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Ingredient in Grapes May Treat Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a tough disease to deal with – due to the frequent bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Is there a natural way to treat the symptoms?

Life can be challenging for people who have ulcerative colitis. This chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestines causes frequent bouts of bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramping that come and go, and, in some cases, fatigue, fever, and weight loss.

Conventional treatments for ulcerative colitis are steroids and medications called aminosalicylates – which decrease inflammation – but have side effects. Is there a natural way to treat the symptoms of colitis? A preliminary study shows that people who have ulcerative colitis could benefit from taking resveratrol – a supplement sold at many health food stores.

What is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a natural plant compound found in the skin of red grapes. This “anti-aging” supplement has been the focus of a great deal of attention lately after animal studies showed that it may extend life – at least in animals.

There’s more good news about resveratrol. Studies in mice showed that resveratrol offsets the negative effects of eating a high fat diet – and could account for the French paradox – the observation that the French eat rather high amounts of fat, yet still have a low risk of heart disease. This is thought to be due to the resveratrol rich wine they drink. On top of that, resveratrol is being explored as a possible cancer prevention supplement.

Is Resveratrol a Natural Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis?

When researchers gave six week old mice a diet that included 3 mg/kg of resveratrol each day and exposed them to a chemical that induced colitis, it reduced the amount of colon damage they experienced. They also had fewer ulcerative colitis symptoms such as bloody diarrhea and weight loss – compared to a group of control mice who ate a regular diet without resveratrol.

When they looked at the colons of these mice, they found less colon damage and fewer inflammatory cells. Forty percent of the mice that ate the regular diet died, while none of the mice fed the resveratrol enriched diet passed away.

Ulcerative Colitis Natural Treatment: Is Resveratrol the Answer?

This study is encouraging, but whether resveratrol has the same effect in humans with ulcerative colitis is unknown. The polyphenols in resveratrol have anti-inflammatory effects which may account for the beneficial effects resveratrol had in these mice.

Should People Who Have Ulcerative Colitis Take Resveratrol?

It’s still premature to recommend taking resveratrol in supplemental form based on an animal study – especially since the long-term effects aren’t known. Some good natural sources of resveratrol are red wine, red grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and peanut butter.

These natural food sources are a good way to get some of the benefits of resveratrol without taking a supplement – but go lightly on the red wine. Red grapes may be a better choice – particularly for women since alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer. Enjoy resveratrol rich foods, but talk to your doctor before taking resveratrol as a supplement – especially if you have ulcerative colitis so you can be more closely monitored.

References:

Food Production Daily website. “Chronic Colitis Patients Could Benefit from Resveratrol, says Spanish Study”.

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