Ulcers are painful but common lesions in the stomach or duodenum lining, leading to dull stomachaches, bloating, nausea, and sometimes weakness and severe pain with vomiting, occasionally with blood. Call your doctor if symptoms are severe or if there is blood, as your stomach may be perforated.
Causes of Ulcers
Ninety percent of all ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, but a littleknown cause of stomach ulcers is eating too much sodium (salt). If you consume too much sodium on a regular basis, stomach ulcers, bloating, kidney damage, and a large number of other ailments can develop. If you eat a lot of canned soups and vegetables or eat potato chips, French fries, and other salty foods on a regular basis, look for these early signs of excessive sodium intake:
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Dark urine and complexion
- Clenching your teeth
- Bloodshot eyes
Here are some other potential causes of ulcers:
- Zinc deficiency
- Too much secretion of hydrochloric acid can eat away the stomach lining, as can excess use of aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Smoking cigarettes weakens the stomach lining as well.
- Until recently, ulcers were thought to be caused simply by stress. Though that opens one up to illness, stress is no longer considered a primary cause. Doctors are still uncertain, however, why some people exposed to the H. pylori bacteria end up with ulcers and some don’t.
- Ulcers may be a symptom of dehydration.
Treatments for Ulcers
Whatever you do, get tested first to see what’s ailing your stomach. If it is the H. pylori bacteria, it’s possible many other conditions may clear up, too, when this bacterium is destroyed. Also:
- Be sure to take a good multivitamin every day and increase your zinc intake when you have an illness or injury. Zinc accelerates healing. Licorice is often helpful in ulcer healing.
- Primal Defense, a probiotic formula, is very useful if your ulcers aren’t bleeding.
- The herb slippery elm helps with ulcers, digestion, and Crohn’s disease.
- Aloe vera juice (from the filets; don’t use wholeleaf aloe because of toxins found in the aloe rind) will cut the burning away and help heal the delicate stomach lining.
- If you want to use herbs, start with garlic, especially freshly crushed clove, in every meal. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice and green tea (without sugar) five times a day. Cranberry juice has been shown to prevent H. pylori from sticking to the stomach wall and the tannins in green tea are active against the bacteria. Then comes the onetwo punch: Take both goldenseal and rhubarb root three times daily. Make sure to take these herbs separately, not together. This herbal therapy takes four to six weeks to work. These herbs can be used long after the infection is gone if you like the effect.
- Honorable mention herbs to add generously to your diet are: cinnamon, thyme, and turmeric. The essential oils of lemon verbena and lemongrass are also effective and make pleasant teas that you can drink regularly. Remember, get checked for H. pylori, the bacteria most commonly associated with benign and malignant ulcers.
- Chamomile tea is actually prescribed by doctors in Mexico for ulcers.
If you have an ulcer, do not chew gum. Chewing gum activates the digestive juices, which are loaded with acid. Acid secreted into the stomach without any food will only exacerbate the ulcers. Not all gum is bad, however. Guar gum, which is available as a capsule or a powder, can actually help treat ulcers.