Gastric ulcers are one of the most painful and debilitating forms of digestive system disorders. Also known as peptic ulcers, these inflammations and irritations of the stomach wall can cause painful symptoms and serious complications in affected individuals. The most common signs of gastric ulcer include pain before or after eating, heartburn, nausea, bloating and vomiting blood. In serious or advanced cases gastric ulcers can lead to perforation of the stomach wall that can in turn lead to acute peritonitis, a potentially life-threatening condition. The bleeding that usually occurs with gastric ulcers can cause significant blood loss that can create a health risk even in the absence of other complicating factors.
Most cases of gastric ulcer are caused by a breakdown in the immune system that allows Helicobacter pylori bacteria to infect the stomach, leading to severe inflammation and breaks in the tissue lining the stomach walls. Essentially the buildup of these bacteria within the stomach causes interference with the normal production and regulation of gastric acids, creating excessive acid that eats away at the stomach wall lining over time. Other contributing factors include changes in the blood chemistry that affect the acid resistance of the stomach, dietary choices, drinking and smoking and cancerous growths in the stomach. Stress can also cause gastric ulcers, either alone or in combination with the other factors.
Gastric ulcers are usually diagnosed based on the patient’s reported symptoms. In some cases, however, specialized X-ray and scanning procedures are necessary in order to ascertain the presence of gastric ulcers. These diagnostic aids include barium contrast X-rays and endoscopic assessment. While some physicians perform tests to detect the presence of Helicobacter pylori in the bloodstream, this is usually less than effective because the tests cannot distinguish between past build-ups and current conditions within the body. Breath tests, biopsies and stool samples can all be used to verify a diagnosis of gastric ulcer depending on the patient and the severity of the condition.
Left untreated, gastric ulcers typically progress and worsen. This typically leads to heavier bleeding that can cause significant issues due to blood loss and drainage into the stomach cavity. Major scarring can occur as well as perforation of the stomach wall and the attendant peritonitis that can cause even more serious infections and potentially could cause death in some vulnerable patients.
The Moringa oleifera plant offers significant benefits to those suffering from gastric ulcers. A number of medical studies have identified the positive effects of moringa leaves in treating these dangerous digestive tract disorders; for example, a study entitled Phytochemical Screening and Antiulcerogenic Effect of Moringa Oleifera Aqueous Leaf Extract and published in 2006 in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines demonstrated the effectiveness of moringa leaves in relieving the symptoms and improving the prognosis of laboratory rats suffering from gastric ulcerations. The mechanism by which moringa leaf extract heals these ulcers is not fully understood. The supplements may work in a number of ways including reducing the inflammation caused by an excessive build-up of Helicobacter pylori, increasing capillary resistance to these bacteria and increasing the patient’s exposure to proven antioxidants that can eliminate free radicals in the system and improve the overall health of the individual.
The use of moringa leaves in treating ulcers and digestive tract orders has long been a staple element in the Ayurvedic medical tradition of India. With further research into the beneficial effects of moringa leaf extracts for patients, it is expected that these traditional medical uses will be validated for the modern medical community and that moringa supplements will be incorporated into the treatment regimen for patients suffering from this painful and dangerous digestive tract condition.