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Ulcerative Proctitis: Best Bets for a Bowel Disease?

What are your recommendations for treating ulcerative proctitis? Can it ever be cured? I have an aggressive case.
Answer (Published 6/27/2005)

Ulcerative proctitis is a variety of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the rectum and can precede development of another disorder, ulcerative colitis. The most common symptom is rectal bleeding. You can also have diarrhea, constipation, and the feeling of incomplete evacuation – the urge to have a bowel movement although nothing happens when you try. Fortunately, this condition isn’t usually associated with the joint problems, skin rashes, eye and liver disease that can occur with ulcerative colitis, and it usually presents no increased risk of colon cancer.

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Most people with ulcerative proctitis are treated with topical anti-inflammatory medication in the form of suppositories and, sometimes, with oral anti-inflammatory drugs, too. More serious or recurrent cases may be treated with steroid enemas or other immunosuppressive drugs. I would be inclined to use general anti-inflammatory measures to deal with this condition, including an anti-inflammatory diet. I also would recommend taking turmeric or curcumin, a compound found in turmeric that is responsible for the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard. Both have anti-inflammatory effects.

In addition, I suggest trying a mind/body technique such as guided imagery or hypnosis, and perhaps Chinese medicine, which can be very helpful with all types of inflammatory bowel disease. I would also begin keeping a symptom diary in an effort to identify any lifestyle factors that might be associated with flare-ups of your condition.

The following measures may help those with ulcerative proctitis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease:

  • Strictly avoid coffee, including decaffeinated coffee, all other sources of caffeine, and all stimulant drugs.
  • Avoid milk and all milk products.
  • Avoid products sweetened with sorbitol and xylitol.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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