Gastric ulcer - Peptic ulcers
Discontinuity in the lining of the stomach is known as gastric ulcer while that of the duodenum is called duodenal ulcer. Peptic ulcer is the term used for both gastric and duodenal ulcers.
‘Hurry, worry and curry’ are the three main reasons responsible for peptic ulcers. A stressful and fast paced lifestyle when combined with a wrong diet often leads to development of ulcers.
Stomach lining normally produces hydrochloric acid as a component of gastric juice. This acid, by creating the required acidic medium in the stomach, is responsible for digestion. However, when the amount of acid produced is more than normal, it starts damaging the cells lining the stomach resulting in an ulcer.
Causes, symptoms and diagnosis of ulcers
Causes of ulcers
Remaining empty stomach for a long time, taking food which is too spicy, drinking too many cups of tea or coffee, smoking or consuming alcohol or any cause of too much anxiety can all produce a state of hyperacidity. Sometimes infection of gastric mucosa by helicobacter pylori also causes ulcers.
Symptoms of gastric ulcer
The most common symptom of stomach ulcers is a sharp shooting pain. The pain characteristically appears one hour after meals in case of gastric ulcers while it usually appears on empty stomach in case of duodenal ulcers. It may be associated with gas in the stomach, burping, sleeplessness and mental fatigue. As the stomach lining tends to bleed, so some amount of blood may be present in the stools.
The diagnosis of ulcers is usually based on the symptoms but confirmation is done on an upper gastro-intestinal endoscopic examination.
People tend to pop antacids indiscriminately to get relief from the acidity. What they do not realize is that this is just temporary relief as the root cause of the problem remains. Moreover, by curbing the normal acid production, the stomach is reflexly stimulated to produce more acid.
Home remedies for ulcers
Home remedies for ulcers are milder than the other forms of treatment, do not have any severe side effects, are handy, do not burn a hole in the pockets, and provide long lasting relief from the ailment as well. Some of the readily available and easy to use home remedies for ulcers are discussed below:
- Banana counters the acidity of gastric juices and diminishes the irritation of gastric mucosa caused by them. It encourages cell multiplication in the lining of the stomach. 2-3 bananas mixed in a glass of milk, taken 4-5 times daily is one of the best natural cure available for ulcers.
- Two to three tbsp of fenugreek seeds are to be soaked in water and brought to a boil till the solution thickens. This concoction is to be taken 2-3 times everyday. A mucilaginous compound present in the fenugreek leaves coats the stomach lining and prevents further damage, thus giving time to the ulcer to heal spontaneously.
- Fruits like watermelons, peaches, oranges and blackberries are rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene. These strengthen the gastric mucosa and help in preventing ulcers.
- Cold milk should be consumed three to four times daily.
- Soak about 15 grams of wood apple leaves in 250 ml of water overnight. Strain the mixture and take 2-3 times daily. The tannin present in wood apple is known for its pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties.
- A mixture of 30 grams of unadulterated scentless castor oil in 250 ml of milk, when taken on empty stomach, lines the stomach membrane and is helpful against the ulcers.
- Another home remedy for ulcers is 5 grams powder of hog wood root taken thrice daily.
- Cabbage extract improves the gastric blood supply, thereby helping the healing process of the ulcer, by virtue of a specific amino acid that it contains.
- A small amount of cayenne pepper in a glass of water acts as bactericidal and aids the treatment of stomach ulcers.
- Honey when taken on empty stomach, reinforces the gastric membrane.
- Green plantains are known for their antiulcer properties but they should not be eaten raw.
- Milk of almonds also contains a protein which neutralizes the acid present in gastric juices.
- A paste of 10 grams drumsticks leaves and water mixed in half a cup of yoghurt when taken everyday cures peptic ulcer.
- Juice extracted from vegetables is a very useful home remedy for ulcers. Carrot juice when taken along with spinach or beet provides relief from ulcers. 300ml carrot juice mixed with 200 ml spinach juice or a concoction of 300 ml carrot juice with 100 ml beet juice and 100 ml cucumber juice added to it to make 500 ml of juice is to be consumed daily to get reprieve from the pain.
- Another easily available home remedy for ulcers is raw goat milk. Drinking at least three glasses of this milk daily is recommended.
- One teaspoon of yellow root extract should be taken with water two times everyday to be effective against ulcers. Yellow root contains components which eradicate the bacteria in the stomach and is, therefore, especially useful in ulcers caused by helicobacter pylori.
- One teaspoon of virgin olive oil should be taken three times everyday. It coats the stomach lining and prevents further erosion.
- Licorice is a commonly available home remedy for ulcers. It bolsters the gastric membrane thereby preventing ulcers. Licorice should be taken half a gram daily for at least a month to provide desirable results.
- The herb cat's claw is known to reduce inflammation and provides relief from the soreness and itchiness of the gastric ulcer.
- Herbs like slipper elm and golden seal root are good home remedies for ulcers as they reduce the flaring of stomach lining and fight bacteria.
Besides taking these home remedies, due significance should be given to the diet. Hot, spicy food should be avoided at all costs. The intake of non vegetarian food, which requires an extra effort by the stomach to digest, should be reduced till the time the ulcer has completely healed. Tea, coffee, smoking and alcohol consumption can greatly aggravate the condition and should be prevented at all costs. Various procedures for relaxation like meditation and acupressure should be given a try. Besides, there are several ‘yoga aasans’ which help in repairing the damage to the stomach lining and restoring health.