Q.What can be done naturally for a peptic ulcer?
A. The natural approach to peptic ulcers is to first identify and then eliminate or reduce any factors that may contribute to their development. These include food allergies, a low-fiber diet, cigarette smoking, stress, alcohol, coffee, and drugs (especially anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and related drugs). In addition, I would recommend taking a special extract of licorice root known as DGL (it is short for deglycyrrhizinated licorice, but I tell my patients that it stands for “darn good licorice”). Removing glycyrrhetinic acid, a compound that can elevate blood pressure, from concentrated licorice, produces DGL.
Rather than inhibiting the release of acid, DGL stimulates the normal defense mechanisms that prevent ulcer formation. It improves both the quality and quantity of the protective substances that line the intestinal tract, increases the lifespan of the intestinal cell, and improves blood supply to the intestinal lining. There is also some evidence that DGL inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori—a bacterium linked to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.
Numerous clinical studies over the years support my experience with patients that DGL is an effective anti-ulcer compound. In several head-to-head studies, DGL has been shown to be as effective as Tagamet®, Zantac®, or antacids in both short-term treatment and maintenance therapy of peptic ulcers. The standard recommendation for DGL is two to four 380-mg chewable tablets taken between meals or 20 minutes before meals. DGL therapy should be continued for at least 8 to 16 weeks after there is a full therapeutic response.Michael Murray, ND, is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine and a contributor to the Healthnotes, Inc. team of experts. Dr. Murray is the author of A Textbook of Natural Medicine, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and The Healing Power of Herbs. He also authors Dr. Murray’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, an exclusive Healthnotes product.