by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~

Peptic ulcers are a group of ulceration disorders that occur in the area of the upper GI tract that are exposed to acid-pepsin secretion. There are mainly two groups:

Gastric ulcers – gnawing, burning pain present, usually after taking food

Duodenal ulcers – pain present on an empty stomach, relieved by eating.

Causes to consider:
*Heliobacter pylori infection
*Use of NSAID and aspirin
*Increased acid secretion
*Decrease barrier lining

An ulcer is caused when the mucosal lining of the stomach has deteriorated, allowing digestive acids to eat away at the underlying tissue. They are painful and can be very dangerous if left untreated. Other symptoms, other than pain, can present as bleeding, obstruction or perforation.

Heliobacter pylori (H pylori) is an S-shaped bacterium that colonizes in the mucus secreting epithelial cells of the stomach. Since it has multiple flagella, the bacterium moves and produces urease, which allows it to buffer the acid environment of the stomach and live there. The barrier lining of the stomach often becomes available to infection due to alcohol intake which can disrupt the lining. Too much intake of NSAIDS such as aspirin also irritate the inner lining of the stomach.

If you believe you have an ulcer, the first thing to do is visit your doctor and have that confirmed. The doctor’s diagnosis looks at your history, barium meal X-ray or an endoscopy.

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

This is a rare condition with severe, recurrent and complicated ulcer with or without diarrhea. The cause is a Gastric Secreting Tumor, single or multiple that is mostly present in the pancreas. 2/3 of the tumor are often malignant. Treatment would include acid reduction of secretion and often surgical removal of the tumor.

Stress Ulcers/Curling’s Ulcer

GI ulceration can often develop in relation to major psychological stress associated with burns, trauma, sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, severe liver failure or major surgeries. Since the body is under extreme stress, it will secrete more HCL which is the apparent cause.

Alternative Therapies

If you choose to go with a natural remedy, cabbage juice has been researched for its quick healing of ulcers. Drinking one quart of cabbage juice per day can heal ulcers in five to ten days in many patients. Eating a lot of cabbage is also good for fending off a return of your ulcer, although the cabbage itself was not as useful in healing existing ulcers as the juice was.

Consider these food remedies, which can really help: probiotics, kefir, Greek yogurt, miso, cabbage, garlic, onions, coconut (all forms), honey, bananas, licorice, baking soda, ginger, aloe juice and apple cider vinegar.

Bilberry contains 11 Anthocyanosides, which have been shown to block ulcer formations.

Calendula is an immune stimulating herb with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that have shown to relieve chronic stomach irritation.

Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic and contains stomach soothing properties. It also includes Apigenin, which is the known bioflavonoid shown to inhibit the growth of H pylori bacteria.

Cranberry. Some preliminary research suggests cranberry may inhibit H. pylori growth in the stomach. Consider 400 mg twice daily.

Garlic, which contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities. 

Gentian is one of the bitter herbs that help in digestion.Ginger contains 11 compounds with anti-ulcer activity. This aromatic bitter stimulates the digestive system and helps improve sluggish digestion.Licorice soothes inflammation and stimulates the production of mucin, which coats the stomach. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is what you should use, since regular licorice root can raise blood pressure. Take a 250-500 mg chewable tablets before meals and a few hours before bed. Consider licorice root tea, twice a day or licorice in tincture form.

Marshmallow Root is a mucilage and relieves irritated and inflamed mucous membranes in the digestive tract.

Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) is a traditional treatment for peptic ulcers and inhibits H. pylori in test tubes. Consider standardized extract, 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily in divided dosages.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) may help relieve symptoms of peptic ulcer. Standardized, enteric coated tablet, 1 tablet 2 – 3 times daily. Each tablet contains 0.2 ml peppermint oil. Be sure to use the enteric coated form to avoid heartburn.

Pineapple provides glutamine which has been proven effective against ulcers. Also with bromelain, which works wonders on the digestive system.

Red pepper/cayenne may protect against peptic ulcers because Capsicum has been shown to prevent ulcers in laboratory experiments.

Turmeric is a mucilage and relieves irritated and inflamed mucous membranes in the digestive tract.

Yellow dock root, which is an herbal antibiotic that may block the growth of H pylori.


Top 12 Tips To Reduce Ulcers

1. Acid reduction is a major part of healing this disorder. Be aware of the acidity of foods you eat.

2. Cut down the intake of milk and eggs. Higher milk consumption heightens the risk of peptic ulcers, since milk increase the production of stomach acid.

3. Reduce intake of sugar and other refined carbohydrates, such as white flour. Sugar increase stomach acid. Use stevia instead.

4. Reduce salt intake. The more salt consumed the higher the risk of gastric ulcers.

5. Coffee and tea (even decaf) increases stomach acid.

6. Fiber intake is important. Fiber slows down the the movement of food and stomach acids to the intestine (Gastric Emptying Time), which helps those with duodenal ulcers. Consumption of legumes, whole grains, vegetables and other high fiber foods should be eaten daily.

7. Smoking delays ulcer healing. If your serious about healing your ulcers,it’s time to quit.

8. Learn to cope with your stress in your life. Stress is known to exacerbate ulcers.

9. Use the power of Aromatherapy. Essential oils such as chamomile, frankincense, geranium and marjoram can be blended into a carrier oil and slowly massaged into the abdomen.

10. Eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables. (unless you are taking a blood thinner) these leafy vegetables contain Vitamin K, which helps in healing ulcers. Most people with digestive disorders are deficient in Vitamin K.

11. Acupuncture has been used traditionally for a variety of conditions related to the digestive tract, including peptic ulcers. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that acupuncture can help reduce pain associated with endoscopy.12. Sepiae Frutillaria (Wu Bei San) is a traditional herbal formulation that is historically used for pain commonly associated with and due to overproduction of stomach acid. This is a modification of the traditional formula, adding bietillae striatae, rhizoma to increase its efficacy. Bietillae striatae, rhizoma is renown for stopping bleeding in the spleen and stomach.


1. Kumar N, Kumar A, Broor SL, et al, Effects of milk on patients with duodenal
ulcers, Brit Med Journal 293:666, 1998

2. Rydening A, Berstad A, Aadland E, Odeegard B: Prophylactic effects of dietary
fiber in duodenal ulcer disease. The Lancett ii: 736-739, 1982

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