Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. It is a very common condition-in fact, most people experience the condition at least once in their lifetime. Fortunately, the symptoms of gastritis are relatively mild, have a short duration, and usually have no lasting effects on the body. The risk of developing a case of gastritis increases with age. The condition also affects more women than men.

Gastritis can result from any of a number of causes, each of which produces slightly different symptoms and intensity. Several types of medications, including aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, can bring on a case of gastritis. Severe emotional or physical stress can also induce gastritis. Other causes of the condition include vitamin B12deficiency, excessive smoking or alcohol consumption, and a microorganism called Helicobacter pylori.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Upper abdominal discomfort, pain and burning
  • Nausea
  • Vorniting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Conventional Medical Treatment

If you suspect you have a case of gastritis, see your physician, who can diagnose the condition by conducting a physical examination and asking for a history of symptoms. To confirm diagnosis, a barium X-ray or endoscopy may be necessary. During an endoscopy, a flexible tube called a fiberoptic endoscope is inserted through your mouth into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. This tube is equipped with a lighting and video system that enables a physician to examine your upper digestive tract.

If gastritis is the diagnosis, your physician will first recommend that you discontinue the habit that causes the gastritis. You may need to stop smoking or change your eating or drinking habits. If the gastritis is a side effect of a medication, your doctor may recommend replacing it with another type of drug that should be taken at very specific times of the day. If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may need to have monthly vitamin B12 shots. If a microorganism is causing the condition, a medication may be prescribed to destroy it.

Antacids are a common and acceptable-treatment for mild gastritis. If over-the-counter antacids fail to provide relief, your physician may prescribe a medication, such as cimetidine, ranitidine, or famotidine, to decrease the amount of acid produced by your stomach. Medication that protects the lining of the stomach, such as sucralfate or Misoprostol, also may be prescribed.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Nutrition and Supplementation

To help aid digestion, eat simple foods in combinations that digest well together. Combine leafy greens with lean proteins, such as non-fat dairy products and lean meats or fish. Get your carbohydrates from sources that do not cause a pronounced blood sugar change; these include rice, fresh fruits, as paragus, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and green beans.

There are many "don'ts" involved in treating and preventing gastritis. Avoid or severely limit your intake of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, spicy foods, and tomato products. These foods D irritate the stomach lining, increase stomach acid production, and/or weaken the muscular sphincter at the end of the esophagus, almost guaranteeing that all extra acid will find its way to the esophagus. Avoid milk as well; although milk momentarily neutralizes stomach acid, the amount of acid increases almost immediately, leaving you in worse condition.

To relieve symptoms, chew papaya tablets (follow directions on the label). Other daily supplements include:

  • L-glutamine (2 g)-heals the stomach lining
  • ginger (25 mg)-calms and heals the stomach
  • N-acetyl glucosamine (as directed on label) promotes intestinal health
  • gamma orizanol (as directed on label)-promotes intestinal health
  • colostrum (as directed on label)-reduces inflammation and aids absorption

(For an acute condition, take supplements until your symptoms subside. If symptoms persist, seek the advice of your health care provider. For a chronic condition, consult your healthcare provider regarding the duration of treatment.)

Herbal Therapy

Meadowsweet is one of the top herbs for digestive upset. It relieves nausea and reduces excess stomach acid. To make meadowsweet tea, steep 2 teaspoons of the dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes; strain.

Following an attack of nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhea, drink a Soothing tea made from slippery elm. Simmer 1 Part Powdered bark in 8 parts water for 15 minutes; strain. Drink 1/2 cup several times a day.

Echinacea and goldenseal can also help heal an irritated stomach lining.

Traditional Chinese Medidne

Acupuncture Acupuncture may be used to help alleviate gastritis-induced pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. It also can be helpful in lessening stomach inflammation. Points that may be targeted include Stomach 36, Conception Vessel 12, and Stomach 34 (for acute pain). Additional points may be added as symptoms warrant.

Acupressure To relieve gastritis-related nausea, an acupressure expert probably will focus on Pericardium 6, Stomach 36, Conception Vessel 12 and 17, and Liver 3.

The treatment of diarrhea also may include the manipulation of Stomach 36, along with Stomach 25, Spleen 6 and 9, Conception Vessel 6, and Large Intestine 11.

Chinese Herbal Therapy Aloe vera can be used to calm an upset stomach and relieve inflammation; generally, 0.1 to 1 gram will be given, depending on the severity of symptoms. Other Chinese herbs used to treat gastritis are licorice and various patent formulas as prescribed by a practitioner.

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