- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Peptic Ulcers - Don't Suffer from Them and Spoil Your Life; Look for and Try Natural Cures That Work.
The popular belief is that peptic ulcers are as a result of overwork or stress whereas this is not the primary cause. The high flying business person is no more prone to ulcers than those of us who have less demanding occupations. Neither are they due to hot spicy foods.
The stomach is an uncompromising environment with the Gastric acid, gastric juice or stomach acid, (which is the digestive fluid), formed in the stomach and is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCl) .05–0.1 M (roughly 5,000–10,000 parts per million or 0.5-1%) potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride(NaCl). The acid plays a key role in digestion of foods/proteins, by activating digestive enzymes, and making ingested proteins unravel so that digestive enzymes break down the long chains of amino acids. Gastric acid is produced by cells in the lining of the stomach, which are automatically activated by a natural feedback system to increase acid production when needed. Other cells in the stomach produce bicarbonate, a base, to buffer the fluid, ensuring that it does not become too acidic. These cells also produce mucus, which forms a viscous physical barrier to prevent gastric acid from damaging the lining of the stomach. Cells at the beginning of the small intestine, or duodenum, further produce large amounts of bicarbonate to completely neutralize any gastric acid that passes further down into the digestive tract.
The highly acidic environment in the stomach lumen causes proteins from food to lose their characteristic folded structure (or denature). This exposes the protein's peptide bonds. The gastric chief cells of the stomach secrete enzymes for protein breakdown (inactive pepsinogen, and in infancy rennin). Hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen into the enzyme pepsin, which then helps digestion by breaking the bonds linking amino acids, a process known as proteolysis. In addition, many microorganisms have their growth inhibited by such an acidic environment, which is helpful to prevent infection or food poisoning.
A typical adult human stomach will produce about 1½ litres of gastric acid daily. The production of gastric acid happens in several steps. Chloride and hydrogen ions are secreted separately from the cytoplasm of parietal cells and mixed in the canaliculi. Gastric acid is then secreted into the lumen of the gastric gland and gradually reaches the main stomach lumen. The exact manner in which the secreted acid reaches the stomach lumen is controversial, as acid must first cross the relatively pH neutral gastric mucus layer.
The role of gastric acid in digestion was established in the 1820s and 1830s by William Beaumont on Alexis St. Martin, who, as a result of an accident, had a fistula (hole) in his stomach, which allowed Beaumont to observe the process of digestion and to extract gastric acid, verifying that acid played a crucial role in digestion.
The cephalic phase: Thirty percent of the total gastric acid secretions to be produced is mentally stimulated by anticipation of eating and the smell or memory of the taste of food. This signalling occurs from higher centres in the brain through the vagus nerve. It activates parietal cells to release acid and ECL cells to release histamine. The vagus nerve also releases gastrin releasing peptide onto G cells. Finally, it also inhibits somatostatin release from D cells.
The gastric phase: About fifty percent of the total acid for a meal is secreted in this phase. Acid secretion is stimulated by distension of the stomach and by amino acids present in the food.
The intestinal phase: The remaining 10% of acid is secreted when chyme enters the small intestine, and is stimulated by small intestine distension and by amino acids. The duodenal cells release entero-oxyntin which acts on parietal cells without affecting gastrin.
There is, however, one common factor present in around 90% of peptic ulcer cases and that is a spiral shaped bacteria (helicobacter pylori).The danger with H.pylori is that it is resistant to the antibacterial nature of the stomach acids and produces a compound called urase which neutralises them. This leaves it free to attack the protective mucous membranes of the stomach and duodenum. The infection causes severe indigestion and inflammation and the patient takes ever increasing doses of antacids to try and relieve the pain and discomfort. This discomfort manifests itself as stomach pains, lower back pain, and discomfort when passing stools, headaches, choking sensation and itching. Bleeding only occurs when the ulcer has broken into a blood vessel and under these circumstances prompt medical assistance is required.
Generally speaking the occurrence of peptic ulcers seem to be increasing which may be due to over half the population over the age of 50 carrying the H.pylori bacteria but, it must be said, not all go on to develop ulcers.
Let’s firstly look at diet.
There is no doubt that eating certain foods can relieve the symptoms temporarily but there is a lot of misinformation around. Far from being the cause of an ulcer spicy foods have little or no effect and indeed cayenne pepper has been found to strengthen the stomach lining. Those certainly to avoid are those that promote acid secretion. On the list of foods to avoid would be fatty foods, fruit juices, soft carbonated drinks, coffee (incl. decaf.), chocolate, alcohol, eggs, fish, bread, starch and sugar. Contrary to popular belief milk will not coat the stomach lining and offer protection – the fat content will just increase the acid secretion.
The foods that will create an alkaline environment are; potatoes, avocados, butternut squash, cottage cheese and dark grapes. Red and white beans and unpolished rice will absorb acid. Bananas, figs, kale and green tea will strengthen the stomach lining and liquid algae will help heal inflammation.
Liquid foods can help enormously and one of the best is freshly juiced raw cabbage which works for both stomach and duodenal ulcers. The taste and colour may not be to your liking so you can improve things by adding a small amount of carrot juice. Drink half a cup two or three times a day between meals. Cabbage contains a little known nutrient Vitamin U and Quercetin (also found in red onions). Quercetin is a bioflavanoid acting as an anti-inflammatory and an inhibitor to the growth of H.pylori. The dosage rate in supplement form is 500mg three times a day.
Flaxseed mucilage oil – a very useful oil to buffer excess acid. Take 1 tablespoon full each day.
Apigenin - is another bioflavanoid which occurs in camomile it is this that makes camomile tea so soothing.
Liquorice root – is an old and traditional remedy used to calm inflamed and damaged mucous membranes in the digestive system. This also suppresses H.pylori. If you suffer from high blood pressure it may be as well not to use this as it can elevate pressure levels.
Conventional treatment – In this instance antibiotics work. They kill the bacteria and the ulcers heal in a couple of weeks. Antibiotics although efficient are cause for concern long-term and with the increasing incidence of resistance and allergy it may be worth considering a more natural solution.
Over 20 years ago Japanese scientists discovered a substance called gamma-oryzanol which is found in rice bran oil. Dr Robert Atkins has been working with this to treat both gastric and cardiovascular problems. In the Far East it has been trialed hundreds of times with thousands of patients taking 300-600mg gamma-oryzanol each day. There was no doubt that patients recovered far better than using conventional medication. This is available but in a fairly low dosage, you may need to take several tablets daily but it is quite inexpensive.
Mastic gum – used since ancient Greek times it has many and varied medicinal uses. It is extracted from the resin of the mastic tree (pistacia lenticus) and tests confirm its ability to kill H.pylori. In clinical trials it was shown to improve all symptoms of ulcers, particularly duodenal where 70% of patients had their ulcers replaced with completely normal cells. It is also known to help in cases where the ulcer is not due to H.pylori (caused by aspirin or NSAID). Dosage level is quite low just 1mg per day for about 2 weeks will cure peptic ulcers. Please note the word “cure” which is not always the case with conventional or natural remedies. This is the natural remedy to use over all others.
Yarrow flower – Used in many disorders of the digestive system. Rich in vitamin A it is known to prevent ulcers forming. You can take it as either tea bags or a tincture.
Essential oils – Although ulcers are not caused by stress the ulcer can be irritated further under stressful situations. There are various oils available to reduce stress either applied by massage or via an infuser to create a relaxing atmosphere in the home or office. However often the best approach is a gentle massage before bed and the use of an essential oil fan running in the bedroom overnight with your choice of oil (I would suggest Lavender to start with) It has been known for a single massage to break the vicious circle of stress but obviously several sessions over a period of time will be of greater benefit.
There is currently work in progress being carried out in Brazil using Croton cajucara (Sacaca) essential oil for the treatment of gastric ulcers. I won’t go into all the work at the moment as it hasn’t gone beyond animal trials (and I personally abhor this sort of work as it does not give a true picture of likely human reaction) However the trials do seem promising and it may be worth keeping an eye on this oil. This article may be worth reading http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874199001270
In the Far East they use hot foot baths with lavender and lemon balm to control a racing mind by drawing chi from the brain.
There are many herbal remedies including mint and rosemary, To help relax muscles try thyme and passionflower for stress. Chamomile is an old remedy turned into a tea and fresh lemon balm is also excellent.
The stresses of modern life and pressures of work can be helped by Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques can all help
Have you ever suffered a Peptic Ulcer ?
© 2012 Peter Geekie