Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers

Intestinal ulcers can be a painful and dangerous situation. Ulcers are associated not only with pain and discomfort, but may also be a source of significant blood loss. Ulcers are treatable but may require several medications and sometimes multiple rounds of these medications. It is important to know that there are several nutrimental factors that may help improve the success against the treatment of ulcers.

Ulcers in the digestive tract are most often associated with the stomach and small intestine. For many years, stress was thought to be the main contributing factor in the formation of ulcers. Then research linked the bacteria Helicobacter pylori as a cause of ulcers. This changed treatment from rest and stress reduction to a regimen of antibiotics and stomach acid blockers. The antibiotic program does help in the treatment of H. pylori and the healing of the ulcers, but it is not a perfect regimen. Many experience side effects such as an upset stomach or nausea, and the ulcers may not heal up to a quarter of the time. Another concern with the H. pylori bacterium is that it is associated with intestinal cancers such as stomach cancer. It is also associated with heart disease, anemia and the skin problem rosacea [source: Markle, Kaptan, Baker]. Nutritional factors can help improve the successful healing of stomach and intestinal ulcers and decrease the amount of rounds needed to clear the causative infections.

There are multiple nutrients available to help heal ulcers. Vitamin C has been shown to significantly and positively affect the eradication of H. pylori [source: Zojaji]. Vitamin C has also been shown to decrease the amount of antibiotics needed to help clear the infection [source: Chuang]. Higher intakes of vitamins C and E are associated with reduced risk of stomach cancer [source: Kim]. Patients with H. pylori tend to have lower vitamin C levels in their stomach secretions [source: Rokkas]. Certain foods such as broccoli and olive oil have protection against H. pylori [source: Yanaka, Romero].  Choose extra virgin olive oil in a dark green bottle for the higher amount of polyphenols, the active ingredient for this purpose. Another nutrient called mastic, or mastic gum, has been very effective for ulcers, using up to 1000mg twice a day for 2-4 weeks [source: Huwez]. This can be found at health food stores. CoQ10, omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin all show promise against H. pylori [source: Inatsu, Thompson, De]. The beauty of each of these nutrients is that they are very safe and helpful for so many other conditions. Curcumin comes from the spice curry and is gaining a wonderful reputation for many conditions including treatment for the brain, heart and the prostate. Suggested dosages could be CoQ10 100mg, Omega 3 fatty acids 2000 milligrams and curcumin 500 milligrams twice a day. In addition, all treatments for stomach ulcers should consider probiotics, the good bacteria needed for healthy bowel function. Probiotics help lower the H. pylori population and can improve the efficacy of antibiotics used [source: Gotteland, Sheu]. Probiotics also help reestablish the good bacteria in the intestinal tract after the use of antibiotics. Probiotics are essential for the health of the bowels.

There are many other factors that influence the formation of ulcers. Smoking, poor diets, steroid medication and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication can all increase ulcer formation. The evidence of olive oil and broccoli protecting the gut against H. pylori is a reminder of how critical the diet is to the health of the intestinal tract.  Some patients with chronic problems of ulcers may consider pulling gluten out of the diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats that can cause significant problems in the intestinal tract of those who do not digest it well. Patients who chronically use anti-inflammatory medication should alert their doctor to any new stomach pains, digestive problems or signs of blood in the stool such as bright, red blood or dark, tarry stools.

Consider the nutrients above to help repair the intestinal tract after an ulcer. Also consider these nutrients if you take anti-inflammatory medications as it may help protect against the formation of an ulcer in the future.

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