Gastritis is a disease of the digestive system. It usually starts out as mild swelling in the lining of the stomach that resolves on its own without you having to do anything. In worse cases, the lining continues to swell due to lack of exercise, chronic inflammation, stress, poor diet, a weakened immune system, and unbalanced gut flora (bacteria that live in your intestines). This can cause a stomach ulcer.
Chronic gastritis can cause pain, upset stomach, a burning sensation, bloody stool, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome and more.
Gastritis is usually the result of many factors, but the disease is often divided into 5 types, based on the primary cause:
- Type A is caused by poor immunity. Instead of attacking viruses and foreign bacteria as they should, your immune cells (Killer T cells) start to attack the body itself. Your stomach cells start to suffer as the body attacks the wrong “enemy.” Lowered immunity can be due to stress, chronic inflammation, vitamin deficiencies from a poor diet, cancer, and lack of exercise or sufficient sleep.
- Type B, the most common type of gastritis, is caused by harmful bacteria called Heliobacter pylori ( pylori). Gastritis in this case, is the result of a bad bacteria taking over your gut and infecting other parts of your digestive system, including your stomach.
- Type C, is caused by alcohol abuse, drug use, or even prescribed medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). This type of gastritis can cause stomach bleeding and create pre-cancerous cells which turn into cancerous ones.
- Type D is less common, but is caused when someone has certain protein deficiencies. This type is also called giant hypertrophic gastritis.
- Type E gastritis happens along with other conditions like asthma and eczema, and is considered an allergic reaction.
How to Diagnose Gastritis?
Endoscopy is recommended followed by consultation with a local physician.
Should you be worried about gastritis?
Gastritis in itself is a very common disease and one should not be too worried about it. However, if left untreated, the symptoms can continue to grow and cause stomach ulcers and increase bacterial presence which can lead to complications – commonly stomach cancer. Thus, the right treatment is absolutely necessary along with maintenance on diet to stop the problem from increasing further.
How long does it take to cure?
Provided you have the correct treatment option available, which helps develop the internal linings and regulates the stomach pH along with destroying the h pylori and other bacteria, treatment can take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year based on your lifestyle. As the disease starts to heal, one may assume it is gone completely and start taking normal diet. However, the bacteria and disease is known to go in bouts. This means that somedays the disease wont feel like its there, and thus switching to a regular diet can be harmful. A conservative diet for 1 year is advised along with proper medication to rid the disease completely.
The Importance of the Gut
Almost all diseases of the digestive system begin in the gut. Some believe that simply by reducing the acid in our stomach we can cure gastritis, but this is an attempt to stop a flood while rain clouds are still forming above. A more proactive approach is to take care of our gut health to prevent gastritis altogether. Here’s why:
Gastrointestinal health is extremely important to overall health. It is estimated that 90 percent of our body’s immunity begins in the gut.
Beneficial bacteria in your gut affect how your body absorbs vitamins and minerals. They also affect how your body regulates hormones and eliminates toxins. Most importantly these beneficial bacteria are a large part of your gut-brain connection which is responsible for immunity and even your mood. Your body’s ability to heal itself and stave off depression are both anchored in the gut.
Recently dubbed the enteric nervous system (ENS), that gut brain connection is comprised of two layers of more than 100 million nerve cells (neurons) that line the gastrointestinal tract from your mouth to your anus. Those neurons are constantly discussing what is going on inside your body with your brain and nervous system – primarily what you’ve eaten or ingested.
The ENS is likely even triggered by emotional shifts that happen by people suffering from gastritis, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and upset stomach – all signs of stress which our bodies then need to cope with somehow. We’ve assumed that anxiety and depression were causing our upset stomach’s but our poor gut health is likely causing our anxiety and depression, along with myriad other diseases – including gastritis.
Irritation in the gastrointestinal system likely sends signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes. So, if you have gastritis, you likely have low energy, and suffer from anxiety or mild depression also. That’s’ because these systems of the body are so intricately tied together.
Sadly, up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point in their lives – and this contributes to the overall degradation of our health.
Allopathic Cures for Gastritis
Allopathic cures for gastritis usually aim to calm the “over-production” of acid in the stomach, but this doesn’t solve the underlying physical and emotional problems which are contributing to a swollen stomach lining.
Most commonly the drugs that are prescribed are:
- Proton Pump Inhibitors
Antacids aim to reduce the acid in the stomach, thought to contribute to swelling and discomfort, however, without proper stomach acid levels we cannot properly break down our food so that our guts can assimilate the vitamins and minerals in them, and get rid of toxins efficiently. Antacids can also cause unwanted side effects such as:
- Dose-dependent rebound hyperacidity and milk-alkali syndrome.
- Constipation, aluminum-intoxication, osteomalacia, and hypophosphatemia caused by the aluminum present in many antacids.
- Kidney problems
Proton Pump Inhibitors prescribed for people who have gastritis or acid reflux are also dangerous. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, seniors who take proton-pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid may be at greater risk for bone fractures.
NSAIDs are perhaps the most dangerous drug prescribed for gastritis. The side effects aren’t exactly mild, including:
- Increased risk for heart disease and heart attack
- Permanent gastrointestinal damage including ulcers and bleeding
- Excess liquid in the retina, edema, which can cause cataracts and blindness
- Liver disease
- Allergic reactions
- Development of Reye’s syndrome (swelling of the liver and brain)
- Permanent brain damage
NOTE: The US FDA limits the use of all Proton Pump inhibitors (including omeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole) to 14 day courses only thrice a year. Any additional dosage reduces the stomach acid production and can cause other diseases in the long run.
Natural Cures for Gastritis
Many natural cures exist for treating gastritis, many of which treat the underlying cause. This eliminates stomach pain for good, instead of just temporarily treating the discomfort of a flare-up.
Many remedies are also lifestyle based, meaning that we can change the health of our gut and stomach just by changing how we live.
Herbal and Food Based Medicine for Gastritis
There are many herbal and food based remedies which help to heal the gut and restore balance to the stomach. Try these:
- Drink a ½ cup of Aloe Vera juice 1 hour before meals. It is naturally soothing to the digestive tract.
- Eat coconut oil and drink coconut water whenever you can. Coconuts are full of healthy Omega 3 fats and potassium which help to restore gut health.
- Replace diet and sugary sodas with green tea. It is full of highly beneficial antioxidants that reduce food cravings, and restore gut health.
- Boil several leaves of cabbage and drink the “tea” that is created. Cabbage is naturally probiotic and beneficial to the gut.
- Add honey, especially Manuka honey, to your diet. It is antiviral, antibacterial, and healing to the immune system.
- Ginger can be an excellent remedy for gastritis. You can drink ginger tea to soothe the stomach or just add ginger to meals when you are cooking.
- Oatmeal is a staple food for anyone with stomach Not only is oatmeal calming to an upset stomach it is also full of fiber which helps to keep the digestive tract healthy.
- Slippery Elm is a long-used herbal remedy for stomach upset and digestive disorders. It has been used for centuries to heal everything from flatulence to nausea.
- Take 1 teaspoon castor oil every morning to kill off and prevent bacterial and fungal growth. This helps the internal lining heal overtime.
- Do not consume Apple Cider Vinegar. It is not recommended in cases with gastritis. You can read about the side effects here
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Gastritis
Traditional Chinese Medicine can be very effective for treating gastritis symptoms – so effective, that it outperforms several commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.
Utilizing gastroscopy (viewing the intestinal walls with a tiny camera) it was verified that acupuncture produced a 96.4% total effective rate and ranitidine (pharmaceutical drug) produced a 69.9% total effective rate.
Moxibustion, and Chinese herbal medicine is also used to promote the health of the organs that support digestion. Blood flow and qi are improved, and lifestyle changes are usually suggested by a TCM practitioner to reverse the condition, or greatly improve it.
Lifestyle Changes to Aid Those Who Suffer from Gastritis
Gastritis targets those who live under certain conditions – either by choice or due to factors beyond their control. If you are overweight or obese, middle-aged, have a diet full of processed sugars and unhealthy fats, rarely eat fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, infrequently get exercise, and suffer from chronic stress, you are much more likely to have gastritis and the complications that accompany gastritis.
Those who are over 60 usually have a more sensitive stomach lining that has worn down with time, and anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease is also at high risk of gastritis. The good news, though is that changing even just one of your lifestyle choices can greatly reduce symptoms of gastritis, repair your immune system and begin to heal your gut. Try these small changes to make a big difference in your gastrointestinal health:
- Improve your nutrient deficiencies by green juicing. By juicing spinach, collard greens, beets, broccoli, kale, carrots, lemon, ginger, garlic, celery, and other fruits and vegetables, you can start to heal your gut. The super-concentrated nutrients enter your blood stream, and begin to clean out toxic overload from your cells, thus relieving a strained digestive tract, liver, and kidneys. Just be sure to follow a safe detoxing protocol as quick changes to your diet – even healthier ones – can cause a Herxheimer reaction as your body works extra hard to rid itself of garbage.
- You don’t have to start running marathons to heal your gut. Just park further away from your home or find a parking space a little further from your office and walk. Add steps to your day in whatever way you can. Take the stairs when at work or out and about, or try adding ten pushups to your daily routine when you first get out of bed. These small changes will inspire you to make bigger ones that will make exercise a key part of your life. Any exercise you add, no matter how little, makes a difference.
- Reduce stress by getting more sleep. Almost half the world is sleep deprived or has some form of insomnia. Is it any wonder with our hectic pace, and the myriad ways to stay “plugged in?” Try turning off your television, cell phone, and computer at last one hour before bed. You’ll sleep better, and improve your immune system and gut in the process.
Herbal Medicines for Gastritis
There are two natural, herbal medications made by Grocare which help in gastritis treatment: Acidim and Xembran.
Acidim helps balance the pH of the entire intestinal systems & abdomen seamlessly.
Xembran is a bacteriostatic to eliminate H pylori and other harmful bacteria from the body.
ACIDIM regularizes the amount of acid in the stomach. Thus, digestion is completed. ACIDIM also increases gastric motility, thus allowing digested food to get expelled from the stomach. Hence, food doesn’t ferment and release gas, the stomach is empty and the discomfort ends.
XEMBRAN stops growth as well as kills H. pylori in the stomach. Xembran works along with the body’s defense mechanism to eliminate the harmful bacteria. Acidim and Xembran together help in gastritis treatment and also help to repair and restore the stomach lining without any side effects.
You can read about it here