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OpinionsIt is a myth that spicy foods cause ulcers

It is a myth that spicy foods cause ulcers


Dr Ramavtar Sharma

It is a common belief that we should avoid spicy food because spices may cause ulcers in the mouth and stomach. So many people complain with a degree of innocence that why have they got ulcers in the stomach when their diet has always been bland ! Researchers and experts working in this field agree that spicy foods do not cause ulcers either in the oral cavity or in the stomach. The only reason for the advice to avoid spicy food in such people is that spicy foods aggravate pain arising out of these ulcers but by themselves are not responsible for the causation of these ulcers.

The triggering factors for ulcer formation are either bacterial, viral or parasite infection of the intestine including oral cavity. Sometimes trauma may lead to ulcers on the tongue and mucosa of the mouth. Many types of allergic reactions and chemotherapy can trigger oral ulcer formation. Prolonged and high levels of stress may be responsible for ulceration but its mechanism of cell damage is not fully understood.

There is no definitive treatment for oral ulcers though in many cases treating intestinal bacterial or amoebic infection heals them but still there are many cases which are not manageable satisfactorily with people suffering even for their entire life. This happens because we do not know exactly why ulcers occur in these people though chronic inflammation may be responsible in many cases. Other than that some vitamin and nutritional deficiencies may also be responsible in some cases where improvement in diet and supplements of vitamins help attain a cure.

For peptic ulcers, two major causative agents are a bacteria called H. Pylori and painkiller drugs from a category called NSAIDs. Treating H. Pylori vigorously and avoiding offending painkillers may attain cure in many people. Stress of modern lifestyle has also emerged is a strong trigger for stomach ulcer formation and hence, should be managed by counseling and lifestyle changes. Smoking should be strictly avoided and alcohol consumption be moderated. Sleep is a great healer hence, avoid mobile use after 9 pm and instead of mobile go for a book and a pillow for a relaxing sleep during night. Restrict salt-preserved fish, meat and vegetables as well as processed, grilled and charcoal cooked foods to minimum. Herbs and many spices help in maintaining cardiovascular . Cinnamon, turmeric and oregano belong to that category. Pepper in moderation has definitive health benefits.

Thus, we should look for causes other than spicy food for recurrent or persistent ulcers of the mouth or stomach otherwise the diagnosis would be missed. Finally, the prolonged use of ulcer drugs like omeprazole, pantoprazole should be avoided as they may be harmful for muscle and bone health and also make you deficient in certain vitamins and prone to some infections.


The author is Practicing physician at Jaipur and freelance writer  Email :



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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