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H. pylori, the hidden infection


We all know someone, or we ourselves at one time have suffered from some sort of reflux or stomach discomfort.

. I see someone in my naturopathic practice almost every day who suffers from upper gastrointestinal pain (the first part of your digestive system, including your food pipe, stomach and the beginning of your small intestine). Unfortunately, reflux and stomach related issues seem to be one of those conditions that many people think they just have to live with.

Common culprits of stomach upset can include certain foods and medications, but can also be caused by an overgrowth of a certain bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

H. pylori is a common type of bacteria that usually infects the stomach and the first part of your small intestine. According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of bacteria may be present in more than 50 per cent of the population. While the presence of this type of bacteria typically don’t cause symptoms, they can lead to diseases in some people, including peptic ulcers, and an inflammatory condition inside your stomach known as gastritis.

A number of symptoms may be associated with a H. pylori infection, including: abdominal pain, excessive burping, feeling bloated, nausea or vomiting, lack of appetite and/or foul breath.

The first-line choice of treatment for H. pylori eradication consists of conventional triple therapy, which includes a proton pump inhibitor (to decrease the amount of acid in your stomach) and two antibiotics clarithromycin and amoxicillin for 7–14 days. However, you may be quite familiar with the fact that this treatment doesn't always work the first time.

Here are some useful treatments that may be used along with conventional prescriptions to help treat H. Pylori and to make sure it doesn't return:

Mastic gum:  Mastic is a sticky substance derived from the plant Pistacia lentiscus, an evergreen tree. Traditionally, mastic gum has been chewed to relieve digestive upset. Studies have shown that mastic gum inhibits the growth of H. pylori and can help eradicate an infection.

Vitamin C: has also shown to inhibit the growth of H. pylori and helps to maintain the proper acidity of the stomach, which is important to help kill off unwanted bacteria.

Probiotics: taking a source of good bacteria can help eradicate the unwanted bacteria in the body. Probiotics help boost the immune system and have also been shown to increases the effectiveness of antibiotics as a treatment of H. pylori.

Broccoli Sprouts: these little guys contain a certain compound called sulforaphane that can also help kill H. pylori. Best to be eaten raw.

While I have mentioned some general guidelines, naturopathic medicine is about treating the root cause and providing an individualized treatment plan. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider before starting any natural therapies to see how they might work best for you.

 

Dr. Amy Punké, ND, has a naturopathic practice at Whole Self Wellness Centre, 106 Stellarton Rd., New Glasgow. Visit www.dramypunke.com or call 902-755-1210.

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