banner
alive logo
foodfamilylifestylebeautysustainabilityhealthimmunity

Acid, Ulcers and Effective Natural Treatment

Share

Acid, Ulcers and Effective Natural Treatment

Heartburn and indigestion are extremely common. These symptoms are often the result of gastritis, hiatial hernia or peptic ulcers.

Heartburn and indigestion are extremely common. These symptoms are often the result of gastritis, hiatial hernia or peptic ulcers.

These are serious conditions and patients should be in the care of a physician. Temporary relief of these symptoms is usually easily achieved with antacids and acid-blocking drugs. Unfortunately, these medications also greatly decrease our digestive ability. Acid is necessary to break protein into smaller particles that our body can absorb. Long-term reliance on drugs may be a factor in a number of chronic diseases.

There are five basic approaches to reduce acid or the symptoms caused by it. The first is calcium, as it neutralizes acid. The most commonly-used group of drugs are called H2 antagonists and includes Zantac, Tagamet and Pepcid. These drugs reduce the production of acid in the stomach. Many patients use drugs from this group for extended periods, often several years. Losec is the best known of a newer group called proton pump inhibitors which also block the production of acid. Blocking of acid often leads to constipation, as food is not properly broken down.

A small percentage of physicians use antibiotics in the fight against ulcers. The fifth and last approach doesn’t inhibit acid levels or digestion but instead promotes a healthy mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Licorice root is the most studied in this group.

The Acid Paradox

The belief is that hiatal hernia and ulcers are caused by elevated levels of acid. However, the reality and paradox is that the majority of patients with these complaints have low stomach acid levels. How could low levels of acid cause these symptoms?

Frequently overlooked is the protective mucosal layer that acts as a barrier between the cells lining the stomach and the inside of the stomach where food is digested. Weak acid is still acid and as such would damage or digest any exposed cells. For example, if you were to place your hand in a bowl of weak acid, it would still be burnt, but it would burn at a slower rate than if you placed your hand in a bowl of strong acid. Now, if you wear protective gloves (representing the mucosal lining), neither the weak nor the strong acid would damage your hand.

Some lifestyle factors have shown significance in the prevention and treatment of ulcers. High-fibre or plant-based diets have shown success, possibly due to the ability to promote a healthy mucin layer. Smoking is strongly correlated to an increased risk of peptic ulcers and in addition, smokers don’t respond as well to anti-ulcer therapies.

Antioxidants may also prevent ulcers. It is thought that the damage done to the tissues from ulcers occurs in an oxidative manner. When ulcer patients were evaluated, they found the patients with the more severe ulcers had lower antioxidant levels in their gastric juices.

Natural Therapies

Cabbage juice has been shown to be effective in the treatment of peptic ulcers. In practice, patient compliance has been hard to obtain as not many people like the taste of cabbage juice. For those willing, this is an inexpensive and often effective approach.

Darn Good Licorice (DGL)–or deglycyrrhizinated licorice–is one of the most profound natural medicines that I’ve used. DGL differs from regular licorice as it has a portion of the licorice molecule removed (deglycyrrhizinated) so it will not lead to sodium retention. Note: the candy store variety does not contain actual licorice root.

DGL increases the number of goblet cells and the amount of mucin secreted per goblet cell. The goblet cells have a special role in our health–they secrete the mucin that protects us from the digestive juices and acids. Unlike acid blockers, DGL corrects the underlying problem; therefore, it only needs to be taken for two to three months in most cases.

There have been a number of studies evaluating DGL’s effectiveness but one study in particular stands out. In this study 40 patients had suffered with chronic duodenal ulcers for between four and 12 years. All patients had been referred for surgery as they had six or more relapses in the previous 12 months. All had relentless pain, some with frequent vomiting. All the patients improved substantially on DGL, most within the first week. The patients were followed for a year. Incredibly, none of the 40 required surgery.

One patient was on a permanent disability pension due to the ongoing pain of her ulcers. She had had two operations to remove ulcerative portions of her stomach and was facing a third and final operation to sever the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a major nerve serving the gastrointestinal tract and is necessary for acid production. After two weeks of DGL, she was fine!

DGL is also useful for patients taking aspirin or non-steroidal antiinflamatories long term, as damage to the stomach can be avoided or lessened.

Ad
Advertisement
Advertisement

READ THIS NEXT

Glucosamine May Help More than Your Joints
The Most Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

The Most Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

alive Editorial

alive Editorial

The 10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Any Diet

The 10 Best Prebiotic Foods for Any Diet

alive Editorial

alive Editorial