Q: I'm 33 and I suffer from frequent bouts of gastritis and a history of ulcers. I take Tagamet but it makes me feel tired all day. Are there any natural remedies?
A: Stomach complaints are one of the most frequent conditions I see in my practice. First: We've learned that a bacteria called H. pylori is implicated in many cases of ulcers once thought to be due to stress or excess stomach acid.
The presence of this bacteria can usually be determined with a simple blood test, and antibiotics can cure the condition. In cases where H. pylori is not present, or where symptoms are mild, the use of an herbal remedy, an extract of licorice root called DGL, can be effective. This form is deglycyrrhizined, which means that a component with a potent cortisone-like effect is removed. DGL, therefore, does not cause side-effects such as high-blood pressure, which regular licorice can trigger. I have seen long standing stomach problems clear up completely with this herb. It works by increasing mucus production in the stomach, thus protecting the lining. It is also anti-inflammatory. Two other plant medicines are helpful as well. Ginger root is known to increase mucus production, and aloe vera juice is a great healer, soothing the entire gastrointestinal tract when it is taken daily.