Inflammatory bowel disease Part 1: ulcerative colitis--pathophysiology and conventional and alternative treatment options

Altern Med Rev. 2003 Aug;8(3):247-83.


Ulcerative colitis (UC), a subcategory of inflammatory bowel disease, afflicts 1-2 million people in the United States, and many more worldwide. Although the exact cause of ulcerative colitis remains undetermined, the condition appears to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While conventional treatments can be effective in maintaining remission and decreasing the length of active disease periods, the treatments are not without side effects, and a significant number of people suffering from UC fail to respond to even the strongest drugs. This article reviews potential unconventional treatments - transdermal nicotine, heparin, melatonin, DHEA, probiotics, fiber, dietary changes, botanicals, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients - that may be considered in conjunction with conventional approaches or as part of a comprehensive alternative treatment protocol. In addition this review addresses risk factors, pathogenesis, nutrient deficiencies, conventional treatment approaches, and extra-intestinal manifestations of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Butyric Acid / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / microbiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Diet
  • Elements
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Probiotics
  • Smoking
  • Sulfur / metabolism
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Elements
  • Fatty Acids
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Vitamins
  • Butyric Acid
  • Nicotine
  • Sulfur