Stomach ulcers – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment in Ayurveda

An ulcer is a lesion that occurs when skin surface or mucus lining is breached, but, heals quickly. Ulcers that occur in the stomach or intestine are known as peptic ulcers or gastric ulcers. Peptic ulcer occurs in the stomach, while duodenal ulcers occur in the duodenum.

Causes:

Ulcers are usually caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and stress, or due to excess secretion of stomach acids. It has also been found that infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori), and use of painkillers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also cause ulcers.

Ayurveda believes that people with dominant tendency to Vata are generally the victims. When vata dosha surfaces, two types of ulcers are predominant – Peptic ulcer and Duodenal ulcer.

Symptoms:

Ulcer symptoms can be mild, or acute or asymptomatic. Symptom of stomach and duodenal ulcer are quite common and difficult to deduce, but pain is a common symptom in both. Pain occurs during the course of digestion of food and subsides when food has been digested or fresh food is ingested. But, if the ulcer is too deep, the pain continues even after food has been digested.

The other symptoms may be gradual loss of weight and mental agitation, increase in the amount of gas and burping, feeling of fullness, mild nausea especially on first waking in the morning, feeling tired and not too well, loss of appetite. In case of other symptoms such as internal bleeding (black stools) or presence of blood when vomiting, it is warning that the patient needs hospitalization.

Treatment:

Ayurveda has several effective treatment methods for ulcers. For mild symptoms of stomach or duodenal ulcers, they can be healed by just abstaining from hot/spicy foods, avoiding tobacco products, and disagreeable foods.

Gastric ulcers can be controlled by Sukumara Ghrita (2tsp) with warm water/milk twice a day on empty stomach. If the patient is unable to digest fats, medicine should be administered with warm water. The dosage of the medicine should also be modified depending on the digestive capacity of the patient. Hence, begin with half-a-tsp or 1 tsp and gradually increase the dosage, if the digestive power of the patient permits it.

Moderate pain in cases of stomach ulcers can be controlled by Shakha Bhasma, while severe excruciating pains may require Maha Shankha Vati, and the dosage should be decided by the physician.

Ayucid and Avipattikar Churna is also recommended, depending on the case.

Ayurvedic physicians treat cases of gastric ulcer depending on the particular dosha in a person, which varies with each individual. While medicated enema of sesame oil and asparagus oil are recommended for the Vata type, the medicated enema is done using cassia fistula and amalaki for the pita type. For individuals of kapha dosha type, vomiting is induced with sugarcane juice or salt water.

Ayurvedic treatments for gastric ulcer consist of Panchakarma and Rasayana treatments, antibacterial therapies, inflammation and hyperacidity therapies, along with oral medicines and diet regulations. The doctor will decide on the treatment after careful examination and diagnosis of the patient.

Diet/Lifestyle/yoga

The diet of a patient suffering from peptic ulcer should be planned to provide adequate nutrition, while also resting the disturbed organs by constantly neutralizing the gastric acid, inhibiting production of acid, reducing mechanical and chemical irritation. Milk, butter, fresh fruits, raw and boiled vegetables constitute best diet.

Sometimes, the pain and associated discomfort is relieved just by drinking plain cold milk or barley water. Other foods specifically recommended are Banana, Chandan, Lime, Bansalochan, vegetable juice and almond milk. Pure ghee is also considered to be a good ulcer healer, and can be included in meals.

Try to maintain a daily massage routine and incorporate breathing exercises. Above all, the patient should try to remain stress-free, and maintain regularity in his exercise, work and rest schedule.

The best yoga poses that could help with this condition are Vajrasana, Padmasana, Pawanmuktasana, Bhujangasana, and Paschimothana Asana.