Trial Tests Plant-Based Remedy For Ulcerative Colitis

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new, plant-based remedy is being studied to see if it can help an often painful and embarrassing condition.

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the colon. Dr. Tom Welton of Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Digestive Health Center says cases can range from mild to severe, where normal, calm lining of the colon becomes swollen and develops sores.

Exactly what causes it isn't known, but Welton says treating it usually involves suppressing the immune system. The problem, he says, is most current medications act on the immune system as a whole, rather than just the colon. As a result, a patient is at risk for pneumonia and infections.

That's why Welton is excited about offering a Phase III clinical trial of HMPL-004. Derived from an extract of the Chinese herb andrographis paniculata, it targets solely the immune system of the colon.

Welton say it's a natural, plant-based product which, in preliminary studies, has shown to be effective in decreasing inflammation of the colon without a lot of side effects. The most common side effect is a mild skin rash, reported in fewer than five percent of participants.

The study is for patients over age 18 with mild to moderate symptoms. They'd take nine vitamin-sized pills a day, and receive a baseline colonoscopy, plus followups through a year-long study period. The study medication would be used in conjunction with a dose of mesalamine.

Welton says, if it proves effective, it would be the rare natural-based treatment boosted by scientific backing. He says the manufacturers have chosen to put it through the rigorous trial process to gain FDA approval so that doctors will be able to say there is scientific evidence that the drug works.

People interested in enrolling in the study should contact Cotton-O'Neil Clinical Research Center at 785-270-4881.