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diarrhea

  • Food poisoning bacteria E. coli and Salmonella certainly inflict misery and, in weakened persons, can be deadly. Fortunately, after the nausea and diarrhea run their course, they are not heard from again unless we eat something contaminated.

    H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) also affects the stomach but is more deadly and long-lasting. It can lead to ulcers that claim 9,000 Americans yearly and stomach cancer that kills 11,000. H. pylori is not in the news despite being the world's most common bacterial infection—it stays under the radar because it acts slowly.

    You might suspect an H. pylori infection if you have one or more of these issues: heartburn, stinky breath (without a serious gum problem), bloating, stomach pain, or nausea or vomiting an hour or so after a meal. It also interferes with our stomach acid; so you should be concerned if you also have symptoms of stomach acid deficiency listed in my book. (Osteoporosis is one example.) H. pylori is also believed to be involved in migraine headaches, rosacea, one type of arthritis, anemia, B12 deficiency, glaucoma, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, asthma, and morning sickness.

    In spite of all those potential clues, doctors do not usually test for H. pylori unless the patient has a raging ulcer. It is too typical in our medical system to just treat each symptom individually with a prescription drug. Third-party payers don't reimburse physicians for the time needed to analyze history and test for an underlying cause, and waiting for the system to change probably isn't a viable option. There is much we can do ourselves though, and prevention is always better than the most enlightened treatment.

    H. pylori prevention raises two obvious questions: why don't all people who are exposed become infected? And why do only one in six who harbor H. pylori come down with a diagnosable stomach disease? We know that H. pylori bacteria are transmitted through tainted food or water, so improved sanitation reduces exposure. However, its ability to infect and cause trouble depends largely on the condition of the potential host (that's us).

    For example, two-thirds of stomach cancer cases occur in people over age 65. That is when our bodies begin to exhibit the accumulated insults of smoking, alcohol excess, unsatisfactory diet, stress, toxic buildup, and medication usage. (Note that alcohol excess is an H. pylori risk, but moderate alcohol is actually protective—apparently it sterilizes the stomach.) Those who eat the most smoked and highly salted foods, but few fruits and vegetables, are also at higher risk to stomach cancer.

    A key protector against H. pylori is sufficient stomach acid. Stomach acid is our first line of defense against invaders but typically declines after age 50. That's coincidentally when the risk of H. pylori infection goes up. Acid-blocking drugs like Nexium and Prilosec purposely deplete stomach acid. Not surprisingly, folks who regularly take that type of drug are at much greater risk for dying of pneumonia! A second line of defense is our beneficial bacteria called probiotics. These good guys compete with the bad guys for space and food and they attack pathogens with natural anti-bacterial chemicals.

    Individuals who have healthy gastrointestinal mucous membranes do not become infected with H. pylori, or at least do not develop symptoms. To maintain that important barrier we must not only eat food rich in tissue-repair nutrients, we must also be able to digest and absorb those nutrients. Aiding proper digestion is another key role of friendly bacteria.

    In fact, probiotics benefit almost every function in the body directly or indirectly. Our very life depends on the several pounds of good bugs that should live in our gut. They create vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, K and Biotin); feed the gut lining; help digest food; detoxify dangerous substances; help remove hormone excess; help maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels; increase the number of immune cells; help cells reproduce normally; reduce inflammation and stimulate cell repair mechanisms. Knowing those fundamental functions, you can imagine the health trouble and potential for infection that ensues if the probiotics become weakened. There is one beneficial bacterial strain, TH10, which has been shown in the laboratory to be especially effective against H. pylori. TH10 is only contained in the probiotic system, Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics.

    If you are suspicious that you may have an H. pylori infection, your doctor can use a diagnostic breath test. That type is more meaningful than a blood test, which doesn't indicate if the bug is still active. The standard medical treatment for H. pylori involves strong antibiotics. This is ironic since the general overuse of antibiotics has allowed H. pylori to develop into more resistant strains. The antibiotics also kill our probiotics—a side effect that can produce broad and lasting damage.

    If a person is not in grave condition, it makes sense to me that he or she would first try the natural remedies listed below. If antibiotics are necessary, the natural remedies can still be added for their own benefits. At the very least, folks should protect themselves from the unwanted effects of the antibiotics by using probiotics. Probiotic supplements should be taken throughout the course of antibiotics (and after), but taken at a different time of day.

    Other natural substances that help fight H. pylori are sulforaphane (found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli), turmeric (the familiar yellow spice), mastic gum (a Mediterranean food ingredient from tree resin), ginger, cranberry, vitamin C, berberine (an herb constituent), DGL (a special form of licorice), and zinc carnosine (which also helps heal the GI membranes). Keep in mind the same items used as remedies can also be used for prevention.

    More details about H. pylori diagnosis and current medical treatment options can be found on the Helicobacter Foundation website (www.helico.com).

  • A lot of you suffer with disturbing problems such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, bloating, nausea, reflux, esophagitis, stomach ulcers and fatigue related to anemia. These symptoms might be tied to H. pylori, the ulcer bug. Complications of untreated Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) lead to severe reflux, dysphagia, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer and gastric lymphoma.

    Without a pill to fix you, this leaves little hope for relief, even if you're restricting yourself to chicken soup and a glass of water! It's clear to me we need something other than conventional treatments and pharmaceuticals which have limited effectiveness and adverse reactions.

    H. pylori can easily survive stomach acid, in fact it thrives in it. People often look surprised when I tell them that H. pylori can infect you all over, and plays a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), Hashimoto's thyroiditis and iron deficiency anemia.

    Treating H. pylori is tough. Today, the standard of treatment is dubbed "triple therapy" and includes two antibiotics (usually amoxicillin and clarithromycin) along with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole). Unfortunately, there's a high rate of relapse. You can improve your odds of beating this infection if you take probiotics. More on that soon, but first, I want you to really wrap your head around this destructive pathogen.

    H. pylori causes mineral malabsorption and vitamin B12 deficiency which contributes to dementia, irritability, memory loss, arrhythmias and hypothyroidism. The mere presence of H. pylori activates your immune system causing it to stay on guard 24/7 and that pours a cytokine waterfall of inflammatory compounds all over your body. Then you become flooded with antibodies. The immune system activation appears to stir up bad superantigens and molecular mimicry which confuses your body. It will cause you to lose "tolerance of self" so you attack yourself. You develop an autoimmune disorder which can be different for everyone. Lupus for you, rheumatoid for her, Crohn's for him, and so forth. Infections combined with genetic SNPs are often the root cause of an autoimmune disorder.

    Recently, researchers evaluated 33 different trials that involved 4,459 participants with H. pylori. They wanted to know whether probiotics had any beneficial effect. They compiled statistics on 3 groups: People who took a dud pill (placebo), people who took antibiotics (triple therapy), and people who took probiotics with their antibiotics.

    Individuals who had took probiotics with the triple therapy had a much higher success rate in treating the H. pylori overgrowth and experienced fewer adverse events. In fact, it helped people who had already done the antibiotic course unsuccessfully! Four probiotic strains stood out: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacterium infantis. This is so awesome and it's simple! Taking a probiotic supplement with these strains (about 4 to 6 hours after your antibiotic) may ultimately beat this infection. I've posted a longer version of this article at my website if you'd like to learn more about soothing symptoms while treating the infection.

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