What is a Peptic Ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is an open wound or sore that develops on the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or the upper part of the small intestine. It occurs due to stomach acid damaging the tissue that along the surface of the stomach and small intestinal resulting in open wounds. The surface of stomach and small intestine is usually protected by a mucoid layer that is made of mucin and contains bicarbonate that helps to buffer the stomach acid. However, in some cases, this mucus and bicarbonate production can be reduced such as when one uses anti-inflammatory drugs – resulting in less protection for the stomach lining which makes it easier for stomach acid to damage it.
Peptic ulcers are classified into 2 main types:
- Gastric Ulcers -> These occur in the stomach
- Duodenal Ulcers -> These occur in the upper part of the small intestine
What causes Ulcers?
- Damage to the lining stomach by stomach acid which occurs due to lowered levels of mucus and bicarbonate. This occurs due to:
- H. Pylori – a bacterial infection. It can be acquired via food, water, or kissing someone that has the infection.
- NSAIDS – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, Ketoprofen, etc)
- Not caused by Spicy Food or Stress
Symptoms of Ulcers
- Pain in the upper abdomen -> Most common symptom
- This pain can get worse when the stomach is empty such as between meals.
- The pain gets relieved when medicines such as antacids are consumed or when certain foods that protect the stomach are consumed.
- Difficulty digesting fatty foods
- Increased belching
Less Common, but Severe Symptoms:
- Signs of bleeding – vomiting blood or dark colored stools
- Difficulty breathing
- Weight Loss
- Reduced Appetite
Licorice Root (DGL)
Licorice root is a popular medicinal herb that has demonstrated powerful ulcer-healing properties in clinical research (see study). However, Licorice root has gotten a bad reputation recently due to its consumption (in high doses) being linked to high blood pressure. This is due to the presence of a compound known as “glycyrrhizin”. Luckily, there is a form of it known as Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root (DGL) which is safe to consume and still possesses potent ulcer-healing properties (see study).
In addition to healing the ulcers, Licorice is also able to eradicate the H. Pylori bacteria which causes ulcers (see study).
Vitamin U, also known as S-Methylmethionine, is a compound that is found in raw cabbage juice. It is often referred to as a treatment for healing ulcers, however, research is not yet established as to whether Vitamin U alone is what heals the ulcers, or if it is the multitude of nutrients found in Cabbage juice. It would be better to suggest that Cabbage juice is the solution rather that Vitamin U alone until further research is done. In clinical research, peptic ulcer patients receiving cabbage juice experienced rapid healing of ulcers (see studies 1, 2, 3).
Mastic Gum is a Resin with potent medicinal benefits for the gastro-intestinal tract. In clinical trials, Mastic gum has demonstrated the ability to heal stomach ulcers (see study) as well as fight off the H. Pylori bacteria that causes ulcers (see study). It is also useful for indigestion, heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease and controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Zinc Carnosine (ZnC)
Zinc is an essential mineral that is responsible for numerous vital physiological functions including wound healing, immune function, and metabolic function. L-Carnosine is an amino acid that has positive effects on memory, metabolic health, wound-healing and has potent antioxidant effects. Zinc, when bound to Carnosine, has powerful wound-healing properties in the gastric tract by stabilizing the gut mucosa via increased growth factors, reduced inflammation, enhanced cell migration and improved cellular proliferation and has demonstrated this in clinical trials (see study).
It is crucial to consume foods that support healing of ulcers such as berries for the antioxidant potential, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) for their anti-H. Pylori activity, probiotic-rich foods (miso, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi) for their positive effects on ulcers and to potentially prevent re-infection. Its good to consume aloe vera juice, soups made with broccoli, mashed potatoes, and snack on berries. A light diet with such foods for a short period of time will help support healing of ulcers.
Its best to avoid excess caffeine, spices, alcohol, citrus fruits, acidic foods (tomato, lemons, vinegar, etc), chocolate, fried foods, junk food, and soda as these may aggravate the condition.
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(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
by Dr. Nishal R.
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