When I was a kid, vegetables were the last things I wanted to eat. They tasted dull and unappetizing. Broccoli, in particular, was enemy number one for my taste buds (unless it was drenched in cheese sauce, of course). But what I hated as a kid can be the first line of defense against what I hate as an adult—ulcers.
It turns out that broccoli, or broccoli sprouts, may be exactly what your stomach needs—especially when you have a peptic ulcer, which is an open sore found in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or small intestine (duodenal ulcer).
What Causes an Ulcer?
It felt like I had an ulcer the other day. About 45 to 60 minutes after my dinner, I experienced abdominal discomfort, aching, and burning—heartburn. How did I get the ulcer? The holiday season is a busy time of year. I have a big family, which creates worry, stress, and emotional strain.
Other causes of peptic ulcers can include:
- Low stomach acid
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
How did I find peptic ulcer relief? I didn’t take any drugs, such as antibiotics, “Pepto-Bismol,” histamine H2 blockers, or proton-pump inhibitors—known to rid the body of stomach acid. These drugs can impair your digestion, which alters how the cells within the gastrointestinal tract lining function. Instead of eliminating stomach acid, it is best to improve the lining of the duodenum and stomach.
Study: Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Ulcers
When I suspect I might have a peptic ulcer, I definitely eat plenty of broccoli, which is high in fiber and the protective compound known as glucoraphanin. In the body, the chemical converts to sulforaphane—known to be 20-times more potent in broccoli sprouts than broccoli.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a common bacterium found in ulcers. In a double-blind study in 2009, broccoli sprouts reduced the number of H. pylori colonies in the stomachs of humans and mice by 40%. The researchers observed 48 people with an H. pylori infection and an average age of 55. The participants consumed 70 grams (g) of broccoli sprouts daily for two months, or a placebo, alfalfa sprouts, which don’t contain the protective sulforaphane compound.
It is amazing what happened next: the broccoli sprouts lowered gastric inflammation and H. pylori. However, two months after the treatment, the H. pylori and inflammatory pain returned to previous levels.
The researchers also treated six H. pylori-infected female mice with broccoli sprout smoothies for two months. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant proteins in sulforaphane reduced stomach inflammation and increased protective enzyme activity. A high-salt diet also helped reduce the H. pylori infections.
The sulforaphane in brassica vegetables, in general, is known to lower the H. pylori activity in ulcers, and it can help prevent and treat stomach cancer.
Other Natural Treatments for Ulcers
There are a number of other natural solutions to treat ulcers:
- You can supplement with natural nutrients (not synthetic), such as vitamin A, vitamin E (tocopherol), L-glutamine, zinc, and flavonoids.
- Helpful herbs include marshmallow, slippery elm, and aloe vera.
- Poor adrenal function is often common with ulcers, so it is important to use at least one adaptogenic herb, which could be licorice root, Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, or Siberian ginseng.
Overall, a diet high in fibrous steamed vegetables and freshly squeezed organic vegetable juices can help reduce your painful ulcers. One liter of raw cabbage juice is especially helpful for ulcers.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Murray, M., et al., The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (New York: Atria Paperback, 2012), 876–882.
Yanaka, A., et al., “Dietary Sulforaphane-Rich Broccoli Sprouts Reduce Colonization and Attenuate Gastritis in Helicobacter pylori-infected Mice and Humans,” Journal of Cancer Research April 1, 2009; 2(4): 353–360.
Fahey, J., et al., “Sulforaphane inhibits extracellular, intracellular, and antibiotic-resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori and prevents benzo[a]pyrene-induced stomach tumors,” Proceedings of the National Academy of the United Sates of America May 28, 2002; 99(11): 7,610–7,615.