Ulcerative Colitis Update

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

I’ve partnered with VSL#3 to bring you this post. As always, the opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting CNC! 

A bunch of you guys have asked how things are going on the Ulcerative Colitis front. I’ve actually debated writing this post for several weeks now because pretty much every time I write an update, things fall apart. (I even hesitate to tell friends and family when they ask!) I feel like I always jinx myself when I share good news, but *hopefully* it’s not the case this time.

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Ok, so a quick recap for those of you who are new to my journey with Ulcerative Colitis:

  • June 2011: First diagnosed with UC after a bad flare. Get better. Stop taking meds.
  • February 2012: Second flare. Get better. Stop taking meds. (Clearly, I don’t learn.)
  • July 2012: Third flare. Stay on meds this time, but I become steroid-dependent. Go on and off steroids to control flare symptoms for the next 14 months. During this time, I try all sorts of things to fix myself with no luck.
  • September 2013: Get pregnant. All UC symptoms go away for 9 glorious months.
  • May 2014: Minor flare. Try all the usual 5-ASA drugs with no luck and eventually go back on steroids.
  • June 2014: Give birth. Flare symptoms lessen.
  • July 2014: Start flaring again. Do the usual med game with no luck and eventually go back on steroids.
  • November 2014: I’m in rough shape (going the bathroom 30 times a day/feel like I’m bleeding to death). After a lot of resistance, I finally decide to go on an IV prescription drug.
  • December 2014: After the loading doses, I finally feel better. The drug never puts me in remission, but things are bearable.
  • December 2015: I start having scary side effects from the drug (swollen lymph nodes), and it’s pretty much stopped working.
  • February 2016: I start a new IV prescription drug. It initially works (loading doses), but then my symptoms come back, not as bad, but I’m still pretty sick. My doctor says it can take up to 5 months to work, so I try a different prescription drug (one I’ve tried in the past) and other topical drugs to keep things manageable.
  • July/August 2016: Boom, I’m in remission! The first time in 5+ years!

Since the summer (*knock on wood*), when the second prescription medication finally kicked in, I’ve been in remission. I’m no longer using the bathroom a dozen times a day or feel like I’m bleeding to death. Overall, I feel really good, and I want to STAY this way, which is why I am so glad that VSL#3 reached out to me about participating in their #VSL3TheJourneyBack campaign. UC is an awful digestive condition and not fun at all, so I want to do everything in my power to keep my gut happy and healthy.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about probiotics recently. They’re just about everywhere nowadays—in dietary supplements, yogurt, kombucha, and even bottled water. Probiotics are important for keeping your digestive track healthy, and, although everyone responds differently to probiotics, there are specific qualities that can affect how well they will work and not all probiotics are the same. When it comes to serious digestive issues, you need a serious probiotic.


VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food that is clinically proven in the dietary management of the serious digestive issues irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), and ileal pouch and must be used under medical supervision. To manage these conditions, doctors recommend using a probiotic like VSL#3 to get the necessary amount of live bacteria to make a difference in your gut health. Other brands that you can buy over the counter, don’t have nearly as many. VSL#3 is 10 times more potent than the average probiotic (average CFU = 15.5 billion). The average probiotic (according to IRI data 09/12) contains about 4.3 billion CFU. VSL#3 formulations contain from 225 billion to 900 billion bacteria per serving (available by prescription).

Not all probiotics and bacterial strains are the same[1] , and if you suffer from a serious digestive condition and have tried general probiotics without success, you may want to try VSL#3. VSL#3 is kept refrigerated behind the pharmacy counter, which preserves and maintains the high potency and vitality of the carefully designed formulation of billions of bacteria. It has eight different strains of bacteria, which makes it one of the most potent probiotics in the world and adding this specific combination of probiotic bacteria can help you manage your unhealthy gut.

VSL#3 has actually been the subject of 170 studies and is proven to be beneficial in the dietary management of UC, IBS, and ileal pouch. There’s scientific evidence that shows it’s a probiotic that works, so I’m hoping it helps me maintain remission for a long, long time. I’ll document my experience with VSL#3 over the next 30 days, and I’ll share the details via blog and video on CNC!

Additional information that you might find helpful:

Question of the Day

Do you take probiotics? What has your experience been with them?

P.S. Interested in trying VSL#3? Now you can take part in VSL#3’s new Patient Savings Program. Simply print out this VSL#3 Patient Savings Card and bring it to your pharmacist, along with a prescription from your healthcare provider, to save up to $80 each month on your purchase of VSL#3 DS and up to $40 a month on VSL#3 unflavored packets. This is the largest savings ever offered for both VSL#3 and VSL#3 DS. Visit here for more information and talk with your healthcare provider today to take part in the savings program!

Reference: [1] Bertazzoni, et al. Journal of Chemotherapy.25.4.193-212 (2013); Fedorak RN, J Clin Gastroenterol. 42:S3; S111-115 (2008); Lammers KM, et al. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 38:165-72 (2003)

VSL#3® is a high-potency probiotic medical food that’s clinically proven in the dietary management of IBS, ulcerative colitis, and ileal pouch. To learn more visit www.vsl3.com and LIKE the brand on Facebook.

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food for the dietary management of IBS, UC and ileal pouch and must be used under medical supervision. Please speak with your healthcare provider for any specific questions. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



  1. I’m trying to incorporate more and more probiotics as I can. I live with someone who has a lot of gut trouble so I find it’s best if we both eat them daily to keep in the habit of it. This story is inspiring, glad you’re feeling better!

  2. I saw on Instagram that you are doing the LEAP diet. Can you do a post on this? Really interested in hearing more about it and if it’s helping you!

  3. I’m not good at taking a probiotic but I do give my 29-month old one. His pediatrician told me that children that takes probiotics are less likely to get sick at daycare (all those viruses and cold germs!) than if they took a multivitamin. So he takes one almost every day (sometimes we forget) and I will say he had a pretty stellar cold season.!My husband and I got hit hard with the noro virus and he only had one small bout but nothing compared to what we dealt with so I’m a big believer in probiotics! I just need to get on board for myself!

    Congrats on your remission! More reason to believe in probiotics!

  4. I’ve been a longtime reader and it’s been incredible to watch your strength in battling this difficult health issue. I’m sure it isn’t easy for you and probably hard to share something so personal, but just know you have a supportive group of readers that is rooting for you to get better!

  5. Glad to hear you are in remission Tina! When I was pregnant my CRP levels were elevated and my doctor suggested I might have some intestinal issues. Did you ever have symptoms prior to your flare in 2011? Or, did it start suddenly?

    1. I was rarely ever sick (with anything) prior to my diagnosis. I actually used to joke that I had s “stomach of steel.” Then, one day, I had UC. I hope you figure out what’s going on! <3

  6. Hi Tina, I’m so glad to hear you are in remission! I’ve been a reader since long before the UC and followed along the whole way (I have Crohn’s, yay…) I appreciate the info about this probiotic but you don’t actually say if you think it’s helped you. I know the new meds are working well but do you think this probiotic is actually helping? I just recently bought the OTC ones and I’m not sure they really are strong enough to make a difference for IBD.

  7. As a fellow UC sufferer, I LOVE that you share these posts! I have gone in and out of remission myself since I was diagnosed 15 years ago and it sucks so bad. I had a nice “honeymoon” period while I was pregnant and while nursing and then my hormones regulated and things got crazy again. Back on prednisone and topical drugs but tapering off the prednisone before resorting to a biologic. Really trying to avoid that since we’re still planning to have another baby and you can’t take them in the 3rd trimester or while nursing. This disease is the worst!

  8. Best wishes to you, Tina! VSL#3 DS (double strength) rocks!! While I do appreciate my GI doctor and staff, I also found an MD/osteopath who coordinates with them for my Tx of UC, and she recommended VSL#3DS, at 4 packets/day for a flare (Along with buedsonide (Entocort), then tapering to one or even a half (OTC strength) a packet/day for maintenance. Other factors led to a flare after a year of maintenance, but I feel so much better about taking something that is good for me, and I’m trying to avoid suppressing my immune system with biologics or steroids. They have the coupons that help with the cost, as well, as unfortunately my insurance doesn’t recognize VSL#3 on their formulary drug list. -“Grateful”

  9. Just started following you this year. My 19 year old son diagnosed with UC. No health issues before this. Only physical symptom diarrhea like bowel movements 4 times a day. ENTIRE colon is inflamed. On Humira. Biggest question: are you and others following this post on drugs or do you go off? My son said for life. I’m hoping diet can help and possibly lessen or remove need for drugs? Only on month #1 so a ways to go get inflammation down and under control.

      1. Thank you. He’s handling it well off at college. Thankfully he has a kitchen to cook his own food. Do you / your doctor feel diet is important? Since he is an adult I’m helping from the sidelines. So hard! Need to go back and look at all your old posts about food etc.

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