By Neepa Sevak
During digestion food travels from the mouth down the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach makes hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin that helps digest and break down the food before it enters the small intestine (duodenum). Next food passes into the duodenum, where digestion continues. The lining of the stomach is covered by a thick protective mucous layer which prevents the acid from injuring the wall of the stomach.
An ulcer is a hole that forms in the lining of the stomach or duodenum where acid and pepsin are present. Ulcers in the stomach are called gastric or stomach ulcers. Those in the duodenum are called duodenal ulcers. Those in the esophagus are called esophageal ulcers, and are a result of reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. In general, all of these ulcers are referred to as peptic ulcers.
Causes of Peptic Ulcer Disease
- The main cause of ulcers is infection with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium is found in the saliva of infected people, and may also spread through mouth-to-mouth contact such as kissing or through exposure to the vomit of an infected person. This bacterium weakens the protective mucous coating of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath irritating it causing an ulcer.
- Abuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. make the stomach weak to the harmful effects of acid and pepsin hence resulting in ulcers.
- Heredity - patients with peptic ulcer often have a family history of the disease.
- Everyday life issues such as mental and physical stress, diet, cigarettes, foods and beverages containing caffeine, and alcohol do not cause ulcers, but can make the existing ulcer worse.
Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Dull burning pain in the stomach between the breast bone and the belly button in between meals, early in the morning, or after drinking orange juice, coffee, alcohol or taking aspirin.
- Duodenal ulcers feel better when you eat or drink and then worse 1 or 2 hours later.
- Stomach ulcers feel worse when you eat or drink.
- Dull chest pain.
- Pain is often worse on an empty stomach - eg. Nighttime pain is very common.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Heartburn and stomach bloating with a sick feeling.
- Nausea, bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee ground and black or bloody stools are emergency symptoms that need immediate attention.
Homeopathic Approach to Peptic Ulcers
Homeopathy considers peptic ulcers as a malfunction of one or more of our body systems. This is a result of a slow degenerative process due to the lack of adequate bodily supplies of the elements necessary for normal function and rejuvenation of affected organs. Homeopathic medicines have a remarkable healing property on the esophageal, gastric or duodenal mucosa, by counteracting the H. Pylori infection, reducing edema and the amount of acid that our stomach makes.
Homeopathic treatment is safe and gentle, without side-effects. Homoeopathy medicines are prescribed on the basis of physical, emotional, and genetic make up that individualizes a person. This constitutional approach surrounding mind and body works at the root-level. Homoeopathy is very effective in managing all the symptoms of peptic ulcers and also plays an important role in preventing relapse of the condition and improving the general health of the person. Another outstanding thing about homeopathy is that people on multiple medications can safely take homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic drugs are non-habit forming and have no addictive characteristics. Homeopathy has an exceptional proven safety record with the FDA with 200 years of clinical effectiveness. Since it treats in totality, it leads to a permanent long-lasting cure, rather than a temporary suppression of symptoms.
Self Care Measures
- Eat a diet rich in fiber and vitamin A, especially fruits and vegetables. This may reduce the risk of developing an ulcer in the first place and may speed your recovery if you already have one.
- Foods containing flavonoids, like apples, celery, cranberries, onions, garlic and tea inhibits the growth of H. pylori.
- Eat bland food and cut down on sugar, salt, citrus, tomato products, chocolate, coffee, including decaffeinated coffee, carbonated beverages all of which can increase stomach acid.
- Eat small meals evenly spaced throughout the day. Avoid periods of hunger or overeating.
- Eat slowly and chew foods well.
- Sit up while eating and for 1 hour afterward.
- Drink lots of water.
- Milk should not be used as antacid therapy. Although milk protein has an initial neutralizing effect on gastric acid, it is also a very strong stimulator.
- Avoid stress, unnecessary medication, smoking and alcohol.
Hence, for a safe, natural, effective and long lasting answer for peptic ulcers, consider homeopathy.