Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the colon. While there is no known cure, there are numerous ways a person can treat their symptoms, including medication and at-home methods. There are also promising recent developments in treatment options.

In people with ulcerative colitis, abnormal reactions of the immune system cause inflammation in the colon. They also cause ulcers to appear on the inner lining of the colon.

These ulcers can develop at any age. However, ulcerative colitis is most common in people aged 15–30 years.

Ulcerative colitis mostly appears in flare-ups, where a person experiences a range of symptoms. They may then experience a period of remission, during which no symptoms occur.

The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

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Currently, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis. However, there is a range of treatment options that aim to help relieve symptoms and increase the amount of time between flare-ups.

Researchers are working to try and develop new treatments for the condition. As a result, new treatments have arisen in recent years, including biosimilars and Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.

Recent research has led to the development of some new treatments for ulcerative colitis. These include biosimilars and JAK inhibitors.


Biosimilars are biological therapies that medical professionals can use to treat IBD. These are treatment options for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Biosimilars resemble biologic therapies. They use natural proteins to target specific parts of a person’s immune system.

These drugs use copies of antibodies to control the inflammation that ulcerative colitis causes.

A person takes biosimilars either by an injection or intravenous infusion.

JAK inhibitors

JAK inhibitors are a new treatment for a number of inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, and IBD.

These drugs are small molecule compounds that the digestive system breaks down. The bloodstream absorbs JAK inhibitors, which then make their way around the body and work on the immune system.

These molecules block messaging pathways on immune cells by attaching to their receptors. This can calm a person’s immune system and ease symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Xeljanz (tofacitinib), a new type of JAK inhibitor, for use in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Studies have shown that tofacitinib was effective in inducing as well as maintaining remission in people with ulcerative colitis.

Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the severity of a person’s symptoms and the frequency of the flare-ups.


Aminosalicylates, also known as 5-ASAs, reduce inflammation, which allows damaged tissues to heal.

These drugs are often one of the first treatment options for people with mild to moderate and moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

A person can take aminosalicylates in the following ways:

People often tolerate these drugs well. However, some side effects may occur, including:


Corticosteroids are a common treatment for ulcerative colitis. A medical professional will often prescribe them alongside aminosalicylates or as an alternative if aminosalicylates have not been effective.

Corticosteroids lower the activity of the immune system, which can reduce inflammation in the colon.

They can work quickly and may reduce inflammation within a few days of treatment.

However, corticosteroids are often a short-term treatment option. This is because they can cause potentially serious side effects if a person takes them for a prolonged period.

Individuals can take corticosteroids in the following ways:

  • orally, in the form of a tablet or capsule
  • as a suppository
  • via an enema

Learn about prednisone, a corticosteroid for ulcerative colitis, here.


Biologics are medications that come from living cells. These drugs target cells and proteins present in a person’s immune system that are responsible for ulcerative colitis.

Biologics can then attack these cells and reduce a person’s immune response. This is helpful when treating ulcerative colitis, as it prevents the immune system from becoming overactive and mistakenly attacking cells in the body.

A doctor prescribes biologics to people who have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. The medications can help them achieve remission and remain in remission for longer.

Common biologics include:

A person with severe ulcerative colitis may wish to have surgery to remove their colon during a colectomy, or their colon and rectum during a proctocolectomy.

Surgery may improve the quality of life for people with ulcerative colitis, because it can prevent symptoms.

A person who undergoes a colectomy will need to use a colostomy bag for the rest of their life. This is a bag that sits externally by a person’s stomach. It collects bodily waste from the digestive tract through a stoma, which is a hole surgeons make in the abdominal wall.

This procedure can cause a number of side effects, and roughly one-third of people undergoing this procedure experience some form of complication.

Learn more about surgery for ulcerative colitis here.

There are a number of home or natural remedies that can ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.


Probiotics are living bacteria and yeast that can help with the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

Some foods, such as yogurt, contain natural probiotics. A person can also purchase probiotics over the counter at drugstores and other stores.

One 2019 study showed that 57% of people with ulcerative colitis who used probiotics had a positive experience. Half of these people said that their positive experience was due to significant improvements in their quality of life.

The FDA does not regulate these supplements or consider them to be medications. A person should therefore research the brands and products before using them.

Learn more about probiotics for ulcerative colitis here.

Herbal remedies

Some herbal medicines may also have a positive impact on people with ulcerative colitis.

According to a 2019 review, the following natural remedies may reduce ulcerative colitis symptoms:

  • aloe vera gel
  • wheatgrass juice
  • Andrographis paniculata extract
  • Plantago ovata seeds
  • Boswellia serrata gum resin

In the review, the authors suggest that specific compounds in these herbal remedies support immune activity and provide antioxidants necessary to reduce inflammation.

A person should not use these remedies as a standalone treatment. They should only use them alongside traditional medical treatments.

Learn more about natural remedies for ulcerative colitis here.

There are numerous ways in which a person can manage their ulcerative colitis symptoms, including the following:

  • reducing the amount of fiber in their diet
  • carrying out regular exercise
  • eating six small meals per day rather than three large meals
  • managing stress
  • drinking plenty of liquids

A person who has ulcerative colitis should avoid eating the following foods, as they may worsen the symptoms during flare-ups:

Food groupExample
insoluble fiberfruits with skin and seeds
raw green vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, or anything with a peel
whole nuts
whole grains
lactosedairy products, including milk, cream cheese, and soft cheeses
nonabsorbable sugarssorbitol
sugar-free gum
ice cream
certain fruits and juices, such as pear, peach, and prune
sugary foodspastries
high fat foodsbutter
fatty, fried, or greasy food
alcohol and caffeinated drinksbeer
spicy foodsany “hot” spices

Learn more about diet for people with ulcerative colitis here.

Currently, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis, and a person may have the condition throughout their life.

Flare-ups can come and go, and people can go for periods of time without experiencing any symptoms of the condition.

Some people can go years without flare-ups, while others experience them more frequently.

It is of note that scientists are making frequent advances in medical research on ulcerative colitis and are likely to develop new treatments to further improve the lives of people with this condition.

There is no cure for ulcerative colitis. However, there are a number of treatments that can help reduce the frequency or duration of flare-ups.

Common treatments include aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. In recent years, modern developments have led to the rise of new treatments that include biosimilars and JAK inhibitors.

Ulcerative colitis is a form of IBD. It causes inflammation in the colon that produces a number of symptoms, including diarrhea, blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, cramping, and abdominal pain.