Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are open sores or eroded lesions in the inner lining of the stomach, and the adjoining intestinal tract called duodenum. Ulcer located in stomach is called gastric ulcer and that located in duodenum is duodenal ulcer. Generally both fall in category of peptic ulcer.

Causes and Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcer is mainly caused by the H. pylori bacteria or a reaction to extended use of anti-inflammatory medication or NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) pain relievers. A main cause of peptic ulcer is hyperacidity, which is further caused by a raise in the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This strong acid is secreted by the cells lining the stomach and wears away the inner lining of the stomach. Nutritional carelessness such as overeating, taking of heavy meals or highly spiced foods, coffee, alcohol, and smoking are the chief factors resulting in this condition. Other causes may be intake of certain drugs, food poisoning, certain infections, gout, emotional disturbances, stress, and nervous strain.

The symptoms of peptic ulcer are shrill and harsh pain and uneasiness in the upper part of the abdomen. Gastric ulcer pain generally takes place after an hour of meals and seldom at night. Duodenal ulcer pain typically arises in between meal times when the stomach is empty. The pain is comforted by food, mainly milk. As the disease grows, there is tightness of the stomach due to too much of flatulence, mental stress, insomnia and steady weakening of the body. Blood may also be noticed in the stool.

Episodic Epigastric Pain - It is the most general symptom of both gastric and duodenal ulcers. The pain is typically located between the belly button and the lower end of the breast bone. It is generally potrayed as burning, sharp, gnawing or aching in nature and may be harsh enough to wake a person up at night. The pain of duodenal ulcers is usually eased in a few minutes of taking an antacid and often recurs when the stomach is empty. The pain of gastric ulcers is less predictable than that of duodenal ulcers and it may be eased or provoked by food.
Severe Constant Abdominal Pain - Usual episodic epigastric pain that abruptly takes a shape of severe, constant abdominal pain may point out a peptic ulcer perforation, when the ulcer goes through the stomach or duodenal wall creating a hole. This is a critical and potentially life threatening complication of peptic ulcer disease.
Nausea and Vomiting – These symptoms may be seen in patients with gastric ulcers and are uncommon with duodenal ulcers unless the flow of stomach contents is blocked. If the ulcer is causing bleeding, the vomits may include blood.  Approximately 25 percent of gastric ulcers cause bleeding.
Black Stools - High amount bleeding from peptic ulcers may cause black, tarry and foul-smelling stools which are due to the presence of blood from the upper digestive track.
Weight Loss - Weight loss is unusual with duodenal ulcers, but may occur with gastric ulcers, mainly if pain follows eating.

Natural Remedies to treat Peptic Ulcer

High Intake of Fiber - A high-fiber diet can aid in healing peptic ulcers and also prevent a recurrence. Examples of high-fiber fruits are blackberries, blueberries, figs, raspberries, apples, pears and prunes. Examples of high-fiber vegetables include squash, lentils, broccoli and celery. It is considered when dietary fiber is increased, it slowly boost the water intake in body to aid the digestion process.

Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamin A can aid in speedy recovery of peptic ulcer. Good sources of vitamin A are spinach, kale, peas and fruits that contain vitamin A include mango, papaya, cantaloupe and peaches. Apricots are not only a great source of Vitamin A but also contain iron, a mineral that may deplete when medication for a peptic ulcer is taken.

Patients with peptic ulcers should eat fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C as vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that slows down the growth of helicobacter pylori bacterium. Vegetables rich in vitamin C are green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli and mustard greens.

Foods rich in calcium are also good for patients with peptic ulcers as calcium is a mineral that helps heal wounds. Patients with active stomach ulcers should eat low-fat, calcium-rich food since excess fat causes augmented stomach acid secretion that may promote further irritation to stomach sores. Calcium-rich foods are fat-free milk, fat-free dairy products, beans and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.

Vitamin K is also good for patients with active ulcers since it helps speed up the healing of sores in the stomach. Vitamin K is vital in blood clotting and prevents excessive loss of blood from bleeding ulcers. Foods rich in vitamin K are cabbage, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and fat-free milk.

Flavinoids and Antioxidants - People with peptic ulcers should eat fruits and vegetables that contain flavonoids and antioxidants. Flavonoids may slow down the growth of the H. pylori bacteria while antioxidants can reduce the damage caused by an ulcer on a cellular level. Flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables are apples, cranberries, garlic and celery. Good sources of antioxidants are tomatoes, cherries, blueberries, bell peppers and squash.

Proteins and Fat – Opt for low-fat, healthy unsaturated fats and lean meat and seafood, nuts and oils like olive and canola oil. It is recommended to eat less than 8 teaspoon of total fat each day. Cook proteins such as lean meat, poultry, eggs or fish using methods that do not require added fat like butter. Thus, recommended methods are boiling, broiling or grilling. Protein from plant sources includes soy or other legumes, can also provide a low-fat option. Cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, albacore tuna, halibut and flounder provide the additional benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, fats that body requires and that may help reduce inflammation.

Quit Smoking and Reduce Stress – It is advised to quit smoking as it can increase the propensity to ulcers because it intervenes with the protective lining of the stomach. It can also increase production of stomach acid. Smoking should not be used as a stress reliever, instead try alternative methods such as yoga, tai chi and meditation.

Limit Alcohol and Certain Foods – Limit the alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether during treatment as excessive use of alcohol can irritate and wear away the stomach and intestines' mucosa lining, as a result causing inflammation and bleeding. Caffeine and carbonated beverages consumption should also be restricted as they can add to stomach acids. Restraining intake of spicy or high-fat or fried foods may also be helpful in addition to staying fully reclined after meals.

Avoid Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - NSAIDs should be avoided and acetaminophen should be used instead. Nonprescription NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Use of NSAIDs may be the reason of some peptic ulcers so they should be discontinued as they can inhibit or prevent healing.

Probiotics - Probiotics may be helpful when suffering from a stomach or duodenum inflammation. According to a study, supplementation of probiotics may be an effectual complementary treatment and even a possible measure of eradicating H. pylori.

Prior to consuming any fruits and vegetables, it is vital to clean them properly to reduce the danger of ingesting the H. pylori bacteria that cause many peptic ulcers.

Herbal Remedies to treat Peptic Ulcer

Banana: Banana is one effective remedy for the treatment of a peptic ulcer. It neutralizes the over-acidity of the gastric juices and decreases the irritation of the ulcer by coating the lining of the stomach. Patients who are in a superior state of the disease are advised to take two bananas with a glass of milk, three or four times a day.

Wood Apple: A blend of the leaves of wood apple is another effectual remedy for this disease. Soak 15 grams of leaves in 250 ml of water overnight. In morning strain this water and take as a drink. The pain and discomfort will be alleviated on continuing this treatment for a few weeks. Bael leaves contain tannins which decrease inflammation and aid in the healing of ulcers. The bael fruit can also be taken in the form of a beverage and has great healing properties owing to its mucilage content. This substance forms a coating on the stomach mucosa and consequently helps in the healing of ulcers.

Cabbage: Cabbage is also regarded as useful home remedy. Boil 250 gm of cabbage in 500 ml of water till it is reduced to half. Allow this water to be cooled and take it twice daily. The juice extracted from raw cabbage is a valuable remedy for a peptic ulcer. Though, this juice is very strong so it should be taken with carrot juice in quantities of 125 ml each.

Fenugreek Seeds: A tea made from fenugreek seeds is another useful remedy. The seeds when dampened with water turn slightly mucilaginous. The tea helps in the curing of ulcers as the mild coating of mucilaginous material deposited by fenugreek, passes through the stomach and intestines which provides protective shield for the ulcers.

Drumstick: The leaves of the kalyana murangal tree, which is a kind of drumstick that flourishes in South India, have also demonstrated to be helpful in the curing of ulcers. Ground 10 grams of the leaves of the tree into a paste and mix this paste with half cup of yogurt. This mixture should be taken daily.

Vegetable Juices: The juices of raw vegetables, mainly carrot and cabbage, are helpful in the treatment of peptic ulcers. Carrot juice may be taken alone or with spinach or beet and cucumber.
Almond Milk: Milk prepared from blanched almonds in a blender is useful for treating peptic ulcers. It binds the excess of acid in the stomach and provides high quality protein.

Goat's Milk: Goat's milk is also extremely valuable in the treatment of this disease. For enhanced results, take a glass of goat's milk in a raw state three times a day.