* The intestinal tract is usually covered with a viscous mucous that protects the organ from damage by the gastric juices it produces. When the integrity of the protective coating is compromised the gastric juices begin to digest the exposed tissue causing a peptic ulcer. * If the peptic ulcer occurs in the duodenum it is called a duodenal ulcer. If it occurs in the stomach it is known as a gastric ulcer. * Almost ten percent of the American population suffer from ulcers. Men are more likely to suffer from ulcers than women are and duodenal ulcers are more common that gastric ulcers. * If ulcers are left untreated they may lead to more serious disorders such as hemorrhaging, perforation or stomach cancer.
Causes of Ulcers
* Some causes of ulcers include excessive or prolonged use of certain drugs, bacterial infection, food allergies, diet and stress. Factors such as smoking and alcohol use are known aggravate ulcers.
* Symptoms of ulcers may include vomiting, a burning feeling in the stomach after eating or during the night, bloating, belching, pain and in some cases bloody stool.
* Quit Smoking – smoking is known to exacerbate and extend the healing time of ulcers. See smoking for information on quitting. * Stress Management – stress is a major risk factor for ulcers, daily stress management routines including techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises and meditation will help to cope with stress and reduce the risk of ulcers. * Have food allergies diagnosed and treated appropriately. * Avoid drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin, as they are known to increase the risk of, or exacerbate ulcers. * Dietary Changes – can have a significant effect upon the severity and recurrence of ulcers, some dietary changes that may help include: – Eliminate animal flesh products. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, salt, soft drinks, spicy foods, fatty foods, cow’s milk and smoking as they can aggravate ulcers. – Eat smaller meals more regularly so as not to overload the stomach. – Raw cabbage juice taken immediately after juicing is a traditional remedy for ulcers as it accelerates the healing process. – Include plenty of fiber in your diet as it helps to produce more mucous to line the digestive tract. – Eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables as they contain fiber and vitamin K, which helps with the healing process. – Do not eat anything that is very hot or very cold.
Treatments for ulcers:
* Depending upon the severity, ulcers may be successfully treated using natural therapies including dietary changes, stress management, acupuncture and herbal medicine, however ulcers should be monitored by your physician due to the possibility of complications. * Many people opt for the conventional drug therapy, however is thought that these drugs simply mask the symptoms and do not heal the damaged tissue.
VITAMIN A – an antioxidant that helps ulcers to heal, is used in the growth of new tissue and protects against cancer. Vitamin A can be found in leafy green vegetables, alfalfa, fennel seed, parsley, rose hip, kelp, lemongrass, yellow fruits and vegetables, cheese and butter. 5,000 iu daily in divided doses may help. Large dosing is not recommended without strict supervision from a physician as it has potential toxic side effects. Doses over 10,000 iu per day may cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Women of childbearing age are advised not to become pregnant during such a course or within one month after ceasing a course. Other toxic symptoms include headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, brittle nails, abdominal upset and emotional instability.
VITAMIN C – an antioxidant that helps to protect against infections, is an anti-stress vitamin and is used in the repair of tissue. Natural sources of vitamin C include mangos, fennel seed, rose hip, radishes, pineapple, berries, persimmons, silverbeet, paprika, seaweed – dulse and kelp, peppermint, parsley, papayas, kale, cantaloupe, avocados, asparagus, turnip greens and tomatoes. 1,500 – 3,000 mg daily in divided doses may help. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.
VITAMIN E – an antioxidant that helps to reduce the amount of stomach acid, is used in the repair of tissue. Sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, alfalfa, dandelion, flaxseed, nettle, soy products, sunflower seeds, whole grains, asparagus, peas, vegetable oils, peanuts, almonds, butter and walnuts. 300 – 800 iu daily in divided doses may help. Take according to label instructions if you suffer from diabetes, overactive thyroid, or are taking anticoagulant medication.
ZINC – – an antioxidant that helps to heal damaged tissue. Zinc can be found in milk, alfalfa, chamomile, dandelion sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, parsley, brewer’s yeast, legumes, rose hip, soybeans, wheat, and other whole grain products. 20 – 50 mg daily in divided doses may help. Excess zinc intake may cause copper deficiency. For prolonged periods of zinc intake, copper is recommended ie: 30 mg zinc with 2 mg of copper. Do not take more than 100 mg daily as it may depress the immune system.
ALOE VERA, ALOE, ALOE BARBADENSIS – helps to heal damaged tissue, has a soothing effect reducing pain and can help to stop bleeding of ulcers. Use food grade aloe vera according to label instructions.
CHAMOMILE MATRICARIA, GERMAN CHAMOMILE, ROMAN CHAMOMILE. – helps to soothe inflammation and improves digestion. Also used for stress and anxiety. Use according to label instructions. Do not use for prolonged periods or if allergic to ragweed.
LEMON BALM, MELISSA OFFICINALIS, MELISSA. – has a relaxing effect, helping to reduce stress levels. Use according to label instructions.
LICORICE ROOT, GAN CAO – deglyrrhizinated (DGL). Licorice is a traditional remedy for ulcers as it can inhibit the proliferation of bacterial infection associated with ulcers and stimulates the healing of ulcers. 750 – 1,500 mg daily of chewable DGL tablets between meals for at least eight weeks.
SLIPPERY ELM, MOOSE ELM, RED ELM – has a soothing effect on mucous producing tissue in the stomach. Use according to label instructions.