by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond the stomach). Peptic ulcers are also called stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or peptic ulcer disease.
Researchers estimate about 1-6 percent of people in the United States have peptic ulcers.
What Causes Ulcers?
People are more likely to develop peptic ulcers if they are infected with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which may spread from person to person through contact with an infected person’s vomit, stool, or saliva.
People who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, are also more likely to develop ulcers.
NSAIDs relieve pain, but they also make the stomach lining more prone to damage and ulcers. You have a higher chance of developing a peptic ulcer due to the NSAIDs you take, and the chance goes higher if you take them over a prolonged amount of time, take high doses of them, if you take them along with other medicines that increase the risk for ulcers, and if you are already infected with H. pylori.
Those are the two most common causes of peptic ulcers. Other reasons can be if you are an older adult or someone who smokes.
Other possible reasons are infections caused by certain viruses; fungi or bacteria other than H. pylori; medicines that increase the risk of developing ulcers, including corticosteroids; medicines used to treat low bone mass; and some antidepressants, especially when you take these medicines with NSAIDs, and if you have surgical or medical procedures that affect the stomach or duodenum.
What Are the Complications of Peptic Ulcers?
Peptic ulcers can lead to complications such as bleeding in your stomach or duodenum, a perforation, or hole, in the wall of your stomach or duodenum, which can lead to peritonitis (an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity); the ulcer may also penetrate through the stomach or duodenum and into another nearby organ.
Peptic ulcers may cause symptoms of indigestion, pain or discomfort in the upper part of your abdomen (anywhere between your belly button and breastbone), feeling full too soon while eating a meal, feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and belching.
Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of a peptic ulcer. The pain may be dull or burning and may come and go over time. For some people, the pain may occur when the stomach is empty or at night, and it may go away for a short time after they eat. For other people, eating may make the pain worse. In addition, many people who have peptic ulcers do not develop any symptoms until an ulcer leads to complications.
Some known complications could be black or tarry stool, or red/maroon blood mixed with your stool; red blood in your vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; sudden, sharp, or severe abdominal pain that doesn’t go away; feeling dizzy or fainting; a rapid pulse; or other symptoms of shock.
Natural strategies for support
While stomach and duodenal ulcers can be quite a challenge to live with, the good news is that, overtime, sometimes you can help them heal naturally. The following are some nutrients and compounds to use to support the healing process. While these are not FDA approved to prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure ulcers, some people have seen results by applying these strategies.
Liquid Nutrition & Fasting
Fasting and liquid nutrition can be critical in the healing process.
Eating solid foods cause wear and tear and may hinder ulcers from healing. Liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies, broth, juices, and so forth, can provide key nutrients to support healing without the irritation.
Using liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies, protein shakes, bone broth, and juices will gently stimulate the digestive process.
Intermittent Fasting can be a great starting point for reducing stress on the gut. Intermittent fasting is going for longer periods of time without eating, which naturally confines eating to a smaller window of time. It allows your gut to heal while reducing inflammation.
When the body is under stress, digestion is not prioritized. This results in under-production of stomach acid and enzymes. Digestive juices provide a protective role in sterilizing the food we eat, which maintains the optional balance in the microbiome.
Eating while chronically stressed slows down bowel motility, causing food to remain in the small intestines and the colon longer than necessary. This promotes bacterial growth and inflammation. The overgrowth of bacteria then produces toxins that enter the bloodstream, which causes more inflammation throughout the body.
Treat H Pylori
H pylori is an opportunistic bacterium that will infect and spread rapidly in people with a compromised immune system. Although this bacterium is natural and beneficial in small amounts, it can be very dangerous when allowed to propagate without control.
The secretion of mucus protects the stomach lining from irritation by food and microorganisms. H. pylori reduces the stomach’s ability to produce mucus and irritates the stomach lining. Inflammation is created and irritation becomes so severe that pain receptors fire off. This is how stomach ulcers are formed.
Ginger is frequently used to improve the digestive process. Nine different substances have been found within ginger that stimulates serotonin receptors in the gut, which provides enhanced benefits to the gastrointestinal system.
The stimulation of these serotonin receptors enhances bowel motility and helps to reduce gut-related inflammation. Additionally, ginger has powerful anti-nausea benefits, which is very helpful for individuals with stomach ulcers, as nausea is a very common complaint.
Ginger has also been found to have a gastro-protective effect because it balances digestive juices, improves digestive function, and suppresses H. pylori.
Turmeric appears to have immense therapeutic ability, especially in preventing damage from H. pylori infections. It may also increase mucus secretion, protecting the stomach lining against irritants. As a supplement, curcumin is considered turmeric’s active compound, and it has been shown to help protect the stomach lining and aid in the healing of ulcers.
Vitamin C plays a key role in healing and protection of the gastric mucosa from injury. The lower the levels of vitamin C in the blood, the more likely you are to be infected with H. pylori.
Vitamin C deficiency has been repeatedly linked with peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. Vitamin C plays a key role in protecting and healing the stomach and intestinal mucosa.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.
The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.
*Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); Draxe.com.