Ulcers are sores that can develop in different parts of the body. Gastric ulcers, or stomach ulcers, develop in the lining of the stomach. They are very common, affecting between 2.4–6.1% of the population. Various factors that disrupt the balance your stomach’s environment can cause them. The most common is an infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Other common causes include stress, smoking, excess alcohol consumption and the overuse of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Conventional anti-ulcer treatment typically relies on medications that can cause negative side effects like headaches and diarrhea.
For this reason, interest in alternative remedies has steadily risen and been fueled by both medical professionals and individuals with ulcers alike. This article lists 9 scientifically backed natural ulcer remedies.
1. Cabbage Juice
Cabbage is a popular natural ulcer remedy. Doctors reportedly used it decades before antibiotics were available to help heal stomach ulcers. It’s rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant shown to help prevent and treat H. pylori infections. These infections are the most common cause of stomach ulcers. In fact, several animal studies show that cabbage juice is effective at treating and preventing a wide range of digestive ulcers, including those affecting the stomach.
In humans, early studies observed that daily consumption of fresh cabbage juice appeared to help heal stomach ulcers more effectively than the conventional treatment used at the time. In one study, 13 participants suffering from stomach and upper digestive tract ulcers were given around one quart (946 ml) of fresh cabbage juice throughout the day.
On average, these participants’ ulcers healed after 7–10 days of treatment. This is 3.5 to 6 times faster than the average healing time reported in previous studies in those who followed a conventional treatment.
Licorice is a spice native to Asia and the Mediterranean region. It comes from the dried root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant and is a popular traditional herbal medicine used to treat many conditions.
Some studies report that licorice root may have ulcer-preventing and ulcer-fighting properties. For instance, licorice may stimulate the stomach and intestines to produce more mucus, which helps protect the stomach lining. The extra mucus may also help speed up the healing process and help reduce ulcer-related pain.
Honey is an antioxidant-rich food linked to a variety of health benefits. These include improved eye health and a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and even certain types of cancer. Honey also appears to prevent the formation and promote the healing of many wounds, including ulcers.
Moreover, scientists believe that honey’s antibacterial properties can help fight H. pylori, one of the most common causes of stomach ulcers.
Several animal studies provide support for honey’s ability to reduce the risk of developing ulcers, as well as healing time. However, human studies are needed.
Garlic is another food with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Animal studies observe that garlic extracts may speed up recovery from ulcers and even reduce the likelihood of them developing in the first place.
What’s more, lab, animal and human studies all report that garlic extracts may help prevent H. pylorigrowth — one of the most common causes of ulcers. In a recent study, eating two cloves of raw garlic per day for three days helped significantly reduce bacterial activity in the stomach lining of patients suffering from H. Pylori infection.
However, not all studies were able to reproduce these results and more are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Turmeric is a South Asian spice used in many Indian dishes. It’s easily recognizable by its rich yellow color. Curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, has been attributed to medicinal properties. These range from improved blood vessel function to reduced inflammation and heart disease risk. What’s more, curcumin’s anti-ulcer potential has recently been studied in animals.
It appears to have immense therapeutic potential, especially in preventing damage caused by H. pyloriinfections. It may also help increase mucus secretion, effectively protecting the stomach’s lining against irritants. Limited studies have been done in humans. One study gave 25 participants 600 mg of turmeric five times per day. Four weeks later, ulcers had healed in 48% of participants. After twelve weeks, 76% of participants were ulcer-free.
In another, individuals who tested positive for H. pylori were given 500 mg of turmeric four times per day. After four weeks of treatment, 63% of participants were ulcer-free. After eight weeks, this amount increased to 87% . That said, neither of these studies used a placebo treatment, which makes it difficult to know whether the turmeric is what caused the participants’ ulcers to heal. Thus, more research is needed.
Mastic is a resin obtained from the Pistacia lentiscus tree, more commonly known as the mastic tree. Other common names for mastic include Arabic gum, Yemen gum and tears of Chios.
The mastic tree generally grows in the Mediterranean region, and its sap can be dried into pieces of brittle translucent resin. When chewed, this resin softens into a white opaque gum with a pine-like flavor. Mastic has long been used in ancient medicine to treat various gut disorders, including stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease.
More recently, animal studies report that it may act as a potent natural ulcer remedy. Additionally, research in 38 participants suffering from ulcers reports that daily consumption of 1 gram of mastic led to a 30% greater reduction in ulcer-related symptoms than the placebo. By the end of the two-week study period, ulcers were healed in 70% of the participants in the mastic group versus only 22% of those in the placebo group .
Mastic appears to have antibacterial activity against H. pylori as well. In one recent study, intake of 350 mg of mastic gum three times a day for 14 days eradicated H. pyloriinfections 7–15% more effectively than the conventional treatment.
7. Chili Peppers
There’s a popular notion among people suffering from ulcers that eating chili peppers too often or in large quantities may cause stomach ulcers. In fact, people suffering from ulcers are often advised to limit their consumption of chili peppers or to avoid them completely.
However, recent research shows that these peppers are unlikely to cause ulcers and may actually help get rid of them. That’s because chili peppers contain capsaicin, an active ingredient that appears to reduce stomach acid production and enhance blood flow to the stomach lining. Both of these factors are thought to help prevent or heal ulcers.
The capsaicin found in chili peppers may also help increase mucus production, which can coat the stomach lining and protect it from injury. Most, although not all, animal studies show beneficial effects. However, few human studies could be found.
Also, note that the animal studies above used capsaicin supplements rather than whole chili peppers. In at least one study, such supplements led to more intense gastric pain in certain individuals. Therefore, it may be best to stick to the whole food and adjust your intake based on your personal tolerance.
8. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a plant widely used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries. It is widely known for its antibacterial and skin-healing properties. Interestingly, aloe vera may also be an effective remedy against stomach ulcers.
In one study, aloe vera consumption significantly reduced the amount of stomach acid produced in rats suffering from ulcers . In another study in rats, aloe vera had ulcer-healing effects comparable to omeprazole, a common anti-ulcer medication.
However, few studies have been done in humans. In one, a concentrated aloe vera drink was used to successfully treat 12 patients with stomach ulcers. In another study, taking antibiotics with 1.4 mg/pound (3 mg/kg) of aloe vera daily for six weeks was as effective as the conventional treatment at healing ulcers and reducing H. pylori levels.
Aloe vera intake is considered generally safe and the above studies show some promising results. However, more studies in humans are needed.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer an array of health effects. Their benefits range from improving the health of your mind to the health of your gut, including its ability to prevent and fight ulcers. Although the way this works is still being investigated, probiotics seem to stimulate the production of mucus, which protects the stomach lining by coating it.
They may also promote the formation of new blood vessels, which eases transport of healing compounds to the site of the ulcer and speeds up the healing process. Interestingly, probiotics may play a direct role in preventing H. pylori infections. Moreover, these beneficial bacteria appear to enhance conventional treatment efficiency by around 150%, all while reducing diarrhea and other antibiotic-related side effects by up to 47%.
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