Stomach ulcers & H. pylori infection
By Shannon Burford
H. pylori is a common gastric pathogen that causes gastritis, peptic ulcer disease or some gastric cancers. H. Pylori can also cause GORD in patients which is commonly known as reflux or heartburn. Infection can exist without symptoms or can result in varying degrees of stomach discomfort. Diagnosis is by a breath test or stool antigen test.
The H. pylori bacteria is a spiral-shaped, gram-negative organism that has adapted to thrive in acidic conditions. In developing countries, it commonly causes chronic infections and is usually acquired during childhood. In Australia, infection is less common among children but increases with age: by age 60, about 25-30% of people are infected (1). Nutritional deficiencies, reduced stomach acid, multiple antibiotic use, dysbiosis, prolonged periods of stress and poor dietary intake are examples of some contributing factors.
Development of ulcers
Ammonia produced by H. pylori enables the organism to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach and often results in erosion of the mucus wall. Cytotoxins and mucolytic enzymes (destroying the wall) produced by H. pylori may play a role in mucosal damage and subsequent development of ulcers.
Infected people are 3 to 6 times more likely to develop stomach cancer. H. pylori infection is associated with intestinal-type adenocarcinoma of the gastric system. Other associated cancers include gastric lymphoma and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
H Pylori Treatment
Naturopathic treatment involves reducing inflammation, assisting the removal of infection and promotion of healing after the intensive treatment. Removal of the infection is very difficult only herbs, nutrients and homeopathy and is best used together with a prescribed "triple therapy".
Patients with complications (eg, gastritis, ulcer, cancer) should have the organism eradicated. H. pylori eradication requires multidrug therapy, typically antibiotics plus acid suppressants. Proton pump inhibitors suppress H. pylori, and the increased gastric pH accompanying their use can enhance tissue concentration and efficacy of antimicrobials, creating a hostile environment for H. pylori.
Successful removal of H. Plyori with only the triple therapy is estimated to be only 77%. Therefore it is recommended to treat the organism with additional herbs, nutrients and individualised treatment to give a higher eradication rate. Lactoferrin demonstrates antibacterial, antiparasitic and antifungal activities and is particularly useful for H. pylori infections (2). H. pylori, like many bacteria, needs iron to survive, and bovine lactoferrin, taken orally, can reduce the availability of iron in the upper GIT, therefore helping to control H. pylori infections. Lactoferrin taken in conjunction with the triple therapy gave a 90% eradication rate.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 59 H. pylori–positive patients has shown that bovine lactoferrin 200 mg twice daily alone for 12 weeks can suppress bacterial colonisation (3). These results are supported by animal studies that have shown bovine lactoferrin to have antibacterial effects, partially, but significantly, reversing some of the mucosal effects of helicobacter infection (4). These results, particularly when considered along with those above, would suggest that the place of lactoferrin in H. pylori treatment is likely to be that of an adjuvant, enhancing the effects of other treatment options.
In addition to lactoferrin, other herbs and nutrients are prescribed. Zinc for example helps heal the gastric mucosa. For more specific advice and treatment options, please contact the clinic via our contact page.
Commonly Prescribed Natural Medicine
The following nutritional supplements and herbal medicines are often prescribed in identified H. plylori infection. Only some of these recommended for each patient and there is never a generic prescription as the patient is always an individual.
- Homeopathy constitutional remedy
- Personal herbal medicine blend
- Cura blend Organic herbal tea
- Fish oil EPA/DHA
- Zinc lozenge
- Citrusseed extract
References and further reading
1.Stenström B, Mendis A, Marshall B. Helicobacter pylori--the latest in diagnosis and treatment. Aust Fam Physician.2008 Aug;37(8):608-12
2.Di Mario F, Aragona G, Dal Bó N, Cavallaro L, Marcon V, Olivieri P, Benedetti E, Orzès N, Marin R, Tafner G, Chilovi F, De Bastiani R, Fedrizzi F, Franceschi M, Salvat MH, Monica F, Piazzi L, Valiante F, Vecchiati U, Cavestro GM, Comparato G, Iori V, Maino M, Leandro G, Pilotto A, Rugge M, Franzè A; Gastrointestinal Study Unit (GISU). Bovine lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication: an open, randomized, multicentre study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Apr 15;23(8):1235-40.
3.Okuda M, Nakazawa T, Yamauchi K, Miyashiro E, Koizumi R, Booka M, Teraguchi S, Tamura Y, Yoshikawa N, Adachi Y, Imoto I. Bovine lactoferrin is effective to suppress Helicobacter pylori colonization in the human stomach: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Infect Chemother. 2005 Dec;11(6):265-9.