Allergic Reaction - Ulcers

Ulcers are basically white, craterlike holes that form in the glossy pink lining of the stomach or duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine, juts below the stomach). Duodenal ulcers are more common than stomach ulcers, although both can occur in the same person.

Typical symptoms of ulcers are gnawing pain, ”coffee ground” vomit, black stools and weakness. A bland diet, free of coffee, chocolate, fruit and spices, plus hourly feedings of milk and cream, was once the standard treatment for ulcers. That seemed to heal ulcers at first. But in most people, the ulcers eventually returned.

Because dietary treatment failed so often, drugs and antacids are now the mainstay of ulcer therapy. But hourly milk is still prescribed for the immediate and acute stage of ulcer attacks, especially if there is bleeding. Could milk be the cause of many ulcers?

Some doctors think so. James C. Breneman, M.D., now chairman of the Food Allergy Committee of the American College of Allergists, first noticed a connection between ulcers and milk allergy several years ago. He was treating a man with a ten year old duodenal ulcer.

On a hunch, Dr. Breneman put the man on a typical food allergy elimination diet – devoid of milk, wheat, eggs and other common food allergens. ”Within three days his symptoms disappeared,” says Dr. Breneman. ”They did not reappear until milk was added as a test food, whereupon he was seized by abdominal pain, vomiting and weakness. After the milk was again removed, his symptoms subsided.”

The agony returned with wheat and pork, and disappeared when they were avoided. Sixteen years later, the man was still free of all ulcer symptoms. That, says Dr. Breneman, virtually proves that he was cured and not merely lapsing into one of the symptom free periods that are typical of ulcers whether they're treated or not.

Anyone who has an ulcer and is allergic to milk will continue to suffer as long as he or she continues to drink milk, asserts Dr. Breneman in his book Basics of Food Allergy (Charles C. Thomas, 1978). When a bland diet does work, it's probably because people stay away from some of the foods that so frequently cause allergy: chocolate, coffee, condiments and fruit.

Since those foods also tend to cause month ulcers, Albert Rowe, Jr. M.D., coauthor of the book Food Allergy (Charles C. Thomas, 1972), treats stomach and duodenal ulcers much as he treats mouth ulcers: by eliminating those troublesome foods, plus other common food allergens such as wheat and eggs.

But even with an allergy control diet, un ulcer cannot be expected to heal overnight, says Dr. Rowe. ”Since it usually takes two or more weeks for foods to leave the body, and a longer time for tissue changes from chronic food allergy to decrease, strict adherence to the diet is required until relief has continued for one or two months,” says Dr. Rowe. ”After that, individual foods are gradually added.”

Complete instructions for diet that eliminate milk, wheat, eggs and other allergenic foods are given in Finding Your No-Allergy Diet. As for antacids, Dr. Rowe says that people find they need less as relief from food allergy occurs. ”If antacids are used, the unflavored tablets and fluids should be used,” says Dr. Rowe.

People with ulcers should also avoid aspirin and aspirin containing drugs. Aspirin corrodes the stomach lining and aggravates duodenal ulcers. And since smokers are twice as likely to develop ulcers as nonsmokers, avoiding cigarettes, cigars and pipes is also wise. See also Indigestion, Bloating and Abdominal.