Ulcers are open sores or lesions in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract which form when the mucous lining fails to protect the digestive tract or when there is too much stomach acid.

There are two kinds of ulcers; gastric, which occur in the stomach, and duodenal, which form in the duodenum (the top part of the small intestine that the stomach empties into). Duodenal ulcers are more common than gastric ulcers and more common in men than in women.

Those who take large doses of aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDS) to manage pain are at increased risk of developing ulcers. This type of ulcer will generally heal when you stop taking the medicine. A bleeding ulcer occurs when the ulcer has penetrated a blood vessel, causing it to bleed.

Spicy foods and stress were once regarded the principal cause of ulcers (although they may contribute); however, researchers have discovered bacterial infection as the culprit. Helicobacter pylori, a germ that clings to the lining of the stomach; is the only bacterium that can live in its acid environment, causing infection of the intestinal lining. A short course of antibiotics can wipe out this bacterium and offers long-term relief from ulcers.

Factors that make someone favorable to infection by H. pylori include low levels of antioxidants in the stomach and intestinal linings and low gastric acid production.

Symptoms of ulcers are sometimes misinterpreted as indigestion or heartburn and may be different for every sufferer. Symptoms of gastric ulcers may include a burning, aching or gnawing pain that occurs after eating, recurrent bloating, nausea and vomiting after eating. Symptoms of duodenal ulcers may include burning or gnawing pain that is felt right below the breastbone, stomach pain that recurs during the night or after a few hours of not eating, an uncomfortable feeling accompanying hunger, and stomach pain that is temporarily eased by taking antacids or eating.

Foods that strengthen the stomach lining include bananas and plantains, cabbage or cabbage juice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, kale, green tea and figs. In addition, red and white beans and unpolished rice soak up acid in the stomach.

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar after meals may help digestion if there is not enough stomach acid. Baby foods are good for a bleeding ulcer.

Undetected or untreated ulcers can lead to peritonitis, an inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. An ulcer can burn a hole right through the intestine or stomach in severe cases. This is a medical emergency. Fortunately, a number of natural remedies can be used to prevent and treat ulcers before they reach this stage.

Natural Remedies:

Vitamin C helps rebuild antioxidant levels. Take 500 milligrams three times daily.

Vitamin E helps rebuild antioxidant levels. Take 100 IU three times daily.

Zinc promotes healing of the digestive tract. Take 20 - 30 milligrams daily.

Fiber is associated with a reduced rate of duodenal ulcer; it also cuts recurrence rates of the illness. Fiber promotes the secretion of mucus, which helps protect the digestive tract. Follow package directions.

Aloe vera relieves pain and promotes healing. Taken internally, aloe vera gel will soothe sore, ulcerated spots in the stomach. Take one teaspoonful twice daily.

Calendula flowers brewed in a tea can often calm burning ulcer symptoms in a matter of minutes. It has antibacterial and immune stimulating properties.

Chlorophyll is believed to be very effective in cleansing the intestinal lining and reducing irritation associated with pre-ulcerous or ulcerous conditions. Take a teaspoon of liquid chlorophyll everyday. Or try a daily eight ounce glass of green juices, such as parsley or spinach juice, which are high in chlorophyll.

Licorice root helps heal ulcers by promoting the production of mucus to protect the lining of the stomach and duodenum. It contains active substances that attack the bacteria that cause ulcers. Add licorice root extract to hot drinks, in part as herbal medicine, in part as a sweetener. Be sure to use the deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) form, otherwise, the pure form of licorice can raise blood pressure.

Psyllium provides supplemental fiber. Take as needed. Start with 1/2 teaspoon psyllium seeds or powder mixed in 8 ounces of cool liquid and drink 2 to 3 cups daily. Do not take psyllium if you are taking supplemental fiber.

Other herbs that may have benefits for those with ulcers include; alfalfa, bayberry bark, burdock, chamomile, comfrey, fenugreek seeds, ginger, ginseng, marshmallow root, meadowsweet, mint, shepherd's purse and slippery elm.

Caution: All supplements should only be used in amounts typically recommended for medicinal purposes and you should always consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.

Author's Bio: 

Edith Lingenfelter-webmaster of Age-old Herbs shows how "self defense" is natures oldest law on how to prevent your health concerns with natural healing herbs and herbal nutrition supplements. Learn how to protect your health by visiting www.age-oldherbs.com.