Back in 2004, I was extremely sick with ulcerative colitis.
Sick, scared and confused.
It gets a lot scarier and more confusing when you start running into all kinds of ideas and theories and advice online.
And, back then in 2004, there was nothing like the volume of information, misinformation and propaganda there is online today.
For example, the following question and answer are currently on Web MD.
Do you need to avoid fast food in a Crohn’s disease diet plan?
Web MD Answer:
While fast foods should normally be avoided in a healthy diet plan, sometimes they can give your diet a needed boost. Some fast foods can offer a valuable supply of key nutrients and calories. For instance, pizza offers calories, protein, and nutrients such as calcium and vitamins A, B, C, and D. A milkshake is high in calories and calcium. Of course, if you are lactose-intolerant, you need to remember to take the proper medication before drinking a milk product.
This type of information online can lead to a lot of misery for many people.
If you’re here reading this blog, you likely already know that. (If not, you should definitely ready my epic blog post Healing Ulcerative Colitis Naturally – The Principle Guide.)
Further, ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s patients don’t have a lot of time or space for a major dietary screw up as recommended above by Web MD. That type of behavior could very, very easily result in a major flare-up.
A bad enough flare-up can land you in an ER and on an operating table pretty easily with severe UC and Crohn’s.
Ulcerative colitis is absolutely reversible and healable with the right dietary and lifestyle interventions. The above from Web MD are not them…
There are a number of myths about healing UC and Crohn’s floating around online. I figured instead of just shaking my head and feeling compassion for anyone following such advice, I’d take a run through some of the most prevalent and ridiculous things I’ve heard about healing UC over the years.
Here are my top 14 myths about healing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease…
The 14 Myths About Healing Ulcerative Colitis
Myth 1 – Diet Has Nothing to Do with the Disease and Dietary Interventions are Ineffective
Though food alone will not heal UC or Crohn’s, no approach – pharmaceutical or otherwise – is being given a chance of working without very strict dietary modifications.
I have no idea why this attitude about UC being unrelated to diet is so prevalent – other than the obvious. It keeps patients eating poorly and returning for treatments long-term.
Conspiracy theories aside, there’s now even real scientific attention being paid to a Paleo-AIP approach as a UC and Crohn’s intervention.
Even 10 years ago, the dominant mindset of every doctor I encountered was that “diet has nothing to do with it.” Thankfully, this is less the case now, but it’s still too few and far between.
It’s getting better. There’s this article discussing the efficacy of the autoimmune protocol diet for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and this letter to the editor of Crohn’s and Colitis 360 discussing changes in RNA expression in inflammatory bowel disease attributed to an autoimmune protocol diet.
So, at this point, even the mainstream medical researchers are looking at sensible and very Paleo dietary modifications for UC and Crohn’s.
[BTW – Often Google Scholar is a better place to look for information. It grants us a break from the endless content marketing we tend to swim in when reading commercial and product-oriented websites. Based on current events, it’s clearly more important than ever to be sure you’re getting real information online.]
Myth 2 – The Diet May Work, But it’s Still Too Restrictive and Possibly Dangerous
This is another one I find entertaining. The main problem with this line of thinking is that it assumes most of the stuff we eat is actually food. I don’t consider a diet to be restrictive if it’s excluding stuff that shouldn’t be in a healthy diet for a human to begin with.
For UC and Crohn’s, a proper diet will necessarily exclude all grains, all forms of dairy and anything packaged or processed.
A lot has to come out of your diet to heal ulcerative colitis naturally.
You can learn all the basics of diet for UC and Crohn’s right here in my diet-targeted post: Ulcerative Colitis and Diet – Effective Eating Strategies and Food Choices for Healing.
The other related argument is that there’s some kind of danger of “nutrient deficiencies” with a restrictive diet like Paleo or Paleo-AIP.
This is similar nonsense to the quote I started this post with from Web MD.
I personally had the head of GI at a major hospital in Connecticut warn me that I may run into nutrition problems without bread. Bread?
It’s a sad state of affairs for people with IBD and there’s a lot of needless suffering due to dietary misguidance.
Though some vitamin and nutrient deficiency issues can occur over time on Paleo-AIP and with UC in general, there’s nothing that can’t be corrected with some blood work and supplements and a little patience and trial and error.
That’s why misguided strategies like eating pizza and milkshakes for the vitamins and minerals don’t work.
The most dangerous thing you’re dealing with is the UC. The second most dangerous thing is your doctor and his pharmaceutical and surgery arsenal. The third is misinformation.
Somewhere down the line of “dangerous” is what nutrients you’re going to be missing if you eat a Paleo-AIP diet and start healing.
Besides, no one with severe UC or Crohn’s is absorbing much of anything with all the inflammation anyway. To be worried about micronutrients and nutrient deficiencies from a restricted diet is wasted energy when you’re struggling with UC.
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Myth 3 – It Will Just Come Back When You Return to a “Normal” Diet and Lifestyle
This is one of the strangest things I’ve heard from people. It also ends up being part of the mainstream argument against treating IBD with diet and lifestyle interventions to begin with.
The idea is that no one can stay on such a “restrictive” diet for the rest of their lives, so why even start?
To answer this question, I’m going to ask you to reconsider what “normal” is when it comes to diet.
The main problem here is our definition of “normal.”
Yes, if we return to a dysfunctional, unhealthy and destructive lifestyle our health problems will be likely to return. But that just underscores how unhealthy and destructive our modern lifestyles and modern foods are.
Any biological organism that’s confined to a toxic environment will eventually begin to show signs of disease and dysfunction.
So, yes, as far as the: “It will just come back if you return to your destructive lifestyle and habits” argument, it’s irrelevant.
There is no going back. We’re not who we used to be anymore. We can’t live the lives that made us sick in the first place any longer.
The related argument, about the diet and lifestyle changes being too difficult to stay with long term, don’t really factor in how difficult it is to have IBD in the first place. That’s a lot of work too.
I’d rather work to maintain my health than to manage a disease I don’t have to have to be living with in the first place.
Myth 4 – Ulcerative Colitis is Incurable
This is the big one that many of the others seem to branch off of.
There’s a prevailing attitude with GI doctors that basically just assumes a long-term strategy of “managing your disease” with medications and, eventually, surgery. They don’t consider UC and Crohn’s something that can heal – particularly not naturally or through diet.
Generally, you get sicker and sicker and live a poor quality of life that gets worse over time. That’s what they were describing for me in 2004 and I wanted no part of it.
All this while food and diet is minimally and casually addressed or dismissed as unrelated to anything going on in your digestive tract altogether.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s are absolutely healable with the right food, lifestyle, medical marijuana and enough time and patience.
Myth 5 – Healing Ulcerative Colitis is Complex, Highly Technical and Complicated
While this is true from a conventional perspective, it really doesn’t have to be.
When you start doing the right daily practices, which are really pretty simple, you move in the direction of health and healing.
When you’re eating even a few inflammatory foods and living under too much stress, you’re just going to struggle with UC. Virtually nothing you try will “work” and it will be a constant struggle.
If you’re struggling daily with UC and keeping it under control, a number of factors in your food and lifestyle are off. It’s that simple. Fix the eating and living and it gets better.
It’s hard to stay on the daily habits and practices but, when you do that hard work, your body’s work of healing is made that much easier.
The basic daily habits and practices are simple:
- Eat a strict Paleo-AIP diet [LINK to diet for UC post]
- Slower and more conscious lifestyle [LINK – to Lifestyle for UC post]
- Daily meditation
- Medical marijuana
If you want the complete roadmap to healing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease naturally you can download my FREE 76-page guide The Illustrated Roadmap to Healing Ulcerative Colitis Naturally.
Myth 6 – A Raw Vegan Diet will Heal Ulcerative Colitis
There’s some truth to this argument. In the short-term anyway.
Very early after my UC diagnosis in 2004, I tried a number of times to get a raw vegan approach to work. I even had a prominent raw vegan author and coach helping me.
These raw vegan diet variations are 1) just about impossible to stay on for the long-term emotionally and 2) they deplete the body over time due to lack of animal fats and proteins.
I can tell you from experience that a raw vegan diet will not heal UC or Crohn’s long-term.
However, because these diets exclude dairy, grains, sugar and other inflammatory triggers by default, they can be good “emergency” diets to get things under control. Particularly if they’re also excluding nuts and seeds.
Think of a raw vegan diet as a light, semi-fasting detox diet.
This is part of the reason they’re considered “healing” diets for IBD. They get short-term results because they restrict so many foods that are problematic for inflammatory bowel disease by definition.
I still do a smoothie that’s definitely inspired by my early raw vegan experiences. I also still recommend a few things the raw vegan healing people do for UC. Like banana and water smoothies as a staple during a flare-up.
The issue with raw vegan is that, over the long term, the lack of animal protein, fat and calories becomes too much of a strain on a body ravaged by ulcerative colitis.
Your body needs a lot of nutrients to repair itself – and many that you need are only found in animal fat and protein.
We evolved over millions of years as hunter-gatherers. We need meat and animal fat to live. It’s in our genetic heritage.
Raw vegan diets are unsustainable in the long-term.
You can do a quick Google search yourself if you don’t believe me. There’s a lot of information out there from raw vegan defectors who are speaking out about the long-term viability of those diets.
Myth 7 – You Need a Lot of Expensive and Exotic Foods and Nutritional Supplements to Heal Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Though food quality is extremely important, you can do this with a reasonable budget and without too much chasing around to find things.
I’ve done just fine for over a decade with a chain health food store and a local supermarket with a good natural and organics section.
Add in a local family farm for my meat and a local independent health food store and I’m very well set.
You can get by on some quality grass-fed ground beef and some kind of steamed vegetables pretty cheaply. Organic bananas are easily available all year round for under a dollar a pound.
It doesn’t have to be pricey or exotic.
Though I make use of a few different supplements and nutritional items, it’s not a lot and virtually none are completely required for healing.
My family and I spent a fortune on visits to naturopaths and alternative practitioners as well as all kinds of “miracle supplements” they just happened to sell right out of the office.
And today, the internet is rife with coaches and healing experts who are doing the same with the increased reach and leverage of the internet.
If you’re sick with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease your body needs a rest. It needs simplicity, patience and healing. It does not need a lot of supplements.
More than once, a $100 or $200 bottle of some special supplement upset my stomach or triggered gastrointestinal symptoms in a day or few. The money I wasted on bottles of crap that made me sicker was insane. It’s really tragic.
There can be a place for different products further down the line for healing, but there’s little you need for ulcerative colitis or that can actually “heal” it.
The most supplements and nutritional products will do is support your healing and support a complete, consistent and long-term healing program.
Healing inflammatory bowel disease is a whole-life endeavor. It’s not about a single food or an exotic pill or supplement.
Myth 8 – Probiotics Heal UC and Crohn’s
This one is actually somewhat dangerous. At the least, it leads to a lot of intestinal discomfort and distress caused by probiotic supplements.
It’s really trite and simplistic advice given too often by those who don’t know better.
Because IBD is intestinal and probiotics are generally good for intestinal health and digestion, we end up with all kinds of misguided recommendations for probiotic supplements when we have UC.
Some sources even suggest yogurt or kefir as a source of probiotics for healing ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s.
When you try to inoculate your inflamed gut with mega-doses of bacteria, it gets pretty painful quite quickly. If the bacteria create a lot of gas – which is likely – you’re in for a long day.
And, even the best yogurt is still dairy and the dairy will trigger a flare-up sooner or later.
To this day, I still don’t use a probiotic supplement. I’ve never found one that doesn’t upset my stomach sooner or later.
I did a large number of experiments with different probiotics over the years, but never found them helpful. Sometimes, they were the exact thing that was giving me more of a problem.
You absolutely do not need any kind of probiotic supplement to heal ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. In fact, especially in the early days of your healing, they can be counter productive.
Note on Myths 7 and 8
I don’t want to come across as entirely negative on supplements and probiotics. There are some I like, use and recommend.
But none are necessary for healing. That’s the point. They may help you achieve some result in your healing practice, but they don’t heal UC and they aren’t mandatory for significant healing results.
Some of these can be good products, but so many practitioners and magazines and internet sites are too dependent on the recurring income from these types of products to be objective about what they’re selling you.
My monthly medical marijuana budget is much less than I’ve spent on supplements in a month in years past. And the results are light-years beyond what they were with even the best and priciest supplements.
Marijuana has been enormously effective medicine for me over the past 6 years. In my opinion and experience, medical marijuana is both the safest and the most effective medicine for IBD.
If you want to learn all about my results with legal medical marijuana for ulcerative colitis and how I achieved them. You can read my exhaustive and authoritative blog post – Medical Marijuana for Ulcerative Colitis – The Principal Guide.
Myth 9 – UC is Caused by Bacteria
This one is interesting and has some truth to it. At least from a certain perspective.
If you have UC or Crohn’s, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ve had gut issues, leaky-gut syndrome and an intestinal bacteria dysbiosis for a long time.
I know I did too many courses of antibiotics for sinus and other issues over my young adulthood. I’m certain the antibiotics contributed to some of my gut problems and eventually contributed to the UC.
When you have UC, pretty much everything is off. It’s no surprise that there’s a plethora of unhealthy or damaging bacteria in your digestive tract.
Because, with UC and Crohn’s, the inflammation is preventing proper digestion, all the undigested and partially-digested food in your small intestine and colon is a great food source for all kinds of bacteria to proliferate on. These are bacterial strains that wouldn’t have a chance to feed so well in a healthy person’s gut.
But the underlying problem with UC and Crohn’s is always inflammation and a dysfunctional autoimmune response to food, fatigue and stress.
I believe the bacterial problems to be a symptom and not the cause.
Myth 10 – UC is Caused by a Virus
This one has been around forever. Since I was first sick with UC in 2004. It’s popular go-to for some naturopaths, “medical intuitives” and alternative healers of all kinds.
Basically, it’s a virus, only they can detect it, and, if you pay them enough and keep coming back long enough, they’ll get rid of it for you.
Now THAT is a business model…
I’ve successfully healed ulcerative colitis myself and have been guiding others back to health for over 10 years.
I have never, ever run into anything in my experience or research that would suggest to me that UC or Crohn’s are truly viral.
This is particularly dangerous because it distracts the patient from the truth and the main practices that truly heal UC:
- Food and Diet
- Lifestyle and Stress-Reduction
- Medical Marijuana
You can learn all about food, lifestyle and medical marijuana in the FREE guide below and start your healing journey right now.
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Myth 11 – You Can “Manage Your Disease” with a Number of Safe and Effective Medications
The medications for UC and Crohn’s are neither completely safe nor are they always effective.
Prednisone is off the charts in side-effects, though it’s reasonably effective, particularly in the short term.
Mesalamine and that crop of drugs are pretty benign relative to side-effects, but they were never particularly effective for me. Others I’ve talked to have said the same over the years.
Thankfully, I have no experience with the current crop biologics like Humira and Entyvio.
These meds tend to do pretty well with symptoms but anecdotally, I’ve heard really negative things about the side effects of these drugs long term from people who have used them.
Again, if the guy in the commercial above would avoid the ice cream and cupcakes in the first place…
Myth 12 – Smoking a Bunch of Pot will Heal UC
If only it were that simple. Though medical marijuana is really effective, without food and lifestyle support it won’t produce nearly the results it has the potential to.
Don’t waste your marijuana budget or that beautiful, natural medicine by using it without changing other areas of your life to get the best healing outcome possible.
If you’d like to learn about medical marijuana and how I used it to heal, you can ready my blog post Medical Marijuana for Ulcerative Colitis – The Principal Guide.
Myth 12.5 – Eating Cannabis-Infused Foods will Heal UC
Some edible medical marijuana products can actually cause more harm than good.
If you have IBD, you can’t mess around with inflammatory foods. Even if they are medicated with marijuana.
Though I do sometimes use things like cannabis-medicated coconut oil or local honey, anything like cookies, brownies and the like – even gluten-free – are not going to do much.
The inflammation these foods cause will negate any kind of anti-inflammatory benefits of the marijuana.
Stick to marijuana administration modes that don’t come with inflammatory foods attached.
Myth 13 – Medical Marijuana is Unproven and Dangerous for Ulcerative Colitis
The Web MD dietary advice for Crohn’s disease I quoted at the beginning of this post is far more dangerous than medical marijuana could ever be.
Medical marijuana also has a long track record of safety that goes back decades or even centuries, depending what you want to consider as evidence for this statement.
There’s very little long-term safety data on the new biologic medications like Humira and Entyvio. Certainly they’re nowhere near as benign as marijuana.
Whatever marijuana is or isn’t relative to safety or other factors, it’s got a lot of advantages over the Big Pharma approach. You certainly can’t even begin to talk about “safety” relative to marijuana if you’re looking at prednisone or biologic drugs.
Marijuana is safer than most drugs for UC and Crohn’s. It’s likely more effective, too. It’s safer than having uncontrolled IBD and it’s pretty enjoyable to use, too.
Marijuana wins as medicine for UC and Crohn’s as far as I’m concerned.
Myth 14 – You Will Likely Need to Have Your Colon Removed Along with a Number of Bowel Resections Over Time if You Have Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease
Follow mainstream advice and go the conventional medical route and this is the likely outcome. It’s the prognosis I got and I wasn’t about to accept it.
I was diagnosed with UC in 2004 and I’m healthy and thriving today, in fall of 2020.
Ulcerative colitis can be healed with enough work, commitment, sacrifice and determination. And some medical marijuana.
I’m doing extremely well today and I’ve still got my colon, all my small intestine and I don’t use any medication other than marijuana. I’m in exceptional health with no ulcerative colitis symptoms.
You do not need to live a deteriorating quality of life with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. You can heal naturally.
My epic post Healing Ulcerative Colitis Naturally – The Principal Guide lists all my healing results and goes deep on the food and lifestyle practices I’ve used to heal myself and others.
You do not need to accept a lifetime of drugs, surgeries and fear of food with a UC diagnosis. It’s a choice you can make.
Whether it’s from the alternative health world or it’s medical and pharmaceutical company misguidance and propaganda, myths about healing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are everywhere.
There are too many internet sites written more for Google rankings than for sick people in need of real information. This is a problem for anyone with a chronic, dangerous disease they need help with.
Prevalent myths like the 14 listed here are a major impediment to healing for many sick people.
Stay strong, stay on track and don’t believe everything you read!
Have you encountered any of these myths yourself? Have you heard others I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments!