How to avoid this family curse

  • Why this story terrified me when I was younger
  • Discover why common medications can be a problem for your stomach
  • How a cabbage can treat this nasty condition

It was a simple question for a 10 year old to ask:

“Why is it that grandma doesn’t eat very much?”

Little did the young Ray Collins realise that the answer would strike fear into his heart.

…That his mum would launch into a description of how his grandmother once had an ulcer in her tummy.

…And how that ulcer EXPLODED one day, leaving a hole in her stomach.

…And how she was found on the kitchen floor and had to go to hospital where they took away half her tummy!

I was left reeling, I tell you. REELING.

I’d heard of the ulcers you got in your mouth. Mum complained about them all the time and squeezed tubes of weird stuff into your gums.

But I didn’t realise they could be these huge, evil PacMan-type creatures, chomping through people’s stomachs.

Thus was born my fear of ulcers

Things didn’t get better.

I didn’t get many spots as a teenager. But the damage was all inside my mouth, where I had inherited the curse of the mouth ulcer.

When I stuck my tongue in them they tasted like battery acid, and felt as huge as moon craters.

Mum developed a stomach ulcer in the early 80s. It was a race against time and biomedical technology to see if all the new fangled ulcer drugs could beat the surgeon’s knife.

They did… but after what seemed like years!

It didn’t stop ulcers looming large in my imagination. As Gene Pitney sung in the 60s, I felt like I was only ’24 Hours from Ulcer’.

Or is that ‘Tulsa’? (OK so I’ve used up this month’s allocation of bad puns…)

Anyway, I am older and wiser now. These days I am only scared of things like fireworks, aspartame, and Strictly.

As for ulcers… well, I’ve done some reading and found some reassuring solutions. More in a moment…

How a cabbage can treat a stomach ulcer

A stomach ulcer is an open sore found in the lining of the digestive tract. Peptic (or gastric) ulcers are found on the lining of the stomach. Duodenal ulcers are found on the lining of the upper small intestine.

The pain you feel when you have an ulcer is caused by the sore coming into contact with acidic digestive juices. When you eat, there’s a bit of relief as the food neutralises the acids. But the pain soon returns after your food is digested.

One of the solutions to this pain is the humble cabbage.

During the early 1950s, Dr Garnett Cheney found that peptic ulcer patients who drank 4 glasses of raw cabbage juice daily quickened the healing process and relieved the pain.

Natural treatments like this can be better than prescribed medications. Many doctors rely on antacids to neutralise the problem. But one popular antacid, Alka-Seltzer, contains aspirin, so large doses can actually cause ulcers. Another antacid – calcium carbonate – can constipate you.

Even popular products such as Gaviscon and the old favourite Rennie can cause problems such as diarrhoea/constipation, flatulence and nausea…

Then you’ve got ulcer-targeting drugs like Omeprazole. These suppress the symptoms by blocking production of stomach acid, but they are not without their problematic side effects such as blurred vision, joint pain and severe headaches… and many more.

In the past products such as Zantac were used… but these have been withdrawn globally because they have been linked to cancer.

But the issue is that none of these tackle the root problem, so many patients relapse within two years.

The problem is you need stomach acids to digest proteins properly, kill fungi, bacteria, and viruses, and to absorb vitamins and mineral.

So you can see that it’s not always helpful to block them with drugs.

One thing that all the medical experts agree on is that if you fear you may be developing a stomach ulcer you should stop taking pain killing drugs from the NSAID family which includes aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Your diet is the all-important weapon

As always, if you think you have an ulcer, or know someone who has one then please consult a doctor first. Especially before you start messing with your diet.

The nutritional information I am about to give you is designed to help you understand what’s good for your stomach ulcer… and what’s not.

These tips come from Dr. Ronald Hoffman, one of America’s foremost complementary medicine practitioners and author of numerous books and articles on nutrition.

He recommends these dietary tips:

  • Drink cabbage juice: a quarter pint of cabbage juice daily can heal your ulcer more quickly. Choose only fresh green cabbages in season. You can also try celery juice for a similar effect, too.
  • Slow down: that goes for the speed you eat, as well as your general lifestyle. Stress can flare up ulcers and slow down the healing process. Hoffman claims that hypnotherapy, has helped 50% of patients who suffer from duodenal ulcers.
  • Don’t avoid Chilli: The old wisdom was that ulcer patients should avoid chilli peppers, black pepper, mustard, cloves, and paprika. But recent studies in Texas and India found that eating jalapeno peppers did not cause harm. In fact, if ulcers are the result of a bacterial infection, then spices may protect you by stimulating gastric juice, which fights bacteria.
  • Eat Fibre: Ulcer patients who go on a high-fibre diet find that their ulcers recur half as frequently. Barley and oats coat and soothe your stomach lining. But you should avoid abrasive stuff like nuts, popcorn, and seeds.
  • Cut down on steak: According to Hoffman, animal proteins are “high in arachidonic acid, a fatty acid used in your body’s production of inflammatory prostaglandins.” In simple Ray-speak, steaks can inflame your stomach.
  • Drink water: Especially cold water, which feels soothing. If you read ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, you’ll be amazed at the story of an Iranian doctor who was imprisoned for two and a half years during the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. When treating ulcer patients, he found that their pains faded within three to eight minutes after drinking water. They drank a glass of water a half-hour before and two hours after each meal to prevent the pain coming back.
  • Take vitamins: Vitamins A, B6, and E and folic acid help maintain and repair your gut’s mucosal barrier.
  • Take fish oil: this can help prevent and heal ulcers because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
  • Try liquorice: This is a popular ulcer remedy in Chinese medicine
  • Try aloe vera: Hoffman says that a young patient of his with a duodenal ulcer “was given Tagamet and told that her ulcer would heal in three months. On the advice of a nutritionally oriented doctor, she resorted to aloe vera, extra vitamins, and chamomile tea, which soothes spasms and inflammation; her ulcer cleared in six weeks.”

Peace of mind at last

So at last I can rest easy. If I follow in my family’s footsteps and get an ulcer, I know the dietary measures to take.

Hope this helps you, too.