Heliocobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacteria and perhaps the most common of all bacterial infections. The H. pylori bacterium, as it is often referred to, lives in the lining of the stomach and closely resembles normal epithelial cells. Because of its spiral shape, the bacteria can literally drill into the lining of the stomach. Hidden within the mucous lining of the stomach the H. pylori bacteria is able to evade immune cells, which cannot reach it through the stomach lining. H. Pylori is also able to produce a cloud of acid neutralizing chemicals, which helps to ensure its survival.
How is H. Pylori Contracted
Researchers are unclear as to the true source of the helicobacter pylori bacteria, however it is more common in areas where there are unsanitary living conditions and over crowding. Some speculate that the bacteria might be transmitted through human contact as it has a tendency to run in families. The h. pylori bacteria is also thought to enter the body via the digestive system through eating contaminated food and water.
Effects of Exposure:
Often times persons infected with the helicobacter pylori bacteria will have no apparent symptoms. However, complications such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer are associated with the bacteria.
Diagnosing H. Pylori:
One of the simplest ways to diagnose H. pylori is through a test, which analyzes the breath of the patient. The patient is administered a dose of radioactive C14 by either ingesting a capsule or by having it administered in water. The patient is then asked to blow into an apparatus, which analyzes the exhaled carbon dioxide for traces of C14. If C14 is detected it indicates the patient has an active infection of the Heliocobacter pylori bacteria present in their stomach.
Another method would be through a blood test which checks for antibodies, which react to the bacteria. This test, however is not extremely accurate because it can only determine if there has been prior exposure to the bacteria, and cannot indicate if the bacteria is currently active.
The last test is performed through samples or biopsies of the lining of the stomach. A gastroscopy is performed by inserting a fiber optic tube into the mouth, along the esophagus and into the stomach. While visually inspecting the stomach and duodenum, doctors are able to take biopsies, which they will later test for the bacteria.
Possible Remedies for H. Pylori:
Garlic: (Allium sativum)
Garlic, which is often called, “Poor man’s penicillin” in folk medicine may prove to be a staunch ally when it comes to H. Pylori bacteria. Constituents in garlic show positive effects against both gram-positive and negative bacteria. Researchers have concluded that, “The incidence of stomach cancer is lower in populations with a high intake of Allium vegetables.” Also, some antibiotic resistant strains of H. Pylori are susceptible to garlic. (1) Suggested dose is 1-3 cloves of raw garlic per day.
Cranberries: (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Research conducted at the Institute of Technology in Haifa Israel indicated that the consumption of cranberry juice inhibits H. pylori from adhering to the stomach mucosa. Other studies suggest that by consuming cranberry juice on a regular basis it may actually suppress the H. pylori bacteria possibly preventing ulcers and perhaps even gastric cancer. (2)
Ginger: (Zingiber officinale)
According to Dr. James Duke, “ginger contains 11 compounds that have demonstrated anti-ulcer effects.” Dr. Duke also suggests that a combination of honey and garlic also provides the additional benefit derived from the honeys antibacterial properties.
Licorice Root: (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Numerous studies indicate the Licorice root may be an effective treatment against H. pylori. (3) However, for those that suffer with hypertension, Licorice may be contraindicated as it has a tendancy to increase blood pressure. For those that are affected there is deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which is basically licorice root which has had the constituent glycyrrhizin removed. Although DGL has been modified there is still evidence to suggest that it is effective against H. Pylori.
Cabbage: (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage juice has been a traditional remedy in folk medicine throughout the ages. This remedy might not be too far off the mark. According to an article published in the Western Journal of Medicine, cabbage juice may be effective in healing peptic ulcers much more quickly than conventional treatments. (4) Suggested dose is 1 quart of raw cabbage juice per day.
1. Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic. Sivam GP. Bastyr University, Research Institute, Kenmore, WA 98028, USA.
2. A high molecular mass constituent of cranberry juice inhibits helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus. Burger O, Ofek I, Tabak M, Weiss EI, Sharon N, Neeman I. Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Institute of Technology, Technion, Haifa, Israel.
3. Anti-Helicobacter pylori flavonoids from licorice extract. Fukai T, Marumo A, Kaitou K, Kanda T, Terada S, Nomura T. Department of Physico-chemical Analysis, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toho University, 2-2-1 Miyama, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8510, Japan. firstname.lastname@example.org
4. RAPID HEALING OF PEPTIC ULCERS IN PATIENTS RECEIVING FRESH CABBAGE JUICE., Calif Med. 1949 January; 70(1): 10–15.