Are you suffering from stomach ulcers? This is a problem that inflicts many of us, causing pain and trouble.
While in extreme cases a doctor’s advice is needed, there are always few home remedies to treat stomach ulcer when it is in its initial stage and the damage has not reached its maximum level. Stomach ulcer is also known as peptic ulcer.
Peptic ulcer is an open sore or erosion on the gastrointestinal tract that is quite painful. The ulcer develops when hydrochloric acid in the digestive fluids and the enzyme pepsin in the stomach damage the gastrointestinal tract.
An ulcer in the stomach is called gastric ulcer and in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer. The gastric and duodenal ulcers together are called peptic ulcers.
Causes of Peptic Ulcer:
Here are the possible causes of stomach ulcers that you should know:
1. Bacterial Infection:
Helicobacter pylori is a tough spiral shaped bacterium which multiplies and colonizes in your digestive system. The design or structure of this bacterium helps it to survive in hydrochloric acid and then penetrate into the lining of the stomach. Helicobacter pylori produces a hormone called urease, it can neutralize stomach acids and make it easy for the bacteria to thrive in its own acid free zone. Due to its corkscrew shape it can easily penetrate the protective mucous lining of the stomach wall. The antacid effect created by the H. Pylori bacteria stimulates the stomach wall to produce more acid and pepsin, and this makes the stomach lining more susceptible to damage. Since, too much acid and pepsin can damage the stomach lining that has been left unprotected by the effects of helicobacter pylori colonization. This is how ulcers are formed.
2. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofen and Aspirin:
Gastroduodenal ulceration and bleeding are the major limitations to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can damage the gastro duodenal mucosa in several ways like the topical irritant effect of these drugs on the epithelium, impairment of the barrier properties of the mucosa, suppression of gastric prostaglandin synthesis, reduction of gastric mucosal blood flow and interference with the repair of superficial injury.
The presence of acid in the lumen of the stomach also contributes to the pathogenesis of NSAID-induced ulcers and bleeding. It affects the restitution process by interfering with haemostasis and other growth factors that are important for mucosal defense and repair. A new understanding of the NSAID induced ulcers have enabled scientists to come up stomach sparing NSAIDS.
Stress and lifestyle also cause gastric ulcers. There is no clear evidence that stress or a regular intake of fast foods can cause ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. However, peptic ulcers are very common. Though esophageal ulcers are rare, but it can happen due to alcohol abuse. Having rich fatty foods, caffeinated drinks and tobacco can lead to the buildup of stomach acids that erode the protective lining of the stomach, duodenum and esophagus.
Stress has become the part and parcel of modern living and it is the reason behind many chronic illnesses. So you can do some yoga and meditation to de-stress yourself. If you enjoy dancing you can join zumba or an aqua aerobics class to banish all the boredom associated with exercise. You can also play a sport that you love. Physical activity will help to release endorphins in the body, also known as the happy hormones, which will keep stress and depression at bay. Sometimes, people start smoking taking excess alcohol when they are stressed or depressed. So remaining stress free and maintaining a positive attitude helps in the long run to reduce the risks of developing peptic ulcers in the first place.
4. Immune Abnormalities:
Scientists believe that one major cause of ulcerative colitis can be abnormal immune reaction in the intestine. Sometimes, bacteria and viruses can trigger the immune system to attack the inner lining of the large intestine. The immune system response causes inflammation.
Sometimes ulcerative colitis runs in families. Research reveals that abnormal genes appear in people with ulcerative colitis. However, there is no clear link between abnormal genes and ulcerative colitis.
Diagnosis of Peptic Ulcers:
Other than these factors, some food and the environmental factors can flare up ulcerative colitis. So how do you diagnose gastric ulcers? Here are some common methods:
The healthcare provider diagnoses ulcerative colitis with the following:
- Medical or family history
- Physical exam
- Lab tests
- Endoscopies of the large intestine
The healthcare provider may perform different medical tests to rule out other bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, which may cause symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis.
1. Medical and Family History:
Taking a medical and family history can help the doctor to understand a patient’s symptoms and diagnose ulcerative colitis better.
2. Physical Exam:
A physical exam can help diagnose ulcerative colitis. The doctor checks for abdominal distension or swelling, listens to sounds within the abdomen using a stethoscope and taps on the abdomen to check for tenderness and pain.
3. Lab Test:
The healthcare provider will also conduct blood and stool tests. The doctor will analyze blood sample and look for anemia, inflammation or infection somewhere in the body, ongoing inflammation and low albumin or protein which is very common in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Stool Tests: A stool test will help to determine gastrointestinal tests and infection.
4. Endoscopies of the Large Intestines:
Endoscopies of the large intestine are the most accurate methods of diagnosing ulcerative colitis and ruling out other possibilities like Crohn’s disease, cancer or diverticular disease. A colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy are two methods to detect ulcers.
Colonoscopy is a test that uses a long narrow flexible tube with a light and tiny camera at an end to look inside the entire rectum and colon. The colonoscopy can show irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, abnormal growth and polyps. If the gastroenterologists suspects ulcerative colitis, he or she will biopsy the colon and rectum.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is another method to look for signs of bowel diseases and irritated swollen tissues, ulcers and polyps. The method is similar to colonoscopy. The patient has to follow the written bowel prep instructions before the test.
Types of Treatment for Peptic Ulcers:
Ulcerative colitis can be treated by medications and surgery. Each person experiences ulcerative colitis differently so the treatment has to be adjusted to meet the individual’s demands.No medications actually cure ulcerative colitis, but it can reduce symptoms. The goals of medication are:
- Inducing and maintaining remission
- Improving the person’s quality of life
Some people with ulcerative colitis require medication therapy indefinitely, unless their colon or rectum is indefinitely removed.Some common medicines prescribed to a patient with ulcerative colitis are:
- Amino salicylates
- Biologics or anti-TNF therapies
- Other medications
Depending on the location of the symptoms in the colon, doctors may recommend a person to take medications by
- Enema or flushing liquid medication into the rectum using a special wash bottle,this medication directly treats the inflammation of the large intestine.
- Rectal Foam: A medicine with foamy consistency which the person puts like an enema to treat inflammation of the large intestine.
- Suppository: a solid medication that the person inserts into the rectum to dissolve, the intestinal lining absorbs the medication.
- Oral medicines are also administered.
Surgery is done to treat ulcerative colitis when the person has:
- Colon Cancer
- Dysplasia or precancerous cells in the colon
- Complications that are life threatening, such as mega colon or bleeding
- No improvement in the symptoms or condition despite treatment
- Continued dependency on steroids
- Side effects from medicines that threaten the patient’s health
Removal of the entire colon including the rectum cures ulcerative colitis. A surgeon can perform two types of surgery:
- Proctocolectomy and ileostomy
- Proctocolectomy and Ileonal Reservoir
Full recovery from these two operations may take four to six weeks. So what exactly happens after these two surgeries, let’s find out:
Proctocolectomy and ileostomy is surgery to remove a patient’s entire colon and rectum. An ileostomy is a stoma, or opening in the abdomen that a surgeon creates from a part of the ileum—the last section of the small intestine. The surgeon brings the end of the ileum through an opening in the patient’s abdomen and attaches it to the skin, creating an opening outside of the patient’s body. The stoma most often is located in the lower part of the patient’s abdomen.
A removable external collection pouch, called an ostomy pouch or ostomy appliance, connects to the stoma and collects intestinal contents outside the patient’s body. Intestinal contents pass through the stoma instead of passing through the anus. Since the stoma has no muscle, so it cannot control the flow of intestinal contents, and the flow occurs whenever peristalsis occurs. The person who undergoes this surgery will have ileostomy for the rest of their lives.
The other surgery is called Proctocolectomy and ileoanal reservoir. An ileoanal reservoir is an internal pouch made from the patient’s ileum. This surgery is a common alternative to an ileostomy and does not have a permanent stoma. Ileoanal reservoir is also known as a J-pouch, a pelvic pouch, or an ileoanal pouch anastomosis. The ileoanal reservoir connects the ileum to the anus. The surgeon preserves the outer muscles of the patient’s rectum during the proctocolectomy. Next, the surgeon creates the ileoanal pouch and attaches it to the end of the rectum. Waste is stored in the pouch and passes through the anus.
The three main side effects of this surgical procedure are:
- Bowel movements become more frequent and watery. People may have fecal incontinence or accidental passing of solid or liquid stool or mucus from the rectum. Medications can be used to control pouch function.
- Women may become infertile following this surgery.
- Many people develop pouchitis in the ileoanal reservoir. Pouchitis is an irritation or inflammation of the lining of the ileoanal reservoir and it is treated with antibiotics. In rare conditions pouchitis become a chronic condition. If it does then the person has to become dependent on long-term antibiotics and other medications.
The surgeon will recommend one of the surgeries based on a person’s symptoms, severity of disease, expectations, age and lifestyle. Before undergoing the above mentioned surgeries the patient must talk to the health care providers, enterostomal therapists or nurses who work with colon-surgery patients and people who had one of these surgeries. Taking an informed decision is crucial since these surgeries will bring about a permanent change in the person’s body and lifestyle
Prevention Is Better Than Cure:
Why go through all these surgeries and take medicines that can have side effects, when there are some natural remedies that can help you to prevent ulcers in the first place.Prevention is always better than cure. Check out some of the precautions listed below to avoid stomach ulcers.
1. Know Your Stomach:
We know it well what our stomach can stand, digest and assimilate. If the stomach or digestive system reacts in an adverse manner to any food, it is best to avoid it to prevent the occurrence of stomach ulcers. Also, if one is sensitive to spicy and fried foods, it is best to avoid them.
2. Know Your Allergens:
Some of us get ulcers due to allergic reaction to certain foods. It is best to know the type of food that cause allergic reactions, and avoid or eliminate them from the daily diet. It is also necessary to understand the extent of allergic reaction you might have to one of the allergens.
3. Eat Well And On Time:
It is important to eat properly and at proper time to avoid the stomach lining from getting corroded by the gastric juices that are supposed to digest the food. Do not keep your stomach empty to prevent the gastric juices to have any negative impact on your stomach.
4. Increase Your Fiber Intake:
It is important to increase the fiber intake to make your bowel movements proper. Fiber helps clean your digestive tract, which helps to get rid of anything that clings to the tract.
5. Avoid Alcohol And Smoking:
It is necessary to stop consuming alcohol and smoking, to avoid stomach ulcers. Smoking gives way to increased acid production in the stomach. It reduces the production of stomach substances that balance the acid and prevent the lining of the stomach from being corroded.
6. Balance Milk In Your Diet:
While milk is a source of calcium and protein for the bones, it could have adverse effects if you are sensitive to milk. Avoid milk if it has much impact on your stomach or reduce it to a bare minimum level to avoid stomach ulcers.
Home Remedies For Stomach Ulcers:
Given below are few simple ways to treat ulcers at home with the help of ingredients from your kitchen itself.
Many documents, studies and non-allopathic treatments swear by the power of banana when it comes to stomach and digestive problems. The sitoindosides enzyme in bananas increases the mucus in the stomach and in the digestive tract. This mucus provides a powerful protective coating to help heal the ulcers faster. Bananas also help to speed up the healing process by promoting healthy cell growth in the intestines. Banana powder and unripe bananas work best for stomach ulcers.
8. Vitamin E:
It is advised to have foods and vegetables with a Vitamin E content to promote the healing of stomach ulcer. They also help to keep weight gain in check, and at the same time work to repair the intestinal walls and damages caused due to ulcers.
Including powerful healing capabilities, honey is another recommended remedy for treating stomach ulcers. Honey is rich in glucose oxidase enzyme which helps to produce hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria responsible for the development of ulcers. Secondly, honey contains antibacterial properties from the countless flowers that are used by bees to collect honey. Two spoons of honey should be taken early in the morning in empty stomach to cleanse the bowel, and to prevent and treat stomach ulcers.
Many people are put off by the smell of garlic. Yet, garlic is a powerful anti-bacterial agent that can help to check the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacterium in the body, which is responsible for causing ulcers. Garlic is the best home remedy for stomach ulcers.
Rich in Vitamin C, cabbage juice is recommended to treat stomach ulcers. Vitamin C aids in the healing of ulcers. Some studies promote the use of fermented cabbage juice for better results as it increases the level of Vitamin C.
12. Milk Products:
While consumption of milk causes and increases the symptoms of stomach ulcers in many people, adding fermented lactic products to the diet can help to treat stomach ulcers. Foods and drinks like yogurt and buttermilk help maintain proper levels of good bacteria in the digestive tract, which helps to heal stomach ulcers.
It is known to help heal stomach ulcers and peptic ulcers by making the intestine and stomach produce more mucus. Licorice has cimetidine, which helps to produce mucus in the digestive tract. Depending on the extent of ulcers and their spread, one might have to take different dosages. The dosages can be increased to fasten the healing process.
Chillies contain a substance called capsaicin, which promotes the growth and production of enzymes and substances that help protect the lining of the stomach. Peppers help produce secretions that are protective when it comes to the stomach; they act as anti-acids. It also works wonders to heal ulcers, caused due to any medicinal effects. If the stomach ulcer is increasing, you should try increasing the consumption of chillies in your diet and see it work wonders for you. Avoid chillies if you are allergic to them.
15. Cayenne Pepper:
Cayenne pepper helps to heal stomach ulcers, and at the same time reduces the pain it causes. It has a very strong taste that one might not be comfortable with. But if one tries, one can get used to it. One can have a spoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water, twice a day, to heal ulcers. Apart from that it is also available in capsule form. One can take one cayenne pepper capsule after each meal to treat stomach ulcers.
16. Slippery Elm:
The bark of slippery elm is known to soothe and calm the intestinal walls and mucus membranes of the stomach. The bark is available in powdered form in the market, and one can take it 3 times a day to treat ulcers.
17. Collidol Silver:
As weird and strange as it may sound, colloidal silver provides powerful treatment for stomach ulcers. The silver works to kill the ulcer-causing bacteria H. pylori, helping to reduce the ulcers in the stomach.
18. Plums And Other Reds:
Plum and other red fruits are rich in substances that prevent and inhibit the growth of H. pylori bacteria that causes stomach and digestive tract ulcers. Eating raw fruits will help heal ulcers by removing the harmful bacteria. But do wash them well before eating!
Coconut is known for its many uses and applications across the Indian subcontinent. From being a food ingredient to a medicinal plant, its uses are well-known. Coconut oil is also known to treat stomach ulcers by killing the bacteria that cause ulcers and gas.
20. Fenugreek Leaves:
Fenugreek is rich in mucilaginous compound which protects the stomach’s lining by coating it, much like mucus. This helps to fasten the healing process. One can boil the fenugreek leaves in water, reduce the solution and consume it on an empty stomach to heal stomach ulcers.
21. Wood Apple:
Wood apple is also known for its effectiveness in curing stomach ulcers. Soak the wood apple in water overnight and drink the water after straining it properly to treat stomach ulcers.
22. Raw Goat Milk:
Raw goat milk is also known to fasten the healing process of stomach ulcers. Ensure that the milk is raw, or else it would not work as expected. If one has a recurring case of stomach ulcers, it is necessary to consume raw goat milk regularly.
While most of us would see this little vegetable as a part of our sambar treats, this provides effective treatment for stomach ulcers. To treat ulcers, you need to take 10 grams of drumstick leaves, make a paste with water, add a little yoghurt for flavor and then consume this mix.
24. Dandelion Tea:
This tea occupies an important place in Indian diets. While milk tea could form gas in some people, dandelion tea is known for its effectiveness in curing ulcers. The tea helps clean the digestive tract and removes the trouble-causing bacteria. To cure stomach ulcer, take this tea regularly. It also provides other health benefits.
25. Aloe Vera Juice:
Aloe Vera is known for its powerful healing properties and health benefits. Though the little desert plant could put off many people with its smell and taste, it provides powerful and effective treatment for stomach ulcers, thanks to its own mucus-like substance. To cure stomach ulcers, take aloe juice in empty stomach in the morning. Else, one can have a spoon full of saturated aloe vera juice, available in the market, on an empty stomach every day morning.
Know Your Problem:
It is of utmost importance to know your exact problem before starting off with stomach ulcer home remedies. Make sure it is an ulcer you have in the stomach that is the root cause of your troubles. Though many antibiotics and medicines exist, some people can experience extreme side effects. Home remedies would work best for them. It is also important to reach out to a doctor if the symptoms still persist. Home remedies work effectively by removing the root cause, the bacterium, responsible for causing ulcers.
Sometimes, if the home remedies do not seem to work, the reason could be that the person is combining two or more home remedies. These could work against each other, doing more damage than good. It is important to experiment with one stomach ulcer home remedy at a time and see how effectively it works for the person. If the home remedies do not work, it is important to reach out to a physician to seek medical and professional advice. The root cause could be something else as well.