Ulcerative Colitis is regarded as an autoimmune disease that inflames the large intestine causing ulcers and diarrhea mixed with blood. There is no known cause and anti-inflammatory drugs or cortico-steroids are mostly prescribed. The World Journal of Gastroenterology recently reported the effectiveness of prescribing Chinese herbs in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Modern research demonstrated that the use of Chinese herbs had over a 90% success rate and that patients were able to completely come off all medications. Follow up of patients also showed that two later years later they were still fine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine views conditions like ulcerative colitis as being due to a number of imbalances and an accumulation of damp and heat is one of them. Patients with this type of imbalance often report that the ingestion of oily and greasy food exasperates the problem. The research undertaken used some of the herbs that in the classical literature had the function of clearing damp and heat.
There are a number of Chinese herbs that can clear damp and heat from the large intestine including qing dai, bai tou weng, tu fu ling, zi cao and long dan cao. Chinese herbs are always taken in a formula combination that may contain up to fifteen herbs and are prescribed according the individual needs and symptoms of the patient. There is not one specific herb or one combination that can be used across the board for all for ulcerative colitis patients.
Having said that, the research demonstrated that one specific herb, qing dai had the effect of acting like an anti-inflammatory medication and believe that it is the dye found in the herb, indirubin, which can suppress interferon-alpha. This herb has also been shown to inhibit certain types of human cancer cells.
There are also Chinese herbs when used as enemas that have shown to be beneficial in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
It is important to note that there are a number of causes that lead to ulcerative colitis from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective and if for example the cause was from cold and damp in the intestine, taking qing dai would actually worsen the condition.
The qualified Chinese herbalist has done at least 4 years full time training in Chinese herbs in addition to a full time acupuncture degree and has about 150 herbs in their repertoire from which tailor made herbal prescriptions are devised to suit the individual need of the patient. A common way of taking Chinese herbs in the modern world is using them as freeze dried granules. The Acupuncture Clinic uses the Sun Ten range of freeze dried Chinese herbs.