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Medicine: Dreft for Stomach Ulcers

2 minute read

An amazing new ten-day cure for stomach ulcers—which at one time or another afflict 15% of U.S. adults—has just been developed by two Northwestern University doctors. It employs Procter & Gamble’s “Dreft,” which is technically not a soap but a “detergent” (TIME, Jan. 5) that acts like soap.

In 1936 Dr. H. B. Bull found by chance that sodium lauryl sulfate (main ingredient of “Dreft”) denatures the molecules of egg albumen. He reasoned that it might also inactivate the powerful digestive juice, pepsin. Pepsin is a protein much like egg albumen. It causes ulcers by digesting the lining of nervous stomachs and duodenums * as well as food. “Dreft” worked.

Next Dr. S. J. Fogelson developed a method of prescribing “Dreft” in small, tasteless capsules to be taken after meals. The treatment works best, the doctor found, when the patient goes on the usual bland diet, but this is not necessary. Clinical results, said Dr. Bull last week, have been “splendid—no relapses, no recurrences, no bad effects.”

* Some 80% of “stomach ulcers” are really in the duodenum, which is the first ten or twelve inches of the small intestine. The upset stomach hurries along incompletely digested food containing pepsin, against which the duodenum has no defense. Further along the intestine, bile from the protect liver it and from the alkaline pepsin. juices from the pancreas

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