Gastritis is a condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed, leading to discomfort. If the inflammation is prolonged, either atrophic gastritis (a condition in which the glands of the stomach lining disappear) or an
may develop. Underlying causes of gastritis include infection with the organism
; excessive stomach acid secretion; autoimmune processes (conditions in which the body attacks itself); and damage to the stomach lining caused by alcohol,
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
, or severe
Gastritis typically causes pain in the upper abdomen (just below the sternum), but it may also occur without pain. A burning sensation higher up in the chest (heartburn) generally indicates
. Stomach distress may also occur without inflammation of the stomach wall; in that case, it is called
Conventional treatment for gastritis includes antibiotics to eliminate
; reducing stomach acidity with medications in the
proton pump inhibitor
families; and possibly using medications to protect the stomach lining. In addition, it is important to reduce alcohol consumption and change (or, if possible, stop taking) medications that damage the stomach.
supplementation may be necessary in some cases of atrophic gastritis.
Newer anti-inflammatory drugs in the COX-2 inhibitor family, such as Celebrex (
) and Vioxx (
), were designed to cause less harm to the stomach than the older drugs in that category (such as
). However, current evidence remains mixed on how much better these drugs really are compared to the old ones. More sophisticated forms of inhibitors that are currently moving toward the market may better fulfill the promise of these medications.
Proposed Natural Treatments
No herbs or supplements (other than alkaline substances with direct antacid properties, such as calcium carbonate or hydrotalcite) have been proven effective for gastritis. The treatments mentioned below have merely shown some promise in preliminary studies.
Natural Therapies That May Affect
As discussed above,
is thought to contribute to many cases of gastritis. A number of treatments have been evaluated to see whether they inhibit
’s growth. For example, evidence suggests that various
(friendly bacteria) in the
family can inhibit the growth of
While this effect does not appear to be strong enough for probiotic treatment to eradicate
on its own, preliminary studies (one of which was
) suggest that probiotics may help standard antibiotic therapy work better, improving the rate of eradication and reducing side effects.
Highly preliminary studies suggest that various
can inhibit the growth of
All fruits and vegetables provide bioflavonoids, but these substances can also be taken as supplements.
has also shown some ability to act against
Despite early reports that
inhibits or kills
, studies in people have not been promising.
in combination with antibiotic therapy has been tried as a treatment for eradicating
, but it did not prove particularly helpful.
is thought to help prevent bladder infections by preventing adhesion of bacteria to the bladder. Preliminary evidence suggests that it might also help prevent the adhesion of
to the stomach wall.
Theoretically, this could help treat gastritis, but as yet there is no direct evidence regarding this potential benefit.
does not appear to be helpful against
However, some evidence suggests that cayenne can protect the stomach against damage caused by anti-inflammatory drugs.
Other natural supplements that have shown promise for protecting against the side effects of these drugs include the amino acid cysteine,
a special form of
known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL),
and the breast milk constituent known as
Other Natural Therapies That May Protect the Stomach Lining
A collection of substances extracted from beeswax has been studied as a treatment for preventing and treating ulcers of various kinds, with promising results.
Known as D-002, this product is chemically related to
; however, policosanol itself is not thought to have this effect. (To make matters more confusing, a similar beeswax extract is sold in the US
Very weak evidence also suggests that
might help protect the stomach lining.
Other substances have also been suggested as aids to stomach health, but as yet there is little to no scientific evidence that they are effective for gastritis. These include the following:
physicians believe that the supplement
can aid gastritis by
stomach acid. This sounds paradoxical, since conventional treatment for this condition involves
stomach acid. However, according to one theory, lack of stomach acid leads to incomplete digestion of proteins, and these proteins cause
and other responses that lead to an increase in ulcer pain. Again, scientific evidence is lacking.
Symptoms of gastritis are similar to those of nonspecific dyspepsia (stomach pain with no known cause). If you suffer from stomach discomfort but your doctor does not think you have gastritis,
, or any other specific illness, you might benefit from the natural treatments discussed in the
For a discussion of homeopathic approaches to gastritis, see the
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
A number of herbs and supplements might tend to increase stomach inflammation, including
In addition, various supplements may interact with drugs used to treat gastritis. For more information, see the specific drug article in the
section of this database.