Can Cabbage Juice Help Heal the Gut?

In 1949, researcher Garnett Cheney, MD, wanted to see if cabbage juice could help heal ulcers; earlier animal studies had shown promise. So he asked study participants to drink a liter of cabbage juice daily and then tracked how long it took their ulcers to heal compared with people who tried conventional therapy.

The results were astounding: Those who drank cabbage juice saw their ulcers heal in an average of nine days. Earlier studies suggested that conventional treatment typically healed the ulcers in 42 days.

Cheney didn’t know what we know ­today — that most ulcers are triggered by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori — but he discovered something that research confirmed some 60 years later. In one ­animal study, cabbage juice showed “significant inhibitory effects” on H. pylori. Plus, cabbage, like all crucifers, has a vast array of health-promoting properties, including supporting the liver’s detox ­efforts and helping to guard against cancer.

How to Get More: Cabbage juice is surprisingly palatable when it’s combined with juice from other vegetables and fruits, like beets, parsley, and lemons. It may be hard to drink a liter a day, Lipsky notes, “but if you get in a little bit every day, you will end up with some benefit.”

Eating cabbage is easier and also offers plenty of gut-healing benefits: Add it to soups and stir-fries, sauté it in butter and spices, or roast it in the oven — cooking softens cabbage’s astringent flavor. And sauerkraut offers double benefits as a fermented food with probiotics.

Cautions: If you suffer frequent bloating and gas, cabbage may exacerbate those symptoms, especially if it’s eaten raw. If this is true for you, test to see if cooking cabbage makes it more digestible.

This originally appeared in “7 Gut-Healing Foods” in the July-August 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

Laine Bergeson Becco, FMCHC

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Laine Bergeson Becco, FMCHC

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