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Ulcerative Colitis : Definition
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic medical condition characterized by inflammation of the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower intestine and spreads upward to the entire large intestine, which causes ulceration of the surface of the colon, and results in pus, mucus, and bleeding. The disease commonly starts gradually, with non-bloody diarrhea progressing to bloody diarrhea with symptoms slowly worsening over the course of a few weeks. In about 20 percent of patients, the initial attack of ulcerative colitis is associated with bloody diarrhea and other severe symptoms, with inflammation extending into the colon.

Ulcerative colitis commonly follows a chronic intermittent course, with long periods of remission interspersed with acute attacks lasting weeks to months.

Sections of Large Intestine

Ulcerative colitis (Colitis ulcerosa, UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. Based on characteristic signs like persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, abdominal cramps and weight loss, TCM puts the chronic condition under the categories of "protracted diarrhea", "protracted dysentery", "bloody stools", or "organ intoxication".

In China, TCM treatment in the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis was first reported in 1958; however, similar clinical experiences can be tracked to a very early period. In the Han dynasty, the symptoms were recorded in a TCM classic, Jinkui Yaolue (Synopsis of the Golden Chamber), which proposed to treat ulcerative colitis by therapeutic approaches like detoxifying, cleansing, warming, astringing and consolidating. The author also formulated Pulsatilla Root Decoction (bai tou weng tong) and Peach Blossom Decoction (tao hua tang) specifically for the condition. This established an important foundation for exploring the mechanism of the disease and developing relevant treatment methods. Modern TCM after many years of clinical studies concluded that herbal administrations along with herbal enemas are a better way to control symptoms and can maintain a longer remission from the disease.

Pulsatilla root

In respect to herbal usage, traditional prescriptions usually contain ingredients that fortify the spleen, replenish qi, clear heat and expel dampness. However, specialists have found that mere application of herbs to activate circulation and remove stasis can also achieve similar results.

Ulcerative colitis is a common and complex clinical condition, TCM treatment has its unique advantage.