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Wei Zhao, LAc, CMD
Acupuncture For Peptic Ulcer Disease
Wei Z. Zhao, CMD

Acupuncture For Peptic Ulcer Disease

Ulcers are focal areas of deep erosion. They commonly occur in the stomach and in the duodenum. In duodenal ulcers excess gastric acid is necessary for ulcer formation (hence the dictum, “no acid, no ulcer”). In contrast, patients with gastric ulcers tend to have normal or even reduced gastric acid secretion. Helicobacter (H.) Pylori infection appears to be associated with greater than 90% of duodenal ulcers and 70% to 80% of gastric ulcers. Other risk factors for the development of peptic ulcer are male gender, first-degree relatives with duodenal ulcer, stress, cigarette smoking, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) use.
The most common symptom in peptic ulcer disease is epigastric pain. The patient commonly experiences a gnawing, burning, or aching discomfort. In patients with duodenal ulcer, the pain typically occurs within 2-3 hours of a meal (presumably reflecting increased acid and pancreatic enzyme load in the duodenum). The pain awakens the patient during the night. Complications of peptic ulcer include bleeding (may be occult or frank melena or hematemesis), perforation (rigid abdomen, diminished bowel sounds, rebound tenderness), obstruction or weight loss.
Traditional pharmacologic treatment is designed to inhibit or neutralize gastric acid, and antibiotic to kill H. Pylori. Surgery is performed for unresponsive ulcer disease and is also performed in an emergency setting of perforation, obstruction and uncontrolled bleeding. Many patients experience dumping syndrome, pernicious anemia, and diarrhea after they received partial gastrectomy. Side effects of the drug are well known to the public. For example Ranitidine may cause headache, insomnia, depression, irregular heartbeat, skin rash, hepatitis, constipation or diarrhea. In the rat model, prolonged use of Omeprazole causes gastric carcinoids.
One non-pharmacologic therapy is an avoidance of NSAIDS and aspirin. Avoid certain food such as tomatoes, chocolate, and alcohol and avoid eating at night. Cessation of smoking is another important intervention.
Acupuncture is a natural supplemental healing method without side effects to inhibit gastric acid secretion, reduce stress level, relieve symptoms and accelerate the healing of the ulcer. According to acupuncture theory multiple meridians regulate stomach and duodenal function. Balance stomach and liver meridian, tonify spleen meridian, regulate pericardium meridian and conception meridian is the main principle. Acupuncture points are selected from those channels to promote ulcer healing.
Acupuncture is a painless procedure and may increase body immune function to fight bacterial infection inside of the body. Many patients benefit after receiving Acupuncture treatments especially those who are allergic to drugs, or cannot take drugs due to co-existing liver disease, kidney disease or other end stage disease. Long-term acupuncture treatment may reduce the necessity for surgery and avoid complications caused by surgery. Your natural healing energy is the power of natural healing.

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