In the Fall of 2018, I vowed that I was going to get my healthiest EVER. It might not seem like much of a commitment for someone who already loves health and wellness. For me, it meant a lot. I was ready to pour my energy into focusing on myself.
I was about to get a rude awakening. And instead of focusing on getting my healthiest ever, I was going to be focusing on healing a stomach ulcer. Twice (we’ll get into that later).
Before I got a stomach ulcer, I thought that they were pretty uncommon. In fact, my doctor said that it is unusual for a normally healthy 29 year old with a good diet and exercise regimen to get one.
I do wonder if that’s true. Through sharing my journey I’ve connected with so many people who have or think they have an ulcer.
If that’s you then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done the research and I’ve put in the work. I’ve figured out what did work for me. I’m going to share it with you in the hopes that I will inspire you to take charge of your health and maybe give you some good ideas on how to tackle your ulcer.
Buckle in because today we’re going to get through what a stomach ulcer is, what the symptoms are, and how I got rid of mine for good.
Please remember that I am not a medical professional and that this should be considered opinion only. I cannot guarantee that what I did will work for you. However – everything that I share here really made a difference for me!
What is an Ulcer?
Ulcers are breaks in the lining of your stomach (gastric or stomach ulcer) or your intestinal lining (duodenal ulcer). Stomach ulcers are more common, and that is what I had.
It is a common belief that ulcers are caused by stress. This actually isn’t true. Stress may be a contributing factor. However more recently, scientists are studying the link between the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria and ulcers. This bacteria is present in a majority of people who have ulcers – especially chronic ones. You may want to ask your doctor to do a stool test for the H. pylori bacteria before you decide on your treatment plan.
Ulcers have also been linked to chronic use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Being aware of your usage of NSAIDs is also important in approaching treatment, especially since you will want to avoid them if you want to heal your ulcer.
Note: I tested negative for the H. Pylori bacteria. I also do not normally use NSAIDs. The cause of my ulcer has never been verified.
Symptoms of an Ulcer
There are quite a few symptoms you may experience when you have a stomach ulcer. In most cases, pain is felt in the stomach area. You may have that along with any of the other symptoms listed including…
- Burning pain in the stomach
- Bitter taste (of stomach acid) in your mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling like something is “stuck” in your throat or clearing your throat a lot
- Nausea/ vomiting
There are some more severe symptoms including
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in stools
- Feeling faint
If you don’t take action to treat your ulcer it could lead to internal bleeding, obstruction, and long-term can be a contributing factor to stomach cancer. An ulcer is a seriously issue and should be treated as such.
To Medicate or Not to Medicate?
It is your choice whether or not to take prescription medication to heal your ulcer. When I initially got my ulcer, I was determined to heal it naturally. It was a very difficult and uncomfortable process because I was in a lot of pain, especially between meals.
However a few weeks in, and just when things started looking up for me, I got the flu and my ulcer burst. It was a NIGHTMARE. I had to start the process all over again. I decided to take PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). This reduced the amount of stomach acid I produced and helped me feel more comfortable between meals.
What PPIs do is essentially inhibit the amount of stomach acid produced. This is helpful because stomach acid can irritate a gastric ulcer.
I don’t give credit to the PPIs for healing my stomach. It can reduce the symptoms, but only a diet and lifestyle change can really do the healing part.
If you get tested for the H.Pylori bacteria and you test positive, your doctor may want to prescribe you antibiotics. Again I believe this is a personal choice. Just as with the PPIs I think a diet and lifestyle change is paramount if you really want to see lasting results.
How I Healed My Ulcer
When I realized I had an ulcer, I jumped down the rabbit hole trying to figure out how to approach my treatment. I scoured every corner of the internet. I wanted to heal my ulcer naturally.
As we know, I did use some medication (PPIs) to help me along the way. That’s my journey. It didn’t even take all the pain I was in away, but it helped just enough to get me to keep going. It helped with the symptoms, but I still had to put in the WORK to heal my ulcer.
Whether your ulcer-healing journey looks a little different from mine or not, I hope these tips help you. In large part it is trial and error figuring out what works the best.
Don’t even get me started on willpower. Following all of these rules felt quite restrictive. It’s not fun – but it is worth it. Your health is always worth it!
Here’s what I did to heal my Ulcer:
Give up Refined Foods – Refined foods are harder for your stomach to break down, period. Eating when you have an ulcer can be difficult enough, but sticking to a whole foods focused diet really helps. Fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, baked and lightly seasoned fish and plain baked potatoes were all staples for me. A squeeze of lemon over my food helped to give it some flavour without relying on prepared sauces. When it comes to food, keep it simple.
Saying No to Red Meat – Red meat takes a lot of time and effort for your stomach to digest. If you’re looking for animal protein, stick to easier digesting proteins like fish or chicken. I didn’t find this change difficult as I rarely eat red meat as it is. Don’t be tempted by that steak – you will regret it when you’re stomach struggles to get it down.
Say “See Ya Later” to Coffee – This was by far the hardest change I made to heal my stomach ulcer. I love coffee. Unfortunately in the beginning stages of my ulcer, I would still drink it. I enjoyed it while I had it, but it would leave my stomach burning for the rest of the day. This is because coffee actually increases stomach acid production, which irritates the ulcer. I swapped out my coffee in the morning for decaf green tea and it really made a difference.
Eating Smaller Meals – The last thing you want to do when you have a stomach ulcer is overload your digestive system and make your stomach work harder. Eating smaller meals means you won’t be asking too much of your stomach while it works on healing. When you do eat, make sure to also chew your food thoroughly so that your stomach has to do less work in breaking it down.
Reducing Dietary Fats – Fats can be harder to digest when you have a stomach ulcer. Instead of baking your food in oil, try steaming it. Or you can just bake it without oil. Use fresh herbs like dill and basil for flavour. Squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime on your meals. And avoid avocado – just for now…
Adding Turmeric Ginger Tea – Having some turmeric ginger tea is comforting, but it’s use goes beyond that. Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory properties, which is helpful when healing an ulcer. The ginger is also soothing on the stomach and helps with nausea. This was an afternoon staple for me when healing my ulcer.
Reducing stress – Research has confirmed that stress cannot cause ulcers, but it can worsen them. For this reason managing stress while you heal your ulcer is an important part of the process. Lower your expectations for yourself and understand that you are going through a lot. Dig deep and ask yourself: has anything been bothering you? Getting to the bottom of those issues will reduce stress and help you get your digestion back on track.
Supplement with Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) – This was the most helpful strategy I used in healing my ulcer. Licorice has long been used in treating stomach issues. I read it could be used as a natural remedy, and honestly I had nothing to lose by trying it. Chewing a tab of DGL helped soothe my stomach almost immediately. I took them as directed on the bottle and it gave me so much relief, plus it is cost effective. It was worth buying and I highly recommend trying it if you have an ulcer.
I put all of these strategies into place for several weeks. It was difficult to keep all this up, but it was worth it. I have had no symptoms come back – not even an inkling. I’m healed up and I’m back to living my life regularly.
Before I tried healing my ulcer, I was worried I would have to give up coffee forever. That I wouldn’t be able to eat my favourite foods again. That I might never fully heal and always be in pain. But that’s not the case. If you are willing to put the work in, you can heal your ulcer for good too. It’s totally worth it.
I know how hopeless it can feel when your health goes sideways, so I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them below.
Good luck on your ulcer healing journey.
NEW – ULCER HEALING FACEBOOK GROUP
Join the newly created Ulcer Healing Group on Facebook. This is a group where we can all connect, share, and swap stories as we embark on our own ulcer healing journeys. PLUS I’ll be sharing tips and meal ideas regularly. See you there!
Update Feb 26, 2021: Thank you for all of your follow-up questions and interest in this topic. I couldn’t have anticipated the amount of people struggling with ulcers right along with me. Many of you asked how I’m doing now and I’m fully healed (and very grateful). I recently released the 5 Step Ulcer Healing Guide to help other people who want to know how they can heal their ulcer naturally.