Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease in which the large intestine becomes inflamed and ulcerated, leading to episodes of bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Unlike Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis usually doesn't affect the full thickness of the intestine and never affects the small intestine. The disease usually begins in the rectum or sigmoid colon and spreads partially or completely through the large intestine. The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but heredity and an overactive immune response are suspected factors. Food allergies may also be a factor (D'Arienzo et al. 2000).
Fish oil may be a useful therapeutic agent in the management of colitis. Studies on the use of dietary supplements of fish-oil-derived fatty acids have indicated a beneficial effect on inflammatory bowel disease (Ross 1993; Steinhart 1997; Almallah et al. 1998). Many published studies suggest that marine fish-oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis. Fish oils may exert their anti-inflammatory effects by modulating tissue levels of certain immune factors that promote inflammation. In prospective, randomized, and controlled studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be therapeutically useful (Hillier et al. 1991; Aslan et al. 1992). These studies also show that fish oil reduces the doses needed of toxic steroid drugs (Hawthorne et al. 1992; Grimminger et al. 1993; Williams 1993).
Colitis patients often suffer from multiple nutrient deficiencies (Wasser et al. 1995). Supplementation with a multinutrient formula such as Life Extension Mix could prevent complications of long-term nutritional deficiencies. Studies have shown potential lethal effects caused by colitis-induced nutritional deficiencies. Free radicals have been implicated in the colitis inflammatory process (Ramakrishna et al. 1997). Vitamin E and selenium are two nutrients that appear to be especially effective in suppressing free radical-generated inflammation.