NOTE: This is a very long, information-packed article. To make it easier to navigate, don't forget to use the Table of Contents button that will be to your right!

Before we get into ways to naturally help colitis, IBD and Crohn's, I would like to emphasize that these can be a VERY serious (life threatening in some situations) conditions. Please, please work in tandem with your physician or medical professional and don't hesitate to seek proper medical care!

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a medical condition that causes the walls of the intestines and digestive tract to become swollen and inflamed.

When nothing is done to correct this condition for a long period of time, then ulcers can begin to develop. Ulcers bring with them a whole host of additional problems including pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, bloody stools, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss or a fever.



The Two Most Common Forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD commonly comes in two forms – ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. The symptoms of these two disorders can seem much the same and it can be really difficult for the doctor to ascertain a correct diagnosis. In addition, inflammatory bowel disease is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Other inflammatory bowel diseases include collagenous colitis, lymphocytic colitis, and diversion colitis.

The Difference Between Colitis and Crohn's Disease

In Crohn's disease, there are healthy parts of the intestine mixed in between inflamed areas. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is continuous inflammation of the colon. Ulcerative colitis only affects the inner most lining of the colon while Crohn's disease can occur in all the layers of the bowel walls.

The Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

There has been no exact reason identified for why IBD occurs, although here has been a lot of research into factors that could make a person more likely to develop it. As you probably know, a damaged or weakened immune system makes it easy for infections to spread.

But for people with inflammatory bowel disease, the immune system actually overreacts to something in the digestive system and causes ongoing inflammation, ulcers, and other problems.

Medical researches believe that a virus or bacterium may be what causes the immune system to react this way. If someone in your family has suffered with inflammatory bowel disease then there is a high probability that you will also.

Women are more likely to develop IBD where genetic ties are concerned, while individual of Jewish descent carry this special gene which means they are much more likely to develop IBD than most other people.

Having a lifestyle where you are not physically active, being in a higher socioeconomic bracket or living in a developed country are all factors which make it more likely that you will suffer with inflammatory bowel disease at some point in your life. Cigarettes, stress and some types of food can also contribute to it.

Tips for Preventing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

*  Eat a high-fiber diet of whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts (NOTE: Some individuals find that wheat products worsen their symptoms).
* Include protein such as lean meats and fish in your diet to relieve symptoms of IBD.
* Try to eat small, frequent meals – even during a flare-up.
* Regular exercise helps to reduce stiffness, maintain joint motion, and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
* Drink a lot of fluid and at least 8-10 glasses of water every day to help keep the body hydrated and also to help prevent constipation.
* Stay away from foods containing lactose if you are lactose intolerant.
* Curb your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as these may aggravate symptoms.
* Increase your intake of multivitamins and fish oil capsules to replace nutrients lost via malabsorption problems caused by IBD.
* Limit gas-producing foods such as onions, dried peas and lentils, chives, broccoli, and carbonated drinks.
* Practice deep breathing exercises to encourage motion of the ribs.
* Stop smoking in a natural manner, as smoking has been known to worsen this condition.

What is Colitis?

Colitis, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD),  is the acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining of the colon (large intestine or bowel) and can have many different causes. Colitis is also the commonly used short name for ulcerative colitis, a condition which causes both inflammation and ulcers in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine.

When inflammation occurs, the colon empties itself, frequently resulting in diarrhea. In areas where the inflammation has resulted in the death of the colon lining cells, ulcers may develop which can produce pus and mucus, or may also bleed.

Those with inflammatory bowel disease also tend to experience eye problems, joint problems, neck or lower back pain, as well as skin changes.

The Symptoms of Colitis, IBD

The symptoms of IBD can vary widely depending on the specific type of colitis and its cause. These may include:

  • Pain
  • Lower abdominal discomfort or cramps
  • Spasms
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Frequent loose bowel movements with or without blood
  • Urgency and bowel incontinence
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Swelling of the colon tissue
  • Erythema (redness) of the surface of the colon
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss in chronic diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease

Common Treatments of IBD, Colitis

For more serious episodes of colitis, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, or steroids may be prescribed. However, these prescription medications may also come with other side effects. As your symptoms improve, eat low-fiber foods and avoid dairy products and greasy foods for a few days.

Often severe attacks of inflammatory bowel disease such as colitis require hospital admission and supportive care which includes bowel rest, IV fluids, and correction of any electrolyte imbalance. Surgery may also be required and can involve the removal of the affected portion of colon and bowel, but this is usually a last resort.

Making strict changes to diet will help ease symptoms and a food diary will enable the identification of foods that seem to worsen or trigger symptoms. People with chronic colitis may need psychotherapy, counseling, and education.

Body Systems Affected by IBD:

  • Digestive
  • Lymphatic System (Immune System)
  • Endocrine

Energetic Systems Affected by IBD

Please also see our article on Energetic Anatomy and Meridians

Energetically, the following meridians have a direct affect on IBD and colitis:

  • Large Intestine
  • Small Intestine
  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Spleen/Pancreas

Effective Alternative Treatments for IBD

Reflexology Treatment for IBD

Tools Needed: The great thing about reflexology is all that you really need is your own hands. However, if you would like to use any reflex massage tools or crystal massage wands, that is also perfectly fine!

How To: The most important thing to remember when giving a reflex treatment is to relax. Take a few deep breaths before starting, wear comfortable clothing, get in a comfortable position. You could give yourself a warm foot or hand bath prior to treatment and/or massage both of your feet or hands with a good lotion to help relax you before starting.

Reflexology Massage

Click to see all reflexology charts 

Large Foot and Hand Reflexology Chart

Large Foot and Hand Reflexology Chart – Click for larger image

When we use reflexology massage to help a specific ailment or complaint, we have a very systematic approach to what reflexes should be massaged and why.

  • The specific areas or organs directly affected
  • Upper lymphatics to help reduce swelling and inflammation and help combat infection
  • The general area of the problem
  • Adrenal glands for powerful anti-inflammatory effect (if  necessary)
  • Specific secondary organs or systems affected
Before Beginning

Massage the entire foot slowly but firmly to loosen it up, beginning at the toes and moving down towards the heel for about 30 seconds

Using both hands, hold onto the spine area with the palm of the hands – fingers on top of the foot and thumbs on bottom of the foot. Slowly and gently twist/wring the hands away from each other in order to gently twist the spine area on the foot. This is a relaxation exercise. Loosely wring one way and the other for approximately 30 seconds total.

Reflex Points to Massage for IBD
Foot/Hand – small intestine (14), ascending colon (17), transverse colon (19), descending colon (21), rectum (68), lymph glands (37, 41, 59, 63), adrenal glands (7), parathyroid glands (41)

Foot Reflex Points Charts for Specific Ailments

Click for larger image

Hand Reflex Points Charts for Specific Ailments

Click for larger image

Face – small intestine (a), stomach (g), colon (k), endocrine system (m)

Face Reflexology Chart

Click for larger image

Ear – anus, rectum, intestines, stomach, neck, spleen, abdomen, genitals, pancreas

Ear Reflexology Chart

Click for larger image

Body – (front) diarrhea, stomach, intestine illness, decreased vitality

(back) decrease in vitality, hemorrhoids, immune system, stomach

Reflexology Body Points (Front)

(Front) – Click for larger image

Reflexology Body Points (Back)

(Back) – Click for larger image

Massage Techniques:

Click to learn how to do a Reflexology Point Massage

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Reflexology Contraindications:
  • Any contagious skin disease ie. impetigo, scabies, chicken pox, mumps etc.
  • Severe psoriasis or eczema on foot (foot will be too sore to work)
  • Any untreated severe medical condition, or acute pain (Reflexology may hide a condition which needs medical attention)
  • Anyone under influence of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe varicose veins i.e. phlebitis (Reflexology may increase pressure of blood to veins)
  • Bruising on feet
  • Cuts, grazes, open skin, rashes, bites, burns, fractures
  • First few days of menstruation (Reflexology may make period heavier)
  • Immediately after a heavy meal – wait not less than 2 hours
  • Athletes foot or verruaes
  • Localized swelling/inflammation
  • Scar tissue (2 years for major operation, and 6 months small scar)
  • Sunburn
  • Hormonal implants
  • Recent fractures (minimum 3 months)
  • Cervical spondylitis
  • Hematoma
  • For women in early pregnancy (the first 6 weeks), the reflexology session is altered by treating the uterine and ovarian reflex points more gently or by avoiding them altogether. In general, caution should be exercised during pregnancy because of reports that stimulation may cause contractions.
What to Expect

Effects immediately following the treatment can vary from feelings of being deeply relaxed to very energetic. You may notice increased thirst or hunger or needing to go to the bathroom more often. These are all signs that the body’s own healing mechanism has been activated.

After any reflexology massage, please be sure to drink plenty of water (ideally at least 8 glasses in 24 hours), to help flush toxins from your body. It is also recommended you avoid alcohol and eat only light meals.

Aromatherapy Treatment for IBD

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Effective Essential Oils for Colitis, Crohn's (IBD):

  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Clove
  • Gurjum Balsam
  • Lemongrass
  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint

Recommended Carrier Oils:

  • Calendula: Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant
  • Black Cumin Seed: Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, immunomodulatory
  • Neem: Anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, analgesic
  • Sweet Almond: Anti-inflammatory, absorbs easily
  • Borage: Immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory
  • Apricot Kernel: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Hemp Seed: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Jojoba: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial

External Essential Oil Blends for IBD:

Since Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – refers to both colitis and Crohn's Disease) is a problem of inflammation, essential oils that are both calming and anti-inflammatory may be useful.

Colitis/IBD Massage Oil Blend

  • 2 TBSP Carrier Oil (choose from list above)
  • 4 drops Fennel
  • 4 drops Peppermint
  • 2 drops German Chamomile
  • 2 drops Ginger (optional)

IBD Hot Compress

Fill a bowl with water as hot as you can stand to put your hands in and sprinkle 4 or 5 drops (total) of 2 essential oils from the recommended oil list above. Fold a clean piece of absorbent fabric several times and dip it into the water so the cloth picks up as much of the essential oils floating on the surface as possible.

Wring out the cloth and place it immediately over your abdomen. You can cover with plastic wrap to protect clothes. Replace compress when it has cooled to body temperature. Suitable cloth material includes any absorbent material, clean old sheets or towels, or flannel.

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Get your FREE copy of The Healing Art of Aromatherapy mini-course!

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Application Methods:

For external blends, the preferred method of application for colitis and IBD is via massage of the abdomen. Massage gently in the direction of the colon, which is clockwise if you are looking at the front of a person's body. Hot compresses are also a very effective application method.

Internal Essential Oil Blends for IBD:

These are to be taken internally – PLEASE check contraindications of each oil in these blends AND check with your healthcare professional BEFORE ingesting any essential oil. You can check contraindications by clicking the link above and reading its profile or by researching in essential oil reference books.

Peppermint, ginger and fennel essentials oil may reduce ulcerative colitis and IBD symptoms due to their their anti-inflammatory properties. Add one drop of each of these essential oils to water three times daily, or rub two to three drops over the abdomen twice daily.

Colitis/IBD Antibiotic Oil Blend

  • 10 drops Thyme
  • 10 drops Oregano
  • 4 drops Frankincense
  • 35 drops Coconut Oil as a carrier oil

Mix oils together and put 10 drops of the blend in size 00 gel caps. Take one capsule with breakfast and another just before dinner until symptoms subside, then continue taking the blend for about a week.

Colitis/IBD Antibiotic Oil Blend 2

  • 10 drops Tea Tree
  • 5 drops Rosemary
  • 5 drops Clove
  • 5 drops Lemon
  • 5 drops Frankincense
  • 30 drops Coconut Oil as a carrier oil

Mix the oils together then put 10 drops of the blend in size 00 gel caps. Take 2 capsules per day, morning and evening with meals till symptoms subside, then continue for about a week.

Contraindications:

Please see individual essential oil profiles for contraindications

Combining the Therapies (ReflexAromatherapy for Colitis and IBD)

There are many ways to combine the healing effects of reflexology and aromatherapy, and I have to say that my best advice is to experiment. Every person is an individual and every complaint is unique in some way. Try different things and then stick with what worked best.

That being said, there are three methods I would encourage you to try:

  1. Massage oil or blend with the side of your thumb or reflex tool directly on the corresponding reflex point on the feet or hands. Use a press and circle motion for 10-20 seconds per point.
  2. Use an appropriate oil blend and apply it to the feet or hands immediately before massaging the reflex points. You can also mix a few drops of the blend in with your favorite unscented lotion to use in between reflex treatments and during the ‘relaxation' phase before a reflex treatment.
  3. Diffuse an appropriate oil blend as you work the reflex points for your complaint or condition.

Additional Therapies to Research Further

Crystals/Color:

(TIP: Try using a crystal massage tool for your reflex treatment!)

Crystals to Help Colitis, IBD

  • Black Agate
  • Clear Quartz
  • Orange-Banded Calcite
  • Serpentine Jade-Olivine
  • Amethyst
  • Heliotrope
  • Emerald
  • Ocean Jasper

Color Therapy for Colitis, IBD

  • Blue: Inflammation – Treat with blue generally and locally.
  • Yellow: Abdominal Cramping, Digestive Issues, Diverticulitis.
  • Yellow/Orange: Bowels – For constipation, use yellow for ten minutes. For diarrhea, use blue or green. A glass of solarized water a day is indicated until the condition is under control. Diet should be looked into. Spleen – Treat with yellow over spleen area for half hour.
  • Red: Endocrine Glands – Treat with red at the base of the spine. Circulation – Treat with red light to stimulate circulation.
  • Purple: Flatulence – Treat with purple light over the abdomen for 15 minutes; solarized water should be taken every day.

How to Make Solarized Color Water

This is a simple and cheap way of applying color to the body. Water, when exposed to sunlight in a colored container for at least an hour become irradiated and takes on some of the vibrational energy of that particular color. This is called solarized water.

Special colored containers can be bought, but they can easily be improvised using colored cellophane. Simply drink (solarized water should always be sipped)  this water at regular intervals throughout the day.

A red vessel will give red solarized water; a blue vessel, blue solarized water, etc. The longer the water remains exposed to the sun, the stronger is its potency. Solarization depends on temperature, geographical location and the time of the day.

One simple way to determine if the water has absorbed the sun's energy is to drop an ice cube in the glass of water to be solarized. When the ice cube has completely melted, the water is charged. Obviously, it will take more time in winter as opposed to in summer.

Herbs for IBD:

  • Boswellia
  • Calendula
  • Goldenseal
  • Licorice
  • Turmeric
  • Wormwood
  • Fenugreek
  • Cat's Claw
  • Marshmallow
  • German Chamomile can help with the inflammation and calm you both mentally and physically.
  • Meadowsweet can actually lower the amount of acid your stomach makes and offers the digestive tract protection.
  • Slippery Elm helps to take away the pain you get when digesting a particularly large meal.
  • Cancer Bush can be taken to address stomach complaints whether they are chronic or acute.

Get your dried, organic herbs, organic essential oils, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas and aromatherapy supplies at the place where we shop – StarWest Botanicals!

Homeopathics for IBD:

  • Arsenicum
  • Lycopodium
  • Nux Vomica
  • Sulphur

Supplements for IBD:

For long-term help, take probiotics to ensure you have good bacteria present in the digestive system.

  • Bromelain
  • Chlorella
  • DHEA
  • Aloe Juice/Oral Aloe Vera Gel
  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Fiber
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Adrenal Extracts
  • Propolis
  • Quercitin
  • Wheatgrass
  • Prebiotics
  • L-glutamine

A Note on Supplements: A good friend of mine had battled colitis for nearly a year when her naturopath put her on three simple supplements: Omega-3, Probiotic and a mucosal supplement with L-glutamine as the main ingredient. She called it the “Gut Healing Trio”.  She began taking the Trio in early July 2015 and has been completely symptom-free since October 2015.

Gut Healing Trio dosage for ACTIVE colitis/IBD:

  • Omega 3 – 1 x 400 mg EPA. 200 mg DHA (together in 1 gelcap) 3 times a day (Refrigerate)
  • Probiotic – 1 x 10 billion cfu 3 times a day (HMF Forte Probiotic is what was recommended) (Refrigerate)
  • Mucosal Supplement – 2 capsules twice daily (Here is the one she took – check ingredients and I'm sure you can find one very similar. The L-glutamine is the most important ingredient.)

Food as Medicine:

Both ulcerative colitis and crohn's disease can be managed effectively and even reversed in the early stages by adopting a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. Avoiding the rich Western diet and eating a high-fiber diet consisting of whole, plant-based foods restores the imbalance of protective and harmful bacteria in the gut, which is a major cause of both of these conditions.

A 2010 study showed 100 percent of study participants eating a semi-vegetarian diet (including small amounts of eggs, milk, and fish) achieved complete remission of crohn's after one year and 92 percent remained in remission after two years. (1)

  • Foods that Harm: Dairy, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, other “trigger” foods.
  • Foods that Heal: Water, bananas, rice, yogurt, onions, applesauce, toast, white meat, peas, poultry
  • Foods to Limit: Bran, whole grains, nuts, dried fruits

Yoga Rx for IBD:

1) Reclining Single Knee Hug – Lie down on your back. Hug your right knee gently into your chest. With each exhale, draw your knee closer toward your right shoulder. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.

2) Reclining Single Knee Hug Twist – From your reclining knee hug, cross your right knee over your body toward your left. Open your arms out to the sides. Look toward your right. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths. Do the other side starting with the reclining knee hug.

3) Rock – Lie on your back and draw both knees into your chest. Gently rock from side to side allowing the sides of your back to release into the ground. Continue rocking for five long, deep breaths.

Mind Over Body:

  • Emotional/Spiritual Cause – Insecurity. Represents the ease of letting go of that which is over.
  • New Thought Pattern – I am part of the perfect rhythm and flow of life. All is in Divine right order.
  • Mind Power – Visualize bright golden or white light flowing from the stomach to the lower abdomen.

Prepared Remedies:

  • Gastronic Dr – Herbal supplement for healthy digestion and comfort after meals
  • Natural Moves – Herbal supplement for regularity and healthy bowel movements
  • ColoFlush – Herbal supplement for cleansing of the colon and systemic health
  • Inflam Dr. – Natural supplement for whole body health, including joint and cardiovascular health, and healthy aging

Science and Research

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Works Cited

(1) Dustin Rudolph. The Empty Medicine Cabinet. : Dustin Rudolph, PharmD, 2014. .

Beryl Crane. Reflexology: The Definitive Practitioner's Manual. : Harper-Collins, 1997. .

EssentialOilsPedia.com. IBD. : http://www.essentialoilspedia.com, . .

Mark Stengler. The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies. : Prentice Hall Press, 2010. .

Maoshing Ni. The Natural Health Dictionary. : Ask Dr. Mao LLC, 2011. .

Editors of Reader's Digest. Foods that Harm and Foods that heal. : Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 2013. .

Dharma Singh Khalsa. Food as Medicine. : Atria Books, 2003. .

Tara Stiles. Yoga Cures. : Random House, 2012. .

Louise Hay. Heal Your Body A-Z. : Hay House Publishers, 1998. .

Zhi Gang Sha, MD. Soul Mind Body Medicine. : Publishers Group West, 2006. .

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