An ulcer is a hole in the wall of an organ, and a peptic ulcer is one that is affecting either the stomach or the organs surrounding it.
Whether the origins are genetic, lifestyle or bacterial, the vast majority of cases arise because of stress, and its insidious effects work on a number of levels.
Firstly, when we ingest our food, hydrochloric acid starts pouring out of the cells of our stomach lining in an effort to dissolve all the goodies we’ve just feasted on. This is strong stuff, and the stomach itself would be dissolved in a trice unless we had layer upon layer of stomach walls covered in a thick, soothing mucus to buffer the acid. Throw in a bit of bicarbonate, and we’re well on the way to a stable digestive cauldron. But all these pre-emptive measures are very costly to our overall energy defence budget.
So when a stressful event comes our way, our resources are diverted, and we see an inhibition in the amount of acid released. If this continues, the body starts to become accustomed to downgraded acid status and starts to make cutbacks on the constant thickening of the stomach walls and the mucal and bicarbonate secretions that serve us so well. If we stay stressed forever, we’ll end up being quids in on digestive energy expenditure (although we’ll probably die from numerous other ailments!). But if we get through the stressful phase and come out the other side, the digestion starts firing up again to full capacity and now our defences are simply not ready for that amount of acid in the stomach. Our stomach lining takes a big hit before it can fill the breach with neutralising alkali solution and mucus. Our stomach defences are damaged but not critically so. However, if we go through another long stress cycle, and then another, sooner or later the caustic tides are going to eat through our stomach. And what remains is a nasty little hole through which that acid can escape and wreak its pain-inducing havoc.
Secondly, when we experience stress, there is a decreased blood flow to our gut which results in an increased number of free radicals scavenging their way around the stomach tissues. These rather nasty little critters are an unhappy by-product of having oxygen as our biological currency. The body, being the supremely intelligent organism that it is, has this covered by producing vigilant patrolmen who snuff out these biological bad boys before they get out of hand. But due to the diversion of our blood flow our defence capabilities become compromised, and the free radicals exact their anarchic revenge on our stomach cells. In addition, the decreased blood flow also results in small clusters of dead tissue which act as catalysts for ulceration.
Thirdly, ongoing stress results in the suppression of the immune system so that the bacterial agents of ulceration can much more easily proliferate.
Lastly, the production of prostaglandins, which catalyse the healing process when wear and tear occurs, is inhibited by the release of stress hormones. This severely compromises our ability to do running repairs.
Why Vedic meditation beats other natural remedies for stomach ulcers
Vedic meditation helps us reduce the frequency and the intensity of our stress response. This means our stomach can stay protected, our blood flow is more constant, our immune system is strong, and our prostaglandins can remain free of assault from our stress chemistry.
Studies have consistently shown that meditators have fewer stress hormones floating around their systems and far fewer free radicals rusting our innards.
The result is a greatly reduced probability of ulceration and one of the most effective remedies for stomach ulcers.
If we already have ulcers, the healing process kicks in at a much greater rate. The pain reducing qualities of the abundant endorphin release that takes place in meditation ensures that we suffer less as we make our way towards an ulcer-free state.
In less than a week, I am sleeping better than I have for a very long time, my skin is glowing, my tummy has flattened as my digestive system seems to have sped up and best of all, I am not getting as stressed out as I used to at work over daily little upsets. They just wash over me now. I’m kicking myself. Why didn’t I try this years ago?!?
Aida, Banker, London