Ulcerative Colitis – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
In our program, today we are going to talk about a health problem called Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis is a common chronic disease which is caused due to inflammation in colon i.e. large intestine.
Let’s learn more about Ulcerative Colitis from our Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora. We welcome you on our show Dr. Arora.
Q. First of all, please tell us about what exactly is Ulcerative Colitis?
The name itself describes the disease. Ulcerative colitis is initially a swelling (i.e. formation of colitis) in colon part of large intestine which later on advances to formation of ulcers. The patient of Ulcerative Colitis has to suffer a lot. He has a frequent tendency of passing stool and this involves a lot of bleeding. If a person has frequent bowel movements and while passing stool if he has a lot of bleeding then it is a primary indication that he could be a patient of Ulcerative Colitis.
Q. In that sense, can we relate this condition with sangrahni i.e. irritable bowel syndrome?
Surely ! I must say you have acquired a good knowledge in this field too.
We can consider Ulcerative Colitis as a form of sangrahni (IBS) because as in case of sangrahni (IBS), the patient has a frequent tendency to pass stools and after passing stool his stomach does not feel empty, similar symptom is seen in patients of Ulcerative Colitis too. But the difference is that in sangrahani (IBS) there is no bleeding involved as is the case in Ulcerative Colitis. If a patient of sangrahani (i.e. IBS) has bleeding while passing stool then he can consider himself a patient of Ulcerative Colitis.
Q. How can we differentiate Ulcerative Colitis from piles?
Piles or arsh is an anal disease. It is caused due to problem in anus wherein the venous plexuses of anus get dilated and these dilated veins get ruptured due to constipation. This causes bleeding but the amount of blood thus lost is just a few drops (1-5). So if there is anal bleeding with stool then it is indicative of piles. In case of piles there would be pain in anal region but at times the pain could be absent too. But if there is a lot of bleeding accompanied with thin stools and there is frequent bowel movement then it is primarily a case of Ulcerative Colitis. So, that’s where you can differentiate Ulcerative Colitis from piles. Also, a patient of piles would complain of constipation i.e. he is not able to pass stool (not even once a day) whereas a patient of Ulcerative Colitis has frequent bowel movements. So according to me, the quantity of blood and frequency of defecation are the factors which can be used to differentiate the two conditions. Apart from this, Ulcerative Colitis is a psychosomatic disease. Whenever a person is under stress, anxiety, depression or is mentally disturbed then there is an increase in attacks of Ulcerative Colitis. There is no such psychosomatic relation seen in case of piles.
Q. Sometimes we see that even if a person has fever, he gets frequent bowels. Is there a possibility that he could be suffering from ulcerative colitis?
See, fever and ulcerative colitis have no relation as such. I would like to repeat that if a patient of sangrahni (i.e. IBS), which we have discussed in quite detail earlier, has frequent bowels and there is bleeding in stools then he is a patient of Ulcerative Colitis. Unfortunately, etiology of Ulcerative Colitis (i.e. what is the origin of the disease), is not yet known. At least the modern science is not in a position to explain this. Sometimes it is referred to as auto-immune disease and sometimes as psychosomatic disorder and sometimes even an infectious condition. But as you will see, there is no proper treatment for Ulcerative Colitis available in modern science. Contrary to this, Ayurveda has a definite treatment available for this condition. Ulcerative Colitis is referred to as shokaatisar in Ayurveda. Shokaatisar or shoka-atisaar, as the name suggests, is a psychosomatic condition. When you are engulfed in shoka or worries then this condition can cause a disturbance in agni (digestive power) thus leading to the condition of Ulcerative Colitis. According to Ayurveda, if you have a disturbed agni (digestive power), be it for any reason, then you can become a patient of Ulcerative Colitis. Thus the only way we can deal with this is by increasing agni-bal (digestive power). To provide symptomatic relief, we insist our patients to use bael (i.e. wood apple in english) which helps in reducing the frequency of bowels. We also give them vasa (adhatoda beddome), kaharwa and trinkant to stop their bleeding. These medicines provide symptomatic relief but until we provide the patient with deepan-paachan or until we work to improve his agni-bal or until we cure his mandagni (i.e weak digestive power), we can’t say that the patient has been treated. So to treat a patient of Ulcerative Colitis we have to give four types of medicines: 1) to control the frequency of bowels patients have to use bael (i.e. wood apple) 2) to control bleeding we have to use vasa (adhatoda beddome) 3) to increase agni-bal (i.e. digestive power) we have to use deepan-pachan medicines 4) lastly, since this is a psychomatic disease, we have to use medhya herbs to deal with anxiety.
Q. What can we do to get rid of Ulcerative Colitis or how can it be treated?
To deal with an acute condition of Ulcerative Colitis, allopathic science has to resort to steroids. And probably, the patients and their relatives are aware of this fact. Once the bleeding gets settled then in the form of immuno-modulators the patients are given some medicines like mesacol, sazo etc.but as observed, even after treatment the attacks keep recurring. As a result, the patient continues to become weaker day by day. And just for your information, Ulcerative Colitis is such a disease which makes a person so weak that many patients of Ulcerative Colitis have to even quit their jobs. Apart from this, it becomes a cause of embarrassment too as one has to defecate very often. So the patient has to simultaneously deal with problems of disturbed bowels as well as progressive anaemia and weakness. All these combined together are sufficient to cause psychological disturbance in the patient. He becomes so weak that even keeping up with routine activities becomes difficult for him. But I can say it with pride that if a patient of Ulcerative Colitis approaches us he can expect a complete treatment in Ayurveda. Ayurveda provides complete cure for Ulcerative Colitis.
Q. As we see, today people are so busy with different kinds of activities that even if they have started their treatment with allopathy or even Ayurveda, they do not complete the entire course of medicines prescribed by the practitioner. And after that when the symptoms return they complain that the disease has recurred. So, what would say about such patients?
See, if one does not complete the entire course of medication prescribed to him/her then I have no hesitation in saying that he/she will only end up running from here to there and ultimately he/she will have to resort to Ayurveda. Actually there are two types of mechanisms which should be followed in treatment. These are: control and cure.
Undoubtedly, the allopathic medicines provide the patient with control. In situations of acute conditions when the patient has severe bleeding, even I would suggest the use of steroids (but in a proper way) but then since it is a controlling mechanism, we cannot entirely depend on them. We would have to do something towards curing the problem too. We will have to improve the patient’s agni-bal (i.e. digestive power) by the use of deepan-pachan medicines. We can use saunf-ark (syrup prepared from fennel seeds), makoi-ark (syrup prepared from makoi i.e. black nightshade) etc. to treat colitis i.e. inflammation of colon. Once the inflammation gets treated then the ulcers starts to shrink i.e. in a way they get into their sleeping phase. In this condition we take help of bael ( i.e. wood apple). We use belwakanti syrup or belwakanti caosules which helps in reducing the frequency of defecation. We also have medicines for treating acute conditions in the form of vasa (adhatoda beddome) preparations. It may sound like I am exaggerating or overstating the things but it is a fact that Ayurveda has the proven cure for Ulcerative Colitis. You just need to start the treatment with a flexible mindset and patience. Just the controlling mechanism is not enough and hence not advisable. Hence the curative mechanism should be adopted simultaneously. The patients may have to use curative medicines for the duration of 6 months or 9 months or even a year but they should continue to use them with patience. We have many patients who approached us in acute condition of the disease and we advised them to use some very simple remedies like bael-ark, saunf-ark or trikatu churna regularly (these are so simple remedies that the patients don’t need to visit us to procure them). They adopted the remedies and followed our advice and today they are doing quite fine.
Q. That is such a good thing. In fact, I would want that nobody even enter the acute condition of a disease. But as we all see, there are people who tend to make even mild things, very serious. I somehow feel that probably they have a weak will power. Since you keep telling us so many good things, I request you to tell us that what significance does the will power have in our resistance against diseases or in dealing with problems?
You spoke about bal i.e. strength. If we consider a general question that when do we fall sick, the obvious answer would be that we fall sick when we have low immunity which can be relative to the physical strength or bal. But somehow, what I have observed is that the manas bal (psychological strength) is more significant than the sharirik bal (i.e. physical strength) here. I have seen cases when the person has lost his limbs and when people reach him to sympathize with his situation he says that these all are part of life and instead he asks others about their well-being. This is example of a person who is dealing with his situation on the basis of his manas bal (i.e. psychological strength). In contrary, there are so many people who can’t deal with even small pains and they just keep crying about it. So if one has a strong manas bal (i.e. psychological strength) then combined with physical strength it will increase his immunity and help him in resisting and even fighting diseases or difficulties better. So I would say just having physical strength is not enough and one definitely needs to have a strong mental strength too. Both physical and mental strength combined together will undoubtedly give you a better immunity and also it will provide you with better protection against diseases.