Until quite recently ulcers were thought to be one of the crosses hard-working executives had to bear. They were the mark of a striving go-getter, who strode from power lunch to stock-market take-over bid, pausing only to swallow a packet of antacid tablets. Normally, so the theory went, the stomach doesn’t digest itself because a coating of mucus protects it from the hydrochloric acid which, together with an enzyme called pepsin, breaks down the food. But stress and anger can increase the amount of acid in the stomach while aspirin and other drugs can reduce the protective mucus and so the acids begin to eat away at the walls of the stomach or duodenum, creating crater-like sores which can be very swollen and tender. Classic symptoms include burning, intense pain in the mid-upper abdomen, and waking in the early morning, often with a sensation of abnormal hunger.
Peptic ulcers are the most common type of ulcer in the gastrointestinal system and can cause stomach acid and severe pain. Other symptoms can include weight loss, decreased appetite and nausea. Aspirin and NSAIDS are commonly used to treat pain conditions but then easily cause peptic ulcers. Another major cause of peptic ulcers is the helicobacter pylori bacteria. The World Health Organization (WHO) endorses and recommends acupuncture in the treatment of peptic ulcers.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that acupuncture for peptic ulcer helps. Chinese herbs can also be used to treat peptic ulcers.
Most Common Ulcer Signs & Symptoms
- Abdominal pain – H. pylori can cause painful inflammation of the stomach and small intestine lining. Pain can also be caused by a build up of gases, and constipation.
- Heartburn – Also called acid reflux, or GERD. When acid is low, digestion of food becomes slow and difficult. The result is that food sits in the stomach too long and gives off gases which can cause burning sensations in the stomach and throat.
- Anemia – Or iron deficiency – this is closely linked with an H. pylori infection. When an H. pylori infection has caused low stomach acid, it becomes particularly difficult to digest protein (which contains iron).
- Mild Abdominal Discomfort – Typically felt 2 – 4 hours before or after meals
- Bad Breath – H pylori organisms present in stomach acid create ammonia, which results in bad breath.
- Chest Pain – When H. pylori infection causes an inflammation in the stomach, the pain signals from the stomach can reflex into the chest, shoulder blade and stomach areas
- Constipation – When H. pylori causes low stomach acid, food is not processed properly causing undigested food to be released into the intestine.
- Diarrhea – The diarrhea may only happen infrequently, or it may happen almost daily, depending on how chronic the infection of H. pylori is.
- Gastritis – Gastritis is characterized by an inflammation of the stomach lining. H. pylori uses it’s corkscrew shape to burrow into, and injure the stomach lining, which results in inflammation.
- Nausea & Vomiting – H pylori causes nausea, but the reason for this is not clear. It is thought that as the body attempts to rid itself of the infection, the ejection happens through the process of vomiting. These symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for morning sickness in pregnant women.
What causes peptic ulcer according the Chinese medicine?
According to Chinese medicine, there can be a number of causes of peptic ulcers. Sometimes the liver is the cause of the problem and it is mainly stress and irritability that that upset the liver. Traditional Chinese medicine theory views that when the liver is over worked from excess emotional turmoil such as anger and irritability, the pressure in the liver builds up. This pressure is eventually released and then attacks sideways and affects the stomach. The stomach is affected by the heat of the liver and this extra heat from the liver burns away at the stomach.
This is why patients find it strange that their acupuncturist has put in needles into acupuncture points on the liver meridian to treat their burning stomach pain.
Research has also shown that certain aspects of the tongue can change during the course of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. One such example, is the observance of purple veins underneath the tongue that became reduced as treatment progressed and the helicobacter pylori infections resolved.
Results for Ulcer Treatment with Acupuncture
Tests on patients who have undergone acupuncture treatment for stomach ulcers show that acupuncture procedures can normalize certain processes of the gastro intestinal tract. There is not much evidence available to show exactly how effective acupuncture is as a treatment for stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori. Acupuncture is a painless treatment with thin metal needles being inserted to varying depths, and at specific acupuncture points. The needles are usually left inserted for 15 – 30 minutes. Treatment normally involves multiple sessions over a period of weeks or months.
For more information about how acupuncture and other treatments can help you, please contact Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist, Steve Drugan,B.S., L.Ac., at 614.218.6287 or click here. Taking new patients in and around Columbus, Ohio.