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If you or someone you know has ulcerative colitis, you know that it can be a debilitating disease requiring intensive medical treatment. Many sufferers are desperate to try anything to get some relief.
One supplement which may have promise is probiotics. Evidence is far from conclusive but side effects are rare so they are worth a try in many cases.
I’m going to give you the full run down on the best best probiotics for ulcerative colitis and how to choose the product that’s right for you.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes long-term, chronic inflammation in the gut. It affects the inner lining of the large intestine, colon, and rectum, causing ulcers (sores). This disease can have incapacitating or even life threatening complications.
Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis (also known as UC) are pain or cramps in the abdomen, diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum, and weight loss. Sufferers may also experience other symptoms like joint pain and eye issues.
Diagnosis of UC can require many tests to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms like Crohn’s disease or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Colonoscopies, blood tests, and stool samples may be employed to get a definitive diagnosis.
How Many People does UC Affect?
Ulcerative Colitis affects approximately three people out of every 1,000 people in the United States. It affects people of all ages, races, and sexes mostly equally. However, the disease seems to be more prevalent in the Northeast and Midwest.
Most people are diagnosed with UC in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, there are a significant number of diagnoses in children, as well. If you are experiencing UC symptoms, see your doctor about a diagnosis. Unchecked UC can cause permanent damage to your digestive system.
What Causes UC?
Scientists don’t really know for sure what causes UC. There is some evidence linking our Western lifestyle to the prevalence of this disease, but the link is tenuous and doesn’t give a definitive answer for why it occurs.
Research on gut health in general and the microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract is a fairly new development.
Science is just now trying to determine how important the levels and make up of these yeasts and bacteria in our digestive systems are and how they affect overall health.
What Does Treatment for UC Usually Look Like?
Surgery and prescription drugs are the most commonly prescribed treatments for ulcerative colitis. Often surgery for UC ends with the patient needing a stoma (opening in the stomach to attach a bag to collect waste) or other surgeries that allow for almost normal waste excretion.
Prescription medications used include anti-inflammatories like corticosteroids, immune system suppressants, antibiotics, and pain medications. Many of these drugs can have awful side effects that wreak almost as much havoc on patients than the original disease.
One thing is for sure: treatment for ulcerative colitis costs a lot. Between treatments and mitigating the potentially life threatening effects of this disease, many patients suffer financially as well as physically. Since the disease can be serious enough to cause missed work or even job loss, the cost is staggering.
What Lifestyle Choices can Help UC Sufferers?
Dietary changes may help some people with ulcerative colitis. Limiting stress may also provide some people with improvements in their condition.
Some supplements and alternative medicine practices like acupuncture may help. Probiotics are also thought to help people with UC.
How Do Probiotics Help?
Some scientists think that ulcerative colitis is caused by the immune system present in the gut attacking “good” bacteria. By replacing those good bacteria, probiotics may be able to restore gut biome balance. Some even believe the disease may be caused by a lack of good bacteria.
When the side effects of many of the traditional medications for UC are so pronounced, it makes sense that many sufferers might look for alternative therapies to try to cope with their symptoms and the chronic inflammation that characterizes the disease.
Findings in studies on whether probiotics can help UC patients are not very definitive. However, the theory behind this course of alternative treatment makes sense.
What Should You Look for in a Probiotic for UC?
Probiotics with live cultures are the best for UC (really, in general). Many people test whether their probiotic contains active cultures by adding it to temperature-controlled milk. If the supplement turns the milk into yogurt, then it contains live cultures.
You might consider trying this test at home on your own choice of probiotic supplement to determine its potential efficacy.
Also, purchasing from reputable companies is a good idea. Since the regulation of the supplement industry is rather limited, many products aren’t what they say they are.
Look for probiotics with several strains of bacteria as these are more likely to have a positive effect on the makeup of your gut flora. Often times, supplements containing a large amount of bacteria are also recommended.
Now we’ll check out some of the best probiotics for ulcerative colitis and assess their potential benefits and downsides for UC sufferers.
Final Thoughts on the Best Probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis
As far as I’m concerned, the VSL 3 is absolutely the best probiotic for ulcerative colitis. You’ll need to make sure you’re available for delivery as it’s temperature sensitive, but it’s worth the trouble and the cost.
The sheer number of health organizations that state that VLS 3 is the best probiotic for ulcerative colitis is enough to convince me.
Make sure that you store it properly and take it regularly. Ulcerative colitis has no known cure yet, but these probiotics may help to manage your disease more effectively.
As is always the case, make sure to discuss the use of probiotics and any other supplements or alternative therapies you are considering before use. This can help eliminate any possible drug interactions or the worsening of your symptoms.