Say What You Want, But Smoking Does Help Ulcerative Colitis


I knew smoking helped my UC BEFORE I did some research.

Smoking and Ulcerative Colitis:

I am a 42 year old lady with UC for 3 years(2008). I used to smoke (stupidly I know) 5-6 a day for 20 years, then gave up as I didn’t want my children to follow suit. Within 6 months I was diagnosed with UC, put on 30mg Prednisolone, 6 Asacol tablets and 4 Asacol suppositories a day. This went on for 2 years, on and off the Prednisolone to stop the bleeding, toilet 20 or more times a day, taking immodium just to go to work.


A year ago, something awful happened and I started smoking again ( it was that or drink!), I hated myself, letting the children down. I was on 5-6 a day, again and the Ulcerative Colitis disappeared, or seemed to, now I know it to be a remission.  I came off the prednisolone and the suppositories all together all year and just took the tablets.
I then gave up smoking again August this year (2011) and guess what, within a month UC symptoms returned as hard as ever.  It’s gone from mild to moderate in a short space of time, I am now back on all the medication as before and am struggling to find a reason why I should not try nicotine patches or even smoke again, the quality of life I had this last whole year was just the way it was before my diagnosis.
I knew I was right but no one believes me, even my husband just thinks I’m weak and WANT to smoke, that is just not the case at all.


Submitted in the Colitis Venting Area by KAREN

If you want some more smoking stories from other UC’ers, there’s quite a few:

Fighting Fire with Fire

Still Not Quite There Yet

Questions for Dr. Hanauer Patients Regarding Smoking and Colitis

Does Smoking Really Help Ulcerative Colitis?—49 Comments So Far…?

The Battle of a Lifetime, Quitting Smoking then Diagnosed with UC



14 thoughts on “Say What You Want, But Smoking Does Help Ulcerative Colitis”

  1. Really interesting as my 2 biggest flares came after the 2 time i quit. If you do try nicotine patches, let me know how it goes. I wonder if it is the nicotine or something else in the smokes?



  2. Hi Karen,

    Don’t worry, it’s not just you! You might take a look at the wikipedia page about UC, and search it for the word “smoking:”

    The references to the studies are listed at the bottom of the page.

    I know you don’t really want to smoke, but hopefully this will give you some ideas of approaches re: the patch, etc., you might want to discuss with your docs. And at least it’ll give you a way to explain the connection to people who don’t believe you!

  3. I’m really interested on the concept of how smoking call help ulcerative colitis!
    I’m always looking into alternative medicine for my colitis because currently, conventional therapy isn’t working and I’m reluctant to start imuran, 6mp or remicade.

    a lot of smokers however only experience their flares after they quit because of the stress that it puts on the body, and it’s already known that Ulcerative Colitis is a stress related disease, however, you say that you had no symptoms after you started again, which is quite remarkable from my point of view!

    Try the patch, it can’t really hurt! although, some people have said that they’ve had no success with the patch or gum, that only the actual cigarettes work, so maybe look into e-cigarettes? (they use a liquid and a vaporiser, so they limit the risk to tobacco related cancers.)

    I understand why you don’t want to start smoking again, but you’ve found something that works for you, now what you need is to find a way to get it without further harming your other organs.

    I hope you can figure something out, and hope you start feeling good again soon! :)

  4. I chew tobacco and I recently quit for 5 days during a nasty 4 month flare I’m still in and found that my symptoms just got worse which I didn’t think was even possible. I do believe nicotine helps and I wish this wasn’t true because I want to quit.


  5. The connection between smoking and remission of UC is well-known and clear. After I had exhausted all other possibilities my GI suggested I consider smoking although he did not make a recommendation. He left that up to me. I started smoking a pipe and I have gone six years now without a single flare. I smoke organic, pesticide free and chemical free tobacco that I get from a guy in North Carolina. If nicotine keeps you in remission, go ahead. I also worried about the example I was setting for my children, but I decided my health was also important.

  6. Hi all that have replied to this blog and am so sorry i haven’t been on to reply, i have been very ill with a bad flare.

    Hi Matt, i am researching the nicotine patches as the strengths vary, i have not decided fully on which way to go at the moment as i am in a nasty flare right now, no energy to decide or dedicate to this horrible illness.I have my doubts wether i will get the help i need in the UK as this site is the best i’ve found.

    Hi Hopskotch, i live in th UK and all our healthcare proffessionals are against smoking so i dare not tell them what i believe! I am going to mention it on my next visit ans just see if he believes it too.You never know, he just might agree.

    Hi Jamielslane, I truly believe there is not a lot of link to UC and stress, as the times i am stressed i am no worse! I think stress is widely used as a likely reason for us to believe, myself i get stressed WITH a flare and not before. I also believe that its the chemicals in the cigarettes that cause cancer so i am researching if these chemicals are present in the patches. A health care fprffessional of mins has said that up to 5 cigarettes a day will have NO cancer causing effect on the body as its the 20,30.40 a day thats bad. Its not easy to know just waht to do but i MUST do something to get my life back.

    Hi Blake, i have read on this site that chewing tobacco just does not seem to work, maybe there is not enough tobacco in them?? This also i am researching, trying anyway!

    Hi Larry, i am getting to the point that every time i smell tobacco, pass a cigarette shop, see someone smoking i get an urge to just do it. I do also believe the body has an incredible way of telling us what we need to heal, e.g, i hate eggs, all my life, disgusting! ” monthe ago i made an omlette and ate it, enjoyed it! My family nearly fainted, i know eggs are a good diet for UCers now!!!! How bizzarre is that.

    Thank you all for your replies, i am so glad i joined and feel i am at least not alone any more.x

  7. All,

    Much like all of you I am at my wits end and considering lighting up a cig. I tried chewing tobacco with some great results at first but three weeks later I am back to having no control. I also have an ulcer so the chew maybe really hurting me. I don’t know what else to do so I may throw in the towel and light up. I used to smoke years ago and was proud of beating nicotine. I also don’t want to be a bad example to my children. I hope it works. I am praying for wisdom every chance I get.

    Tim in PA

  8. Hi all… I had smoked off and on for years. In looking back I see how starting smoking seemed to lessen my UC. So after 3 yrs of being smoke free I combined the FODMAP diet with my old ciggies. I was in clinical remission (confirmed by colonoscopy) within a few weeks. The diet minimised the toilet visits, cramping, everything but the blood. When I added ciggs, blood disappeared. So I smoked for 5 months and lived med-free on a restricted diet.

    I was convinced I’d conquered this messed up disease. So dropped ciggs to 1-2 a day and then quit! I was smoke free disease free for 4 blissful weeks! Then BAM! Blood, cramps, diarrhoea all back! I tried nicotine patches and gun for about 6 weeks, I’m sure it diminished my symptoms. After much dilemma and 2-3 VSL3 packs a day, I have in and went back on the ciggs. I’ve been smoking for 2 months now, and nada! Im allergic to 5 ASA, can’t take prednisone, tried 6 days of 6mp and was too nauseous to keep on that horrific drug!

    Now im thinking the ciggs are doing nothing, very bummed!! Interestingly when on 6Mp I was too sick to eat! The days I skipped eating I hardly went to the toilet! So I’m now convinced diet is a huge factor for me! I’m booked to see a dietician who specialises in IBD, and back to my gastro next week hopefuls diet is 80% my solution! Just started some homeopathic suppositories so we shall see. In the meantime food luck with the nicotine it seems after so many years it’s not working for me so plan to quit after dietician visit. Praying that I don’t get worse when I quit. FYI I smoke 2-7 a day trying to find a therapeutic quantity, sadly I’ve seen no results this time.

    Good luck and thx to all who post it’s helping my depression!!


    1. Deb, have you heard of GAPS? I stopped a terrible flare in its track by doing GAPS intro. I was really sick and did not want to eat much anyway. I kept thinking if I could just stop eating I would stop having to run to the toilet. The first few days it was just homemade bone broths and it was very soothing. You can just keep a crockpot going and dip out alittle bowl here and there to sooth the hunger pains. The bowel has to rest. Hope you get to feeling better soon.

      1. Thx Lindaxvgn!! I’ll check it out now, never heard of it!! I see my colitis specialist dietician on Monday!! Here’s hoping!! What is there to lose ya know! Good luck to us all!! :-) xx

        1. Deb, you are welcome. I hope you find it useful. I wish I had heard of it a long time ago. I am not doing the protocol now but I incorporate the philosophy of it into my diet as best as I can. look into FODMAPS too. I wish I could find a colitis dietician! I hope they are awesome for you. good luck. let us know what they say to do.

          My GI docs maintain that food has no impact. They just want to treat my symptoms and do colonoscopies and keep me on lifelong meds. I am searching for an alternative to a GI.

          sorry didn’t mean to hijack this thread meant to talk about smoking and UC.

  9. I quit smoking before I got married as my husband’s first wife had died of cancer and he had three children. within, a few months, I was bleeding … Within 6 months, I was bleeding out of control. I was put on then usual drugs and nothing helped. I was admitted to the hospital where I almost died ( at age 27). the battle continued for 4 years. One day while at the doctor, I told him I thought that if I smoked I might feel better. I had no knowledge of any relationship between smoking and UC. His answer was “do whatever you have to do but this cannot continue. within a month or less, the symptoms disappeared. about 10 years later I had a breast cancer scare. it was not cancer but I decided again to quit smoking. within a week or two I was bleeding again. I have had the same results three times. As long as I am smoking my UC is in remission. truly, I would like to quit smoking but cannot go through the misery of UC. The effect on my everyday life was horrific. over the years, I have had many doctors tell me to try do smoke less but not to quit. his from doctors from Ohio to Tampa to mayo clinic. it is what it is. the thing that bothers me is the viscious reaction to smokers while use of illegal drugs and excessive drinking and obesity are accepted.

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