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4 natural remedies for ulcerative colitis

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ProbioticsHerbal supplementsDietStress managementMedicationPreventionSummary
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the large intestine. Natural remedies such as probiotics and dietary changes may help you manage symptoms.
Medically reviewed by Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC
Written by Gina Vaughan
Updated on

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It can result in inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine. It can also cause several symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and frequent bowel movements.

The condition can often be long term, and experts have not identified one specific cause of the condition. Yet having a close family member with UC is often thought to be a risk factor, according to the U.K. National Health Service (NHS).

Current research has focused on understanding the triggers of UC and how to help reduce symptoms.

A 2020 study found that missing microbes in the gut could lead to UC symptoms such as inflammation in the large bowel. Supplementing these missing microbes could help treat symptoms.

Medication is often prescribed to help treat symptoms of UC. But natural remedies such as probiotics, supplements, and dietary changes can also help ease symptoms.


Bowl of yogurt with blackberries and seeds.
Jess Craven/Stocksy United

Probiotics are living bacteria or microorganisms that can help you maintain a healthy gut. For people with UC, probiotics can work to restore good bacteria in your gut.

A small 2019 study exploring the benefits of probiotics found that 57% of study participants reported an increase in quality of life after taking probiotics. Those who took probiotics regularly said it made their remission periods start sooner and last longer compared with when they hadn’t taken the treatment.

Probiotics are available in several forms, such as:

  • supplements
  • most yogurts
  • cheese, such as Swiss, Gouda, and cottage cheese
  • kefir
  • tempeh
  • kimchi

Herbal supplements

Many herbal supplements have been shown to ease symptoms of UC and increase the quality of life. Several plant-based supplements that may help, such as:

  • Ginseng: This herb may help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and protect against cell damage.
  • Psyllium husk: This may help improve your gut bacteria, which can also reduce constipation.
  • Bromelain: It may help break down proteins and decrease inflammation in the intestine.
  • Turmeric: This herb may reduce a UC symptom known as leaky gut, where cracks in the intestinal lining allow harmful bacteria and toxins to enter your bloodstream. Taking turmeric may help make the gut barrier stronger and reduce colon inflammation.  

Raw turmeric can also be added to hot water, along with honey, to drink as tea. This may also help soothe inflammation.

Dietary changes

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation advises that your diet can play a crucial role in the development of UC symptoms.

The NHS recommends eating frequent smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. This may help you manage symptoms.

Certain foods can help reduce symptoms. These include:

  • foods high in protein, such as eggs and meat
  • white bread and rice
  • cooked vegetables, such as carrots and squash
  • low fiber fruits, such as cantaloupe and bananas
  • fish, such as salmon
  • tofu

On the other hand, some foods and drinks may trigger a UC flare-up. It’s advised that you avoid or limit these if possible. They include:

  • foods high in sugar, such as cakes and pastries
  • fruit juices
  • alcohol
  • red meat
  • certain cheeses, such as Camembert and mozzarella
  • soda
  • spicy food

It may be beneficial to keep a food diary to track which foods result in worsening symptoms. This can also be helpful information to bring with you when speaking with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nutritionist. If you have access to one, a nutritionist can tailor a dietary plan to your needs.

Stress management

Stress can increase your risk of a UC flare-up, which is why it is important to make time for activities that help you relax and unwind.

Some examples of ways you can reduce your overall stress levels include:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • deep breathing exercises
  • a walk or run
  • time with friends and family members
  • time to do the things you enjoy

If you find that stress is affecting your day-to-day life, consider speaking with a healthcare professional who can suggest a suitable treatment plan to help you manage your overall stress levels.

Medication options

Long-term treatment, such as medication, is the general guideline for reducing flare-ups and improving the quality of life for people who live with UC.

Medications work by suppressing the immune system, and they aim to give you longer-lasting relief. Examples include:

Short-term treatments are also available to help people with specific symptoms. These include:

  • loperamide (Immodium) for diarrhea
  • ondansetron (Zofran) for nausea or vomiting
  • antibiotics to fight infections that may be present

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How can you prevent ulcerative colitis flare-ups?

For people living with UC, flare-ups can occur often. But you can try several strategies to prevent or lower your chance of a flare-up. They include:

  • keeping medication on hand to treat symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea
  • drinking plenty of fluids and ensuring you stay well hydrated
  • increasing your probiotic consumption for a few days to help your gut replenish its good bacteria
  • using stress management techniques and getting adequate amounts of rest
  • avoiding any known triggers that make your symptoms worse


UC is a chronic condition that can result in inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine. It can cause several symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and frequent bowel movements.

The condition is often managed through long-term medication use. Several natural remedies may reduce symptoms and alleviate pain caused by inflammation. These can include:

  • dietary changes
  • stress reduction
  • probiotics

If you find the symptoms of UC are affecting your day-to-day life, consider speaking with a healthcare professional, who can help suggest a suitable treatment plan for you.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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