It’s been a long time since I posted a story on this great site and an update is well overdue. I am Graham, the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) convert, guinea pig and advocate. Diagnosed over 20 years ago I have trodden the familiar route of medication, realised that’s not the whole solution, smoked, not smoking, researched diet/food/deficiencies, over and over to the point of, well just adding unnecessary stress.
Since realising early on that smoking slammed the brakes on my UC it has been my go to and helped me keep my colon as well as work and lead a pretty normal life. The goal was to work in drugs, diet or anything to keep off cigarettes for as long as possible. Unfortunately the NHS never used to support this strategy (despite asking repeatedly), so I would only receive a maintenance therapy during a self inflicted flare. I now have a great doctor who understands and works with me.
In the early days I would quit smoking and always start bleeding within 3 weeks. With nicotine patches, a probiotic drink and lactose free milk I got to 6 weeks. Still hardly worth bothering to quit and I’d almost given in until I saw what turned out to be a life changing article about olive oil. In a large UK food study they noticed that there were almost no instances of UC in the group that regularly consumed olive oil. Knowing what I do now I would suggest this group were also consuming a Mediterranean diet or one quite similar and that the oil prevented UC/UC flares rather than reversing them as I once thought it would. It has for some but never for me.
Here is the link to my 1st post in 2012 which also has the study information.
Following the advice of 2-3 tablespoons a day I went from 6 weeks without bleeding to about 15 months! Obviously realizing this could be hugely significant it was my duty to share this information widely and learn as much about it as possible. I need to state clearly at this point that due to a “healthy” smokers colon, I had no symptoms when I began. EVOO will generally only slow a flares progression yet significantly help to prevent them when a colon is healthy.
I have had great success stories from fellow UC’ers, though it has not provided a mass breakthrough as it did for me. I believe this was due to me wrongly expecting it to reverse UC and us not using it for it’s greatest asset that turned out to be, prevention. The clue was in the original conclusions of the study but at least we now know this with more certainty. As we know with any research it takes a frustrating amount of time and I have done my best. There were some surprising dead ends but this all leads to greater certainty and understanding.
There are often two different targets for UC drugs, to reverse a flare and to prevent them. Which is the most important to you, now there’s a question?! EVOO is for preventing them as well as a great benefit to your general health. To maximise the benefit of EVOO I read the 100’s of studies relating to it, stayed at an Olive Oil resort in Tuscany and met/corresponded with some pioneers and experts of that world. The EVOO’ers I’ve met take it daily off the spoon. They also give off an air of immortality which reminds me of young males at the stage of pre frontal lobe maturity. In my opinion it is the world’s greatest superfood, a genuine nutraceutical and you would not believe how extensively it is being researched. Pubmed states there are currently 493 EVOO studies, here is just one recent study about UC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/31901082/?i=11&from=evoo
I can’t list all the studies about EVOO and UC though many older ones are on my previous posts. I will try and make a few pointers that I feel are important.
Oil must be extra virgin, quality varies hugely but fortunately us UC’ers should not waste money on the best. Oddly, too strong an oil reduced remission periods every single time I tried it. EVOO reduces inflammation in the gut but this study later confirmed that very high polyphenol oil actually increased the immune response. Seeking out the finest oils was a mistake but an important one to make. These would be early harvest oil’s and generally award winning ones that we would have to go out of our way for.
To be effective it must provide some throat irritation and a slight cough after swallowing a neat 15ml dose. The oil will be too strong and of little benefit for UC if you cough excessively. The cough is due to Oleocanthal which is the anti inflammatory component of the oil. Despite olive oil being around for 1000’s of years and part of our ancestral diet, Oleocanthal was only discovered in 1999. A sensory expert traveled to Italy and tasted an actual EVOO, he noticed the same throat irritation that he had previously experienced with liquid ibuprofen.
Dosage, 1 x 15ml before breakfast, another before lunch then the last dose before bed. Plastic shot glasses are handy when away from home. Here is a recent and interesting study revealing the timings of our inflammatory response in relation to food and even the anticipation of food.
If you are on a low carb/sugar diet we need to get more of our energy from fat. EVOO can replace any of the alternatives safely. Omega 6 fats are abundant in the modern diet and understood to be bad for UC and general health. EVOO delivers a better balance of omega 3/6 in the body when consumed as your primary fat.
I can almost guarantee this oil will not increase your cholesterol or make you gain weight. My cholesterol and blood pressure has been perfect since EVOO, though I am only 47. There are studies attributing weight loss to EVOO and whenever I dropped to 2 spoons I actually gained a little weight. It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol. Fat just isn’t the devil we were told it was, in some cases it’s the opposite.
I have quit smoking around 20 times during my UC time, is that a world record ☺️? EVOO was the big breakthrough, though remission periods are shorter these days.
I am currently on Imuran and EVOO but it’s too early to assess my progress. I’ve had neurological damage previously from a UC drug so I am wary of medications but also realise most of us can’t manage without them. For me they should be kept to a minimum though a personal assessment of drugs and their alternatives takes years, UC is never easy but we fight on!