Supplement lowers need for ulcerative colitis drugs A study published online in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (http://www.cghjournal.org/) reported that a supplement containing antioxidants, fish oil, and soluble fiber lessens the need for corticosteroid therapy in ulcerative colitis. The supplement also reduced the need to initiate treatment with the drugs, which are commonly prescribed to treat the condition but have long term adverse effects.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic randomized 121 ulcerative colitis patients who had active inflammation to receive a placebo or a drink containing fish oil, fructooligosaccharides, gum arabic, vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium for six months. The supplement formula was designed to help reduce the inflammation characteristic of the disease and provide nutrition that is often deficient. Participants were examined at three months and at the study’s conclusion.
It was found that subjects who received the nutritional supplement had a significantly greater rate of decrease in the amount of corticosteroid drugs necessary to control their symptoms over the study period than that of the placebo group. Lead author Douglas Seidner, MD of the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Gastroenterology summarized the team’s findings: "Our study proves that an oral supplement which combines fish oil, soluble fiber and antioxidants is safer and causes fewer side effects than many of the medications currently available to treat ulcerative colitis. This supplement will provide yet another treatment option to alleviate symptoms for patients suffering from this debilitating disease."
He added, “The need to find new treatments that are safe, effective and inexpensive remains and physicians should consider adding this combination of active ingredients as an adjuvant therapy for ulcerative colitis.”
Ulcerative colitis The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but heredity and an overactive immune response are suspected factors. Food allergies may also be a factor (D'Arienzo et al. 2000).
Poor absorption of food and nutritional deficiencies often result due to degeneration of the intestinal mucosa. In addition, many people with colitis have a decreased food intake which adds to nutritional deficiencies.
Conventional treatment aims to reduce inflammation, reduce symptoms, and replace any lost fluid or nutrients. While symptoms can be alleviated by dietary changes and drug therapies, there are specific nutritional therapies that have been shown to be effective without inducing side effects.
Fish oil may be a useful therapeutic agent in the management of colitis. Studies on the use of dietary supplements of fish-oil-derived fatty acids have indicated a beneficial effect on inflammatory bowel disease (Ross 1993; Steinhart 1997; Almallah et al. 1998). Many published studies suggest that marine fish-oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis.
Dietary fiber is found in many plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains, and is essential to good health. Insoluble fiber found in such foods as fruit pulp, vegetable peels and skins, and grain brans adds bulk to stools and hastens the movement of food through the digestive tract, helping to prevent constipation and diarrhea. Soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, grains, oatmeal, and dried beans helps to lower cholesterol and prevent such diseases as colon cancer and diabetes.
Colitis patients often suffer from multiple nutrient deficiencies (Wasser et al. 1995). Supplementation with a multinutrient formula such as Life Extension Mix could prevent complications of long-term nutritional deficiencies. Studies have shown potential lethal effects caused by colitis-induced nutritional deficiencies. Free radicals have been implicated in the colitis inflammatory process (Ramakrishna et al. 1997). Vitamin E and selenium are two nutrients that appear to be especially effective in suppressing free radical-generated inflammation.
Life Extension has tested a number of fish oil concentrates in order to identify the one that causes the fewest complaints of digestive upset. The easy-to-tolerate fish oil concentrate Life Extension has identified provides high concentrations of EPA and DHA, the fatty acids most responsible for fish oil’s many beneficial effects.
Fiber Food provides natural, bulk-producing soluble fiber. These fibers help maintain healthy bowel function and help to maintain cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range. Fiber Food helps clean the walls of the intestines and enhances the elimination of unwanted fecal byproducts.