These gastrointestinal conditions are known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

The gastrointestinal tract mucosa becomes inflamed and ulcerated, leading to symptoms such as severe, frequent diarrhea, bleeding, mucus and pain. IBD can significantly affect quality of life as well as long-term health. Western drug management is very poor, and many sufferers opt for surgery to remove the diseased part of the colon.

Chinese Herbal Medicine is exceptional at treating IBD. Symptoms improve within the first 2 weeks, with progressive improvement over several months of treatment. Patients can reasonably expect long-term remission. Once the herbal treatment is completed and all symptoms have gone, it is not necessary to continue taking herbs or drugs, as the intestinal lining is now healed.

A double blind study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine (1994 Jul;14(7):400-2) treated 153 patients suffering from intractable ulcerative colitis. Patients were divided into three groups. One group was treated with a Chinese herbal formula in pill form and Chinese herbal enemas. The second group was treated with the standard western drugs ­ sulfasalazine and steoroids - orally and by enema. The third group was treated with a placebo and a herbal enema. After 3 months, the Chinese herb group was 53.1% symptom free and an additional 32.8% improved. The western drugs group was 27.7% symptom free and 21.9% improved, while the placebo group was 19 % symptom free and 26.2% improved.

These are dramatic results, especially if we consider a few points. In a TCM clinical setting, ulcerative colitis would be treated much longer than 3 months, and up to one year. This would give many of the improved patients the likelihood of a permanent cure. Secondly, while the Western treatment may initially be effective when steroids are used, these are not feasible as a long-term treatment due to side effects, and over time the Western results can be expected to decline.