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.
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.
Even though peptic ulcer can give a burning pain, it may be due to a cold imbalance.
In other cases of peptic ulcers, according to Chinese medical theory, the cause could be from excess cold in the digestive system. This time the acupuncturist actually a warming treatment known as moxibustion where an herb mugwort is burnt above the acupuncture points. The heat of the mugwort penetrates into the acupuncture points on the stomach to rectify the area and stop pain.
Chinese medicines used to treat peptic ulcers include hai piao xiao which is cuttlefish bone. It is believed that the calcium content of this medicine soothes the stress inside the area near the ulcer.
Traditional Chinese medicine also believes that stress can cause ulcers
Mr Mark Crain, a well-known Brisbane acupuncturist, sees many patients with peptic ulcer disease and believes that the main cause of the problem is stress. He said “This stress usually means that impatience and irritability is building up at work or home and they are unable to off load it“. He advocates his patients to take up meditation or exercises like tai chi as well having acupuncture and Chinese herbs if they really want to address the deep rooted cause of their ulcer.
Heiko Lade of The Acupuncture Clinic has found that even in smaller rural towns like Napier there is still abundant stress in people lives. After working in Sydney and Auckland, he finds the incidence of ulcers no less in Napier.