The primary symptom of an ulcer is usually a gnawing pain or burning sensation in the stomach. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, belching, or a noticeable increase in appetite (a sign of duodenal ulcer, one that occurs in the first stage of the small intestine). With duodenal ulcers, eating causes a temporary relief of the pain, but recurs a few hours after a meal.
What Is A Peptic Ulcer?
From Modern Western Medicine
A peptic ulcer is a wound in the stomach, esophagus, duodenum, or some other area of the intestine, brought about when the mucus lining of the stomach is eroded and the stomach’s digestive juices, including hydrochloric acid and pepsin, eat away at the tender tissue beneath the protective mucus layer. Other highly irritating substances may also wear away this mucus lining and expose the tissues below to hydrochloric acid and other digestive secretions. These include alcohol, cigarette smoke, coffee, tea, bacteria, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (including aspirin and ibuprofen).
Physicians use a variety of treatments for ulcers, including antacids (which reduce the amount of acid in the stomach), drugs such as sucralfate, which help to form a protective coat over the ulcer, and antibiotics to kill bacteria that eat away at the stomach’s protective mucus lining.
Stress, which increases production of stomach acid, may also play a role in the onset of ulcers. Therefore, controlling stress is essential.
From Traditional Medicine
Diet and lifestyle play central roles in the onset of ulcers. The modern diet, rich in fat, refined carbohydrates, coffee, tea, tobacco, sugar, alcohol, spices, and fried foods, all increase production of stomach acids, as do many salted, pickled, and smoked foods. Since these foods make up the bulk of the Western diet, there is little wonder that so many millions of people suffer from stomach disorders and particularly ulcers.
In addition, milk products can increase stomach discomfort and exacerbate ulcers and pain for people who are lactose intolerant. Lactose, the sugar found in milk, requires the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the body to digest milk products. Approximately 40% of Eastern Europeans, 70% of African Americans, and most Asians are lactose intolerant.
The following Foods to Eat and Avoid, as well as the lifestyle recommendations listed below, are designed to help strengthen the stomach and prevent stomach disorders.
Patterns of Eating
- Eat four to six small meals through the day, rather than three larger meals. This will place less stress upon the stomach.
- Do not overeat.
- Chew each mouthful 35 to 50 times each. The more you chew, the less stress you put upon your stomach.
- Minimize fat. Foods rich in fat increase stomach acid and the likelihood of stomach disorders.
- Eat protein and starchy foods in separate meals.
- Proteins, fats, and starches combine best with greens and non-starchy vegetables.
- Eat alkalizing foods, such as those that contain small amounts of salt, first, as opposed to those containing fat, protein, and sugar.
- Eat fruit and sweetened foods alone, immediately after a meal.
- Eat melons alone because they digest very quickly.
- Avoid drinking fruit juice for at least 2 hours after eating a meal containing starch and 4 hours after a meal containing protein.
- Avoid excessively cold drinks.
Food to Eat
- Whole grains, cooked with a pinch of sea salt to alkalize them
- Barley, which treats indigestion from starchy food stagnation or poorly tolerated mother’s milk in infants
- Apple, which inhibits growth of ferments and disease-producing bacteria in the intestines
- Ginger. Eat ginger freshly grated in tea, or in capsule form, or chew a small piece. Studies have shown that ginger settles the stomach and overcomes nausea.
- Grapefruit peel moves and regulates spleen-pancreas digestive energy and is good for getting rid of gas
- Lemon and lime, especially for those who eat a high-fat, high-protein diet, alleviates flatulence and indigestion
- Umeboshi plums, sometimes called “Japanese Alka-Seltzer.” Take a plum or ½ tsp. of umeboshi paste. It will cure most dyspepsia in 10 minutes.
- Carrots treat indigestion, excess stomach acid, and heartburn
Use soothing, mucilaginous foods and preparations:
- Congees of oats, barley, or rice
- Flaxseed, soaked
- Soy milk
- Goat milk, soured
- Cabbage, especially raw cabbage juice, taken on an empty stomach immediate after juicing
- Cereal grass, microalgae, and liquid chlorophyll
Foods to Reduce or Avoid
- Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages
- Meat (rich in fat)
- Milk products, which contain fat and lactose
- Eggs (rich in fat)
- Poor-quality oils (all oils are liquid fat)
- Spicy foods
- Fried foods
- Mints, which have been shown to create regurgitation of stomach juices and heartburn
- Excessive salt
- Citrus fruit
Chemicals to Avoid
- Limit over-the-counter medications, including aspirin. The anti-clotting effects of aspirin can promote bleeding of the stomach, inflammation (or gastritis), and bleeding ulcer.
- Avoid ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, which also contribute to stomach distress, especially for those with existing stomach problems.
- Bryonia: if your stomach feels heavy after eating and is sensitive to touch; if moving makes you feel worse; if you have bitter rising and may vomit
- Carbo vegetabilis: if even the plainest food causes gas and belching about ½ hour after eating; if any indulgence causes a headache; if there is a craving for fresh air
- Chamomilla: if indigestion follows a fit of anger and irritability; if stomach is distended with gas and cramping; if your mouth has a bitter taste; if you have flushed cheeks and an aversion to warm drinks
- Ignatia: if you are tense and nervous and crave food that doesn’t agree with you; if you have rumbling in the bowels and sour belching; if you have a tendency to take a deep breaths or sigh frequently
- Nux vomica: for the hard-driven type who overindulges; if you experience heartburn, belching, bloating of the abdomen a few hours after eating; if you are constipated
Herbs to Treat Ulcer
- Licorice root tea
- Slippery elm tea
- Marshmallow root
- Red raspberry leaf tea
- Chamomile tea
- Acupuncture to strengthen stomach meridian and the organ itself
- Progressive relaxation exercises