Peptic ulcers most frequently affect the stomach and the duodenum, which is
the upper part of the small intestine. Both the stomach and the duodenum
process high quantities of gastric juices. These juices have to be strong
in order to break food down into digestible particles; in fact, they're
composed largely of hydrochloric acid, a substance that can dissolve not
just last night's dinner but body tissues as well. To protect the stomach
and duodenum walls against damage from gastric acid, both organs are coated
with a protective mucus layer. In addition, bicarbonate ions are secreted
by the lining of the stomach and the duodenum. Under normal conditions,
this mucus layer and the alkalinizing bicarbonate ions prevent the acid
from eating away at the digestive tract lining. But when the lining is too
weak and there is decreased bicarbonate secretion, some of the stomach
tissues may be eroded. An eroded spot is called a peptic ulcer.
Most people know that stress increases the output of gastric acid. If you
have an ulcer, reducing the levels of tension and anxiety in your life will
go a long way toward healing the physical wound. But many other factors can
cause or contribute to ulcers as well. Some drugs are notorious for
increasing acid production-most notably, aspirin and the class of
medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, for
short). People who take aspirin or NSAIDs like ibuprofen on a regular basis
are at a high risk for getting stomach ulcers. Smokers develop ulcers much
more often than nonsmokers do. And as with every digestive disorder, a poor
diet, especially one that includes spicy foods, citrus fruits, soda pop,
caffeine, and alcohol, is frequently at the root of the problem. Food
allergies or sensitivities can cause problems as well. One must also
consider that low antioxidant status appears to predispose one to ulcers.
The bacteria Helicobacter pylori has been strongly linked to ulcer
formation. Studies show that some people with ulcers have this bacterium in
the affected organ, and elimination of H. pylori often helps with healing.
Antibiotic therapy, as well as natural therapies, can be very effective for
this infection. Make sure to supplement with probiotics to replace the
helpful bacteria that antibiotics destroy. These good bacteria also play a
role in preventing H. pylori infection.
Conventional therapy generally focuses on antacid medications. This group
of medications suppresses stomach acid formation. For severe acute ulcer
problems, such as a bleeding ulcer, these medications can be very effective
and warranted. However, for many people these medications are prescribed on
a long-term basis that does not treat the cause of the ulcer. In addition,
long-term use can contribute to digestive problems in other areas of the
digestive tract, as hydrochloric acid is required for protein digestion and
the liquefaction of foods. Without proper stomach acid digestion, there is
additional stress on the rest of the digestive organs. Also keep in mind
that stomach acid is a natural barrier to bacteria such as H. pylori, as
well as to other microbes. Suppression of this acid in the long term
theoretically makes you more prone to an infection in the digestive tract.
Finally, you require stomach acid to absorb minerals, so with long-term
acid suppression you are prone to mineral deficiency.
Ulcers are a common complaint, but that doesn't mean they should be
ignored. Without treatment, the pain and the burning will only get worse.
In fact, the eroded area may grow larger and deeper until it begins to
bleed. The ulcer may even perforate the stomach or intestinal wall.
Bleeding or perforating ulcers should be treated as medical emergencies; if
left unattended, they can be fatal.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of
effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when
taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to help Ulcers:
Prescription for Natural Cures
James F. Balch
Super Prescription # 1 Mastic gum (Pistachia
lentiscus) See Ulcer Relief above
Take 500 mg three times daily. This supplement comes
from the mastic tree and has been shown in test tube
studies to destroy H. pylori and in human studies to be
effective in healing ulcers.
Super Prescription #2
- LifeSource Product
Drink 1 ounce three times daily. Aloe promotes healing
of the lining of the intestinal tract and has
uper Prescription #3 Licorice root (DGL)
Chew 500 to 1,000 mg twenty minutes before meals or
between meals, three times daily. DGL
(deglycyrrhizinated licorice) stimulates the
regeneration of the mucus layer and has
anti-inflammatory effects. Preliminary research shows
an inhibiting effect on the growth of H. pylori.
Super Prescription #4
Probiotics / Dophilus
- LifeSource Product
Take a product containing at least 4 billion active
organisms twice daily, thirty minutes after meals. It
supplies friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus
acidophilus and bifidus that prevent infection and aid
digestion. It is particularly important to take if you
are using antibiotics.
Super Prescription # 5 Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva)
Take 3 ml or 500mg of the capsule form or suck on a
lozenge three times daily between meals. Slippery elm
has a soothing and healing effect on the lining of the
Super Prescription #6 Chamomile Tea
Drink a fresh cup of tea four times daily. Animal
studies show that it has anti-ulcer activity, and it
also relaxes the nervous system.
· Burning or gnawing pain in the upper abdomen that usually occurs when the
stomach is empty or about an hour after eating. Pain may also come at
· Increased appetite (sometimes food actually soothes the ulcer)
· Medications, including aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
· Dietary factors, including food allergies
· Infection with H. pylori (you are more susceptible if you have low
stomach acid and not enough friendly flora)
Caution: If your stools or vomit are dark or bloody, or if you have
intense abdominal pain that doesn't go away, you may have a bleeding or
perforating ulcer. Consult a doctor immediately.
Although you may not feel like eating, good nutrition is essential for
healing ulcers. Eat several small meals a day to avoid placing a heavy
burden on your digestive system. Eat plenty of fiber. Although the smooth
foods of the famous "bland diet" were once thought safest for ulcer
patients, increased fiber intake has been shown to repair ulcers. Focus on
sources of soluble fiber, such as oats. Vitamin K has been shown to repair
damage from gastric juices. Eat several servings of green leafy vegetables
a day, and drink lots of green juices.
Studies have shown that cabbage juice has remarkable healing powers for
ulcers. Drink a quart of cabbage juice daily. It may be diluted with water
or carrot juice. Cultured products will provide the friendly "bacteria"
that fights H. pylori. Drink kefir milk or eat some live cultured yogurt
every day. Zinc is healing to the digestive tract. Good sources include
pumpkin seeds and whole grains. Consume garlic with your meals.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid sugar, spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, coffee, black tea, and
alcohol. They all contribute to high levels of gastric acid or are
irritating to the stomach lining. Consult the Food Allergies section, and
use the elimination diet to determine whether a food allergy is causing or
aggravating your ulcer. Although a reaction to any food can conceivably
cause an ulcer, milk allergies are strongly linked to gastric problems.
Doctors once prescribed milk as a remedy for ulcers, but that practice has
largely stopped. We now know that milk actually encourages stomach acid to
form. In addition, many cases of ulcers are linked to a milk allergy.
Do a three-day juice fast to alkalize your digestive tract. Stay away from
acidic fruit juices during this time, and focus on green drinks and
vegetable juices instead. To keep your colon clean, take an enema on the
first and last day of your fast and then once a month afterward.
· Zinc promotes tissue healing. Take 30 mg daily, along with 2 mg of
· Vitamin A stimulates the healthy growth of intestinal cells and improves
immune function. Take 25,000 IU daily, with a doctor's supervision. Note:
Pregnant women or women planning for pregnancy should avoid doses above
· Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the stomach lining and has been shown
to retard H. pylori growth. Take 500 to 1,000 mg three times daily. Make
sure to use a nonacidic vitamin C. Reduce your dosage is loose stools
· Essential fatty acids have been shown to help heal gastric and duodenal
ulcers. Take 4,000 mg daily of fish oil or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil
daily. Also, take 400 IU of vitamin E to prevent oxidation of these
essential fatty acids.
· L-glutamine promotes healthy intestinal cells. Take 1,000 mg three times
daily on an empty stomach.
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