Stomach ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Stomach ulcers are also known as peptic ulcers, gastric ulcers, or duodenal ulcers.
Stomach ulcers develop when stomach acid irritates the lining of the stomach.
Causes of ulcers include:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
- long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin
Some people believe stress or spicy food can cause an ulcer. These do not cause ulcers, but they can make them worse by increasing stomach acid production.
Read about ten evidence-based methods to help relieve the pain from stomach ulcers.
Ten evidence-based remedies for stomach ulcers
If a person has an ulcer, they may feel a burning sensation in their stomach. This burning sensation often:
- lasts a few minutes or several hours
- eases after taking antacids or stopping food intake
- starts in the middle of the night or during meals
- occurs off and on for several weeks
People can relieve these symptoms using the following home remedies:
Yogurts contain probiotics that help restore balance to the bacteria in the digestive tract.
Probiotics are living organisms that help restore balance to the bacteria in the digestive tract. As well as helping achieve optimal gut health, they can help with treating ulcers.
According to a review from 2014, probiotics cannot kill H. pylori bacteria. However, they may reduce the amount of bacteria present, speed up the healing process, and improve some symptoms.
When taken alongside other treatments, probiotics may help eradicate harmful bacteria.
People can find probiotics in the following sources:
- fermented foods
- probiotic supplements
Some foods have probiotics in them. But, consider taking supplements as they have higher concentrations of probiotics per serving.
A review from 2013 suggests that ginger can help with gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria. Eating ginger may also prevent ulcers caused by NSAIDs.
However, many of these results come from animal studies, so it is not clear whether the effects would be similar in humans.
3. Colorful fruits
Many fruits contain compounds called flavonoids, which are polyphenols. Flavonoids contribute to the rich colors of some fruits.
Flavonoids protect the stomach lining from developing ulcers. They do this by increasing stomach mucus, which inhibits the growth of H. pylori. Flavonoids also have antioxidant properties.
Flavonoids are present in fruits such as:
4. Plantain bananas
Unripe plantains contain a flavonoid called leucocyanidin. Leucocyanidin increases the amount of mucus in the stomach. This fruit may also reduce acidity, which can help prevent and relieve symptoms of ulcers.
Manuka honey has antimicrobial properties that may be useful when treating ulcers.
Honey is a popular, natural sweetener used across the United States. People who consume honey regularly can enjoy a range of health benefits.
A review from 2016 states that Manuka honey has antimicrobial effects against H. pylori. It suggests that honey could be useful for treating stomach ulcers.
People also use honey to speed up wound healing, including skin ulcers, burns, and wounds.
Turmeric is a popular yellow spice frequently used in India and other parts of southern Asia. Like chili peppers, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. Researchers are beginning to study curcumin in regards to its health benefits.
A 2013 review concluded that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities that may help prevent stomach ulcers. However, there are a limited number of studies on humans.
There needs to be more research to examine how effective turmeric is in treating ulcers. Still, initial results appear to be positive. Scientists hope that turmeric can help relieve ulcer symptoms and treat the sores.
A review study published in 2012 reports that chamomile extracts may also have anti-ulcer properties. Some researchers think it may inhibit stomach ulcers and reduce their healing time.
However, much of this research derives from animal studies. Researchers do not know whether chamomile will have the same effects on humans.
Garlic is popular in many parts of the world for adding flavor to food. Garlic has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which make it helpful in fighting infections.
Some studies do support garlic’s effectiveness in treating ulcers. For example, a 2016 study on animals showed that garlic could help prevent the development of ulcers and help speed up the healing process.
According to a 2015 review, garlic may also help prevent the growth of H. pylori.
One small-scale study from 2015 suggests that eating two cloves of garlic with a meal, twice a day, can have anti-bacterial effects against H. pylori.
However, not all studies agree that garlic affects H.pylori or prevents ulcers. Scientists still need to do more research.
Licorice is a popular spice that is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia. People have used licorice in traditional medications for hundreds of years. Some people believe that eating a dried licorice root can help cure and prevent ulcers.
However, research tends to focus on the use of supplements, not dried licorice root. So, people interested in using this spice for ulcers may want to try it as a supplement.
One 2013 study found that taking licorice supplements can help fight H. pylori infections. The study suggests that the supplement helps prevent the bacteria from growing.
10. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a popular plant-based oil found in many topical lotions, cosmetics, and foods.
Some studies looking at how aloe vera affected stomach ulcers produced favorable results.
For example, one 2011 study on rats reported that aloe vera treated ulcers in a similar way to a popular anti-ulcer medication.
But, researchers studied animals, not humans. So, scientists need to do more research to see the effects of aloe vera on humans.
Medical treatments for ulcers
Doctors may advise people to stop taking certain medications that can cause ulcers.
Medical treatments for stomach ulcers will vary based on what is causing the ulcer.
If taking NSAIDs caused the ulcer, a doctor will likely advise the person to stop or reduce their use of those drugs. People can switch to another medication for pain.
A doctor may prescribe proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce stomach acid and protect the lining of the stomach. They cannot kill bacteria, but they can help fight an H. pylori infection. Some examples include Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
A doctor may also prescribe histamine receptor blockers. These prevent the stomach from producing too much acid. Some examples include Zantac and Pepcid.
Also, a doctor may prescribe a protectant called sucralfate (Carafate). This helps prevent further damage to the area around the ulcer.
When an H. pylori infection caused the ulcer, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. Since H. pylori can be hard to kill, a person must take all doses exactly as prescribed even after symptoms go away.
Often, a doctor will combine several medications and therapies when treating an ulcer. Combination therapies help address pain, prevent further damage, and cure any infection.
A person may be able to find relief with some home remedies. But, people should see their doctor to find out the cause and receive medical treatment.
A doctor can create a treatment plan to help treat the ulcer. At-home remedies may help prevent ulcers developing in the future and naturally help ease symptoms.