Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Gastrointestinal bleeding along with joint pain can occur, but the more common symptoms would include abdominal pain, rectal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Severe attacks can lead to hospitalization. Medications are offered to help control symptoms. Corticosteroids are often recommended. If the steroids do not work Remicade treatments are considered. Surgery is often recommended for the removal of the large intestine. Many people believe that Ulcerative Colitis is actually an autoimmune condition. As with autoimmune conditions, the symptoms seem to be periodically triggered. As is the case with Crohn’s and Celiac Disease, you need to have a thorough understanding of the immune system.

Your immune system is designed to protect you against foreign invasion of cells that can lead you to become ill. It will recognize and destroy such things as bad bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, parasites, and rapidly growing cells(cancer). When working properly, it stops you from becoming sick with long drawn out symptoms. It knows what tissues to protect and what cells do not belong in the body. There are 2 main parts of the immune system, TH-1 and TH-2. The role of the TH-2 part of the immune system is to travel around to all parts of the body looking for foreign cells. Once they are found, the TH-2 cells will “mark” the foreign cells. The TH-1 part of the immune system travels around the body looking for “marked” foreign cells. Once found, the TH-1 cells attack and destroy the “marked” foreign cells.

Unfortunately, there are circumstances that will cause the immune system to become faulty or “go haywire” and attack healthy, tissues of the GI tract. This can result for a number of different reasons, including, but not limited to such things as:

  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Infections
  • Environmental agents
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Gluten sensitivities
  • Insulin surges
  • Gastrointestinal infections

You must understand that there is no cure for an autoimmune condition, including Ulcerative Colitis. Traditional medical care offers the use of immunosuppressive drugs which are designed to suppress the immune system. There are different groups of immunosuppressive drugs with slightly different mechanisms to slow down the immune system. The hope is that by using these drugs that they will decrease the immune system and then the immune system will be less likely to continue to attack healthy cells and tissues. Obviously there is a great deal of concern with using these drugs in that by lowering the immune system, the individual will become more susceptible to infections as well as decreasing the ability to fight off normally occurring cancer cells in the body.

Instead of “dumbing down” the immune system like the traditional medical approach offers, why not consider a safer manner that would decrease the frequency of flare ups by the faulty immune system? Again, keep in mind that there is no cure for an autoimmune condition. Your goal should be to try and decrease the number of flare ups or frequency at which the immune system Is attacking healthy cells. In other words, if an individual where having 2-3 flare ups a month, and they could be reduced to 1 flare up per every 2 months, wouldn’t that be an improvement? And what if during that time the person where not lowering their immune system to the point that they were making themselves more susceptible to colds, infections, and decreasing their ability to fight off cancer cells. Keep in mind that there are times where the “triggering mechanism” of an autoimmune condition can be identified. When this occurs, it can make it easier to decrease the flare ups.

If you are looking for more information as to what options are available to you, call the office today to schedule your $27 screening. During the $27 screening you can go over your health history, review previous care, discuss the type of testing and care that may be best for you, and Dr. Picard will answer your questions so that you can decide if this approach is right for you.