How I recovered from Ulcerative Colitis and you can too!
Updated: May 15
I had my first symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis in my early twenties. I suffered with it for more than a decade. Health is something we take for granted, until we don’t have it. Ulcerative Colitis is an extremely debilitating disease! I would wake up in the morning in terrible pain. It felt as if I had been shot in the gut by a shotgun. Soon followed by an urgency to go the toilet, most often being diarrhea accompanied with blood. This would then continue all day long, having to go to the toilet 10-20 times per day. I would be afraid to leave the house, go to work, or go out with friends, knowing a nearby bathroom would be necessary. I saw several Western Medical Doctors, each confirming a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a form of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), similar to Crohn’s Disease (CD), consisting of inflammation and micro-ulcers of the superficial layers of the lower colon and rectum. Crohn’s differs in that it causes inflammation of the entire thickness of the intestinal wall, deeper ulceration and fistulae (abnormal openings in the stomach or intestine that allow contents to leak).
While UC primarily affects the Large Intestine, CD occurs mostly in the small intestine, but can exist anywhere throughout the Digestive Tract from mouth to anus. Both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease can occur simultaneously in the same person.
According to Western Medical Science the causes are unknown. They think it may possibly be genetic, but is triggered by the body’s immune system reacting to an environmental, dietary, or infectious agent. The only solution offered to me was a regular and expensive pharmaceutical prescription. My Doctor said I would have to take it my entire life. This medication was not a cure, but more like aspirin for the intestines to alleviate the discomfort, and in the long run would damage my liver and kidneys. He also suggested, I experiment with food to see if anything aggravated the condition. He then continued with more bad news, saying that people with Ulcerative Colitis are more prone to colon cancer, and sometimes the disease gets so bad, that the colon needs to be surgically removed. The idea of having a colostomy bag in the future was especially unappealing and I was determined to find a way to cure myself.
Like many people diagnosed with an ‘incurable’ disease, I first chose to ignore it. But, the symptoms continued to worsen. I would have periods where I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I would feel nauseated, with very little appetite and was undernourished from being unable to ingest nutrition due to so much intestinal inflammation. Additionally, I was extremely lethargic, anemic, and irritable, due to the constant blood loss. In an attempt to change my fated life sentence of misery, I started researching alternative therapies and natural remedies. I went to my local vitamin, and supplement shop looking for the items I found in my research. Things such as Probiotics, Slippery Elm, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Enemas. I tried all sorts of western herbs, but nothing seemed to help.
So what did I do? How did I heal myself of this terrible chronic illness? It took many years for me to accomplish my goal and learn the most effective methods. Through that lengthy process I became a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, apprenticed under the best people I could find around the world and developed mastery in treating chronic illness. The approach I used to heal myself of Ulcerative Colitis consists of 4 key approaches to therapy. They are Food Therapy, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, and ZhiNeng QiGong.
1). Food Therapy – don’t let the name scare you. I have tried every kind of diet you can think of: Elimination Diets; I have been gluten/dairy/ sugar/alcohol/nightshade free, Vegetarian, Paleo and Ketogenic. Currently, I do not follow any specific diet. I have no restrictions, just some guidelines that I follow that make sense and are evidence based.
The key element defining Ulcerative Colitis is inflammation. Inflammation is really a reaction to an infection and the body’s way of trying to eliminate it. Most people with Ulcerative Colitis have something in their digestive system causing an infection. It is an overabundance of unhealthy gut bacteria. Recent research has shown that balanced gut bacteria is paramount to health and an imbalance may attribute to most diseases.
The first step to rebalancing gut bacteria is to stop ingesting things that kill beneficial bacteria. The most effective way to do that is to avoid processed foods, preservatives, additives, colouring agents and only eat organic food. All pesticides, and herbicides kill beneficial gut bacteria. The herbicide Glyphosate (Round Up) in particular has been shown to devastate beneficial gut bacteria and increase intestinal inflammation. This is probably the real reason for increasing gluten intolerance in developed countries. As, wheat is sprayed heavily with Glyphosate to quicken seed ripening and early harvest. Another culprit of inflammation is Genetically Modified Crops (GMO’s). Many of them have been altered to be “round up ready”. Meaning they are sprayed heavily with Glyphosate.
Vegetables are also known to be anti-inflammatory, so a whole-food plant based diet is the best diet for UC. It is extremely important, that your food be cooked and not raw, especially when you have flare-ups. In Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, digestion is the crux of health and healing. Anything that aids digestion will improve all functions of the body from cell metabolism, to repair and restoration. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest and can further aggravate the already inflamed and ulcerated intestinal lining. Slow cooked food, like stews and congee are easily digested, and therefore can be easily transformed into energy and used for cellular repair. This should be the primary focus of every meal, especially for the first few months of treatment. Protein is very important and necessary for cell repair. Meat is the best source of protein. But, it too needs to be organic, and eaten in small quantities. Preferably slow cooked with vegetables to aid digestion. People with severe flare-ups may need to be meat free for a limited time to reduce inflammation.
Another big factor causing inflammation is vegetable oil made from canola/rape seed. All canola oil is genetically modified and causes inflammation. It is made from the same substance used to make mustard gas during World War I, which causes inflammation of the skin and lungs. It is far better to use Raw Organic Coconut oil, or Organic Ghee for cooking, and organic locally produced olive oil for salad dressings and low temperature cooking. Unfortunately, due to corruption most olive oils have been tampered with and cut with vegetable oil. To ensure you are really buying pure extra virgin olive oil, buy only local and organic!
The last thing I want to say about food therapy is in regards to the importance of promoting beneficial gut bacteria. Buying probiotics is for the most part a waste of money. It’s not that they are non-beneficial. It’s that there is very little quality control and assurance that what you are buying is really what is being advertised. Additionally, taking probiotics is a high dosage of only one or a few particular strands of beneficial bacteria that most likely have little benefit for Ulcerative Colitis. Beneficial bacteria also need the correct food source to promote growth in your gut. Most probiotics do not have a food source for them to reproduce when and if they make it to your intestines. The best medicine is home made fermented vegetables. Make your own organic sauerkraut and other fermented veggies. Eat only a little bit, especially at first with every meal. This will give you a complex and abundant diversity of micro-bacteria with a food source for them to proliferate in your gut. It is far more effective and you won’t be throwing money away.
2). Acupuncture – is especially good for relief during periods of flare-ups. Its effects typically, are immediate and can help to alleviate acute pain, discomfort, and suffering, and reduce the need to go to the toilet urgently and frequently. Regular treatments can assist the body in healing inflammation and resolving the condition for the long term. Acupuncture works by stimulating the Central Nervous System to send a nerve impulse to the effected area. This nerve impulse increases blood flow and nutrition to the area, which reduces inflammation, enhances cellular metabolism, repair and restoration. There are many different styles of acupuncture, and some are more effective for digestive disorders than others. I practice a style that is particularly beneficial for chronic internal disease.
3). Chinese Herbs – Chinese herbal formulas have been used and developed for more than 2 millenniums. The right formula is extremely important and can reduce inflammation, break up biofilms (the protective layer around moulds and detrimental gut bacteria) kill pathogens, promote proliferation of healthy gut bacteria, and promote regeneration of tissue. There are particular formulas that I use to promote long-term recovery, and healing from Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and all sorts of auto-immune/inflammatory diseases.
4). ZhiNeng QiGong – All forms of QiGong are beneficial, but some are more focused on healing than others. I have trained in many styles of QiGong and Internal Martial Arts. QiGong was the first therapy I found beneficial in healing myself. QiGong is a method that a person can use to directly participate and influence their own healing journey.
My daily practice of QiGong took long term commitment. Over time I found my reactivity to stress, relax and diminish. I felt calmer, and more relaxed. Most people suffering with IBS, also have over-active nervous systems. I believe the diligent practice of calming the nervous system, and using particular QiGong exercises and techniques to improve blood circulation had a major effect on long term resolution of my Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.
ZhiNeng QiGong was created in China, by Dr. Pang Ming. He also created and developed the Hua Xia Centre, known as the Medicine-less Hospital to westerners. It became famous due to teaching more than 300,000 people self-healing exercises, techniques, and methods. The Chinese Government has researched it more than any other form of QiGong for it’s healing effects and it is promoted at Beijing University to students studying Chinese Medicine. I trained intensively in China directly under Doctors/Teachers of the Hua Xia Centre.
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NOW is the time to regain your health and I can help you!
RJ Singer is a registered Acupuncturist, and Chinese Medicine Doctor with AHPRA and AACMA. His also a highly regarded QiGong Healer and Teacher, and Feng Shui Consultant at the Alchemy Wellness Centre in Byron Bay, NSW Australia.
RJ’s area of special interest is helping people heal and recover from stubborn and difficult chronic disease, and all types of painful conditions.