I’m Still Smoking and Reducing Colitis Medications

Over a year ago my life turned to a living hell when Ulcerative Colitis struck at its fullest and my quality of life was 0.

(here’s a link to my previous posting: Does Smoking Really Help UC )

I had all the symptoms described in all of your stories, 20-30 movements a day, no appetite, weight loss, bloody stool, arthritis, and so on. My family life was in ruins and friends were not in my life anymore. Then in March of last year I finally found Dr. Stephen Hanauer at the University of Chicago and he finally started a treatment that got me back on track and where I am today (butr more to that later). Yes, he told me to start smoking and eat read meat, which is quiet the gig if you are 39. And yes he knows a cardiologist who will probably deal with that issue later in my life, which I definitely enjoy again until such time.
I also went through a 10 day hospital stay after he took me off Humira and started me on a regiment of cylcosporin and some other goodies. Over the following months my condition improved considerably and my life started to be fun again.
We have started to reduce a lot of the meds I was taking and progress shows in one movement per day, which is always in the morning right after getting up.
Currently I am still on Cyclosporin (100ml twice per day), 5mg Prednizone, 50mg Mercaptopurine, 4.8g Lialda, 4mg Lopramine, 2 pills per week of Bactrim to avoid Pneumonia ans some blood pressure medicine to fight the issues that cyclosporine causes…and yes, a few cigarettes a day.
The goal is to get rid of the cyclosporine and the prednisone completely over the next few weeks and just make it on the Lialda and the Mercaptopurine. And yes, I will continue smoking (being fully aware of all the issues that can bring), knowing that I still haven’t found a smoker with UC and nobody in my smoking family ever had cancer or related issues. I can enjoy my life again and eat everything, though I am still a little careful with too much fiber.

Hope things are going well for you as well.

UC Man


21 thoughts on “I’m Still Smoking and Reducing Colitis Medications”

  1. When I was diagnosed my doc told me not to quit smoking. The weird thing is that I find that I smoke way more when I am having a bad flare. Diarrhea and bleeding have been pretty bad this week and I am smoking like a fiend!

  2. Wonderful news!!! Thanks so much for the update. my husband had been in remission on 5 cigs a day and is blood type 0 and eats lots of red meat. don’t worry about red meat. Some folks ( me included) follow the blood type diet. On this diet- I am supposed to eat Red meat to stay healthy, maybe u r too!

  3. Hello UC man I’m a fellow UC er , I m an x smoker didn’t have to many problems until I quit ,except of corse the side effects from smoking , you know the usual cough’n & hack’n often irritable . I just tapered off prednisone , currently on sulphasalazine & imuran , doing better no blood or pain or frequent trips to the bathroom , but still don’t seem quite right . Still occasionally having the D & ulcers in my mouth are like having a mouth full of needles . What is your stand on medicinal marijuana .? . I live in Illinois if they ever legalize it for medicine. Goodbye prednisone , Hello Mary !

    1. Hey Paul,

      being as cheap as I am I actually asked my doctore about that and he kind of just smiled at me. I have not seen any evidence that marijuana will improve the effects of regular cigarettes. But it certainly would take the edge of during a flare.

  4. It’s great to hear you are getting better. But that’s a considerable cocktail of medications you are taking. How do you know the cig’s are even doing anything? The majority of people who go into remission from cig’s do so without medications from my reading on this and other forums. And it’s a complete remission of symptoms for the most part. I don’t mean to be a downer but a year later and still taking all those med’s and still not in complete remission…might be time to question if the cig’s are worth it at this point.

    1. During the worst of my UC with around 30 movements a day I started to smoke, before turning to the new meds. Within 5 days I went down to about 8 movements a day. I would consider that quiet an impact. I consider myself to be in remission and don’t plan on having any flares. Cyclosporin is the only med left that I am concerned about. The future will only include Lialda and MP-6 (in a small dose). Either way, any side effects that I might be dealing with right now beat running to the toilet more then twice a day, or not making it at all and shitting or pants on the way.

      1. Right on man. Glad to hear you are doing much better. I actually emailed Dr. Hanauer after reading your post last year. I even got a response. Very cool that you have him as your doc!

  5. Is this for real? Smoking? I did not have UC when I smoked either! Smoking carries it’s own health risks, but if a doctor actually prescribes it, can’t a person be monitored for lung cancer, which can be cured, in it’s early stages…just like early detected colon cancer? UCers are screened regularly for colon cancer, why not be regularly screened for lung cancer, if you are prescribed smoking to help colitis. I’d rather smoke, than have UC any day!!

    Would the nicotine patch have the same benefits, without the lung cancer risk? Is it the actual nicotine that helps the colitis? Does anyone know?


    1. I asked my doc the same question. It isn’t only the nicotine that does the trick but the cocktail of all the other goodies in the death straws. I have tried the patches before I actually started to smoke and did not have any results in the 3 months I took them other than an enormous amount of hot flashes.

      1. What a ‘drag’, huh, UC Man? I was hoping the patch would have the same effects as actually smoking the smokes. I’ve been quit for 10 years, and it was hell quitting…I don’t want to go through that again!

        On the other hand…if it takes this crappy colitis away, I may just be game:)


  6. Here a link I found about the nicotine patch and ulcerative colitis…ishttp://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-edge-newspaper-2010/may-14b.html


  7. HI Everyone
    My UC is thankfully quite mild and hope to keep it that way as I can see alot of you suffer very badly with it.I do have to say though that smoking is not the answer! And whoever that doctor was who prescribed smoking as ”medical relief” should be struck off! That is absolutely insane advice to give anyone! If anyone feels they must smoke to relieve their symptoms herbal cigarettes may be of help and more accepting! Have any of you ever tried herbal Meds? I have tried taking garlic capsules in the past and have recently started them againas thev worked really well the last time to help stop the bleeding. And i am also going to see a Kinesiologist within the next few weeks recommended to me by a friend to diagnoise the correct herbal remedies as i believe and have told they really help UC

  8. Mary Jane – It’s understandable that you think advocating smoking as a treatment for UC is insane but it’s not a matter of emotions/opinions. The facts are clear. Do a google search on the topic and check out the dozens of published medical journals on the topic going back decades. It’s not because smoking relieves stress. It appears to be a combination of cynandie, nicotine and carbon monoxide that have the therapeutic effect. Also Dr. Hanauer is highly respected – “Dr. Hanauer has authored hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters, abstracts, monographs, and editorials. He also designed and maintains a 6,000-patient database for the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Registry. Dr. Hanauer is Editor-in-Chief of Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology and serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals, including the American Journal of Gastroenterology, American Journal of Medicine, and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. He is the outgoing chairman of the International Organization for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”

    Dr. Hanauer published in 1998 – No Butts About It: Put The Fire Out By Lighting Up


  9. uc2 Have you tried marijuana and not just cigarettes? I can now understand why you would smoke cigs. I couldn’t through. But good old Mary, sure. lol For me just switching probiotics when one stops working seems to help put it into remission.

  10. I do concur with the red meat part–real steak couple of times a week really seems to help—and potatoes are also good–baked with just butter and some eggplant–also fish oil 1000mg of omega 3’s–i didnt develop the uc until years after i quit smoking–was 62 when it appeared–no problem with nicotine patches just watch your blood pressure!

  11. @Swirlibra – I have tried Pot and Cig’s. I tried 3-5 cigs a day for 3 months. Didn’t help or make me worse. So I stopped. I tried pot…but honestly I can’t handle it. I can take 1 or 2 BABY hits. Probably barely high from it. But if I smoke more I’m in la la land.

    You are very lucky to be able to stay in remission on probiotics alone!

  12. Hi Guys,

    I was diagnosed with UC about 3 years ago, and it has slowly gotten worse (although not as bad as some stories I’ve read.) I am an ex-smoker, and my symptoms started shortly after I quit. As I read more it seems like smoking might help me. I’m totally willing to try smoking 3-5 cig’s per day if it will relieve my symptoms. My question is: From time to time I have smoked a cigarette leisurely, and it almost always causes the instant urge to run to the bathroom. Does this happen to anyone else? It seems like I’d want to make sure I’m right next to a bathroom if I am going to smoke. Any thoughts?

  13. Hi ! I like ,Bev , quit smoking and that was hell. If what you are doing helps then that’s great… You know the risks of smoking. What I don’t understand is why smoke and increase your risk of cancer which can kill you? And trust me I know how desperate we have all gotten when nothing is working to settle a flare.

    1. Milka…that’s exactly my worry as well. CANCER. I don’t want lung cancer and I don’t want colon cancer! Heck, I don’t even want this ulcerative colitis!!

      I wish there was an answer. I guess to each his own. I just can’t start smoking again, to try and get my colitis into remission. If it works, then, I have to quit again…then, the colitis returns, then I smoke again, then I quit…where will it end? What a crappy circle to get caught up in. I’m tired just thinking about it!



  14. I’m willing to try almost anything to get into remission. I’ve had a 5 year flare with no end or hope in sight. I began the SCD and smoked 3.5 cigs today. I’m hoping and praying that this works!

    1. Julie,

      From my own extensive experience on this matter, 4-5 a day kept a fairly healthy UC colon happy but more would be needed to come out of a flare. I’ve had 6 weeks now of 5-10 a day and the blood has all gone. It may have been faster on SCD and no alcohol though. Rather than smoke that much you could try a big spoon of healthy extra virgin olive oil morning, noon and night (on empty stomach).

      You will get there, believe it…

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