How to Cure Ulcers Naturally
You've just had a typical peptic ulcer attack.
What is a peptic ulcer? It's a penny-sized, crater-like sore on the inner wall of your stomach or duodenum (the first section of your intestines), and its cause is excess stomach acid, a malfunction of the protective mucous lining or both. Many ulcers heal by themselves, but a few lead to internal bleeding and death. It's estimated that one man in 10 and one woman in 20 will experience a peptic ulcer during their lifetimes.
Misconceptions about ulcers have confused doctors and their patients for decades. Somehow, the idea has stuck that only harried executives get ulcers, or that ulcers are strictly a male disorder, or that bland foods and milk make up the best ulcer diet, or that ulcer patients should be fed six times a day. These are myths, however, and the following might debunk them, as well as offer new information on natural therapies for ulcers.
Myth 1: only executives and others with high-stress jobs get ulcers Traditionally, ulcers have been considered the 'purple hearts' of the business world, a red badge of courage that the executive earns for working hard. It's true that executives and professionals are among those who get ulcers, but there's little evidence that just because you have a high-stress job, you're going to get an ulcer. It's not the stress itself but how you react to it that counts.
For example, being a doctor might be considered a high-stress occupation, but a study of doctors in Massachusetts failed to show an unusually high rate of ulcers. Another study, by the US Federal Aviation Administration, showed that male air-traffic controllers — men who are symbols of stress — had an insignificantly higher ulcer rate: 2.4 new cases per year per 1000 workers, compared to 2.1 for the general population.
On the other hand, if you are easily burdened by stress, you may be a candidate for an ulcer. 'The ulcer patients I have seen tended to be anxious and stressed. We see it in fairly high-strung individuals,' one doctor told us. In two case histories described by another doctor, an ulcer flare-up coincided with marital stress for one patient, and with a deadline for a grant application for another. Dr. Sandor Szabo of the Harvard Medical School says that, typically, 'potential ulcer patients are exposed to long-standing anxiety and/or emotional tension. '
Myth 2: only men get ulcers This was almost fact 30 years ago when the ratio of male to female ulcer sufferers was 20 to 1. But today the ratio is only 2 to 1. 'This is one instance in which equal rights for women is becoming a reality,' one doctor quips. A falling ulcer rate among men accounts for part of the change, but not all of it. Also, it was once thought that female hormones offered protection from ulcers, but the rising rate of ulcers among women has disproved that.
Increased cigarette smoking among women in recent years may be the cause. Smoking promotes ulcers of the duodenum — the section of the small intestine just below the stomach and the site of most ulcers — and delays their healing. Apparently, smoking inhibits the release of bicarbonate, a natural antacid, from the pancreas to the duodenum. Smoking may also cause the liquid parts of a meal to move out of the stomach and into the duodenum sooner than the solid parts of the same meal. Without the solid food to 'buffer' the liquid food — that is, to neutralize its acidity — it is more likely to burn the duodenum and cause an ulcer.
Children and adolescents may be just as susceptible to ulcers as adults if they are under enough stress. 'The real or threatened loss of a loved one' can contribute to such ulcers, according to researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Among 24 teenage and pre-teen ulcer patients, they found that 10 of them, or 42 percent, had lost a close family member or personal friend through death, illness or separation within the year before their ulcer diagnosis (Psychosomatic Medicine, August 1981).
Myth 3: milk and a bland diet are good for an ulcer This practice has been attributed to one Bertram Sippy, who in 1911 pioneered the feeding of milk and antacids to ulcer patients every hour. Even today, some medical textbooks recommend that regimen, but many doctors now agree that bland diets have only 'demoralized patients and deprived them of one of the earthy pleasures of life — good food' (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 1979).
Milk, surprisingly, may not be good at all for ulcers. It neutralizes stomach acid at first, but then it backfires. Its calcium content promotes the secretion of gastrin — a hormone that triggers the release of more acid (Family Practice News).
Bland diets may be no more effective than milk. One American doctor surveyed 326 hospitals in all 50 states and found that 77 percent of them still place their ulcer patients on bland diets — diets without hot spices, fried foods or processed meats, for example — even though, he argued
at least five studies since 1942 have demonstrated that slightly modified or regular diets produce healing or relief of symptoms at a similar rate in patients with duodenal or gastric ulcers as strict or bland 'peptic ulcer diets 'An individualized diet with few restrictions seems to be the most rational approach. (Gastroenterology)Foods that increase acidity in the stomach or duodenum should be avoided, though. These include coffee, refined sugar, and refined flour. Coffee has long been known to be a direct stimulator of stomach-acid secretion, but sugar and white flour may work indirectly.
In the case of white sugar, a British doctor found out by accident that it promotes ulcers. When he put his obese patients on a low-carbohydrate (low in refined sugar and starch) weight-loss diet, their digestive problems cleared up.
To test this discovery, he gathered together 41 people with chronic stomach problems, with or without ulcers. For three months they ate a low-carbohydrate diet, and for three months a high-carbohydrate diet. At the end of the experiment, 28 of the 41 patients said their stomachs felt better with the low-carbohydrate diet. Eleven felt no change and only two said they felt better on the high-carbohydrate diet. After further experiments, the doctor showed that sugar, not starch, was the chief culprit and that a high-sugar diet maintained for only two weeks could drive the stomach-acid levels bf healthy volunteers up to 20 per cent (British Medical Journal, 16 February 1980).
White bread seems to harm the duodenum the way cigarettes do. Researchers at the University of Manchester found that when volunteers ate a meal of water and lightly buttered bread made with white flour and white sugar, the liquid portion of the meal moved from the stomach to the duodenum faster than it did when they ate a meal of water and lightly buttered bread made with whole-grain flour and dark-brown sugar. As with cigarettes, the liquid part of the white-bread meal was less buffered and more acidic. Said the researchers, 'the substitution of whole-meal bread for white bread might be of benefit to patients with duodenal ulcers and non-ulcer dyspepsia' (Gut).
Whole-meal bread is rich in fiber — and that may explain some of its benefits. Norwegian scientists have found that fiber can prevent or delay recurring stomach ulcer attacks. In one experiment, 73 people who had had ulcers but were now healed were asked to change their diet for six months. Of the 73, 38 were told to eat lots of whole-grain bread, porridge made from wheat, barley, rye or oats, and lots of vegetables. The remaining 35 were told to avoid these foods.
After six months on the experimental diet, 28 (or 80 per cent) of the low fiber group had suffered a relapse, compared to only 17 (or 45 per cent) of the high-fibre group. Significantly, of the 15 people who ate the least amount of fiber in the study, 14 developed new ulcers (Lancet, 2 October 1982).
Myth 4: antacids help stomach ulcers In a study of patients with a gastric (stomach) ulcer — 15 of whom took an antacid and 13 a placebo — doctors found that 'the rate of healing of the ulcer and the relief of pain is not influenced by treatment with a standard antacid preparation.' In short, the study showed that antacids don't work. But doctors think they do. 'All [physicians] prescribe antacids' for stomach ulcers, wrote the doctors who conducted the study (Digestive Diseases). Every last one of them is probably wrong — and they make the same mistake when they prescribe antacids for a duodenal ulcer (an ulcer in the first part of the intestines).
'Antacids are generally accepted as effective in the relief of pain arising from a duodenal ulcer, ' wrote a team of doctors who conducted a study to see if there was anything to this belief. There wasn't. Of the 30 patients with duodenal ulcer who took either an antacid or a placebo to relieve pain, four had more relief from the antacid and three from the placebo, while 23 thought neither was better (Gastroenterology). Once again, antacids didn't work.
Myth 5: an ulcer patient should eat six times a day This doctrine, which is still followed in many hospitals, might be the worst thing for the stomach because the stomach releases digestive acids whenever it is fed. 'Frequent feedings repeatedly stimulate gastric acid secretion, and there are no data to support the assumption that they are more beneficial in healing ulcers than three meals a day,' said the same researcher who investigated bland diets.
'There's definitely a vicious cycle,' adds Dr. Vincent Speeg, Jr of the National Veterans Administration Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. 'It's true that food buffers stomach acid somewhat, but it also causes the stomach to secrete acid. Eating only three meals a day with no snacks in between is the best way to go. '
Finally, it's not only a matter of what you eat but how you eat it when battling peptic ulcers, says Dr. Jon I. Isenberg of Wadsworth Veterans Administration Hospital Center in Los Angeles. Animal research findings indicate that food which is not chewed thoroughly does not have the chance to mix properly with a substance called urogastrone from the salivary glands. This protects the intestinal lining from erosion in experimental animals, so chewing food thoroughly may be the best safeguard against peptic ulcer.
Effective treatmentsSo much for the myths. Now let's look at some neglected facts, like the use of nutrients to treat ulcers. It's seldom talked about, but when it is, zinc comes up. 'Zinc,' says longtime ulcer researcher Carl J. Pfeiffer, 'has very consistently been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing the severity of experimentally induced gastric ulcers in animals. '
In an experiment at Memorial University in St John's, Newfoundland, Dr. Pfeiffer and colleagues found that zinc supplements protected the stomach cells of rats who had been given reserpine, a tranquilizer that can induce ulcers in humans and rats. The reserpine apparently broke open the lysosomes — tiny sacks of enzymes in the cells of the stomach lining — thereby releasing the enzymes that, in turn, damaged the cells.
The zinc supplements, however, seemed to strengthen the lysosomes and kept them intact. Importantly, the zinc was effective in doses that didn't harm the rats, and Dr. Pfeiffer called these 'promising findings' (European Journal of Pharmacology, 22 February 1980).
Zinc supplements may also block a chemical chain reaction that can lead to an ulcer. Chi H. Cho, a colleague of Dr. Pfeiffer's, found that when he gave rats the drug methacholine, their stomach cells released histamine. The histamine triggered acid secretion, which caused ulcers. Zinc, however, stopped the domino effect by preventing the release of histamine (Pharmacology). For the best absorption, take zinc supplements with meals.
Vitamin A may also fight ulcers. One survey in Israel showed that the rate of deaths caused by peptic ulcers in that country rose 81 percent between 1949 and 1977. The researchers making the survey blamed the increase on the consumption of dietary fats, which rose 52 percent over those years. However, the death rate would have been even higher, they believed, had the average Israeli's daily consumption of vitamin A not gone up 34 percent in that period, from 3195 to 4291 IU.
This increase in vitamin A consumption probably dampened some of the effects of the simultaneous increase in fat consumption. Peptic ulcer mortality was correlated directly and significantly with total fat and inversely with total protein and with vitamin A. Reduced total fat intake and increased vitamin A consumption via fruits and vegetables may prove beneficial in reducing mortality rates of the Israeli population due to heart disease, diabetes, and peptic ulcer. [American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 1981]Juice from the humble cabbage may also be an anti-ulcer weapon. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a San Francisco doctor, Garnet Cheney, treated ulcer patients with raw cabbage juice. He felt that ulcers were caused by 'disordered nutrition' and that an unknown factor, which he called 'vitamin U' (for ulcer), in the cabbage juice corrected the problem. Comparing his one-litre-a-day cabbage-juice therapy to the standard ulcer therapy of bland diet and antacids, Dr. Cheney found that his patients healed in an average of 13.4 days of treatment, compared to 50 days for those on the standard therapy. Vitamin U said, Dr. Cheney,
increases the resistance of the mucosal lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine to the erosive and ulcerating action of gastric juice, which is high in acid content and rich in pepsin [an enzyme necessary for digestion]. [American Journal of Gastroenterology]The most frustrating aspect of coping with a peptic ulcer is probably its tendency to recur or relapse. Not even the newest ulcer drugs can prevent a recurrence once a patient stops taking the drug.
The best mode of treatment and prevention may be to eliminate as much stress, white sugar, white flour, fats, coffee and aspirin from your life as possible, and to supply yourself with natural ulcer fighters: vitamin A, zinc, fresh vegetables and whole-grain bread.
How to Cure Ulcer Problem Naturally Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 8/30/2016 Rating: