Ulcers, areas of raw tissue, can be found in the walls of the stomach or intestines (peptic and duodenal ulcers), on the skin surface (bed sores / decubitus ulcers) or in the mouth.
Each type of ulcer has a different cause and a different conventional treatment.
- Mouth ulcers can be a symptom of such diseases as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis (see our blog entry) and Reiter’s syndrome. Other causes are a side effect of antibiotic use or radiotherapy, mouth thrush (a fungus) or the herpes virus.
- Bed sores can result from pressure on a body part when the patient is immobilized. These sores are prone to infection.
- Duodenal ulcers occur in the upper intestine nearest the stomach. They are associated with high acid levels in the stomach that both cause and aggravate ulcers.
- About 60% of stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. Another 20% are caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, etc.).
ULCER SYMPTOMS AND CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT
Chronic pain is common to these ulcers. Such pain often causes difficulty in sleeping.
Treating any pain in the body with prolonged use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, unfortunately, has been linked with increased susceptibility to developing duodenal and peptic ulcers.
Duodenal and peptic ulcers also can result in constipation and diarrhea (see our blog entries “Acupuncture and Constipation” and “Acupuncture and Diarrhea”).
Ulcers related to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) typically are treated with a course of two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and either an acid suppressor or a medication to shield the stomach-lining.
Severe cases, showing bleeding or perforation of the stomach or intestinal lining, is serious and usually calls for surgery.
Mouth ulcers often repeatedly return. The reason is not known. Western medicine treatment typically calls upon various antiseptic washes and topical pain relieving drugs.
ULCER TREATMENT WITH ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture is a common Chinese treatment for ulcers. In the West the best understood effect of acupuncture is reduction of pain.
Acupuncture’s positive effect on the immune system is important in the treatment of skin and mouth ulcers as well as those ulcers caused by bacteria such as H. pylori.
An investigation was conducted of acupuncture therapy for duodenal ulcer in 21 male and female patients. Gastroscopy confirmed complete recovery in 76 percent of the patients.
Acupuncture can decrease acid in the stomach, as shown by research work by Chinese physiologists. This provides a treatment for stomach and intestinal ulcers with fewer side effects than experienced with medications such as antibiotics and acid blockers.
Patients with spinal cord injury often are not aware that a bed sore is beginning.
Acupuncture may improve sensation in many cases, allowing for more frequent changes of position and the consequent avoidance of a skin ulcer.