1. Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers occur most commonly in the first part of the duodenum where it is known as a duodenal ulcer. They are also common along the curvature of the stomach and are called gastric ulcers. They may occur in other sites but duodenal and gastric ulcers are by far the most common.
The roots of diet manipulation in the treatment of patients with peptic ulcer extends far back in medical history. As early as the first century, Celsus ordered smooth diets free of “acrid” food, and practitioners of the seventh century wrote of their belief in “special healing properties” of milk for patients with digestive disturbances. In the first half of the nineteenth century, peptic ulcer became established as a pathologic and clinical entity, and physicians generally advocated a liberal dietary regimen with frequent feedings.
However, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, a radical change developed in medical opinion concerning peptic ulcer treatment. The belief spread that food was harmful to the ulcer, and only complete rest—meaning an empty stomach—would allow the stomach to heal itself. Fasting regimens became the accepted practice among European physicians and were soon introduced in the United States.
Dr. J. H. Tilden, one of the early Hygienic practitioners advocated the fast for peptic ulcer patients. He said, “When disease has been suspected, or if suspected and not properly treated until hemorrhage has taken place, the patient must be kept quiet in bed, without any food, for at least forty-eight hours after the hemorrhage ceases.”
Hereward Carrington endorsed the fast as an effective means for regeneration and renewal. In his book, Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, he says: “The moment the last morsel of food is digested, and the stomach emptied, a general reconstructive process begins; a new tissue formation, owing to the fact that the broken-down cells are being replaced by healthy ones—which is Nature’s method of repairing any destroyed or injured part of the organism. This replacement of cells means gradual replacement of tissue; replacement of tissue means that a new stomach has been created—a stomach in every sense of the word new—as new as every anatomical sense as is the filling in wounds, or between the fractured ends of bones.”
Many early Hygienic practitioners endorsed the fast for ulcer sufferers including Dr. George Weger, Dr. Sylvester Graham, Dr. R.T. Trall, Dr. James C. Jackson, and others. Their success cannot be denied and indeed many patients who were considered “hopeless” by the orthodox physicians became well under the Hygienic regime endorsed by these pioneers.
Apparently, however, this “natural” regime was too easy and simple for the medical physicians to accept. Then in 1915, an American physician Bertram Sippy rejected the practice of fasting and established a regimen of dietary control and alkaline medication. Sippy introduced the principle of frequent feedings that is still followed by many dietitians today.
Sippy’s traditional diet was based on the principles that the food must be both acid neutralizing and nonirritating. His diet, therefore, according to his theory began with milk and cream feedings every hour or so, to neutralize free acid with the milk protein, suppress gastric secretion with the cream, and generally “soothe” the ulcer by coating the stomach. Although these principles are used today his assumptions have not been supported by research. Since he also claimed the food should be non-irritating, he eliminated very hot or very cold food, spices, seasonings, coffee, tea, alcohol, raw foods and whole grains.
In over 50 years of experience, Dr. Shelton found that patients with peptic ulcers regained a superb state of health following the initial fast and then following a diet of raw ripe fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The orthodox approach today is divided between diet therapy utilizing the “bland diet” as outlined by Bertram Sippy and a more liberal diet allowing “anything the patient desires to eat” except possibly eliminating black pepper and the more irritating foods and beverages. Along with this diet therapy, drug treatment is invariably given and surgery is performed in the most chronic cases, especially when there is hemorrhage.