7 Home Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that impacts the lining of the large intestine, also known as the colon. It can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody stools.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, the other IBD, are similar but there are many differences between the two diseases. One key difference is ulcerative colitis affects just the colon, while Crohn's disease can cause inflammation anywhere in the digestive tract, which stretches from the mouth to the anus.

There is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but there are a number of treatments available. Treatment options may include medications, surgery, and changes to diet and nutrition. Some people may find natural treatments like eating foods containing omega-3 fatty acids or practicing yoga beneficial for the management of their symptoms.

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) will not cure ulcerative colitis, and they should not replace conventional therapies.

In this article, we'll discuss seven different home remedies that have been shown to help with symptoms of UC.

At home remedies.

 Brooke Pelczynski / Verywell

Symptoms

Roughly half of people with ulcerative colitis report experiencing mild symptoms. Possible symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Urgency with bowel movements
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody stools

In later, more severe stages of ulcerative colitis, more symptoms may develop. These include:

  • Pus, mucus, and/or blood in bowel movements
  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Painful and/or red eyes
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Liver disease
  • Loss of fluids
  • Malnutrition

Natural Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis

There are some studies that suggest the use of natural remedies like dietary supplements, yoga, exercise, and dietary modifications may be beneficial for people with ulcerative colitis.

Meditation and Yoga

IBD patients are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety, especially when their disease is active. Mind-body practices like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation can help reduce stress, improve a person's state of mind, and improve overall health and well-being.

There is some evidence that mind-body practices may also impact disease severity for those with ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammatory biomarker concentrations. Ulcerative colitis is characterized by inflammation in the colon. This inflammation may flare up or calm down at different times. Inflammatory biomarkers can give an indication of disease activity, as well as the body's response to certain treatments.

Herbs

Some herbal remedies may be beneficial for those with ulcerative colitis. Herbal medicine is a traditional Chinese practice that utilizes plants or extracts of plants for the treatment of medical conditions.

A 2014 study suggests a combination treatment that includes herbs may be more effective than a single conventional treatment option for ulcerative colitis. Possible herbal treatments for ulcerative colitis include aloe vera and curcumin.

  • Aloe vera: The aloe vera plant is commonly used in skin care, but may also be beneficial for people with UC. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and may provide a therapeutic effect for those with UC. A 2014 study found that hospitalized patients with UC who consumed 200 milliliters of aloe vera gel along with their regular treatment saw greater improvements in the disease than those who did not take aloe vera. In fact, 30% of the patients who took aloe vera experienced clinical remission, compared to 7% of patients who did not take aloe vera.

Warnings About Aloe Vera Consumption

Those with ulcerative colitis should be cautious about consuming aloe vera juice, commonly available in stores. Aloe vera has a laxative effect and may be problematic for those already experiencing diarrhea.

Aloe vera products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Given this, it can be hard to tell if products claiming to contain aloe vera actually do contain aloe vera, or instead contain aloe latex, which has strong laxative properties.

  • Curcumin: Curcumin is an active ingredient found in the spice turmeric. It is believed to contain anti-inflammatory properties and, because of this, may be beneficial for those living with ulcerative colitis. A 2020 review examined the results of seven studies involving 380 patients with ulcerative colitis. They found that when curcumin therapy was combined with mesalamine (brand names include Asacol, Pentasa, Mesasal, and Salofalk), a medication prescribed in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, that patients were three times more likely to experience a clinical response. The same study found that those on curcumin therapy also experienced minimal side effects.

Walnuts

Walnuts are known to have numerous health benefits, including guarding against colon cancer and inflammation. Therefore, consuming walnuts may be beneficial for those with ulcerative colitis.

In a 2019 study in mice, researchers found that consuming walnuts had a protective effect on mice with ulcerative colitis.

The mice were given walnuts to eat for two weeks. The researchers found that the mice then experienced less injury to their colons during a period of experimentally induced ulcerative colitis. They also found that the colonic mucosa was repaired more effectively following the consumption of walnuts.

While this study was on mice, more research is currently underway to understand how walnuts might impact humans with ulcerative colitis.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oil may be beneficial for those with ulcerative colitis. Fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation of the colon in people with ulcerative colitis.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in:

  • Sardines
  • Nuts
  • Certain green vegetables
  • Fatty fish like herring and salmon

Research in this area is ongoing and the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on ulcerative colitis is still to be determined.

Regular Exercise

Exercise is an important factor in staying well for those living with ulcerative colitis. Regular exercise can help you:

  • Relieve stress
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve psychological well-being
  • Reduce depression
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthen bones
  • Improve muscle strength

During a flare-up, exercise may be difficult or not always possible. During this time, it is fine to limit exercise.

Avoid Food Triggers

There are certain foods that should be avoided during a flare, and some foods which may trigger symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating.

These foods include:

  • Foods that are hard to digest, like fruit with skin or seeds, raw vegetables, and whole nuts
  • Lactose, commonly found in dairy products like milk and soft cheeses
  • Nonabsorbable sugars like sorbitol and mannitol that are commonly found in candy, sugar-free gum, and some types of juice like peach or prune
  • High-fat foods like cream or greasy fried food
  • Sugary foods like pastries
  • Alcohol, including beer and wine
  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee
  • Spicy foods that contain hot spices

Eat Small Meals

Eating smaller meals may help with the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Try eating four to six small meals a day rather than three big meals a day.

Summary

There is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but there are a number of treatment options available. Treatments include surgery, dietary modifications, and medications. There is some evidence to suggest natural remedies like yoga, omega-3 fatty acids, and some herbs may be beneficial for people with ulcerative colitis.

It is important to note there is no evidence supporting the use of homeopathic medicine in the treatment of any medical condition. Complementary and alternative medicine will not cure ulcerative colitis and should not replace conventional therapies. If you require more guidance on treatment options, speak with your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

When you're experiencing a UC flare-up, it's difficult to not search everywhere for answers. However, it is important to tread with caution when trying new home remedies. Always check with your doctor to make sure that changing your routine or consuming something new will not interfere with your current treatment regimen. When used thoughtfully and with medical supervision, herbal remedies may help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does ulcerative colitis differ from IBD?



    "IBD" means inflammatory bowel disease, which includes the conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

    Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that presents as inflammation in the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis is inflammation of the large intestine.

  • How does ulcerative colitis differ from Crohn’s?

    Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are inflammatory bowel diseases, but the conditions are not the same. Though they both involve inflammation of the digestive tract, in ulcerative colitis inflammation is confined to the colon. Crohn's disease includes inflammation anywhere along the digestive tract, stretching from the mouth to the anus.

    While ulcerative colitis impacts only the inner lining of the colon, Crohn's disease can impact any layer of the wall of the bowel. In Crohn's disease, there can be areas of inflammation in the intestine next to healthy areas. In ulcerative colitis, there is continuous inflammation throughout the colon.

  • Can you cure ulcerative colitis?

    There is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but there are a number of treatment options available to help regulate the immune system and treat symptoms. Treatment options include medications, changes to diet and nutrition, and surgery.

Was this page helpful?
16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. UCLA Health. Ulcerative colitis vs crohn's disease.

  2. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Ulcerative colitis treatment options.

  3. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. What is complementary medicine?

  4. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Ulcerative colitis.

  6. Neuendorf R, Harding A, Stello N, Hanes D, Wahbeh H. Depression and anxiety in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic reviewJ Psychosom Res. 2016;87:70-80. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.06.001

  7. Choi K, Chun J, Han K, et al. Risk of anxiety and depression in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: A nationwide, population-based studyJ Clin Med. 2019;8(5):654. doi:10.3390/jcm8050654

  8. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Mind-body therapies.

  9. González-Moret R, Cebolla A, Cortés X. et al. The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on different biomarkers among patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a randomised controlled trialSci Rep. 2020;10(6071). doi:10.1038/s41598-020-63168-4

  10. Wan P, Chen H, Guo Y, Bai AP. Advances in treatment of ulcerative colitis with herbs: from bench to bedside. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(39):14099-14104.

  11. Michigan Medicine. Complementary and Alternative Therapies for IBD.

  12. Chandan S, Mohan BP, Chandan OC, et al. Curcumin use in ulcerative colitis: is it ready for prime time? A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Ann Gastroenterol. 2020;33(1):53-58.

  13. Nakanishi M, Matz A, Klemashevich C, Rosenberg DW. Dietary walnut supplementation alters mucosal metabolite profiles during DSS-induced colonic ulceration. Nutrients. 2019; 11(5):1118. doi:10.3390/nu11051118

  14. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Vitamins, minerals, and supplements.

  15. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Exercise.

  16. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. What should I eat?