A yogurt a day could keep the doctors away.
Probiotics, "friendly" bacteria that reside in the gut, have been found to be effective in managing ulcerative colitis. They help control the number of potentially harmful bacteria, reduce inflammation, and improve the protective mucus lining of the gut.
Probiotics are among the more popular remedies for inflammatory bowel disease because they are without significant side effects and appear to be safe.
A University of Alberta study examined 34 people with mild-to-moderate active ulcerative colitis who were unresponsive to conventional treatment. The researchers gave them a probiotic supplement called VSL#3, which provided a total of 3,600 billion bacteria a day for 6 weeks. At the end of the study, 18 people (53 percent) demonstrated remission on sigmoidoscopy and a further 8 people (24 percent) had a favorable response.
Researchers at the University of Dundee analyzed bacteria from rectal biopsies of patients with active ulcerative colitis and healthy control subjects. There were significantly less bifidobacterium numbers in the ulcerative colitis biopsies, which suggested that these probiotic bacteria might have a protective role in the disease. In a further study, 18 people with active ulcerative colitis were given a bifidobacterium supplement or a placebo for one month. Sigmoidoscopy, biopsy, and blood tests showed significant improvement in the probiotic group compared with the placebo group.
An Italian study examined the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, which was previously found to be beneficial in the maintenance of the other inflammmatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease. Researchers gave 25 patients with a mild-to-moderate flare-up of ulcerative colitis a supplement containing 250 milligrams of Saccharomyces boulardii three times a day for 4 weeks during maintenance treatment with the drug mesalazine (these patients were unsuitable for steroid therapy). Of the 24 patients who completed the study, 17 had clinical remission, which was confirmed by endoscopic exam.
By Cathy Wong, About.com Guide