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ULCERS THE HOLISTIC CURE!
ULCER AND BACTERIA
ULCERS, SOMETIMES REFERRED to as peptic ulcers, are ulcerations of the lining of the upper digestive tract. When they occur in the duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach, they are known as duodenal ulcers. When in the stomach wall itself, they are known as gastric ulcers. Ulcers are caused when the mucous lining of the stomach or duodenum is not sufficient to protect them against the corrosive action of stomach acid and the digestive enzyme called pepsin.
Ulcers are very common, and one in ten men and one in twenty women may expect to have one in their lifetime. Fortunately we've learned a great deal about them in the recent past and there's very good news about their cause and cure.
The common symptom of peptic ulcers is burning and discomfort in the upper gastric area at the base of the sternum before meals, sometimes after meals, or at night. The pain can radiate to the back or the chest. This pain can sometimes be relieved by more food or an antacid. But many people don't have any symptoms at all until they have a bleeding or perforated ulcer.
The most common traditional treatments for ulcers are antacids and histamine-Z (H-Z) receptor blockers. These medications may help heal the ulcer but do not alter the conditions that caused it in the first place, so the medications have to be taken over long periods-sometimes for life. Since long-term use of H-2 receptor blockers has been associated with increased risk of stomach cancer, the "cure" may be worse than the disease.
At one time, ulcers were thought to be caused solely by stress and a related increase in stomach acid. New research suggests that the majority of both duodenal and gastric ulcers are also related to a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, (PICTURE ABOVE) which can be wiped out by a two-week regimen of antibiotics. This is exciting news for people who have suffered from chronic ulcers without hope of a cure. Patients treated for this bacterial infection had a remarkable rate of recovery, and stayed free of ulcers without additional medication. Over 70 percent of ulcer patients are believed to be infected with the bacterium. In one study, 95 percent of the patients with gastric ulcers who were treated for H. pylori had no recurrence in the next two years while only 12 percent of the patients who had standard treatment had no recurrence. If you have had repeated bouts of peptic ulcers, ask your doctor to test your blood for antibodies to the Helicobacter bacterium to determine if you would benefit from the antibiotic treatment. If you do need treatment, you'll need to take acidophilus capsules for the course of your treatment.
Ulcers are also aggravated by irritants that damage the stomach's protective lining, or by an increase in the production of stomach acid. The key culprits are:
* Spicy and acidic foods.
* Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are gastric irritants when taken regularly, as for arthritis.
* Smoking, which increases the production of bile salts, highly irritating to the stomach. The combination of smoking and aspirin has a particularly damaging effect on peptic ulcers.
* Alcohol, which stimulates acid secretion and aggravates existing ulcers.
* A diet high in sugar, which also stimulates acid secretion.
* Food allergies, which can irritate the stomach. If you have recurring ulcers with no other recognized cause you should investigate the possibility of a food allergy.
While too much sugar in the diet or a simple food allergy might not be the single cause of an ulcer, they are, in my experience, conditions that encourage the development of ulcers. If you do have an ulcer that won't clear up, investigate food allergies. If you have recurring ulcers, be sure that your sugar intake is cut down; this measure has helped many of my ulcer patients.
At one time ulcer patients were told to drink milk and eat a bland diet. We know now this was bad advice. If you have an ulcer, don't depend on milk for relief. While a glass of milk may temporarily soothe your ulcer, it will ultimately make it worse by causing a rebound in stomach acid. (Antacids, made with calcium carbonate [Tums, Alka-2] will make you feel better temporarily, but they might have a rebound effect on the production of stomach acid.) Diets that are high in fiber have been found to be much more effective in healing ulcers and preventing their occurrence than soft diets. Gradually increase your fiber intake.
Linoleic acid, found in unprocessed grains such as maize, also contributes to the healing and prevention of ulcers. It can be supplemented by taking evening primrose oil.
Another natural compound used in ulcer therapy is a derivative of licorice known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), which stimulates the production of mucus that coats and protects the digestive tract. One study involving DGL focused on forty patients who had been referred for surgery because of acute and persistent pain, in spite of prolonged treatment with conventional drugs. Half the patients received 3 g. of DGL daily for eight weeks, the other half received 4.5 g. daily for sixteen weeks. Though the higher dosage was more effective, they all showed significant improvement, and none required surgery within the next year. I suggest you take DGL, which you can get in health food stores.
Supplements of vitamins A, E, and C are also helpful in the therapy and prevention of ulcers.
Raw cabbage juice has a remarkable track record in helping people with peptic ulcers. One quart daily of fresh cabbage juice, taken in divided doses, can be enormously effective. In one study, patients taking this amount had total healing of their ulcers in ten days.
Though stress is no longer considered the only cause of peptic ulcers, it's clear that stress, or the way we react to it, does play a role. Regular exercise is a good antidote for stress, as are breathing exercises and various relaxation techniques.
NATURAL PRESCRIPTION FOR ULCERS
* If you have recurring ulcers, you should discuss the possibility of Helicobacter pylori infection, known as H. pylori, with your doctor. Treatment with antibiotics can make a dramatic difference in your cure.
* Eliminate the use of aspirins and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
* Avoid smoking, alcohol, and antacids made with calcium carbonate.
* Eat a high-fiber diet unless your symptoms are acute, in which case you should avoid roughage and raw vegetables.
* Eat regular meals at regular times: Avoid large meals and remember that small, frequent meals are best.
* Eliminate the sugar in your diet.
* Do not rely on milk to soothe your ulcer, or antacids.
* Adopt in exercise program.
* Practice relaxation techniques.
IN ADDITION TO YOUR DAILY SUPPLEMENTS, TAKE:
* DGL: 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams twenty minutes before meals. You should continue to take it for two to four months depending on the results you get.
* Evening primrose oil: 100 mg. three times daily.
* Vitamin A: 10,000 I.U. daily.
* Vitamin C: 500 mg. two times a day. Be sure to take the buffered form.
* Vitamin E: 400 I.U. daily.
* Raw cabbage juice: 1 quart daily in divided doses. Continue for two weeks. I would put one clove of garlic thru the juicer with it as garlic kills all bacteria. And one inch pc. of aloe vera leaf.
Ulcers are painful sores that occur in the stomach or, more often, in the upper part of the small intestine, which is called the duodenum. As much as 10 percent of North Americans, and four times more men than women, have intestinal ulcers.
There are two types of ulcers: gastric (or peptic) and duodenal. It is very difficult to determine the location of an ulcer by symptoms alone, but almost all ulcers follow a pattern: Pain occurs as acid burns the open sore; food brings temporary relief by neutralizing the acid; pain returns after food is digested.
Ulcers have been thought to be caused by too much stomach acid; more recent research shows that they may be caused by a bacterium called Heliobacter pylorii. Overuse of NSAIDS (nonsteroid anti-inflammation drugs)—aspirin, ibuprofen, and the like—also causes ulcers. And stress makes them worse. Nature intended for the intestine to quickly neutralize the acid that is dumped into it from the stomach, but this neutralization does not always happen. Pain from ulcers flares up in response to food entering the system, which causes stomach acid to kick into gear. To know for sure whether you have an ulcer, you need to be tested by a doctor.
Licorice, chamomile, cinnamon, marshmallow, slippery elm, calendula and agrimony are a few of the herbs that herbalists use to lower stomach acid levels. Studies conducted in Germany show that chamomile, licorice and cinnamon decrease the chances of an ulcer getting worse or of your getting another one once the first has healed.
If stress is a problem for you, try taking chamomile, wild yam, Saint-John's-wort and even basil to relax your muscles and nerves, and licorice and marshmallow to stimulate your immune system. In a study conducted in Russia in 1993, a group of alcoholics who had stomach ulcers and chronic inflammation of the digestive tract were treated with a combination of psychotherapy and four to five cups ofSaint-John's-wort tea a day. After a couple of months, they had improved and the treatment was pronounced effective.
In the late 1980s, Narendra Singh, M.D., of King George Medical College in India found that a daily tea made of 10 to 20 Indian basil leaves was useful in preventing stress-related disorders such as stomach ulcers and colitis. It is likely that the closely related kitchen spicebasil would work equally well and that using it as a spice would be effective.
No matter what your ulcer remedy, there's nothing to stop another ulcer from taking its place unless you make some diet and lifestyle changes. You should also be kind to your ulcer by avoiding irritants such as NSAIDS, alcohol and cigarettes.
Ginger can also be helpful when it comes to ulcers. Japanese researchers who conducted several studies on this spice found that it contains at least six anti-ulcer compounds.
The history of licorice as an ulcer cure is particularly interesting. The ancient Greek physician Dioscorides was using licorice to treat ulcers back in the first century a.d., but over time doctors abandoned the herb. Then, during World War II, the Dutch physician F. E. Revers, M.D., saw a small-town pharmacist prepare a licorice paste for townspeople suffering from stomach ulcers. Dr. Revers could not help trying licorice with a few of his own patients, and he found that it worked just fine. In at least half the patients he tested this paste on, the ulcers were nearly gone within a month. The only real problem that he encountered was that some of his patients developed water retention. In the meantime, doctors have also found that licorice sometimes increases high blood pressure. Researchers have figured out how to remove the compounds that caused these problems, and speciallicorice preparations that do not have these side effects are available for people with ulcers.
Bruce, a man in his late sixties who has the vibrant energy of a man 30 years younger and an active lifestyle to go along with it, has found licorice to be effective in treating ulcers. After experiencing recurring stomach pain and internal bleeding, he went to the doctor and was tested for stomach cancer. It turned out, however, that the pain and bleeding were due to a severe stomach ulcer, not cancer. Soon after, he started taking herbs.
Months later, I saw Bruce at the movies and waved. He practically skipped up the aisle to where I was sitting and gave me a big bear hug. "They're gone!" he exclaimed. "Who's gone?" I asked. "The ulcers!" After finding out that he did not have cancer, Bruce started an herbal regimen. He took two capsules of licorice three times a day. With a little experimentation, he found that waking up at 4:00 a.m. to take a dose eliminated the early morning feeling in his stomach that, as Bruce said, "can really bite you." When he went back to the doctor after several months, he was given a clean bill of health. As the lights dimmed in the theater, I asked Bruce if I could include his story in this book. Heading back to his seat, he called over his shoulder, "Yes, yes, you should tell the whole world!"
Meadowsweet, aloe vera, mullein and fenugreek all soothe inflamed and bleeding ulcers. Meadowsweet is a known pain reliever and is good for treating ulcer pain. In a study conducted in Russia, compounds in aloe vera juice healed every participant's ulcers so completely that the researchers responsible for the study compared aloe vera favorably to cimetidine, one of the most popular anti-ulcer drugs. In Bulgaria, doctors successfully treat intestinal ulcers with a pharmaceutical preparation called Verbascan, which is made from mullein.
Classic European remedies whose effectiveness has been verified by medical research include raw cabbage and potato and celery juices. Drinking a cup of cabbage juice four times a day can heal stomach ulcers in only ten days. If juicing cabbage does not fit into your busy schedule, you can purchase dehydrated, raw cabbage powder at natural food stores.
The magic ingredient in cabbage is sometimes called the anti-ulcer factor. Its technical name is glutamine, and this compound is also available in capsules. Glutamine has proved to be a better ulcer cure than antacids. In one study, the ulcers of half the participants disappeared in only two weeks, and those of almost all the rest were healed in four weeks.
One herbal combination with a long history of curing ulcers is Robert's Formula. Not much is known about Robert. He was probably a physician, but legend has it that he was a sailor who suffered from severe stomach ulcers. Robert tried various herbs to cure his ulcers. Some had minor effect; others didn't work at all. Every time he visited a new port, he added a new plant to his formula. The final concoction healed his ulcer. There have been some revisions to the formula since Robert's time, but it is basically the same. Some of its main ingredients are marshmallow, slippery elm and dried cabbage powder, with echinacea and baptisia to help enhance immunity and fight infection.
With Robert's Formula in mind, I concocted this tea to combat ulcers. Friends have found it very helpful.
1 teaspoon each licorice root, marshmallow root and chamomile flowers
˝ teaspoon each Oregon grape root, hops strobiles, echinacea root and cinnamon bark
1 quart water
Put herbs and water in an uncovered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for about 10 minutes. Strain herbs and store the tea in the refrigerator. Drink 2 or more cups a day.
If you have ulcers, there are some natural substances that you should avoid: papaya and pineapple. The digestive enzymes made from papaya, which are used in most commercial meat tenderizers, will corrode the areas in the stomach that have been injured by your ulcer. Pineapple can make your ulcer worse in the same way.
If you think you have ulcers, go to the FREE CLINIC and get the prescription for the 2 weeks of antibiotics and do the other things also.