My interest in peptic ulcer disease is personal. I had a peptic ulcer. The year was 1962. I was chief resident in the maternity ward of a big city hospital just outside the center of Paris. Shifts lasted 36 hours. Between consultations, we performed a few Cesarean sections. On many occasions we saved the lives of poor, desperate women who had suffered at the hands of back-alley abortionists—at that time, abortion procedures were illegal. We also delivered babies whose mothers had been referred to us by midwives because they considered the births too risky.
Getting any sleep was out of the question, and even when I managed to string together a few precious hours of shut-eye, they were usually interrupted by Gerard Zwang, a fellow doctor and the future author of Feminine Sexuality, who was even then researching his sexology masterpiece with the aid of vocal female partners on the other side of the paper-thin wall next to which I slept, or at least tried to sleep. The doctor who was the head of the maternity ward was a closet morphine addict. He actually forbade my colleagues and me from giving anesthetic or tetanus shots to our patients. It was a most stressful time.
The food I managed to eat on the run was nondescript. The red wine I drank made coppers shine and my stomach cringe. I smoked a pack a day of non-filtered cigarettes. The chief resident in cardiology managed to melt the engine of my prized crimson Simca-1000. He forgot to check the oil and never noticed the fumes gushing out of the back of the car. I learned later that the man had no sense of smell. And to top things off, I was going through a very painful divorce.
My ulcer pain was rhythmic. Like clockwork, it occurred four hours after each so-called meal I ate on the run. I controlled the pain with bismuth, my stomach medication of choice. An upper GI X-ray series confirmed my suspicions: it was an ulcer. “Second duodenum; quite unusual,” mumbled the radiologist. I kept on swallowing my bismuth subnitrate not knowing that it had the potential to induce severe brain damage. I injected myself with a concoction of vitamin C and iron that was horribly painful.
In October of that year, I was drafted into the army. At the Château de Vincennes, an impressive dark castle on the outskirts of Paris that occasionally served as a state prison, I asked the physician on duty for some painkilling bismuth. This doctor was counting the minutes until his return to civilian life, but he managed to give me enough attention to notice my ulcer pain. After some initial tests, he called an ambulance. I was transported to a military hospital, where I got a gastroscopy with a rigid tube, quite different from the flexible tubes of today, another series of X-rays, more bismuth, and a confirmation of my diagnosis. I was relieved of my military duties. The training ship on which I was supposed to have been the physician on board left port without me on a twenty-month cruise around the world.
Forty-two years later, the scar from my peptic ulcer is still visible on barium X-ray pictures. I stopped smoking thirty years ago. I eat—as much as possible—great food at regular hours and drink only superb wines. I am happily married. I love my life between the house in Northern California and my job in Asia. But I know what ulcer pain feels like. I shall always know. That is why I have written this book. After decades of making sure I was familiar with the latest medical discoveries in ulcer treatments, I have found a simple, nontoxic, natural approach to relieving ulcer pain and treating ulcers.
While I may not have been the one to actually make the discovery, I am pleased to provide the first guide to this remarkable nutrient. For nearly a decade, Zinc-Carnosine has been effectively used in Japan to treat peptic ulcer disease and other gastrointestinal complaints. The supplement has been nothing short of miraculous in its ability to bolster the stomach’s natural defenses and relieve ulcer pain and suffering. As both a teacher and physician, it would be imprudent to claim that this nutrient cures ulcers for every patient who takes it, but this unique supplement undoubtedly plays a significant healing role for most. For that reason, I believe that ulcer patients should know about Zinc-Carnosine. In this book, I present studies and the latest medical thinking about the supplement. I show why Zinc-Carnosine deserves a place beside prescription drugs as a treatment option for ulcer pain and ulcer disease. I show how Zinc-Carnosine may help prevent gastric ulcers.
As you will discover, this book is more than just a simple guide to Zinc-Carnosine. It has been designed to provide the reader with a look at both the problems of gastric diseases and the treatments currently used. Chapter 1 explains what an ulcer is and gives a history of ulcer treatments. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 examine the causes of peptic ulcer disease. Chapter 2 looks at the most common cause of ulcers—the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). It explains how H. pylori infects the stomach lining, and how and why certain people get ulcers from it. Chapter 3 describes how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) erode the stomach lining, why these drugs are so useful in spite of the damage they do to the stomach, and how scientists are trying to modify NSAIDs so that patients can take them without risk. Chapter 4 looks at the causes of ulcer disease—stress, smoking, alcohol, and others—that usually fall under the ambiguous “lifestyle” heading.
Chapter 5 investigates ulcer symptoms and explains all the different diagnostic techniques, their costs and side effects, and why doctors choose one technique over the other.
The next three chapters take up ulcer treatments. Chapter 6 looks at standard drug treatments and antibiotic treatments for H. pylori infections, the drugs’ side effects, how accurate different treatments are, and why doctors choose different treatments for their patients. Chapter 7 examines a handful of natural supplements and folk remedies for peptic ulcer disease. Chapter 8 brings readers up to date on Zinc-Carnosine, the novel ulcer treatment that I believe should be an option for everyone who is being treated for peptic ulcer disease and for those who believe that they are candidates for getting an ulcer.
Throughout this book, I have tried my best to explain medical procedures and gastrointestinal physiology in plain terms that everyone can understand. Besides being an adept listener, I believe a good doctor is one who can explain treatments and treatment options to patients in such a way that patients can understand what they are being told. I have endeavored to be a good doctor on the pages of this book.
If you stumble across a term you don’t understand, I invite you to look it up in the glossary at the end of this book. Also at the end of this book, listed chapter by chapter, are references to the various studies that I have investigated.
In spite of improved diagnostic techniques and treatments, I know that far too many Americans suffer from peptic ulcer disease. Too many people are awakened in the middle of the night by crippling ulcer pain or the pain of another gastrointestinal disorder. Too many people have to abstain from the foods they like and the activities they enjoy in the interest of nursing their ulcer. It is my hope that once you have read this book, you will be able to talk intelligently with your doctor and decide on a treatment plan that is right for you. It is also my hope that this book will allow patients to take the right steps in their lives to avoid forever the tremendous pain and discomfort ulcer sufferers know too well.