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The Best Supplements for Colitis

author image Sharon Perkins
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.
The Best Supplements for Colitis
Aloe may help reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis.
Medically Reviewed by
George Krucik, MD, MBA

Colitis, also called ulcerative colitis, occurs when inflammation affects the inner layer of the colon or rectum. When inflammation destroys the cells, ulcers that cause bleeding develop. Ulcerative colitis affects both men and women and usually appears between ages 15 and 30. Between 25 and 40 percent of people with colitis eventually have their colon removed, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Discuss supplements with your doctor before trying them to treat this condition.

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Oral aloe may help reduce inflammation in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, according to a four week study conducted by Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry published in the April 2004 issue of "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics" by lead author L. Langmead. Thirty patients received oral aloe while14 received a placebo; 30 percent of those taking the drug had disease remission while 47 percent experienced remission or improvement, compared to 7 percent of patients taking the placebo.


Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is an herb commonly used in ayurvedic medicine to treat ulcerative colitis. A six-week study conducted by the Government Medical College, India and published in the “European Journal of Medical Research” in January 1997 by lead author I. Gupta found that patients taking boswellia experienced remission in 82 percent of cases, while people taking sulfasalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat ulcerative colitis experienced a 75 percent remission rate.


Curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, showed promise in treating ulcerative colitis in a July 2003 article published in the “American Journal of Physiology Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology" by lead author Dr. Bill Salh of the Jack Bell Research Centre. The animal study, conducted at the Vancouver General Hospital found that curcumin reduced inflammation in mice after colitis was induced. The study concluded that curcumin may have benefit in treating humans with colitis.


Phosphatidylcholine, or PC, also called lecithin, forms a hydrophobic layer that protects the colon from bacteria in the stool. People with ulcerative colitis have a reduced amount of PC to protect the colon, with decreases of 70 percent compared to people without bowel disease as well as those with Crohn’s disease, another inflammatory bowel disease. Giving oral time-released lecithin in two separate studies reported by lead author Wolfgang Stremmer, M.D. of the Department of Gastroenterology at the University Hospital Heidelberg in 2010 in “Digestive Diseases” found that 53 percent in one study and 50 percent in the second experienced disease remission compared to 10 percent of people given a placebo.

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