9. Rebalance your intestinal flora with probiotics

I recently had a very bad and extremely painful bout of intestinal bloat – and I learned that I have IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome) in addition to ulcerative colitis. My guts are in rough shape, which is why I’m still researching natural remedies to ease painful ulcerative colitis symptoms (as opposed to being in remission).

When writing Bloated Stomach – What Causes It and How to Stop It, I re-learned how important probiotics are for intestinal flora.

probiotics colitis symptoms Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics is similar to the probiotics I take every day. People with ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases or digestive problems do not have a normal amount of the “good” bacteria in their guts. This is a quick, easy way to promote your intestinal health. It may also help ease the pain of various symptoms of ulcerative colitis, but it depends on your disease and other health issues.

Dr Marchione said some research shows that adding probiotics or good bacteria into our bodies helps fight disease. This might be something for people with inflammatory bowel disease – and who want to reduce the painful symptoms of ulcerative colitis with natural remedies – might consider.

Additionally, studies on herbs and spices are starting to suggest that there could be some therapeutic benefits when fighting ulcerative colitis. Although more research is needed, one of the spices being examined as a possible colitis therapy is curcumin.

10. Stay calm and focused

One of my most important natural remedies for easing the pain of ulcerative colitis symptoms is to stay calm. When I feel rushed or anxious – which I tend to do quite a bit – I tell myself that I have enough time. I have more than enough time to get everything done, and it will be fine.

When I get stressed, my colitis flares. When I get too excited, my colitis flares. When I have fun, my colitis flares! So, to stop ulcerative colitis or other digestive disorders from flaring, don’t have fun – don’t go anywhere, do anything, or challenge yourself in any way. Right?

Wrong!! That’s not the best way to keep ulcerative colitis in remission. Instead, figure out how to incorporate fun and excitement into your life without letting it stress you out. For instance, I feel like time is precious and life is so short. So, I try to do things as quickly as possible and I waste as little time as I can. But, this sorta stresses me out. So, I’ve experimented with different ways to stay calm – and one of my tricks is to tell myself that I have enough time. I take a deep breath, and say, “You have enough time to get this done, Laurie.” It works.

By the way, reducing stress is one of the natural remedies for easing the pain of ulcerative colitis symptoms. In the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers reported that stressful hormones can lead to a flare up of ulcerative colitis by affecting the motility of the intestines and worsen inflammation.

Wrapping it up

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, haven’t we? Here’s a recap of the natural remedies to reduce the pain of ulcerative colitis symptoms:

  1. Listen to your body’s warning signs of a colitis flare up
  2. Connect with other people who have ulcerative colitis
  3. Learn how to get your colitis into remission
  4. Spend more time in delta sleep
  5. Experiment with prescription medication for painful flare ups
  6. Explore an “ulcerative colitis diet”
  7. Eat these foods to avoid a flare up of ulcerative colitis
  8. Don’t eat these foods
  9. Rebalance your intestinal flora with probiotics
  10. Stay calm and focused

And here’s one last takeaway to leave you with: if you aren’t taking multivitamins, consider investing in some good-quality minerals and vitamins. People with ulcerative colitis don’t absorb the nutrients and minerals that healthy food offers, which means we may be low on various vitamins. I take a multivitamin every day. I don’t take fish oil yet because I haven’t found a brand I feel like I can rely on, but I suspect I’ll be taking those too, one day.

You and your colitis symptoms

Be aware of how your other prescription medications – or natural supplements – affect the symptoms of your ulcerative colitis. The best way to figure this out is to make note of when your colitis flares and what was happening in your life at the time. What were you eating? Drinking? Smoking? Doing?

ulcerative colitis symptoms natural remedies“It’s important to understand what may cause you to have more symptoms,” says Sara Horst, MD, in 7 Ways to Manage Ulcerative Colitis Flares on EveryDay Health. Dr Horst is a gastroenterologist at the Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Center and an assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. “Some people with ulcerative colitis find it beneficial to track their symptoms to help them find things that may trigger their disease.”

Dr Horst encourages people to keep a log of ulcerative colitis symptoms and all the potential factors that could trigger them, such as your sleep, diet, stress, and medications. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America has an app called the “GI Buddy” that can help you track your flare ups, symptoms, and even natural remedies for ulcerative colitis.

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of natural remedies that help ease the painful symptoms of colitis.

If the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are getting you down, read How to Stay Positive When You’re Sick.


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2 thoughts on “10 Natural Ways to Ease the Pain of Ulcerative Colitis”

  1. I reached a point where I had no colitis for 5 years and it is back. I forgot how to deal with it and your blog is very helpful.