Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-10

Herbal medicine in the treatment of ulcerative colitis

1 Department of Surgery, The Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
2 Department of Gastroenterology, The Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Correspondence Address:
Liu Zhan Ju
Department of Gastroenterology, The Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University, No. 301 Yanchang Road, Shanghai-200 072
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Source of Support: The Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 30971358, 81061120521), Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1319-3767.91726

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Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a refractory, chronic, and nonspecific disease occurred usually in the rectum and the entire colon. The etiopathology is probably related to dysregulation of the mucosal immune response toward the resident bacterial flora together with genetic and environmental factors. Several types of medications are used to control the inflammation or reduce symptoms. Herbal medicine includes a wide range of practices and therapies outside the realms of conventional Western medicine. However, there are limited controlled evidences indicating the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicines, such as aloe vera gel, wheat grass juice, Boswellia serrata, and bovine colostrum enemas in the treatment of UC. Although herbal medicines are not devoid of risk, they could still be safer than synthetic drugs. The potential benefits of herbal medicine could lie in their high acceptance by patients, efficacy, relative safety, and relatively low cost. Patients worldwide seem to have adopted herbal medicine in a major way, and the efficacy of herbal medicine has been tested in hundreds of clinical trials in the management of UC. The evidences on herbal medicine are incomplete, complex, and confusing, and certainly associated with both risks and benefits. There is a need for further controlled clinical trials of the potential efficacy of herbal medicine approaches in the treatment of UC, together with enhanced legislation to maximize their quality and safety.

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