ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Can you get a stomach ulcer from stress?

Updated on July 5, 2014
Can stress give you an ulcer?
Can stress give you an ulcer?

Is there a correlation between the gut and the brain?

If stress has become your daily companion, you may be wondering if stress could cause you a stomach ulcer. We hear it quite often in our daily conversations "he makes me so mad, I am getting an ulcer", "I have butterflies in my stomach" or "that bad situation just turned my stomach." The stomach has been associated with emotions for a very long time, and it comes natural to ponder about their effect on our stomachs. While we often figuratively link our gut with our emotions, we may debate if in the real world, you could essentially really wreck havoc on your gut from stress. The best way to determine this is by looking at what happens exactly to our bodies when we are stressed.

When we are stressed, a variety of physiological changes take place in our bodies. These changes are meant to help us better face our challenges, but in today's society, many of our challenges are mostly imagined. In the old days, we might have had to escape some wild animal that wished to devour us or we have had to combat against a person belonging to an enemy tribe; whereas nowadays, we may just be scared about flying, going to an interview or going to the dentist, as we imagine worst case scenarios that are most likely never to happen.

As we get stressed, our heart rates go up and the blood pressure may rise. To help us escape, our blood flow is taken away from our midsection, and is delivered to our arms and legs so we are able to flee. Blood will also flow more to our head to sharpen our sense and for quick thinking, putting us in an hyper-vigilant state, so necessary for survival. We are blessed with this heightened state of vigilance so we can react quickly to situations that can pose harm to us, but problems start when we are stuck in this state for too long, in a chronic state of stress.

Because as mentioned, blood flow is reduced from our midsection, a cascading chain of events takes place leading to digestive issues. According to Dr Mercola, stress causes the following issues in the digestive tract: decreased absorption of nutrients, less oxygen in the gut, up to four times less blood flow to digestive system and considerable decreased enzymatic output.

So if you think that your brain feels somewhat related to your gut, you are very close to the truth. Interestingly, the brain and the gut share the same type of tissue. Dr. Mercola explains how during fetal development, one blob of tissue turns into the central nervous system while the other develops into the enteric nervous system. Not only are both systems made of the same tissue, but they are also connected by the vagus nerve which explains why the moment you get nervous, you get that tense feeling in your stomach and even get the runs.The saying "a healthy mind in a healthy body" is therefore as close to the truth as it can get.

Wonderful reviews on this product!

Jarrow Formulas Mastic Gum, Supports the Stomach and Duodenal Health, 60 Tablets
Jarrow Formulas Mastic Gum, Supports the Stomach and Duodenal Health, 60 Tablets

In addition to its antioxidant properties, scientists also believe mastic gum is beneficial to gastric tissue and balances gastric secretions.* These special qualities could explain mastic gum’s renowned effect on the health of the stomach and duodenum.*


So can stress really cause an ulcer?

Harvard researchers fully believe that the gut and the brain are closely connected indeed they claim that "the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system." This is quite an interesting remark, that further proves a potential correlation between digestive problems and stress. Further on, there's more proof on "gut feelings". It was found that the stomach and the intestines are equipped with more nerve cells than the spinal cord, causing experts to give the digestive system the name of "mini brain." Additionally, it was found that surprisingly 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the digestive system and not the brain, explains Chris Woolston, M.S.

So let's take a closer look into the dynamics and the cascading chain of events that may lead to problems. We have seen how stress causes less oxygen and less blood flow to the upper gut and small intestine. As a result, the appetite is suppressed and food takes longer to be digested, causing it to remain in the stomach longer. As the undigested food piles up against the top portion of the stomach, it causes the esophageal sphincter to open, ultimately causing acid reflux and excessive churning of the stomach. At the same time, the lower intestines undergo rapid transit times. So with stress one thing is for sure, it could lead to stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea, and chronic stress may aggravate conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn.

And what about ulcers? We often hear people says " the stress is making me get an ulcer!" but can this really happen? This seems to be a bit a subject of controversy. Dr. Oz claims that a while back it was believed that ulcers stemmed from stress, but now it seems like the majority of ulcers are actually caused by the presence of the bacteria helicobacter pylori which causes a bacterial infection. However, it has been theorized that stress ultimately may allow the infection to put roots by interfering with the balance of hydrochloric acid and the stomach's protective secretions. Robert Sapolsky, neuroendocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery believes that stress plays a role in about 30 to 65 percent of all ulcers, yet, several medical experts still think that this is still just an hypothesis.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition

Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky's acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.


Does Stress Really Cause Ulcers?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)