An ulcer is a raw area that occurs in the intestinal tract where there is a constant bath of gastric juice. It can occur in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. They can occur in the jejunum or the ileum, but this is rare. Ulcers usually measure about 0.33 inch to 1.0 inch across and about .01 inch deep. They can occur one at a time or in several areas at one time. The usual symptom is pain in the abdomen when the stomach is empty.
Antacid drugs are used to neutralize the acidity and to aid in the healing of the ulcer. If they are taken regularly along with self-help methods, they may be enough to heal the ulcer. If not, and symptoms still persist, then professional treatment is necessary. Professional treatment of ulcers usually consists of drugs such as cimetidine, ranitidine or famotidine, which reduce acid production and may form a protective coating on the ulcer.
Drug therapy works in more than two thirds of the cases to heal the ulcer in about six weeks. In the other third of the patients, long-term drug therapy is usually required, and if the ulcer still fails to respond, then surgery is necessary.
Self-help methods that can be used to treat ulcers include avoiding smoking (the most important step in self-help), alcohol, coffee and tea. Do not use aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Eat several small meals each day, at regular times, instead of just two or three large meals. Detoxification of the body using healing clay is popular with herbalists. The clay absorbs the toxins in the body and relieves the pain from the ulcers. Ulcers that are the result of stress can often be prevented by taking supplements of vitamins A, C and E as well as the mineral zinc. The pain of ulcers can be relieved by drinking chamomile tea in the morning. Other soothing herb teas include valarien, St. John's Wort, comfrey and slippery elm bark.
It is really important for the person with ulcers to get enough rest and warmth. Warmth in the digestive tract is very important. A hot water bottle can be used on the stomach right after meals and as often as you can throughout the day and night. Avoid situations that are stressful as much as possible, relax at mealtimes and enjoy the food. Mealtimes should be planned so that they are at regular times and in a relaxing atmosphere.