I've had ulcertative colitis for over 35 years and have been on medications of one sort or the other for most of that period. For about the last two years I've been either off all meds or have taken an off-label medicine (low dose naltrexone), that apparenty has no known side effects. I no longer feel like a colitis patient; my overall health, including my lipid panel (cholesterol) have improved markedly.
My disease has been mostly limited to the distal (towards the rectum) part of the colon. My GI doc treated me with prednisone (oral hydrocortisone), hydrocortisone suppositories (when my symptoms weren't so bad) or hydrocortisone enemas (when my symptoms were not bad enough to justify prednisone and not under control enough to justify the suppositories. I'm highly allergic to sulfa (azulfadine) and asacol and asacol like drugs (which have a sulfa molecule bound to aspirin in the case of asacol).
A colonoscopy in 2009 found that my disease had spread, for the first time, throughout the colon, yet my symptoms weren't all that bad; my GI doc suggested strong immunosuppressive medications which I didn't want to take.
Since my symptoms weren't that bad I decided to look for alternative treatments, which, have completely changed my life and my overall health for the better.
After diligent research on the web I tried these treatments which each has seemed to help. In combination, I now feel like a new person.
Probiotics - more is better. The ones you buy at the health food store mostly don't cut it. Look at VSL#3 (can be special ordered with a Rx at most pharmacies) which has 250Billion colonies per packet (I find the packet more effective than the tablets for some reason). VSL#3 has been clinically proven in peer reviewed studies to help colitis.
I also take Probiotics (search google) 11 strain probiotic powder and for a year I took a probiotic (hard to get in US but is sold over the counter in Canada and is manufactured in Germany). I found an alternative medicine doc who recommended and wrote an rx; a pharmacy in the US purchases this expensive probiotic from Canada where it is sold relatively inexpensively.
I took multiprobiotic in the AM before breakfast, VSL#3 before lunch and Probiotics before dinner or before bed.
I also saw an alternative care physician who recommended I eat a diet she called an 'anti inflammatory diet' where you consciously try to avoid sugar spikes in the blood. A book called 'Beating Cancer Though Nutrition' discusses the concept and many web sites are available to discuss what to do.
Briefly: eat protein first and avoid high glycemic carbs (see www.nutritiondata.com), avoid sugar, fructose etc.
My waist size dropped from 36 to 34 on this diet and the love handles that I lived with since my 20s on prednisone disappeared. My HDL went up (the good cholesterol) and my LDL went down (the bad cholesterol) and I looked and felt great.
With diet and probiotics I was able to significantly reduce the slight symptoms I had.
After about 6 months I ran across a diet called SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) which I understand has helped thousands if not hundreds of thousands with colitis problems. I incorporated some of the ideas from this diet and made the decision to eliminate wheat from my diet. I believe I was getting a sub-clinical reaction to wheat consistent with what is called Leaky Gut Syndrome.
I lost more weight and felt even better after eliminating wheat. I would cheat a little bit, once in a while, but overall was wheat free.
I ran across the work of Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who promotes a diet similar to the one I was on for people with heart disease or who want to prevent heart disease proactively. I joined his Track Your Plaque program and read his book (today he has a book you can purchase from Amazon). I also embraced what is called a Paleo diet and the advice of a blogger named Mark Sisson. I don't eat as much meat as most Paleo people or Mark Sisson seem to, but otherwise am now on a Davis/Paleo/Sisson program.
My waist went from 36 to 32; I have a six pack. I weigh the same today as when I graduated college. I am fit, healthy and I eat as much as I want, whenever I want and I don't gain weight and I had almost no colitis symptoms.
In February 2011 I started to have some mild colitis symptoms; I wasn't taking any Rx meds for any condition at this time; strickly the program described above.
I sought out a local doc (San Francisco) who has incorporated a very small (one tenth the usual dose) of naltrexone, called LDN or Low Dose Naltrexone. LDN shows tremendous promise for treating MS, Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, several cancers and basically any autoimmune disease; search google.
I started LDN in April of 2011 and my remaining colitis symptoms simply dissapeared and have been gone ever since. LDN is not something you take by itself; you need to employ other lifestyle changes; to me it was the last boost I needed to feel completely disease free.
In February 2012 I had another colonoscopy and the doc said I had very mild inflammation in the distal part of the colon and the rest of the colon looked normal. He said the inflammation I had was no big deal and I should keep doing what I'm doing.
As they say in the automobile advertisements: your mileage may vary. Overall, low glycemic eating is helpful for any autoimmune disease, weight loss without actually counting calories.
Hope this helps someone else.