Article #1: Stomach Ulcer by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
He had a stomach ulcer for over four years. During this period he had grown “better” and “worse” by turns. At one time, a hemorrhage occasioned by the ulcer had almost resulted in death. For weeks he lay in bed, weak, anemic, attenuated to a skeleton. He gradually grew stronger and put on weight and was again able to be up and around.
Smoking, drinking and economic worries helped to add to his sufferings and his ulcer persisted and grew slowly worse. Physicians and surgeons wanted to operate, but this he persisted in refusing.
This was the wreck of a patient that, finally, came into the hands of a Hygienist for care. Why do people continue to try every possible wrong remedy before they turn to the right one? Why do they try all of the artificial and destructive methods before they resort to the natural and constructive ones? Why is “Hygiene” the last, rather than the first resort?
If Natural Hygiene can restore good health to the scraps and derelicts, after they have been through the hands of all the physicians and surgeons that their money can buy, will they not produce health much more rapidly, much more satisfactorily, if the patient employs these first? Why suffer for years and spend a small fortune on futile and destructive methods when all this may be avoided by adopting Hygiene at the outset? Do we like to suffer; or, do we like to spend our money needlessly? If Hygiene will save us much suffering, much time and many dollars, why do we not employ it exclusively?
Hygiene does not wreck constitutions. It does not destroy organs. It does not build complications. It does not accelerate the evolution of pathology. In all of these things it does the opposite. It is constructive, regenerative and tends always to preserve and restore organic and functional integrity. The differences between medical methods and Hygienic methods are basic and immense.
Our patient finally found his way to a Hygienist who put him in bed and stopped him from eating. He was given daily exercise and a daily sun bath. Beyond these things, water, air and encouragement are all that he received.
But what a difference in results when contrasted to the old methods. Day by day he improved. His improvement was apparent after the first three or four days. Symptoms slowly subsided and completely disappeared. After the fast was broken, he was fed a natural diet composed chiefly of an abundance of fruits and vegetables. He gained in weight and strength and returned home well, strong and happy.
An ulcer is simply an open sore, “a circumscribed loss of tissue,” or “a dissolution of continuity in the soft parts of shorter or longer standing.” The following three cardinal distinctions between a wound and an ulcer should be of interest to readers:
- I wound arises from the action of an extraneous body—the cause of an ulcer is inherent in the economy.
- A wound is always idiopathic (not secondary to another disease)—an ulcer is always symptomatic.
- A wound has essentially a tendency to heal, because the action of its cause has been momentary—an ulcer, on the contrary, has a tendency to enlarge, because of the persistence of its cause.
Peptic ulcer, as ulcer of the digestive tract is called, may develop in the lower end of the esophagus, the stomach, duodenum and, after gastroenterostomy, in the jejunum. The ulcer is more often, single, but sometimes multiple. They are of varying sizes and tend to enlarge under “regular” mismanagement.
The most common symptoms of gastric (stomach) ulcer are indigestion, paroxysmal pain, localized tenderness, vomiting, gastric hyperacidity, and hematemesis or hermorrhage from the stomach.
The pain is paroxysmal, localized and severe and may radiate to the back or sides. In many cases it is aggravated by eating and persists until the stomach is emptied, either by vomiting or by the food passing into the intestine. In other cases the pain is present when the stomach is empty and is relieved by eating.
Two small areas of tenderness may often be found; one in front and just below the lower end of the breast bone, the other behind and a little to the left of the tenth or twelfth dorsal vertebrae.
Vomiting often takes place in from one and one-half hours to two hours after eating. The vomitus usually consists of gastric juice and undigested food. Although the acidity of the gastric juice may be normal, a test usually shows its acidity to be increased.
Loss of blood (hematemesis) occurs in more than fifty percent of cases; the loss of blood being given as the cause of death in approximately twenty percent of all “fatal cases.” The blood is fluid and unaltered in most cases, but in cases where it is retained in the stomach for some time before being ejected, it may have a “coffee-ground” appearance, in some cases no blood is vomited or emitted, but is discharged entirely through the bowels. In some rises the blood is invisible to the in aided eye (“occult”) ;.rd can be directed only by tests.
There are cases in which all of the above symptoms, except that of dyspepsia, are absent and others in which all of these symptoms are missing. The first indication of ulcer in such cases is perforation of the stomach wall or a profuse hemorrhage. Perforation, which occurs in 8 to 10% of cases under medical care results in peritonitis, often abscess.
Because of the persistence of the causes of the ulcer and to the increasing tissue degeneration that occurs, cancer frequently evolves out of an ulcer. Some medical authorities say that twenty percent of ulcers evolve into cancer.
Ulcers are not always discovered by X ray and many mistakes are made in diagnosis. The following conditions are often mistaken for ulcer of the stomach: gastralgia, gastric cancer, ulcer of the duodenum, and gallstones.
Medical authorities tell us that the prognosis “is guardedly favorable in recent cases.” Under their care, the mortality in all cases runs from eight to ten percent. They say “some ulcers run a rapid course and end fatally through hemorrhage or perforation; others, even without treatment, persist for many years. Relapses are common.” One I famous surgeon, when asked when an operation would be performed for gastric ulcer, replied: “After it has been cured nine times.”
Medical men are completely at sea as to the cause of stomach ulcers. In giving its cause they say: “It is more common in women than in men. The majority of cases occur between the ages of twenty and forty. Chlorosis and anemia are important predisposing factors.” They also say, “It is generally admitted that these ulcers are due to the digestive action of the gastric juice upon an area of local malnutrition. The cause of malnutrition is obscure.” The fact that ulcers occur more often in women than in men is not a cause of ulcer. In other words, “female sex” is not a cause. Many men do develop the disease and most women do not develop it. In like manner, time of life is not a cause.
Diagnosis is difficult, etiology is unknown, prognosis is unfavorable, treatment is unsatisfactory and the undertaker is waiting—this well sums up the present medical view of gastric ulcer.
Operations to remove the stomach, or part of it, or both the stomach and the duodenum are often performed. These vandalistic procedures are dignified by such highbrow terms as gastrectomy, or partial gastrectomy. These operations “are indicated” if “there is evidence of pyloric obstruction, or of hour-glass contraction or other serious deformity of the stomach, or if the disease does not yield to medical treatment and the life of the patient is endangered by malnutrition.”
Alkalies, silver nitrate, bismuth sub-nitrate and alkaline laxatives are the chief poisons used to “cure” gastric ulcers. Sodium bicarbonate, magnesia and chalk are favorite alkalies. Artificial Carlsbad salt is a favorite laxative in this condition. Morphine is given hypodermically if the pain is severe.
The medical diet is a tragedy. It is made up of milk, buttermilk, beef-juice, animal broths, egg white, thin pap, soft-broiled eggs, scraped beef, boiled sweet-breads (pancreas), tender parts of oysters, white meat of chicken, “well-made gruel” and custard pudding. It is an almost exclusively animal-food diet and with the possible exception of the sweetbread, is made up wholly of acid-forming food. “Rectal feeding” by means of “nutritive or saline enemas” is attempted if “hemorrhage has recently occurred or if vomiting is urgent,” so that feeding is impossible. The diet is almost as bad as the drugging program.
Rest, if a patient can really rest on such a program, is the only thing they give the patient that is helpful. “Rest and appropriate diet,” they tell us, are most important. How important! Yet, how much neglected! When will they learn the meaning of rest? When will they learn what an appropriate diet is? A worse diet than the above is almost inconceivable. Rest under a program of drugging is almost impossible.
In general, it may be said that ulcers arise from poor health. No ulcer develops unless one is living in such a manner as to favor the development of disease. For instance, there is an undoubted connection between tobacco using and gastric ulcer. The same undoubted connection exists between ulcer and alcoholism. Irritating spices and many drugs prove also to be causes of ulcer.
Gastric ulcer is concomitant with an excess of acid in the stomach. The medical profession assumes that the hyperacidity is purely local. The Hygienic school considers it to be rather a merely local expression of a general lowering of alkalinity, or acidosis. The ulcers are merely forms of scurvy. In all cases one finds these patients to have lived on a diet that is predominantly acid forming.
Worry, anxiety, jealousy, disappointment in love, etc., due to their power to derange function throughout the body, and to derange the digestive function in particular, aid in causing ulcers.
Indeed, it may be truly said that anything and everything that impairs health, aids in causing gastric ulcer. For, peptic ulcers, of all kinds are outgrowths of a number of corolated antecedents.
First there are enervation and toxemia. There is imprudent eating and predominantly acid-forming dietary. The fluids of the body lose more or less of their normal alkalinity. Calcium deficiency and vitamin deficiency result in a mild scurvy.
Enervation and imprudent eating cause indigestion and fermentation. Poisons and gases, resulting from food decomposition, cause catarrhal inflammation (gastritis). The inflammation becomes chronic and results in induration (hardening); this, in time, results in a breaking down of the indurated areas, or ulceration.
Because of chronic provocation, the persistence of the causes of ulceration, perforation of the stomach occurs, resulting in peritonitis, and, perhaps, death.
Every step in the evolution of this condition is built on the preceding one and prepares for the succeeding one. Gastric ulcer, perforation, peritonitis, death—these are evolutions out of uncorrected causes. The ulcer and indigestion are not separate and distinct diseases, but separate links in a syndrome of causes and effects extending from childhood to death.
Not all ulcers produce perforation. Many of them heal. Indeed, it is said that post-mortems have shown that a very large number of ulcers heal. Some of them heal without the individual ever having known he had the condition. Dr. Tilden says: “My experience has been that the chances of recovery are very good.”
The late Dr. Weger wrote: “A postoperative picture, quite disconcerting, can often be painted by those who have had one or more gastroenterostomies, subsequent operations for relief of adhesions, and not infrequently gallbladder drainage or removal, yet have not learned how to eat properly afterwards. The appendix may have been disposed of early in case. The disillusionment that accompanies the return of the symptoms, often in an aggravated form, leaves bitterness and disappointment that shatters faith in surgery and medicine.” Fortunately, as Dr. Weger adds: “Even in such apparently, hopeless cases, with loss of continuity of structure or loss of important organs or secretions of organs, there is a way by which comfort can be restored and compensatory adaptations to abnormal states is possible of attainment.”
Any change to a “bland” diet, or to one requiring less motion of the stomach causes less immediate irritation than does food containing much roughage, but it will not remove the causes of the ulcer. Alkalies will temporarily neutralize the excess acids in the stomach, but they do not remove the causes of ulceration. Their continued use does produce a condition known as alkalosis.
The first step necessary to remedying gastric ulcer is a thorough reformation of the patients mode of living. Every harmful and enervating habit and influence must be corrected. Unless this is done these things will daily add to the cause of the ulcer and make satisfactory healing impossible.
Next, to assure rest of the stomach, normal body chemistry and normal gastric secretion, a fast is necessary. No food, just water, should be taken. The duration of the fast will vary in individual cases from a few days to a few weeks and should be taken under the supervision of a competent Hygienist.
Indeed, since rest and quiet and freedom from responsibilities and irritations are essential in these cases, both during the fast and subsequently for some time, the fast is best taken in an institution away from home, business and friends, neighbors and relatives.
Dr. Weger says, “Dependable healing will not take place if the fast is broken too soon. The fast must be continued until all reactions indicate that systemic renovation has been completed. True, many patients are already thin and depleted and look the part of chronic sufferers. This state, while deplorable, is not a contraindication to the complete fast. There is no other way that is lasting.”
After the ulcer has healed and the fast is broken, proper food, sunshine, exercise, mental poise and good general Hygiene will complete the evolution of good health, and so long as, by these means, good health is maintained, there will be no recurrence of the ulcer.
Reprinted From Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review, Jan. 1980