I was diagnosed with UC in 2011, but had clear symptoms since 2010 while pregnant. I’ve basically been flaring since, with one good period of about 8 months, thankfully during my the end of my pregnancy and my daughter’s newborn phase. Then things got pretty bad. Over the last year I’ve used SCD and supplements to get things under control. Not in complete remission yet, but getting closer every day!
Some more about me:
Sorry not a lot of time to write my history out right now, but I just want to say how thankful I am for this site and its bevy of positive peeps. Those of you who keep touting your tales of remission and holding the hands of those still in the dark days are simply lifesavers. This site (via Adam and his awesomely positive take on life) has gathered such a unique group of supportive people. Thank you.
Some urgency, mild cramping with BMs, occasional blood, but mostly formed stool and good days. I’d say I’m 85% if remission is 100%. I was in a pretty awful flare last year.
Valerian Root for Ulcerative Colitis Night-time Relief
I just wanted to write quickly to share information about Valerian Root, which is a supplement I recently started taking and have seen some immediate and very positive results with. It’s been mentioned on this board in the comment threads but I am not sure if anyone has written a post on it.
I’ve been on the SCD for over a year and complement that with a number of supplements (see below) and this has gotten me very far in my healing. One of the remaining symptoms that has been plaguing me though is night-time wake-ups. Basically, I wake up with gas pain or cramps. For the past three years I pretty much have only been able to sleep on my back because if I shift to my side I immediately get a gas pain or cramp that sends me to the bathroom.
But even while sleeping on my back, I still wake up with cramps. I’m doing really well now symptom-wise (although still in a flare as I do have active symptoms–albeit very mild in comparison to what it was last year) so I sometimes can just get myself back to sleep but often out of habit I get up to go to the bathroom. This may happen two or three times a night and it really interrupts my sleep. Not to mention my bathroom is up a flight of stairs from my bedroom, which is not a fun dash to make. (Imagine for a second how fun it was when I was flaring badly!)
I’m not sure if these night-time wake-ups are a hangover from when my flare was really bad and serious cramps were waking me up multiple times during the night–seeing me rush to the toilet to avoid an accident–or if it’s a hangover from when my daughter was a newborn and still needed nightly feeds and I was waking up at every rustle and gurgle from her. (I have been flaring for almost three years, including her newborn days) Or if it’s legitimate digestion problems that come up at night while I’m sleeping. All I know is that it interrupts my sleep and messes with my healing. And I’m sick of it.
Anyway, I decided to give Valerian Root a try as it’s a natural sleep aid and it’s supposed to also help with GI distress. I started taking 500mg about one hour before bed and began to see the positive effects immediately. First of all, my night-time cramps have pretty much disappeared. Second, I am sleeping so much better. I still wake up (it does NOT knock you out or make you sleepy the next day; it simply relaxes you) but am able to get back to sleep fairly quickly. This combination has been a really positive addition in my healing journey.
I imagine that night-time cramps and therefore restless sleep probably plagues a lot of us with UC. Valerian Root is marketed as a sleep aid and a natural herb for dealing with anxiety. I have never taken any kind of stress-reliever or anxiety medication before, so I was a little hesitant to try this as a result. But whether I like to admit it or not (I am not a natural-born Type D personality–ie I’m not prone to being neurotic–re the interesting study in Iran that Adam posted about the other day), UC has added a level of anxiety to my life that I have previously never experienced. And the fact that Valerian Root addresses both stress and GI distress (likely pointing to a link) has worked out as a win-win for me. Also, I really think we cannot overstate the importance of getting a good night’s sleep for our healing.
So I’m not sure how exactly it’s helping me: if I’m sleeping better because the cramps are minimized due to the Valerian Root, or if the Valerian Root is helping me to sleep better so the cramps no longer wake me. But whatever the cause, I am feeling better and that’s what I was hoping for.
Anyway, I thought I’d spread the word since I haven’t seen another post on Valerian Root before. This site has aided my healing so much. I’m very thankful for everyone who shares anything that gives us UCers hope in getting back our lives.
Medications & Supplements:
Pentasa (I still take this as I experience no adverse side effects but I also don’t think it’s doing anything to help me. I plan to taper off at some point after I’m in full remission.)
What’s really working for me:
Probiotics: VSL#3, 1-3 packs a day, depending on how I’m feeling, and also 24-hour yogurt in the morning
L-Glutamine (thanks Bev!), one scoop once or twice a day, depending on how I’m feeling
For inflammation: fish oil, astaxanthin, (and on occasion if symptoms are worsening I’ll take Zyflamend)
Other: multi-vitamin, B-complex, Vitamin D, Valerian Root (500mg)
Diet: SCD, one year and counting
–Making sure I fully “do my business” before I leave the house in the morning! This lesson has been learned the hard way…
–Using this site and the awesome amount of information and anecdotal evidence on it from UCers in the trenches. Search it. Write comments. Get information. Share information. Connect. And get better!
written by Col
submitted in the colitis venting area