What is an ulcer?
Ulcers are inflammations (sores) on the lining of a patient’s stomach, esophagus (throat) or intestine. They are mostly located in the small intestine of the body. This kind of ulcer is called a duodenal ulcer.
Ulcers of the stomach are called gastric ulcers, and those of the throat are called esophageal ulcers.
Common symptoms of ulcers include:
Pain in the stomach
Bloating of the stomach
Burning sensation in the stomach
Discomfort at night or between meals (duodenal ulcer)
Stomach discomfort after eating or having a drink (gastric ulcer)
Discomfort that lasts minutes or hours
Discomforts that comes and goes days or weeks at a time
Easily feel full during meals
When an ulcer causes tear or wound in the stomach, the ulcer becomes a bleeding ulcer.
Unexpected weight loss
Vomiting (even vomiting blood)
Tightness in the chest
What causes ulcers?
Mostly, ulcers are caused by Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori). It is a bacterial infection.
Acidic foods and drinks increase pain, burning sensation, and discomfort. Other causes of ulcer is using aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen) over a long time. Spicy foods, alcohol, and stress can make an ulcer worse.
How to diagnose an ulcer
Ulcers can be diagnosed by carrying out an endoscopy. This process, which can be carried out by a doctor, involves inserting a thin and flexible tube attached to a camera, down the patient’s throat, and into the stomach.
Blood tests and breath tests or testing the patient’s stool for H. pylori is equally an essential way for diagnosing ulcer. A sample of the patient’s stomach lining is another way of testing.
Can an ulcer be prevented?
Ulcers caused by an H. pylori infection cannot be prevented. However, risks associated with it can be reduced by limiting the intake of aspirin and anti-inflammatory medicines. Avoiding acidic foods like orange juice and spicy foods is another way of reducing discomfort associated with ulcers. It is also advisable to avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and caffeinated drinks.
Read also: Health benefits of bitter kola
8 home remedies for ulcers
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. A 2013 review confirmed that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. These may help in the prevention of stomach ulcers. Though, these studies were limited to a few humans.
The call for more researchers to examine the effectiveness of turmeric in treating ulcers is growing by the day even though the initial results appear positive. Scientists are hoping that turmeric can help in relieving symptoms associated with ulcers and throat sores.
Aloe vera is a succulent species of the genus aloe. It is a plant-based oil used for making cosmetics, lotions, and foods.
Studies show that aloe vera improved stomach ulcers in patients and yielded positive results. In 2011, a study on rats reported that aloe vera positively impacted ulcers just like very familiar anti-ulcer medications. However, scientists need more research to see how much effect it can make on humans.
Read also: 7 health benefits of Aloe Vera
In 2011, research suggests that unripe plantain, which is a type of banana, produced positive effects on peptic ulcers. This is because an unripe plantain contains a flavonoid called leucocyanidin.
According to experts and seasoned proof, leucocyanidin increases the quantity of mucus in the stomach. This helps to prevent ulcers and relieve symptoms associated with it.
It is of various belief that ginger has gastroprotective properties. As such, people treat digestive conditions such as bloating, constipation, and gastritis with it.
A 2013 review recommends the use of ginger in treating gastric ulcers, which are caused by H. pylori bacteria. Ginger also puts a stop to ulcers caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is also advisable to note that most of these studies were carried out on animals, but it’s never a bad idea to try them on humans since these plants can be consumed by humans.
These are living organisms that help in restoring balance to the bacteria in the digestive tract. They help in treating ulcers as they help in achieving gut health optimally.
A 2014 review shows that probiotics cannot eliminate H. pylori bacteria. Although they reduce the existence of bacteria, speed up the healing process, and improve symptoms significantly, they can equally eliminate harmful bacteria too.
Sources of probiotics are:
Probiotic supplements are considered the best option as they contain a higher concentration of probiotics per serving.
Fruits such as apples, blueberries, cherries, lemons, and nuts are considered effective for managing and treating ulcers. This is because they contain a compound called flavonoids. Flavonoids are polyphenols and are responsible for the colouration of many fruits.
Polyphenols help in treating ulcers according to a review in 2011. They also help in treating a few digestive issues such as diarrhea, spasms, and such others. They equally protect the stomach lining and prevents it from developing ulcers. Flavonoids increase stomach mucus, which hinders the growth of H. pylori. They also have antioxidant properties.
Honey is a natural sweetener produced by bees. It has its many health benefits (which we shall discuss in a later article) too.
A 2016 review suggests that manuka honey has antimicrobial effects against H. pylori. It also recommends honey for the treatment of stomach ulcers. It can be used to speed up a wound’s healing process, burns and for treatment of skin ulcers.
Garlic adds flavour to foods as widely used all over the world. It is medicinal because it has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help in fighting infections.
Studies recommend garlic for the effective treatment of ulcers. A study on animals in 2016 suggests that garlic helps in preventing the development of ulcers and speeds up its healing process as well.
In 2015, a review suggests that it may also prevent the growth process of H. pylori. It was suggested that eating two cloves of garlic twice a day, can have anti-bacterial effects dead set against H. pylori. It is also needful to understand that scientists still need to carry out more research on this, as a few of the studies don’t seem to agree with the idea that garlic affects H. pylori or prevents ulcers.