Chronic Prostatitis: When antibiotics and pain meds aren’t enough

Chronic Prostatitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Chronic Prostatitis: When antibiotics and pain meds aren’t enough


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


Chronic Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland and commonly affects young males who have had a previous viral or bacterial infection. It is estimated that about half of all males will be diagnosed with some form of prostatitis during their lifetime. About 90% of these men fall into the category of chronic prostatitis (CP). CP can be caused by a history of sexually transmitted infections and E. Coli, but also occurs without the presence of bacteria or viruses. The most commonly reported symptom in CP is continuous or spasmodic pain that is described as “dull” or “aching”. Pain occurs either in the perineum, penis, scrotum, or low back. Urological issues like incomplete emptying of your bladder, obstructed flow, pain on urination & ejaculation, and sexual dysfunction add to what is usually an already high level of psychological stress.


Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis (CnbP), CP without the presence of an infection, is a multifactorial condition; psychological stress, lack of physical activity, food sensitivity, allergies, autoimmunity, and neuromuscular dysfunction are theories of possible triggers in the development of CnbP. After a thorough assessment to rule out other possible diseases, doctors will often prescribe antibiotic and pain relief therapy. Unfortunately, non-bacterial prostatitis has a tendency to recur after antibiotic therapy, and pain medications carry risks of gastrointestinal bleeding if used long-term.


Interstitial Cystitis (IC) shares symptom overlap with CPPS. People with IC develop pain, irritation, and urinary problems without the presence of an infection. Unfortunately, both IC and CPPS are treated with antibiotics for symptom relief, but antibiotics are not recommended as a primary therapy; nor should they be used if a person has failed to respond to antibiotics in the past. Men diagnosed with CP and CnbP may have IC; in which case, they fall into the category of Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS).


Quercetin, a bioflavonoid I mentioned in my seasonal allergies post, is an excellent anti-inflammatory nutrient and mast cell inhibitor. Mast cells release histamine in your body, and have been found in high concentrations in the bladders of people with IC. A combination of quercetin, nettle root, pygeum, and curcumin may benefit people who suffer from IC and CP. A quality of life increase, and a decrease in symptoms of CP were reported by men with CPPS after a month long trial of Nettle, Pygeum, Curcumin, and Quercetin with antibiotics. Cernilton, a blend of rye pollens, has been used in the past to successfully treat urinary problems in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); an enlargement of the prostate. BPH is similar to CP in that there is usually obstructive and inflammatory problems in the prostate and urinary ducts. Cernilton may benefit men who suffer from CPPS and CP by improving urinary symptoms, pain, and quality of life. A healthy inner bladder wall is lined by a protective substance known as glycosaminoglycans. The use of the glycosaminoglycans glucosamine, chondroitin, and sodium hyaluronate may help with symptoms of IC.


Men with CPPS do not have to suffer in silence. There are alternatives to commonly prescribed medications that can significantly improve urinary symptoms and quality of life. For more information on which nutrients and therapies are right for you, speak to your naturopathic doctor.



  1. McGowan C., Krieger J. Prostatitis, Epididymitis, and Orchitis. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases 2015; Updated Edition 112: 1381-1387.
  2. Matsui, Hirofumi et al. “The Pathophysiology of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)-Induced Mucosal Injuries in Stomach and Small Intestine.” Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition 48.2 (2011): 107–111.
  3. Forrest JB, Schmidt S. Interstitial cystitis, chronic nonbacterial prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome in men: a common and frequently identical clinical entity. J Urol. 2004;172(6, pt 2):2561-2562.
  4. Katske F., Shoskes DA., Sender M., et al. Treatment of interstitial cystitis with a quercetin supplement. Tech Urol 2001; 7: 44-46.
  5. Cai T, Mazzoli S, Bechi A, Addonisio P, Mondaini N, Pagliai RC, Bartoletti R. Serenoa repens associated with Urtica dioica (ProstaMEV) and curcumin and quercitin (FlogMEV) extracts are able to improve the efficacy of prulifloxacin in bacterial prostatitis patients: results from a prospective randomised study. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2009; 33(6):549-53.
  6. MacDonald R1, Ishani A, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. A systematic review of Cernilton for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU Int. 2000; 85(7):836-41.
  7. Wagenlehner FM1, Schneider H, Ludwig M, Schnitker J, Brähler E, Weidner W. A pollen extract (Cernilton) in patients with inflammatory chronic prostatitis-chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a multicentre, randomised, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study. Eur Urol. 2009 Sep; 56(3): 544-551.
  8. Theoharides TC. Treatment approaches for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Drugs 2007; 67: 215-235.

Interstitial Cystitis: Some Ways to Relieve Urinary Pain and Anxiety

Interstitial Cystitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Interstitial Cystitis: Some Ways to Relieve Urinary Pain and Anxiety


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is an inflammatory condition of the urological system, particularly the bladder wall, and is thought to affect more women than men. Age of onset can be anywhere from childhood to middle-age, and a majority of people with IC are caucasian. As mentioned in my chronic prostatitis blogpost, men are often overlooked when it comes to IC, since most doctors assume it is a primarily female condition. Your doctor should perform a thorough work up to determine if your urinary condition is the result of prostate issues, IC, or other factors. Strangely, the urinary frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain common in IC often occur in the absence of any traceable infections or blood in the urine.


Pain flare ups of IC occur at the beginning of a woman’s period, and/or after sexual intercourse. People with IC may experience pain in the bladder, pelvis, vagina, tip of the penis, low back, and lower abdomen. IC can significantly compromise quality of life; people worry about getting to the bathroom on time and a normal everyday commute to work can be extremely panic-inducing. Psychological distress is a key factor in the worsening of anxiety and depression in people with IC.


There are two types of IC: classic or ulcerative IC, and non-ulcerative IC. In classic IC, the bladder develops patches of inflammation leading to ulcers and scarring. Overtime, classic IC causes reduction in bladder capacity. In non-ulcerative IC, there are no obvious physical changes to suggest pathology of the bladder wall. Unfortunately, little is currently known about how people develop non-ulcerative IC, and some people are mistakenly treated for chronic urinary tract infection (UTI) with antibiotics.


Some conditions associated with IC include irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, allergies, fibromyalgia and mood disorders.


Strenuous exercise, prolonged sitting, allergies, and certain foods can aggravate IC. Acidic foods like beer, tomatoes, chocolate, and coffee can aggravate symptoms of IC, so the first step in improving IC is to identify and eliminate these foods.


Some other foods that have been linked to a worsening of IC symptoms:

  • Lima beans, Lentils
  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Spicy Foods
  • Plums
  • Gluten
  • Grapefruit, Oranges, Lemons etc
  • Dairy
  • Pineapple
  • Raisins, Prunes


Demulcents are substances that can repair and soothe inflamed or irritated internal tissues. In IC, an irritated and inflamed bladder wall is the main culprit behind urinary frequency, urgency and pain. Your naturopathic doctor (ND) has access to a variety of botanical demulcents that can be combined in a daily drink to combat urological inflammation. Your ND can also add botanical medicines or nutritional supplements to combat anxiety and depression, to make your stress response more manageable, and improve your quality of life.


Quercetin–a bioflavonoid discussed at length in both my posts on allergies, and prostatitis—is a nutritional supplement that can stop the activation of mast cells in an allergic response and protect the bladder wall by reducing inflammation. The use of Vitamin A has been shown to inhibit mast cell activation, and protect mucosal surfaces from irritation and inflammation. Glucosamine, a member of the glycosaminoglycan family, can repair the bladder wall and allow for a more comfortable passing of urine.  


Naturopathic medicine offers a comprehensive treatment plan for IC. With dietary and lifestyle factors taken care of, NDs can use a variety of botanical medicines and nutritional supplements to decrease the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life for people with IC. There are many ways to find relief. Speak to your ND today!




Espinosa G, Murray MT. Cystitis and interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Textbook of Natural Medicine; 159: 1308-1317.


Ching C. Interstitial cystitis. First Consult 2012.


Abascal K, Yarnell E. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. April 2008, 14(2): 69-77. doi:10.1089/act.2008.14203.


Yarnell E. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. February 2009, 3(4): 269-275. doi:10.1089/act.1997.3.269.


Hudson T. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. July 2004, 7(2): 88-90. doi:10.1089/10762800151125074.


Hudson T. “Interstitial Cystitis: A New Approach.” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Feb. 2001, p. 172. Academic OneFile, Accessed 19 May 2017.


Dunlap C, et al. An integrative approach to interstitial cystitis. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 2013; (9)1: 48 – 52.


Insomnia: When Counting Sheep Won’t Help Ewe

Insomnia Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Insomnia: When Counting Sheep Won’t Help Ewe

Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


If you have chronic trouble sleeping then chances are you are one of the estimated 3.3 million Canadians struggling with insomnia. ‘Insomnia’ refers to the disruption of: time taken to fall asleep, amount of time asleep (versus time in bed) through the night, waking up too early, and feeling unrefreshed on waking.1 Insomnia is extremely frustrating, and can be a fearful prospect knowing that it can lead to impaired memory and concentration.1 As a result, insomnia can predispose you to be more accident prone at home, on the road, and in the workplace.1 Insomnia exists as its own disorder, but it is also associated with a large number of physical and mental illnesses. For example, mood disorders like depression and anxiety are both associated with insomnia.1


So what can be done to help you get a better night’s sleep? First, it is important to identify the underlying cause of your insomnia. If you are sensitive to light and noise, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible and remove any electronics that might be distracting you from falling asleep. The ‘blue light’ emitted from our TVs, laptops, and mobile phones all effect the release of melatonin from our brains.2 A small amount of melatonin, one of the most well known natural sleep aids, is secreted by your pineal during the day. At night, melatonin secretion spikes to help us get to sleep. Exposure to ‘blue light’ before bed suppresses melatonin secretion and tricks our bodies into thinking we should be awake.2 If you are not willing to give up your bedtime electronics, you can reduce ‘blue light’ exposure by turning down the brightness of the device, and/or downloading an app (eg. Twilight). The long term use of benzodiazepine medication for anxiety and panic disorders can deplete the brain’s supply of melatonin.3 Overtime, a disruption in circadian rhythm reduces normal sleeping habits. Melatonin supplementation can help with normalizing circadian rhythm, and alleviating withdrawal symptoms from anti-anxiety meds.3 Insomnia, fatigue, ADHD, IBS, and breast cancer risk, are all associated with melatonin deficiency.3 Symptoms of fibromyalgia, bulimia, neuralgia, certain forms of depression, and certain postmenopausal problems improve with melatonin supplementation.3 Other common underlying causes of insomnia include mood disorders, hormone imbalance, sleep apnea, chronic pain, and exercising too close to bedtime.


The need to be busy has has left us overworked and overtired. When our bodies are in a constant state of stress, our systems shift from ‘rest and digest’ to ‘fight or flight?’. As a consequence, our adrenal glands secrete more cortisol; a hormone responsible for increasing blood sugar, and the breakdown of fat & muscle, for the energy to get us away from danger. Cortisol spikes in the morning to get us out of bed, and is very low at night to help us fall asleep. In a chronically stressed state, high cortisol will worsen insomnia and–if left untreated–will eventually lead to adrenal fatigue. Speak to your naturopathic doctor about your health concerns to help determine the underlying cause(s) and help tailor a treatment plan specific to your individual needs. Acupuncture, nutritional changes through diet and supplements, counselling, and sleep hygiene advice are all parts of naturopathic treatment that can help get you back to sleep and leave you feeling well rested.




  1. Tjepkema M. “Insomnia”. Statistics Canada Health Reports. 2005 17(1): 9-25.
  2. 2. Schmerler, Jessica. “Q&A Why is Blue Light Before Bed Bad For Sleep?” Scientific American. Nature America, September 2015.
  3. Rohr UD, Herold J. “Melatonin deficiencies in women.” Maturitas. 2002 Apr 15(41): 85-10.

10 Ways to Kick Fatigue

Fatigue Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

10 Ways to Kick Fatigue

Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


  1. See your doctor: Fatigue has many root causes, and your naturopathic doctor can perform relevant assessments to determine what the best course of treatment should be.  
  2. Learn to say No: It’s easy to be inundated with favours, errands, and requests from your family and friends. Sometimes the best option when you are struggling with fatigue is to simply say, “No”. Establishing and maintaining boundaries in your personal and professional life help in your recovery from fatigue. It may seem selfish, but if you don’t have enough energy for yourself, how can you help other people?
  3. Get a good night’s sleep: This one is kind of a “no-brainer” when it comes to fatigue. Practicing good sleep hygiene will enable you to have a more restful sleep. Keep your room as dark as possible, and use a night mask if your bedroom still seems too bright. Avoid using your cell phone, computer, and TV before bed as the blue light these devices emit will affect your brain’s ability to give you a deep sleep. Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only, this will help establish healthy sleep habits. If urinating at night is an issue, avoid drinking liquids within 2 hours of bedtime.
  4. Invest in gentle exercise: In our society, there is a focus on being busy. It’s assumed that if you aren’t always on the go, then you must be lazy. The same rhetoric seems to be true for the fitness industry. Most people feel that they need to exhaust themselves at the gym in order for workouts to be beneficial. However, if you’re struggling with fatigue, the best workout is a gentle one. Your body needs time to recover. 5×5 workouts (5 reps, 5 sets) with moderate to heavy weight will work out your muscles, get your heart rate up, and won’t deplete your energy reserves as much as high volume workouts.
  5. Practice Mindful Eating: This is a tricky one, because it’s easy to mindlessly eat in front of your phone, computer, or TV. Taking your time when eating can help to relax your nervous system and jumpstart your digestion. Share a meal with your friends. When your digestive system functions better, so will your immune system, and you’ll be able to recover from fatigue faster.
  6. Drink Plenty of Water: Water between meals will help move sluggish bowels and help you deal with the indoor dry heat this winter.
  7. Avoid Stimulants: Although it may seem like a good idea in the short term, coffee and other drinks that contain caffeine should not be consumed in excess. Overtime, caffeine addiction can worsen stress and anxiety, and affect sleep patterns. Instead, opt for herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, and lemongrass. These herbal teas can help ease nervous tension, and won’t cause an energy crash during your busy day.
  8. Practice Self-care: Do some yoga, get a massage, go for a walk in the snow, hang out with friends, paint, laugh, sing….Spending time doing the things you love will reduce stress and improve your mood. In Chinese Medicine, frustration, irritability, anger, and insomnia can sometimes be tied to a stagnation of energy flow. The best way to maintain a healthy flow of energy is to express your creative side.
  9. Eat to maintain stable blood sugar: Low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, is a common cause of fatigue. Avoiding processed and packaged foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars is an easy way to keep blood sugar stable. Instead of sugary cereal for breakfast, opt for oats. Add sources of good fat and protein like eggs, avocado, nuts, and lean meats. Fiber from fruits and vegetables will also aid in healthy blood sugar levels.  
  10. OM Yourself: Meditation can help increase energy and focus. You’ve probably heard this many times, but think that either you don’t have enough time in your day, or that you simply can’t sit still for that long. It’s okay. Start small, no one became a yogi overnight. Even if it’s a 1 minute meditation, that amount of downtime is still good for your body and mind.


Magnesium, Migraines, and Mitochondria

Migraines Magnesium Mitochondria Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Magnesium, Migraines, and Mitochondria


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


An estimated 2.7 million Canadians, more women than men, suffer from migraine headaches. A migraine is often a throbbing, one-sided headache with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to bright lights, or aura. An aura can be a quick disturbance of visual or neurological function, and usually precedes a migraine attack.


There are a few different causes of migraines, and one or more could be at play in individual cases. One theory is that blood vessels increase pressure by constricting, and then reactively dilating. This sudden alteration in blood flow can lead to a migraine headache. Another theory suggests that issues with mitochondria–the powerhouses of the cell–affect energy production, and causes a migraine. Tobacco use, caffeine consumption, and birth control pills can increase the frequency of migraines in certain people (1,3). Too large of an ingestion of salt can lead to a migraine 6-12 hours later (2). It is also worthwhile to check if the side effects of any medications you are taking may be worsening your headaches.


A possible underlying cause of migraine headaches is an intolerance to wheat, citrus, eggs, tea, coffee, chocolate, milk, beef, corn, cane sugar, yeast, mushrooms, and/or peas. Elimination of these offending foods for 8 weeks helped 60 migraine patients reduce their frequency of headaches from 402 to just 6 per month (3). Interestingly, magnesium is typically deficient in migraine patients (4). Supplementation of magnesium can improve mitochondrial energy output, and reduce the frequency and/or severity of migraine headaches (5). Riboflavin (vitamin B2), and Niacinamide (vitamin B3) can be effective for migraine relief as they play important roles in mitochondrial energy production. Coenzyme Q10 also benefits mitochondria and, as a result, migraine headaches (6).


Estrogen has been linked to menstrual migraine headaches, and postmenopausal women may experience a reduction in migraines and tension-type headaches due to a decline in sex hormones. Serotonin agonists like 5-HTP may acutely relieve and prevent menstrual headaches (8). If you suffer from migraines and also have a history of fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, you may benefit from mitochondrial support, magnesium, and 5-HTP (9, 10). An underlying cause of anxiety and insomnia may perpetuate migraine and tension-type headaches amongst postmenopausal women and the general population (7). There are many migraine treatment alternatives; this was just a small summary of strategies for a big headache.



  1. Werner A. Treatment of migraine. N Engl J Med 2002; 347: 764.
  2. Brainhard JB. Salt load as a trigger for migraine. Minn Med 1976; 59: 232-233.
  3. Grant ECG. Food Allergies and Migraine. Lancet 1979; 1: 966-969.
  4. Barbiroli B, Lodi R, Cortelli P, et al. Low brain free magnesium in migraine and cluster headache: an interictal study by in vivo phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy on 86 patients. Cephalgia 1997; 17: 254.
  5. Weaver K. Magnesium and migraine. Headache 1990; 30: 168.
  6. Okada H, Araga S, Takeshima T, Nakashima K. Plasma lactic acid and pyruvic acid levels in migraine and tension-type headache. Headache 1998; 38: 39-42.
  7. Neri I, Granella F, Nappi R, Manzoni GC, Facchinetti F, Genazzani AR. Characteristics of headache at menopause: a clinico-epidemiologic study. Maturitas 1993; 17(1): 31-37.
  8. Brandes JL. The influence of estrogen on migraine: a systematic review. JAMA 2006; 295(15): 1824-1830.
  9. Caruso I, Sarzi Puttini P, Cazzola M, Azzolini V. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome. Journal of International Medical Research 1990; 18(3): 201-209.
  10. Birdsall TC. 5-hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Alt Med Rev 1998; 3(4): 271-280.


Anxiety Disorders: What Are Your Options?

Anxiety Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Anxiety Disorders: What Are Your Options?


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


Anxiety disorders affect 1 in 4 Canadians at some point in their lives, making anxiety the most common mental illness in Canada. Psychotherapy and benzodiazepine medication are the conventional treatment options for anxiety. However, benzodiazepine drugs carry a high rate of addiction potential, can make people feel sedated, and carry a long list of side effects. So what can be done about anxiety if you want to pursue other treatment options?


First and foremost, it’s important to identify the source(s) and trigger(s) of your anxiety. What makes it better or worse? Is it a social setting that triggers a panic attack? A big test that you’re studying for that’s causing general anxiety? The importance of understanding your anxiety, rather than avoiding it, carries with it a significant mental and physical benefit. Our brains have the ability to tell the difference between suppressing our emotions versus addressing and labelling them. It is okay to feel anxious. Learning from our anxieties offers the opportunity for better self-understanding. When we understand why we react with anxiety, we learn from our thoughts, behaviours, and actions. Identify and label how you are feeling and you’ll find that your mood won’t have as much of an impact on your daily function. Proper sleep, a healthy diet, good social support, and a lifestyle that includes plenty of physical activity all factor into your wellbeing when dealing with anxiety.


A diet deficient in certain amino acids, vitamins, and/or minerals can have a negative impact on your mental-emotional wellbeing. Certain amino acids, vitamins, and minerals can help to calm an overactive mind through calming your nervous system, and correcting vitamin and mineral deficiencies that might worsen anxiety. In fact, even low iron can contribute to anxiety. An adequate intake of protein from both animal and vegetable sources can help with amino acid intake, and improved blood sugar control. Stable blood sugar levels can be achieved through the consumption of healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Fibre from fruits and vegetables can stabilize blood sugar, and add vitamins and minerals to your diet. It is important to avoid packaged foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars when trying to control your blood sugar.


Lavender is an excellent anti-anxiety herb, acting on your nervous system to calm your body and mind. In trials involving adults with anxiety, lavender was found to be as beneficial as benzodiazepine medication in alleviating feelings of restlessness, and improving sleep. You can even stuff lavender buds in your pillowcases to help with restlessness during the night. Green tea also helps with feelings of anxiety thanks to theanine. It’s an amino acid that can help reduce feelings of stress, promote relaxation, and help with attention. Green tea and lavender are just a couple of the many alternative treatments for anxiety.


Other factors that can contribute to anxiety include (but are not limited to): thyroid disease, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, digestive diseases, substance abuse, allergies, depression, and other mental illnesses. It’s important to speak with your doctor to determine the underlying factors influencing your individual anxiety, and discuss what treatment alternatives are right for you.

ADHD: Drugs, Diet, and Naturopathic Medicine

ADHD ADD Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

ADHD: Drugs, Diet, and Naturopathic Medicine


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


I recently watched a standup comedy special starring Norm MacDonald. He was commenting on his childhood, and how all he wanted to do while sitting in a classroom was to go outside and play with a big tree branch. He then wondered about hyperactive kids today and their feelings about being stuck in a classroom with the addition of authority figures yelling, “Now we’re going to drug you.” While this commentary is an oversimplification of the plight of modern kids, it does raise the question of whether or not medications are the only option when dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


It is estimated that 5% of all Canadian children ages 3 to 9 fit the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD (1). Boys are more commonly affected. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, in both the classroom and at home, are the main symptoms of ADHD. The recent changes to the DSM-V now include details to help doctors identify ADHD in adults, and changes the previous age cutoff in children from 7 to 12 years old (2). It is important to not jump to a hasty diagnosis of ADHD, as there are many other disorders that mimic it.


Children who are on the autism spectrum often suffer from ADHD. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is often mistaken for ADHD. In ODD, children display angry and irritable mood, argumentative or defiant behaviour, or vindictiveness for at least 6 months. Children and adults with ODD will direct their anger towards at least one person who is not a sibling, and will have significant problems at work, in the classroom, or at home (3). While children with ODD are more likely to also have a learning disability, the important issue here is to receive a thorough workup and diagnosis from a trained psychologist. An accurate diagnosis will ensure that appropriate treatment is provided for you or your child.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschool children with ADHD receive behavioural therapy as a first line treatment. In school children with ADHD, stimulant medications like methylphenidate (aka Ritalin) and atomoxetine are considered first line treatment (4). Common side effects of these medications include reduced appetite and weight loss, problems sleeping, and stunted growth. Long-term use of methylphenidate can also lead to depletion of zinc in children with ADHD (5). When supplemented with zinc + methylphenidate, children with ADHD in a 2004 study improved in teacher and parent rating scales compared to children taking placebo + methylphenidate (6).


In a 2016 retrospective study of around 4200 children in the Netherlands, researchers found that children with ADHD were more likely to be medicated for asthma, seasonal allergies, and eczema. Furthermore, ADHD was deemed to be more common in children whose parents were taking medications for asthma and seasonal allergies (7). In 2015, a systematic review of hypoallergenic diets for children with ADHD found a small but significant improvement in symptom severity (8). Another 2015 study showed that supplementing fish oil into children’s diets for 16 weeks brought down both inflammatory markers and ADHD symptom severity (9).


The reality of ADHD is that some people require medication to control their symptoms. A variety of naturopathic interventions can target the side effects of commonly prescribed ADHD medications, ADHD symptoms, and comorbid conditions like allergies and digestive concerns. Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to find out which interventions are best suited for you or your child.




  1. Brault MC, Lacourse E. Prevalence of prescribed ADHD medications and diagnosis among Canadian preschoolers and school-aged children: 1994-2007. Cdn J Psychiatry 2012; 57:93-101.
  2. Accessed June 17, 2017.
  3. Accessed June 17, 2017.
  4. ADHD: Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents. American Academy of Pediatrics 2011.
  5. Viktorinova A, et al. Changed plasma levels of zinc and copper to zinc ratio and their possible associations with parent-and-teacher-rated symptoms in children with ADHD. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2016; 169(1):1-7.
  6. Akhonzadeh S., et al. Zinc sulfate as an adjunct to methylphenidate for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children: a double blind and randomized trial. BMC Psychiatry 2004; 4: 1-6.
  7. Van der Schans J, et al. Association between medication prescription for atopic diseases and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2016.
  8. Heilskov Rytter MJ et al. Diet in the treatment of ADHD in children: a systematic review of the literature. Nord J Psychiatry 2015;69(1): 1-18.
  9. Bos DJ, et al. Reduced symptoms of inattention after dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in boys with and without ADHD. Neuropsychopharm 2015; 40(10): 2298-2306.


SIBO: Build Back Your Digestive Defenses

SIBO Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

SIBO: Build Back Your Digestive Defenses


Dr. Eric Viegas, ND


Our microbiome is the collection of microbes, in and on our bodies, that offer a mutual benefit. The health of our microbiome dictates our overall health status. Human cells that compose us are dwarfed by the number and variety of microbes those cells house. Our microbiota, the friendly microbes in our gut, help to digest food, strengthen our immune system, defend our intestines from unfriendly bacteria, and heal our gut (Gerritsen et al., 2011). The balance of our individual microbiota lies in a complex relationship between our genetics, diet, environment, and even our social circles. Our microbiota is one of the numerous defense systems our bodies use to keep out unwanted organisms from the small intestine. When one or more of these systems fail, an overgrowth of unfriendly microbes is possible.


We secrete stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes to better digest our food, but our bodies also use it as a safeguard against unwanted microorganisms. When poor stomach acid secretion fails to defend against colonies of foreign microbes, an overgrowth of these bacteria in the small intestine leads to an imbalanced microbiota. In addition, digestive tract abnormalities, abdominal surgery complications, and impaired gallbladder & pancreatic function can allow overgrowth of foreign microbes that disturb the balance of our microbiota.


Impaired migrating motor complexes (MMC) also set the stage for foreign bacteria to colonize the small intestine (Miyano et al., 2013). MMC initiates peristalsis, the muscular contraction of our intestines that moves food through the gut into the colon. MMC also occurs in a fasting state and acts to sweep unfriendly bacteria into the colon, limiting SIBO (Deloose et al., 2012). The vagus nerve controls MMC during parasympathetic nervous system activity (our rest and digest functions). The strength and conditioning of the vagus nerve (‘vagal tone’) also dictates our heart rate and breathing rate. Variation of our heart rate and breathing rate, known as respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), can improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular and digestive systems. RSA is more significant in children and athletes than the elderly. Also, RSA is associated with better mental health and positive social interactions. Vagal tone is enhanced through RSA by practicing yoga (Streeter et al., 2010). Interestingly, deep laughter also stimulates the vagus nerve, causing RSA (Miller et al., 2009). Like to sing in the shower? Singing and making music also enhances RSA and vagal tone (Vickhoff et al., 2013).


What about SIBO and its relation to IBS?


IBS patients that do not improve with conventional IBS treatments are often diagnosed with SIBO. Long-standing MMC problems result in impaired peristalsis and dysbiosis. IBS patients with SIBO require digestive support coupled with eradication of bacterial overgrowth (Ghoshal et al., 2016). SIBO symptoms overlap with the gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain that is common in IBS. It is estimated that more than half of all IBS patients have SIBO, and about half of all celiac cases also have SIBO (O’Leary, 2003). In celiac disease and SIBO, intestinal inflammation and permeability cause problems with nutrient absorption in the small intestine. As a result, patients are typically deficient in iron and vitamin B12; nutrients that are absorbed in a healthy small intestine. A lack of MMC also affects the secretion of bile for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) in the small intestine (Simren et al. 2006). In SIBO, some bacteria also digest bile before we can use it, further contributing to fat and fat soluble vitamins ending up in stool (Miyano et al., 2013). Weight loss due to malnutrition is a common symptom in long standing celiac disease and SIBO.


...IBD (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) and SIBO?


Complicated cases of crohn’s disease require surgery to remove the ileocecum, a junction point in your digestive system between the small and large intestine. The ileocecal valve sits between the ileum of the small intestine, and the cecum of the large intestine. Though not a true ‘valve’, a healthy ileocecal valve successfully separates the colonies of microbes native to the large intestine from microbes of the small intestine. Once the ileocecum is surgically removed, so is the defense system that prevents colonic bacteria from entering the small intestine, and SIBO occurs. Other abdominal surgeries can also impair MMC.


In fact, there are a whole host of conditions that can lead to, or are caused by, SIBO. Any disease state that alters immune function, creates dysbiosis, and/or affects the MMC sets the stage for bacterial overgrowth. Since bacteria can squander bile acids needed for digestion and absorption of fats, the initial breath test for SIBO was the bile acid breath test. Bile acid breath testing fell out of favour, and now hydrogen and methane breath tests are used in the diagnosis of SIBO (Ghoshal, 2016). Patients are instructed to fast, then consume a lactulose or glucose drink. If SIBO is present, bacteria in the small intestine will begin to digest the sugars into hydrogen and methane before the expected colonic bacteria do the same. The reliability of breath testing for SIBO has been questioned due to the variability in normal and abnormal results (Simren et al., 2006). Though, if a positive breath test is present with diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, doctors will treat presumptively. Depending on which gas scored higher on the breath test, doctors will prescribe antimicrobials specific to hydrogen or methane producing bacteria (or a combination).


So what can you eat to cut down on methane and hydrogen producing bacteria?


In terms of dietary recommendations for SIBO, there is no one size fits all approach. The FODMAPs diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), or Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet (GAPS) may work for some patients, but not others. It is important to identify your own individual food triggers. Sometimes a combination of the previously mentioned diets is what works for patients. An interesting treatment principle when dealing with SIBO is that well fed bacteria are easier to eradicate. So, eating food triggers that cause bacteria to ferment carbohydrates will lead to more efficient eradication using antibiotics and antimicrobials (Chedid et al., 2014). Once bacteria levels and SIBO symptoms are reduced, patients enter a recovery phase to rest and replenish the gut. Certain strains of probiotics can alleviate SIBO after short term therapy, and it is important to speak with your doctor about which strains are most appropriate for you (Kwak et al. 2014).


What are some ways to help manage SIBO in my day to day?


Successful treatment of SIBO, as with any chronic disease, relies on a holistic focus. Equal emphasis should be placed on eradicating bacteria, repopulating with probiotics, restoring vagal tone/MMC, avoiding food triggers, and healing the gut. Also, Exercise can improve digestive functions by enhancing MMC. Above all, patients should know that the road to recovery will never be linear, relapses often happen (Grover et al., 2008). Understanding mental-emotional health as an overarching goal will help give a big-picture context to patients, and build defenses against stress. Awareness of the connection between our mind and body is what will lead to building back digestive defenses. It’s no wonder that a relaxed state and laughter improves digestion. Finding enjoyment in exercise will also lead to improvements in MMC (Soffer et al., 1991). Finding something that brings you joy, something that leads you to more self-expression, is what will lead to a truly meaningful change. Rest and Digest!


For more information on SIBO:




Gerritsen J., Smidt H., Rijkers GT., de Vos WM. Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics. Genes Nutr 6; (2011): 209-240. Print.


Miyano Y, et al. “The role of the vagus nerve in the migrating motor complex and ghrelin-and motilin-induced gastric contraction in suncus.” PloS one 8.5 (2013). Web.


Deloose, Eveline, Pieter Janssen, Inge Depoortere, and Jan Tack. “The Migrating Motor Complex: Control Mechanisms and Its Role in Health and Disease.”Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 9.5 (2012): 271-85. Web


Streeter, Chris C., Theodore H. Whitfield, Liz Owen, Tasha Rein, Surya K. Karri, Aleksandra Yakhkind, Ruth Perlmutter, Andrew Prescot, Perry F. Renshaw, Domenic A. Ciraulo, and J. Eric Jensen. “Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 16.11 (2010): 1145-152. Web.


Miller, Michael, and William F. Fry. “The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on the Human Cardiovascular System.” Medical Hypotheses 73.5 (2009): 636-39. Web.


Vickhoff B, Malmgren H, Astrom R, Nyberg G, Ekstrom S-R, Engwall M, et al. “Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers.” Frontiers in Psychology Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience 334.4 (2013): 1-16. Web.


Ghoshal, Uday C., et al. “A proof-of-concept study showing antibiotics to be more effective in irritable bowel syndrome with than without small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology (2016).


O’leary, C. “Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth, Celiac Disease, and IBS: What Are the Real Associations?” The American Journal of Gastroenterology 98.4 (2003): 720-22. Web.


Simren M, Stotzer P-O. “Use and abuse of hydrogen breath tests.” Gut 55.3 (2006): 297-303. Web.


Ghoshal, Uday C. “Overview of Hydrogen Breath Tests in Gastroenterology Practice.” Evaluation of Gastrointestinal Motility and Its Disorders (2016): 87-94. Web.


Chedid, Victor, et al. “Herbal therapy is equivalent to rifaximin for the treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine 3.3 (2014): 16-24.


Kwak DS, Jun DW, Seo JG, Chung WS, Park SE, Lee KN, et al. “Short-term probiotic therapy alleviates small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, but does not improve intestinal permeability in chronic liver disease.” Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 26.12 (2014): 1353-1359. Web.


Grover, Madhusudan, et al. “Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in irritable bowel syndrome: association with colon motility, bowel symptoms, and psychological distress.” Neurogastroenterology & Motility 20.9 (2008): 998-1008.


Soffer EE, Sumers RW, Gisolfi C. “Effect of exercise on intestinal motility and transit in trained athletes.” Am J Physio 5.1 (1991): 698-702. Web.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Finding Physical and Emotional Well-Being

IBS Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Finding Physical and Emotional Well-Being

Dr. Eric Viegas ND


Having an urgency to run to the toilet at all times of the day? Do you have abdominal pain that improves after passing a bowel movement? Bloating and gas with loose and/or constipated stools?


An estimated 5 million Canadians suffer from IBS, with 120 000 new cases each year (Fedorak RN, et al. 2012). 40% of Canadians suffering from severe IBS symptoms seek medical treatment, while patients with milder symptoms use a combination of lifestyle changes, food trigger avoidance, pharmaceuticals, and/or supplements to manage their wellbeing. The typical IBS sufferer misses 13 days of work per year (Fedorak RN, et al. 2012).


You have an increased risk for IBS if you have a family history of a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with IBS. Onset is usually in a patient’s teenage years and is more common in women than men. Researchers have postulated that this gender difference exists because women are more likely than men to seek healthcare services for their symptoms, and clinical trials indicate that gender differences occur in responsiveness to drug treatment, pain processing, transit time (the time it takes for your food to move through your digestive tract), and effects of hormones (estrogen, progesterone) on digestive functions (Anbardan SJ., et al. 2012). In general, males tend to report a higher frequency of of loose bowel movements, and women tend to report more nausea and constipation  (Anbardan SJ., et al. 2012). Regardless of the gender differences, IBS can be a very debilitating and frustrating condition that leaves patients feeling powerless.


A patient fits the category of IBS if the symptoms have been present at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months, started at least 6 months ago, and symptoms (specifically, abdominal pain) are relieved after a bowel movement (Jung HK, 2011). Symptoms are associated with a change in stool number, stool appearance, and incomplete emptying of bowels. IBS sufferers may also have bloating, heartburn, and nausea (Jung HK, 2011). Other diagnostic methods should be used to rule out other serious conditions like colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease. There are currently 3 main categories of IBS; IBS-C (constipation dominant), IBS-D (diarrhea dominant), IBS-A/M (alternating/mixed). However, it is possible that a patient with IBS might not fit into any of these categories, and instead be classified into ‘pain-predominant’, or IBS-PI (post-infectious) patterns.


Some of the known causes of IBS include a history of gut infections, abdominal surgery, changes in diet, antibiotic use, and/or bacterial/hormonal/neurotransmitter imbalances. IBS pain is tied to changes in a healthy human microbiota (the friendly microbes in our gut), the immune system, and brain-gut communication (Grice EA, 2012). Think of brain-gut communication as our mind-body connection, one that exists through the central (mind) and enteric (gut) nervous systems.


Peristalsis is coordinated muscle contraction that promotes movement of food through the GI tract. In IBS, irregular peristalsis (spasm) can slow transit time or increase it through constipation or diarrhea, respectively. 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the enteric nervous system, and some of them increase or decrease peristaltic action (Gershon MD., 2005).


Peppermint oil is an effective tool in managing IBS symptoms (Cash et al., 2016). Menthol, an essential oil, is an antispasmodic and can help to calm the muscular and mucosal (mucus) walls of the intestine. Through this mechanism of action, peppermint oil helps abdominal pain and regulates peristalsis (Khanna et al., 2014). In an ancient Egyptian text from 1550 BC, mint was indicated for abdominal pain. In ancient Greece, Hades softened a spell on his mistress Minthe, so that ‘when people walked upon his lover they would smell her sweetness’. Mint has a relaxing effect to the enteric and central nervous systems, and has been shown to increase patient quality of life scores (Bharani et al., 2016).


Similar to peppermint, probiotics can be an effective symptom management tool. Studies have shown that certain probiotic strains, specifically the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium families, can relieve symptoms of abdominal pain, gas, and bloating (Majeed et al., 2016) (Moraes-Filho JP., Quigley EM, 2015). However, not all patients have the same reaction to probiotics. To give some perspective, the human microbiota is the size of an ocean compared to the small droplet of probiotics delivered to our bodies by supplements. Scientists still have many questions regarding the human microbiota. Does it control us? Do we control it? If so, how? The complex relationship between our mind and our microbiota is one that can be slightly altered through diet, environment, and our stress level (Grice et al., 2012).


The ability of your body to fully digest and absorb the calories from the food you eat is controlled by your own microbiota (Grice et al., 2012). Avoiding dietary triggers that alter the capacity of friendly microbes, and possibly feed the harmful ones, should be a treatment goal to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. Our microbes have the ability to heal the gut wall and mucosa, so the diet and lifestyle factors necessary are those that create the ideal conditions for the friendly bugs we were born with.


Acupuncture tends to be favoured by IBS patients over traditional pharmaceutical approaches (Manheimer et al., 2012). Acupuncture, an effective tool in IBS management, assesses and treats the individual patient holistically. IBS patients receiving acupuncture for symptom management reported greater improvement than patients receiving only pharmaceutical therapy (Manheimer et al., 2012). It is important to keep in mind that IBS affects both physical, and mental-emotional wellbeing. Patients should receive an IBS treatment plan that addresses both physical and psychological factors. IBS can be very difficult to deal with, but its symptoms can be managed and so can your stress.


Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplement or medication





Fedorak RN., Vanner SJ., Paterson WG, Bridges RJ. Canadian digestive health foundation public impact series 3: irritable bowel syndrome in canada. Incidence, prevalence, and direct and indirect economic impact. Can J Gastroenterol 26(5); (2012): 252-256. Print.


Anbardan SJ., Daryani NE., Fereshtehnejad S-M., Vakili ST., Keramati R., Ajdarkosh H. Gender role in irritable bowel syndrome: a comparison of irritable bowel syndrome module (rome iii) between male and female patients. J Neurogastroenterol Motil 18(1); (2012): 70-77. Print.


Jung, Hye-Kyung. “Rome III Criteria for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Is There a Need for a Better Definition?” Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 17.3 (2011): 211–212. PMC. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.


Gershon MD. Nerves, reflexes, and the enteric nervous system: pathogenesis of the irritable bowel syndrome. J Clin Gastroenterol 39(5); (2005): 184-193. Print.


Cash BD., Epstein MS., Shah SM. A novel delivery system of peppermint oil is an effective therapy for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Dig Dis Sci 61; (2016): 560-571. Print.


Bahrani HR., Hamedi S., Salari R., Noras M. Herbal medicines for the management of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Electronic Physician 8(8); (2016): 2719-2725.


Khanna R., MacDonald JK., Levesque BG. Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol 48(6); (2014): 505-512. Print.


Majeed M., Nagabhushanam K., Natarajan S., Sivakumar A., Ali F., Pande A., et al. Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation in the management of diarrhea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study. Nutrition Journal 15(2); (2016): 1-10. Print.


Gerritsen J., Smidt H., Rijkers GT., de Vos WM. Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics. Genes Nutr 6; (2011): 209-240. Print.


Moraes-Filho JP., Quigley EM. The intestinal microbiota and the role of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: a review. Arq Gastroenterol 52(4); (2015): 331-338. Print.


Maron DF. Does our microbiome control us, or do we control it? Scientific American. January 13 2016. Retrieved from


Grice EA., Segre JA. The human microbiome: our second genome. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet 13; (2012): 151-170. Print.


Manheimer E., Wieland LS., Cheng K., Li SM., Shen X., Berman BM. Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol 107(6); (2012): 835-848. Print.

Understanding irritable bowel syndrome (ibs). Canadian digestive health foundation. Retrieved from

7 Eastern and Western Herbs for Ulcerative Colitis: New Evidence

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

7 Eastern and Western Herbs for Ulcerative Colitis: New Evidence

Dr. Eric Viegas, ND

What is UC?

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a form of irritable bowel disease that targets the end of the large intestine; most notably the rectum and anus. With significant inflammation of the innermost layer of gut tissue, Ulcerative Colitis causes bloody stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, dehydration, and frequent urges to have a bowel movement.[1]


Some UC bowel movements are “false urges”; this means that although the need to pass stool feels urgent, very little is passed into the toilet bowl. Inflammation is the main culprit in false urges.


There will be periods of time where Ulcerative Colitis sufferers will be in symptom “remission”; their bowel movements will improve along with their quality of life, but the tissue in their colon will still be inflamed. Stress and diet triggers will often cause relapses for people with UC.[1]


Complications of UC include anemia and colorectal cancer. Relapses are frequent, so doctors and patients must work together to reduce inflammation and pain to improve quality of life.


Medications, nutritional supplements, herbs, diet, and surgery are all useful tools for individual cases of UC. Unfortunately, no cure exists, but with the proper diet and lifestyle choices the risk of UC relapse can be reduced.


A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine looked at common western and eastern herbal medicines, their effect on relapse rates, and the rates of symptomatic & endoscopic remission in people with UC.


The researchers sifted through 3050 studies and filtered their search to include only the best evidence. In the end, 29 randomized controlled trials that included over 1800 people with UC were selected.


Five single-herb remedies were effective in reducing the risk of relapse, maintaining symptom remission, in UC:


  1. Curcumin

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

The first herbal therapy, is called curcumin. Curcumin is an extract of the spice turmeric (aka curcuma longa), and the recent surge in popularity of “turmeric lattes” may prove beneficial to people with UC.


Curcumin was shown to maintain remission of UC up to six months, and was also beneficial in improving quality of life during active UC.[2]


The traditional use of turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory agent for joint pain and liver dysfunction. It is no surprise then, that curcumin is an effective anti-inflammatory for UC.


  1. Silymarin

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Silymarin, the anti-inflammatory component of the seeds of milk thistle (aka silybum marianum) also demonstrated remission maintenance in people with UC for up to six months.[2]


Traditionally, silymarin has been used to regenerate diseased liver cells and improve liver function.


  1. Aloe Vera Gel

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Aloe vera gel, a commonly used botanical for painful sunburns, was shown to help achieve symptom remission in active UC.[2]


The gel is found inside the long leaves of the aloe vera plant and has been used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory agent for digestive concerns such as ulcers.


Aloe has also demonstrated an ability to stimulate connective tissue formation and wound healing.


  1. Cannabis Oil

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

A proprietary extract of cannabinoids from cannabis sativa oil, known as GWP42003, was helpful in achieving symptom remission in UC.[2]


Although still not legal for use as an over the counter remedy, these promising results in UC gives hope for the eventual legalization and greater accessibility of medical marijuana oils in Canada.


Speak with your doctor to find out if this is the right treatment for you.


  1. Andrographis

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Andrographis paniculata, known as the “king of bitters” in India, is a good digestive tonic for certain cases of gastrointestinal disease. Andrographis was also helpful in achieving symptom remission in active UC.[2]


Commonly used to fight against cold and flu symptoms, andrographis has anti-viral properties and is now found in most herbal cold and flu remedies.


  1. EGCG

Ulcerative Colitis Dr. Eric Viegas Naturopathic Medicine Ottawa

Finally, it’s a good idea to grab a cup of green tea. Epigallocatechin-3-galate (EGCG) is an antioxidant found in green tea, and people taking EGCG were more likely to achieve Ulcerative Colitis symptom remission than those taking placebo.[2]


Another useful property of green tea is the anti-anxiety effect of theanine; an amino acid exclusive to green tea that promotes a relaxed state while not compromising alertness.


UC sufferers often experience mood disorders as a consequence of their disease, so a few cups of green tea a day can go a long way to promote a better quality of life.


  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine

In combination with standard drug therapy, the chinese herbal formulas Chan Yu ning syrup/granule, Gu chang zhi xie wan, and Kui jie ling granules, were all shown to improve both symptoms and gut inflammation in active cases of UC.[2]


Licensed acupuncturists and traditional chinese medicine doctors use their knowledge of pathology and organ systems to formulate an herbal preparation that is individualized to your specific needs.


Everyone is different, and their responses to stressors are different; TCM takes this into account with the use of botanicals and acupuncture to improve health and wellbeing.


With a long history of botanical medicines in cultures around the world, it is no surprise that herbal remedies exist to treat some of the most prevalent gastrointestinal diseases we face today.


For more information on Ulcerative Colitis and to find out which remedies are right for you, speak with your naturopathic doctor.




  1. Garud S., Peppercorn MA. Review: ulcerative colitis: current treatment strategies and future prospects. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology 2009; 2(2): 99-108.
  2. Kim Seoyeon, Lee Byung-Hee, Zhang Xiuyu, Park JaeWoo, Lee Sle, Lee Hyangsook. Adjunctive herbal medicine therapy for inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.European Journal of Integrative Medicine