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.

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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]

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Conditions that suggest Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Digestion

Gastric/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.

Gastritis

Helicobacter Pylori is believed to be the cause of superficial gastritis.

Nutrients

Skin-Hair-Nails

Rosacea

A high incidence of Helicobacter pylori infection in the stomach has been found amongst rosacea patients.

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Tumors, Malignant

Stomach 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.

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Risk factors for Helicobacter Pylori Infection:

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

History of gastritis

Helicobacter Pylori is believed to be the cause of superficial gastritis.

Helicobacter Pylori Infection can lead to:

Digestion

Gastric/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

Rosacea

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

Mastic Gum kills H.  Pylori.  [NEJM 1998 Dec 24;339(26): p.1946]

Tea 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

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

Essential fatty acids have the ability to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori and suppress acid production.

Vitamins

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

A study showed vitamin C levels to be low in atrophic gastritis and Helicobacter Pylori infection.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine)

H.  Pylori infection may result in Vitamin B12 deficiency.

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