Those of you that have visited a GP for stomach pain might be familiar with the following diagnosis: “Stomach ulcers caused by stress.”
Ulcer & Stress might not be a love at first sight but definitely have a strong friendship.
How many of you are not familiar with stomach aches in periods of stress? Despite how common the disease is, it’s only partially understood and the common treatments not a guarantee for relief from symptoms.
Based on the current theories (on what causes ulcer) below I am suggesting a series of approaches to alleviate the symptoms:
1 Acid rebound
Healthy digestion depends on the normal transport of food, through the digestive tract. Acid rebound occurs when hydrochloric acid is produced in the stomach, while food is not there. To support hydrochloric acid’s function you can drink a glass of water with apple cider or lemon prior to eating, especially if the meal includes animal protein. This way you can help your digestion.
Supporting acid rebound is most relevant for: Vegetarians & vegans are more likely to have issues with hydrochloric acid production, thus apple cider and lemon might be a useful strategy for those following this diet.
2 Decreased blood flow
Circulation of blood in the stomach muscles is restricted when stressed, making the formation of micro ulcers more likely to occur. Give yourself some time to calm down before eating. Try to avoid eating soon after or while feeling stressed.
Supporting decreased blood flow is most relevant for: Those with poor circulation (ie. cold feet/ hands, athlete’s foot) are more likely to experience restriction of blood supply to their stomach when stressed. Become aware of when you are stressed by following your breath or checking your Heart Rate.
3 Immune suppression
When the pH of the stomach is higher than the naturally low levels, it gives the opportunity to bacteria Helicobacter pylori to multiply. If you test positive for H. pylori and have symptoms of acid reflux you can supplement with antibacterial supplements alongside nutrients that support the immune system (incl. Zinc, Pantothenic Acid, and vitamin C, D) to fight the pathogen.
Supporting immune suppression is most relevant for: Those that get often sick are more likely to have a suppressed immune system which will allow the development of H. Pylori. You can support your immune system in multiple ways, including supplementation & cold exposure.
4 Insufficient amount of Prostaglandins
Prostaglandins are hormones helping the repair of wounds like ulcer. Testing for your levels of Prostaglandins is possible but unfortunately not widely available or cheap. Minimize the use of NSAIDs & aspirin while, consume a diet with an adequate amount of Essential Fatty Acids.
Supporting the function of prostaglandins is most relevant for: Those that demonstrate deficiency of Essential Fatty Acids are likely to have poor hair, skin health & hormone imbalances. Evening primrose oil and Omega 3s are important for “healthy” Prostaglandins.
5 Stomach muscle contractions
Calming exercises and balanced thoughts can activate your parasympathetic system and allow the stomach muscles to regain their regular function.
Supporting the function of stomach muscle contractions is most relevant for: those with poor abdominal muscle tone. Yoga offers many abdominal exercises to support abdominal muscle peristalisis.
Whether ulcers manifest in the stomach or the intestines in most cases the trouble started in the stomach! Stress is synonymous with life and to assume it will disappear together with your symptoms of ulcer is highly unlikely. Adopting the 5 above steps is likely to resolve the problem if you haven’t been dealing with ulcer caused from stress for a long period. If you are on proton pump inhibitors or chronically suffering with stomach pain here are 3 more areas to address :
• food allergens
• food timing
• weight management
For an entertaining read on the topic you can read: Why Zebras don’t get ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky