Helicobacter Pylori Infection

Helicobacter Pylori Infection: Overview

In recent years, Helicobacter pylori (H.  pylori) has been identified by researchers as the cause of the majority of gastrointestinal ulcersH.  pylori is a bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum.  It has a unique way of adapting to the usually harsh environment of the stomach.

Incidence; Causes and Development

H.  pylori is very common, infecting more than a billion people worldwide.  It is estimated that half of the United States population older than age 60 has been infected with H.  pylori.  Infection usually persists for many years, leading to ulcer disease in 10 % to 15% of those infected.  H.  pylori is found in more than 80% of patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily digest food or kill microorganisms.  Low levels of stomach acid increase the chance an organism's survival.  It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile.

The stomach is protected from its own gastric juice by a thick layer of mucus that covers the stomach lining.  H.  pylori takes advantage of this protection by living in the mucous lining.

Once H.  pylori is safe in the mucus, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease.  Urease converts urea, of which there is an abundant supply in the stomach (from saliva and gastric juices), into bicarbonate and ammonia, which are strong bases.  This creates a cloud of acid-neutralizing chemicals around the H.  pylori, protecting it from the acid in the stomach.  The breath test method of diagnosis relies on this reaction being present.

Contributing to the protection of H.  pylori is the fact that the body's natural defenses cannot reach the bacterium in the mucous lining of the stomach.  The immune system will respond to an H.  pylori infection by sending white cells, killer T-cells, and other infection-fighting agents.  However, these potential H.  pylori eradicators cannot reach the infection, because they cannot easily get through stomach lining.  They do not, however, go away – the immune response just grows and grows.  White cells die and spill their destructive compounds (superoxide radicals) on stomach lining cells.  Extra nutrients are sent to reinforce the white cells, and the H.  pylori can feed on this.  Within a few days, gastritis and perhaps eventually a peptic ulcer results.  It may not be H.  pylori itself which causes peptic ulcer, but the body's response (inflammation of the stomach lining).

H.  pylori is believed to be transmitted orally.  Many researchers believe that H.  pylori is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of waste-tainted food or water.  In addition, it is possible that H.  pylori could be transmitted from the stomach to the mouth through gastro-esophageal reflux or belching, common symptoms of gastritis.  The bacterium could then be transmitted through oral contact.

Treatment and Prevention

A 2002 trial demonstrated that a mixed probiotic acidophilus preparation failed to eradicate the H.  pylori infection in the patients upon whom it was tried.  [Digestion 2002;65(1): pp.16-20]

Helicobacter Pylori Infection

Information On This Page

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Conditions that suggest Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Digestion

Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers strongly suggests Helicobacter Pylori InfectionGastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers
The average person's lifetime chance of suffering from a peptic ulcer is 5-10%, but this rises to 10-20% in those who are Helicobacter pylori positive.  H.  Pylori infection usually persists for many years, leading to ulcer disease in 10-15% of those infected.  H.  pylori is found in more than 80% of patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Nutrients

Skin-Hair-Nails

Rosacea strongly suggests Helicobacter Pylori InfectionRosacea
A high incidence of Helicobacter pylori infection in the stomach has been found amongst rosacea patients.

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Gastritis often suggests Helicobacter Pylori InfectionGastritis
Helicobacter Pylori is believed to be the cause of superficial gastritis.

Tumors, Malignant

Stomach Cancer may suggest Helicobacter Pylori InfectionStomach Cancer
Helicobacter Pylori infection leads to a significantly increased risk of stomach cancer.  About 550,000 new cases of stomach cancer each year are attributable to Helicobacter pylori, the same bacterium that causes ulcers.

Risk factors for Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

History of gastritis often increases risk of Helicobacter Pylori InfectionHistory of gastritis
Helicobacter Pylori is believed to be the cause of superficial gastritis.

Helicobacter Pylori Infection can lead to:

Digestion

Helicobacter Pylori Infection often leads to Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal UlcersGastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers
The average person's lifetime chance of suffering from a peptic ulcer is 5-10%, but this rises to 10-20% in those who are Helicobacter pylori positive.  H.  Pylori infection usually persists for many years, leading to ulcer disease in 10-15% of those infected.  H.  pylori is found in more than 80% of patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Skin-Hair-Nails

Helicobacter Pylori Infection sometimes leads to RosaceaRosacea
A high incidence of Helicobacter pylori infection in the stomach has been found amongst rosacea patients.

Recommendations for Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Action

Botanical

Mastic Gum is highly recommended for Helicobacter Pylori InfectionMastic Gum
Mastic Gum kills H.  Pylori.  [NEJM 1998 Dec 24;339(26): p.1946]
Tea Tree oil may help with Helicobacter Pylori InfectionTea Tree oil
Tea tree oil, taken internally, is reported to be useful in killing H.  Pylori when taken at 15 drops of 100% strength twice daily.  It may need to be taken in juice in order to mask it's strong flavor and with a pinched nose to mask it's odor.

Diet

Increased Water Consumption is highly recommended for Helicobacter Pylori InfectionIncreased Water Consumption
Drinking more water alone has resolved many cases of H.  Pylori infection.  The suggested amount is 1 quart per 50 pounds of body weight or generally about 12 glasses per day.  Most ulcers can be treated with water consumption and regular use of a good probiotic product.  (Am J Gastroenterol May 1999;94: pp.1200-2.)

Nutrient

Essential Fatty Acids may help with Helicobacter Pylori InfectionEssential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids have the ability to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori and suppress acid production.

Vitamins

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) often helps with Helicobacter Pylori InfectionVitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
A study showed vitamin C levels to be low in atrophic gastritis and Helicobacter Pylori infection.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine) may help with Helicobacter Pylori InfectionVitamin B12 (Cobalamine)
H.  Pylori infection may result in Vitamin B12 deficiency.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may suggest; sometimes leads to
Weak or unproven link:
may suggest; sometimes leads to
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of; often leads to
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of; often leads to
Definite or direct link: strongly suggests; increases risk of
Definite or direct link:
strongly suggests; increases risk of
May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for