Herbal Remedies for Ulcers


©2007 Jennifer Klem Cayenne pepper was thought to irritate ulcers but is now believed to heal them.

Ulcers are no fun. But modern medicine has learned much about them over the years, and now being diagnosed with one can be followed with some simple herbal remedies to ease their discomfort.

Gastric ulcers are those that occur in the stomach, while duodenal ulcers are located in the upper portion of the small intestine; the term peptic ulcer commonly encompasses both types.

H. pylori bacteria cause many peptic ulcers. This organism or other irritants can break down the mucosal lining of the stomach, allowing digestive acid to eat away at the underlying tissue.

If you over-produce acid, as can happen in times of stress, this worsens the condition. However, many people with gastric ulcers in particular actually make too little acid. By taking herbs, you may able to speed up healing and minimize ulcer related pain. Some suggestions are below.

Herbal Remedies for Ulcers

Long thought to aggravate ulcers, cayenne pepper in moderation actually helps heal them in some cases. Stimulating blood flow to bring healing nutrients to the area, this member of the nightshade family can be good therapy for ulcers. Taking 1/4 teaspoon in 1 cup of hot water per day is all it takes.

Cabbage and its juice are also known for their ulcer-healing abilities. Researchers have found that ulcer patients who drink 1 quart of raw cabbage juice a day often heal their ulcers in five days. Those who eat cabbage also have quicker healing times, although not as dramatic as with the juice.

Garden produce rich in flavonoids may be helpful, too. Studies indicate that some bioflavonoids inhibit the growth of H. pylori. These compounds are also useful as anti-inflammatories. Eat red- and purple-colored foods, such as plums, berries, and red cabbage. Parsley and onions are also good sources. Garlic and licorice have also been shown to kill H. Pylori in test tubes.

Bilberry is used frequently in Russia to treat ulcers. It reduces inflammation in the stomach and intestines and protects their fragile mucous membranes. Calendula is also good for ulcers due to its wound-healing ability. It is slightly unpleasant to drink as tea; add calendula tincture to a pleasantly flavored beverage.

When it comes to ulcer herbal remedies, we've barely scratched the surface. We will discuss additional herbal remedy ideas in the next section.

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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.

More Herbal Remedies for Ulcers

A number of additional herbal remedies exist for ulcers. In addition to the ones previously discussed, the following herbal remedies may help relieve or heal your ulcer.

Chamomile is a popular ulcer treatment. It is known to decreases inflammation, thus speeding up the healing process. Apigenin, a flavonoid contained in chamomile, helps to combat H. pylori bacteria. Several strong cups of tea per day may be helpful.

Licorice mimics the action of chamomile, but is even more effective. It soothes inflammation and encourages the stomach to protect itself from acid. This herb helps improve and maintain the integrity of stomach and small intestine linings by stimulating the production of a substance called mucin. When the lining of the stomach and duodenum, the upper portion of the small intestine, are well coated with mucin, ulcers are less likely to start. Use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) to avoid raising blood pressure. Take chewable tablets shortly before meals and several hours before bedtime. Typically 250-500 mg are recommended.

Marshmallow is also a soothing agent. Its mucilage calms inflammation and helps heal ulcers. Slippery elm, with its mucilaginous gel, also soothes the lining of the stomach and small intestine. (It's best to stir powder into water that's at room temperature.)

Peppermint is another good herb for reducing the inflammation associated with peptic ulcers. Its main active ingredient, menthol, is antibacterial, so it may help get rid of H. pylori. In some cases it stimulates digestion and may increase acidity, so use with care if this happens.

Yarrow has been clinically seen to make blood clot faster and stop bleeding. If you have bleeding ulcers, yarrow tea or tincture may help control the unwanted bleeding. Yarrow is also excellent at reducing inflammation.

Ulcers, especially those that bleed (sometimes noted as black stools), need medical attention. Discuss the combination of conventional and herbal treatment with a physician. Do not use chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed, aster, or chrysanthemum.

No matter which herbal remedy you try, you may find taking herbs at the onset of an ulcer will help ease its pain or even expediate healing. They are worth a try!

For more information about the subjects covered in this article, try the following links:

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.