H. Pylori, the Unspoken Controversy of Helicobacter Pylori Pathology

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017

Overgrowth of H. Pylori bacteria in the stomach is now associated with a wide range of diseases besides gastric and duodenal ulcers. This genus of bacteria comprises a number of variants and is found in the stomachs of over 60 percent of the world population, and in some areas of the world, 90 percent. The opinion by many researchers that it is a symbiotic bacteria that is merely associated with disease, rather than a cause of disease, in most cases, has been stifled, as standard medicine persists with overuse of harsh antibiotic regimens that are rarely adhered to due to the severity of side effects and destruction of the natural bacterial and microfloral balance in the intestines, which creates our symbiotic biota. These harsh antibiotic regimens have also led to an impending crisis of antibiotic resistance in this widespread gastric microbe, as well as antibiotic resistance in many strains of problematic bacteria, and may not be necessary in a majority of cases. Decreasing overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori and reestablishing the health and balance of the stomach and small intestine with Complementary Medicine before resorting to a harsh antibiotic regimen is a sensible and conservative first-line treatment option.

Many bacterial species are both common to the human organism and symbiotic with our physiological function, but may become an inflammatory threat with overgrowth. For instance, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus strains of bacteria reside on the skin and membranes of all humans, yet a Staph infection, or Strep throat does not occur until the right conditions are met. Enterococcus coli, or E. coli, are common inhabitants of the digestive tract, yet an E. coli infection does not occur when the mere prescence of E. coli is found. Certain strains of these bacteria are more associated with virulence, and we try to reduce the impact of large colonies of these strains on our food. Such bacteria as E. coli are normal and symbiotic to the animals that we grow for food, and the exposure of vegetables to manure and runoff may increase the threat. These bacteria are useful, though, in the cow's physiology and immune protection. Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a bacteria that we still treat in the medical industry as a pure threat, or virulent bacterial infection, even when it is causing no apparent immune or inflammatory reaction, as is the case for the vast majority of humans with H. pylori in the stomach. This insistence on treating H. pylori purely as a threat is because of a handful of studies that were conducted about 30 to 40 years ago that identified H. pylori association with stomach and duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer. This presented a confusing pathology to researchers at that time, as H. pylori was found to be common to perhaps a majority of the population, but the vast majority of these individuals were not suffering from stomach or duodenal ulcers, or stomach cancer. Since that time, an industry of research has grown around this subject, driven by the fact that the data is not clear on H. pylori. This huge amount of research has found an association of H. pylori colonization in patients with many types of symptoms and disease, yet has failed to find a dramatic immune host response that could explain the various pathologies. Other early research produced data that implied that H. pylori was usually acting as a symbiotic bacteria to help the host with gastric dysfunction, but this was largely discounted in standard medicine. In our world, where we tend to want to see everything as either black or white, this research was not generally accepted, funded, or published. Such binary thinking is the bane of our civilization.

Today, in the U.S., we have a crisis looming created by the overuse of antibiotics. Over ten years ago, the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, of the U.S. federal government, stated that overuse of antibiotics was perhaps the greatest future threat to public health. Use of antibiotics is a relatively new form of medicine in human civilization, as the first pharmaceutically created antibiotic from a plant source occurred in 1928, when an English biologist, Alexander Fleming, found that a mold was producing a chemical that was a strong antibacterial (an herbal medicine). Not until the Second World War did the industry find a way to mass produce this chemical, penicillin. Since then, a number of other types of antibiotics have been found or synthesized, but research hit a wall in the 1970s and no new antibiotics are apparent. The overuse of present antibiotics has created an adaption by bacteria to these small number of drugs. Our standard medical field has become dependent on antibiotics, and the efficacy of these drugs is diminishing year by year. By the early 1970s, long term studies by prestigious medical universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, showed that medical guidelines of antibiotic prescription were flawed. The typical course prescribed was 45 to 60 days, yet the effective time period of most antibiotcs was about 7 days. Published reports recommended that this overprescription of antibiotics would lead to a problem with antibiotic resistance, and expose the patients to unnecessary side effects and health risks. The medical industry shrugged its shoulders and continued to prescribe long courses of antibiotics. The main reason for this was that a short course of prescription would not generate much profit. The official line was that medical doctors needed to be overly cautious of infections to avoid lawsuits, and protect patients who may need a longer course due to a persistent infection. The end result is the present threat of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that are now common in all of our hospitals and even in the general population. The NFL had to take drastic measures due to the prevalence of these antibiotic-resistant strains infecting its players in training rooms, and even high school sports programs have had to adopt stricter methods of deterring bacterial growth in locker rooms and training facilities, due to methycillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and other common virulent antibacterial-resistant strains of bacteria. One area of increasing concern is antibiotic-resistant strains of H. pylori, which has been created by the widespread overuse of antibiotics to treat all patients that test positive for H. Pylori. This has both created strains of H. pylori that are difficult to treat when causing problems, and has made perhaps a majority of cases now treated very difficult to eradicate. Still, standard medicine continues to prescribe the same very harsh combination of antibiotics to treat H. pylori, even when the symptoms are unclear or mild.

Early research linking H. Pylori to gastric disease reveals some interesting facts. A research study of over one hundred thousand patients, published in 1991 in the New England Journal of Medicine (cited below in additional information), established the link between Helicobacter Pylori and the risk of gastric cancer. H. Pylori had been linked to a high percentage of cases of chronic gastritis with atrophy of the stomach lining, and gastritis was a known precursor to stomach cancer. From a large pool of patients, 186 with stomach cancer were selected, and matched to a control group according to age, race and sex. Blood samples collected in this large group, followed since the 1960s, identified IgG antibodies to H. Pylori, and other risk factor for stomach cancer. Gastric endoscopy and biopsy were used to confirm H. Pylori growth and atrophic gastritis. 84 percent of the patients with gastric adenocarcinoma tested positive for H. Pylori, but 61 percent of the patients without stomach cancer also tested positive. H. Pylori was seen in women and blacks with stomach cancer at higher rates than white men. A history of gastric surgery was highly associated with the development of cancer. Now, a history of peptic ulcer disease was negatively associated with subsequent gastric carcinoma. This means that peptic ulcer, highly associated with overgrowth of H. Pylori, showed a negative association, or that patients with peptic ulcers were less likely to get a recurrence of stomach cancer after being treated. The researchers could either surmise that H. Pylori was a virulent bacteria that caused gastric inflammation, which led to cancer, or that H. Pylori was a symbiotic bacteria that overgrew with stomach dysfunction. The level of H. Pylori growth was not studied. H. Pylori growth is high with cases of peptic ulcer, yet patients with peptic ulcers had a low recurrence of stomach cancer. The researchers did find that "it is clear, however, that infection with H. Pylori alone cannot explain the pathogenesis of gastric adenocarcinoma." They noted that only a small percentage of infected persons will ever have gastric carcinoma, and that at least 50% of the North American adult population tests positive, and almost 100% of the adult population in some developing nations. They surmised that "It is possible that an unidentified factor increases susceptibility both to H. Pylori and to gastric carcinoma and that H. Pylori might just be a marker for an increased risk of cancer." Oddly enough, it is this study that was hailed as definitive evidence that H. Pylori was a pathogenic bacteria that caused cancer, as well as gastritis and ulcer. A strong religious spin was put on this assumption, and subsequent study was created to confirm this belief that H. pylori caused stomach cancer. Such research starts by assuming that H. Pylori is an infection, rather than a symbiotic bacteria, though. Other concurrent research, which established that H. Pylori was a beneficial symbiotic strain of bacteria in most cases, except with more severe overgrowth, were ignored. Examination of the facts does not strongly support H. pylori as a carcinogenic bacteria.

The main reason why many researchers long ago decided that H. Pylori may be a symbiotic, and even beneficial bacteria, in the stomach, is that there were a number of studies that showed that normal growth of H. Pylori was associated with increased protection against diseases of the esophagus and heart. This fact has been adamantly ignored in standard medicine.

Studies of antibiotic treatment for H. Pylori revealed that the incidence of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) increased proportionally with the lowering of the H. Pylori growth. This indicated that the H. Pylori may be protective against GERD. Also, the association of higher levels of H. Pylori growth with such medical conditions as migraine headaches, PMS, chronic fatique syndrome, autoimmune disorders, anxiety and depression disorders, and osteoporosis, with no discernible causative relationship, led to the theory that the H. Pylori may represent a marker of other health problems related to these diseases, rather than a cause of disease. Perhaps we should be looking for ways to normalize H. Pylori growth in the stomach, rather than eradicate it, especially because the harsh antibiotic therapy needed to eradicate it comes with considerable side effects, risks, and an outcome of intestinal flora and fauna imbalance that often leads to overgrowth of candida, other yeasts, other problematic microbes, poor health maintenance of the intestinal membranes, increased urinary tract infections, dysfunctional bowel disease, etc. Looking at the big picture, we must consider the possibility that normalizing H. Pylori growth and healthy stomach function may be the best treatment outcome. Now, the human race has utilized antbiotic, antibacterial, and immune enhancing therapy to fight infection with herbal and nutrient chemistry since at least 7000 BC. Holistic medicine, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has also treated infection and inflammatory problems by enhancing natural immune systems. One method found effective in this regard, even confirmed with modern research, is acupuncture stimulation. Antibiotic therapy is not the only form of treatment for H. pylori overgrowth, or the various health problems associated with H. pylori. In addition, most cases of H. pylori may not be virulent, and may be a case of growth of symbiotic bacteria in reaction to stomach dysfunction.

Unfortunately, these facts contradict the standard party line in medicine, and money for further research into the more holistic implications of H. Pylori, and its symbiotic nature in most cases of H. pylori growth, has not been forthcoming. Money for research to support a harsh antibiotic therapy supported also by other expensive drugs, and a search for an expensive prophylactic drug, has been provided, though, and the question of whether to treat H. Pylori as a marker for gastric dysfunction, rather than an infection, has been largely pushed by patients, many of whom are concerned about the harsh consequences of standard therapy, and want to make sure that they are following the most sensible course. In addition, studies found that H. Pylori is frequently found in water supplies, and that eradication with harsh antibiotic therapies may only result in the quick recolonization. Once again, perhaps we should be looking to find ways to normalize H. Pylori growth in the stomach, rather than eradicate it. One problem with the early research into whether H. Pylori was a symbiotic bacteria useful to the body, was that there has been a longstanding assumption that most gastric disease is due to excess stomach acids, and that the H. Pylori must demonstrate that it helps regulate excess stomach acid. We now know that a majority of stomach diseases, and even reflux, is associated with gastric hypofunction, which delays stomach emptying, and eventually leads to a sudden episode of excess stomach acid much after the ingestion of food. The standard explanation of H. Pylori as a virulent disease presents a theory that initially the H. Pylori overgrows in response to excess stomach acids, but that with chronic H. Pylori infection we almost always see hypochloridia, or lowered production of stomach acids, and gastric hypofunction. The real story discovered in research is that H. pylori has a complicated feedback physiology that causes it to react differently to differing levels of acidity in the body. The H. Pylori is, in fact, perhaps associated with this gastric hypofunction, not hyperfunction, and a theory of H. Pylori as a symbiotic bacteria explains this finding.

The one obvious question that researchers should have asked, is why Helicobacter pylori is found in nearly 100% of the population of a number of undeveloped countries, but only in 50% of the population of North America. This seems to be totally unrelated to disease, as North America had a high incidence of gastric and duodenal ulcers, and stomach cancers were the third most prevalent form of cancer. In these undeveloped countries studied, the incidence of these H. Pylori associated diseases was much lower. Perhaps something in the environment, say the vast amount of antibiotics pumped into feed animals, or dumped into the water supply, or the vast amount of antibacterial agents, and antiseptics used in North America, had something to do with the clearing of a symbiotic bacteria from the stomachs of our population. The drive to develop pharmaceuticals to kill or prevent H. Pylori was the sole purpose of most of the research. Public health and the answers to obvious scientific questions is the last concern. This unspoken controversy is perhaps the best example of why we should not allow a complete free market control of public health, at least until ethics, morality, scientific curiosity, and public health become as important as the almighty dollar to the people that run and work for our corporations. The adherence to the program of H. pylori eradication with a harsh antibiotic regimen, creating a crisis of antibiotic-resistant strains of H. pylori and other pathogenic bacteria, and destruction of the normal human biota and its protections and functions, in the face of evidence that suggests a better approach, is perhaps a prime example of how medical guidelines established by issues of pharmaceutical profit rather than public health have a stubborn lifespan.

The mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in H. Pylori

In 2011, researchers at both the University of Lousiana at Monroe, and at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, sought to find why there appears to be an intrinsic antibiotic resistance in strains of H. Pylori, and why some strains were virulent, while most were not. These researchers found that Helicobacter pylori attracts host cholesterol, modifies it by glycosylation, and incorporates this advanced glycosylation endproduct (AGE) on the surface of the bacteria, thereby acquiring a multi-drug resistance. Strains of H. pylori grown in a cholesterol medium easily developed resistance to 12 antibiotics, 6 antifungals, and 7 natural antimicrobial peptides, including the peptide LL-37 cathelicidin, which is associated with expression of rosacia and psoriasis, two diseases inexplicably linked to H. pylori (see study link below). The mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance are still not completely understood, but such study may explain, finally, the link of H. pylori overgrowth to so many other diseases.

Circulating cholesterols are thus linked to the ability of H. pylori to both overgrow and develop antimicrobial resistance. Modified cholesterol may also play a significant role in these pathogenic processes. To achieve healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood circulation, and to maintain healthy cholesterol, avoidance of advanced glycosylation endproducts (AGEs) and dietary causes of unhealthy cholesterol production are important considerations. The Harvard School of Public Health has issued this advice: "Although it is still important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat, especially if you have diabetes, dietary cholesterol isn't nearly the villain it's been portrayed to be. Cholesterol in the bloodstream is what's important. And the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats in your diet - not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. The "bad" fats - saturated and trans fats - increase the risk for certain diseases. The "good" fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - lower disease risk. The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats - and to avoid trans fats." We see from such research and advice that changes in the diet, decreasing meat consumption, processed and fast foods, and increasing healthy unprocessed oils, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains, may have a significant impact on H. pylori and the development of antimicrobial resistance by your H. pylori.

Antibiotic resistance in Helicobacter pylori has been a conundrum for modern medicine for some time. In 1998, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, published research in the Oxford Medical Journals (Michael P. Dore et al), that showed that 1) large studies of patient populations found that a single genotype of Helicobacter pylori exists in most patients, 2) studies of antibiotic resistance almost always examined muliple-colony genotypes when studying the degree of antibiotic resistance in the population, and 3) large studies showed that the incidence of metronidazole antibiotic resistance in single genotype colonies in patients of the United States was 92%, and resistance to the combination of clarithromycin/metronidazole was 42%. The widespread use of antibiotics for such an antibiotic resistant microbe was not logical, and was evidently what made Helicobacter pylori such a drug resistant bacteria. The need to understand how such a complete drug resistance occurred was an urgent problem. In subsequent years, the antibiotic resistance was not as great in other less developed countries, though, implying that some factors in the United States had driven this serious antibiotic resistance that did not exist in other countries.

Understanding Helicobacter Pylori Species

Helicobacter pylori is a genus of bacteria that may assume a helical, or corkscrew, shape, which allows it to easily burrow into the stomach lining. It also thrives in an acidic environment, and in fact contains an enzyme hydrogenase that allows it to obtain energy not just from oxygen molecules, but also from hydrogen ions, the molecule that determines acidity. This remarkable evolved adaptation allows it to survive in the harsh environment of the stomach, and the cyclical wash of highly acidic stomach secretions. Helicobacter pylori produces the enzymes oxidase, catalase and urease, all three of which are beneficial to stomach function. Because of this, and the fact that it is found in a majority of human stomachs, many researchers have surmised that it is a symbiotic bacteria whose rate of growth is determined by a physiological need of the host. Oxidase is an enzyme our bodies use to turn oxidant molecules into hydrogen peroxide, one of the chief oxidants in our body, that helps to break down unwanted molecules in our cells. Catalase is an enzyme that determines the rate of breakdown of the hydrogen peroxide. Stomach and duodenal ulcers present a greater need for hydrogen peroxide to clear up unhealthy tissue debris, so it is possible that the H. Pylori overgrowth seen with ulcers is a result of an increased need for hydrogen peroxide, and a subsequent need to then regulate the hydrogen peroxide activity by breaking it down. Urease is an enzyme that our bodies use to determine the rate of breakdown of protein, by determining the rate of breakdown, or catabolism, of urea, a key molecule involved in the breakdown of proteins and amino acids. Problems with protein breakdown in the stomach, caused by gastric dysfunction, may present a need for increased urea catabolism that is met by symbiotic Helicobacter pylori and its production of urease.

An increased need for urease, oxidase, and/or catalase may be what stimulates the excess growth of H. Pylori. We know that there is a strong relationship between both urea and urease, and H. Pylori because the main standard test for H. Pylori measures urease, via gastric endoscopy and biopsy, and another test for H. Pylori measures the carbon dioxide produced by urea in a breath test. The urea breath test has about a 5% false positive rate due to the prescence of other urease producing bacteria besides H. Pylori strains, which increase in colony growth in the prescence of increased urea. These five strains are Proteus mirabilis, Citrobacter freundii, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterobacter cloacae. These five strains of bacteria are also common to the human organism, and may create health problems when they experience more extreme overgrowth. They all also produce urease due to problems with excess urea in the host. Now, the key question is why there is an increased amount of urea and/or and increased need for urease. There is also a question of how H. Pylori could function as a symbiotic bacteria, helping to maintain gastric homeostasis. Since it is generally assumed that H. Pylori is virulent, most researchers have only been trying to understand how it causes inflammation. These researchers, though, have found that H. pylori does not cause an immune reaction typical of most infectious bacteria. A modest Th1 (T helper cell type 1) response is seen with overgrowth, or inflammatory pathology, associated with H. pylori. The typical broad T cell responses are not evident. Since many chronic autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory diseases are perpetuated by a Th2 dominance, this increased Th1 seen with H. pylori might also be a sign of a symbiotic function to protect the host.

In the last decade our science has discovered that the importance of symbiotic bacteria in the human body has been greatly undervalued and overlooked. There are more than 40 times the number of bacterial cells in a human body than actual human cells, and more and more scientific experts are noting the functionally we are more a bacterial colony than a distinct human organism. This Biota, or symbiotic microbial colony, is vital for the health and function of the human organism, involved in producing needed nutrient molecules, aiding digestion, providing a first line of immune protections, and even exerting a significant regulation of epigenetic controls. You may go to the article on this website entitled Probiotics and a New Appreciation for Bacteria to learn more about this field of research. Helicobacter pylori is most likely another important symbiotic bacteria, an hence should not be "eradicated". While overgrowth of H. pylori is a significant sign of some serious diseases, and overgrowth may have negative consequences, the time to realize that many of these bacteria are not purely enemies or parasites is long past, and the need to reestablish a symbiotic balance, rather than eradicatethe bacteria, is vital to our health.

Many populations have been studied in the world that have a high percentage of individuals with H. Pylori, and that have very low incidence of gastric and duodenal ulcers, or stomach cancer. Obviously, the presence of H. Pylori does not always equate to an inflammatory state. To support the hypothesis that H. Pylori is a symbiotic bacteria, we should take a look at the physiology of urea. Most of the urea in our bodies is produced in the liver to facilitate protein and amino acid catabolism and metabolism, and is so important that the rate of excretion of urea by the kidney is a key determinant of metabolic dysfunction. Amino acids in the liver that are not used for the synthesis of proteins and other biological substances are oxidized, yielding urea and carbon dioxide. The oxidation pathway starts with a removal of an amino group by transanimases. These transanimases, or liver enzymes, are the key determinant of liver function in blood tests. Protein breakdown may also produce ammonia, which may break down into urea. Excess ammonia in the body is a health hazard, and the urea cycle protects us from the toxic effects of excess ammonia. In the kidney, where the excretion of our blood urea occurs, the urea is not only important as the main carrier of nitrogen, but is important to the regulation of rates of reabsorption of water and critical ions, or electrolytes. This mechanism is so important to our health that it is hormonally regulated with antidiuretic hormone, controlled by our brain. Stomach dysfunction may create an environment that demands a high level of urease, both to help clear excess urea accumulation, and to break down excess urea to prevent excessive circulating urea that would stress the kidney or affect liver function, especially if the gastric and duodenal membranes were unhealthy and allowed larger molecules to enter the bloodstream, hence spurring an increased growth in the H. Pylori bacterial colony. Both the presence of ulcers, and irritable bowel disease, or celiac disease, with 'Leaky Gut Syndrome', as well as tumors, would allow excess urea to enter the blood stream. These conditions are highly associated with excess H. Pylori growth.

Studies in 1996 (cited below in additional information) utilizing gastic biopsy show that urease activity in the stomach is reduced at a pH of 8.2, and optimal urease activity occurs at a pH of 5.0 to 7.0. Normal gastric acid has a very acidic pH, between 1 and 2, when it is secreted to digest food. The urease of H. Pylori is inactivated at an acidic pH of less than 4.0. Gastric hypofunction may result in periods of time with higher pH, or sluggish reaction to digestion with slower increases in pH, which may result in periods of excess acid reaction, creating the sensation of heartburn. When ingested proteins are initially broken down, urea, a byproduct of protein digestion, may accumulate in the stomach with gastric hypofunction and slowed stomach emptying. Ammonia and carbon dioxide may also accumulate after the intitial protein breakdown during a period of high acidity. These accumulations may cause irritation to the stomach. The ingested protein may require larger amounts of gastric acid, as it is harder to breakdown, and a high protein diet, especially with meat proteins and glutens, is common in the United States. With a higher acidity, the H. Pylori urease quits functioning, but in a more alkaline state, especially in an acid state that is more normal to the body, it functions well to break down the urea. The H. Pylori adapts to high acidity by ingesting the urea, and breaking it down internally. The entry of urea into the H. Pylori is regulated by the acidity. When the acidity is strong, the H. Pylori then ingests excess urea. The bacteria then produces ammonia, which when excreted, enters the urea cycle and is turned back into urea. The final products of protein catabolism, or breakdown, include urea, ammonia, carbon dioxide, ATP and water, and Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme that facilitates the breakdown of amino acids. Since ammonia can be toxic, the body often converts excess ammonia to urea (the urea cycle: 2 ammonia + CO2 + 3ATP convert to urea + water + 3ADP).

H. Pylori may serve an evolved feedback mechanism that reacts to inefficient metabolism of protein and urea to try to maintain a balance for the organism. The accumulation of urea in gastric hypofunction and hypochloridic states may trigger an increased need for urease, and if the contents of the stomach are slow to empty, the H. Pylori urease may serve a useful purpose. It was also discovered that the enzymes from H. Pylori may raise the pH in highly acidic states, serving to protect an unhealthy stomach lining from self-destruction. While this physiology is difficult to clearly interpret, many assumptions have been made in research favoring the role of H. Pylori as a virulent microorganism that stimulates inflammatory destruction, despite the lack of host immune response to the bacteria. The evidence, though, of the mechanisms by which the H. Pylori could cause this destructive inflammatory imbalance is not apparent. The mechanisms of H. pylori that may be working symbiotically with the host are apparent.

The case for integrating Complementary Medicine into the care for patients that have tested positive for Helicobacter pylori

We may surmise from a review of urea metabolism that gastric dysfunction may create excess protein breakdown and the subsequent excess creation of urea and ammonia. Since ammonia is toxic, the chemical balance would tend toward the ammonia becoming urea. In the liver, the excess amounts of urea may be dealt with easily via normal metabolism. In the stomach, there may be a need for increased urease to breakdown the urea. A common source for urease is bacteria, and our human metabolism utilizes a symbiotic relationship with many bacteria to create a variety of necessary chemicals to maintain health, as needed. If this urea would not break down, and the stomach and intestinal lining was unhealthy, excess urea could enter the bloodstream more easily. The level of circulating urea in the blood needs to be maintained at an optimum range, or health problems may occur. If the excess urea is not broken down, but goes to the kidney, excess urea could upset the kidney homeostasis and cause health problems. It is certainly not farfetched to surmise that H. Pylori is a symbiotic bacteria that grows in numbers as needed to deal with problems in the stomach. Improving stomach function and membrane health, while also utilizing herbal and nutrient medicine to decrease H. Pylori overgrowth, is a sensible and conservative treatment protocol that should be utilized first in therapy. Overuse of the standard antibiotic therapy has not only unnecessarily injured patient health, but is creating a crisis of antibiotic resistance in H. Pylori, a ubiquitous bacteria in the environment and the population. Once antibiotic strains become predominant, those patients needing acute care with antibiotic therapy will not be able to be helped, and serious consequences will occur.

This more holistic or quantum view of H. Pylori, that it is perhaps a marker of disease and gastric dysfunction, rather than an infection, is still not an accepted perspective by allopathic medicine, despite that fact that we know that many bacteria in the intestines are symbiotic and act in this exact manner, producing key nutrient chemicals, such as vitamins, as well as enzymes, that our bodies depend on to stay healthy. There are 10 times the number of bacterial cells in the the intestinal tract than animal cells in the entire human body, and when the delicate balance of microflora in the gut is upset, the result is a dysfunctional or diseased state, and often a malnourished state. Bacteria that are common to our body react in a complicated manner to provide the organism with necessary chemicals. The persistence of viewing bacteria as unwanted invaders that only bring infection and disease is not helpful to finding a new medical strategy to restore health to fight disease. Symbiotic bacteria are restrained from overgrowth both by the other bacteria and microorganisms in the gut, and by regulation of the gut environment, mainly with a homeostatic control of the pH, or acidity. Restoring the proper environment and gastric function will do much to regulate H. Pylori overgrowth. In addition, much research has found that a number of Chinese herbs are effective to reduce the H. Pylori population, without side effects. Effective dietary regimens can be added to the protocol, and include cranberry juice or extract, raw broccoli sprouts (14-56 grams per day), and decreased protein consumption, with a dietary emphasis on whole grains and green leafy vegetables, perhaps with some avoidance of the typical gluten containing grains, such as wheat, as well as consumption of onions, shallots and garlic. A thorough and comprehensive, as well as persistent treatment protocol, will not only reduce H. Pylori overgrowth, but will restore gastrointestinal function and health. Trying single parts of the therapy, or very short courses, is a formula for incomplete success, or failure. The end result of restoration of gastric function and health of the stomach and small intestinal membranes, as well as restoration of normal and healthy bacterial and microbe balance, is very important to your overall health. On the other hand, standard harsh antibiotic regimens will destroy the natural homeostatic balance of gut flora and fauna, and deliver serious side effects. Antibiotics are the class of drugs with the most side effects in common use.

Standard testing and treatment guidelines for H. Pylori overgrowth

Current testing for H. Pylori utilizes a number of tests. The Carbon Urea Breath Test has long been used, and involves drinking tagged urea molecules that produce a measurable labelled CO2 in the test. There are two types, the C-14 and C-13 radiated tags, and the C-13 urea breath test has the patient periodically eat a high caloric food with repeat measurements. The C-14 test must be conducted in a nuclear medicine facility, and the C-13 may be conducted in a physician's office, with the samples mailed to the nuclear facility. Many hospitals and clinics may still not offer this test, though. The Urea Breath Test has a false positive rate of 5%. It is usually used to judge the effectiveness of antibiotic eradication, as repeat gastric endoscopies are potentially damaging to the gastric lining. Endoscopy is used to take gastric and duodenal samples of contents and membrane tissues, to test for levels of urease, as well as damage caused by inflammation and the evidence of H. Pylori in the membrane. Blood and stool samples may also be analyzed for antibodies and antigens, although the H. Pyloris casts may not survive breakdown into the stool. False positive rate for blood tests is about 37%, and should not be relied upon to guide antibiotic therapy. A positive antibody for H. Pylori proteins may indicate that there was a past overgrowth of H. Pylori, or that the level of H. Pylori growth is benign. The antibody blood tests are not accurate after antibiotic eradication, as the antibodies to the H. Pylori proteins decline very slowly. If the blood tests are used to determine the efficacy of treatment after the first antibiotic course, there is a good possibility that a second antibiotic course will be recommended without sufficient evidence to support it. There is some level of false positives to the breath test, but a high level of inacurracy to the blood and stool tests. The gastric endoscopy is the standard for accurate evaluation, but endoscopy is dependant on the site of the biopsy chosen.

When utilizing the gastric endoscopy, the patient must be aware that they must not take any antibiotics for at least one month, including the over-the-counter Pepto-Bismol De-Nol, or other over-the-counter remedies that one might not assume contains antibiotics. Prilosec, Nexium et al, or cytoprotective medications such as Carafate and Sucraflate must not be taken for at least one week prior to the test, and H2 blocking medications, such as Tagamet, Zantac or Pepcid must not be taken for 24 hours prior to the gastric endoscopy. Make sure that you can reasonably trust the reliability of the hospital lab with this test.

Pharmaceutical treatment regimens use a harsh combination of a number of antibiotics, typically amoxicillin and clarithromycin, and combine this with omeprazole (prilosec) to try to decrease stomach irritation. If there is a penicillin allergy, metronidazole (flagyl) is used, although this has resulted in a significant number of antibiotic resistant strains of H. Pylori, especially to flagyl. For patients with antibiotic strains suspected, a fourth antibiotic may be added as well, and sometimes bismuth is added, requiring repeated courses and testing. Lansoprazole and a high dose of amoxycillin may be used. Cure rates are rated as between 66-84%, depending on the choice of therapeutic combination. Triple antibiotic therapies are used if the first antibiotic course is ineffective, and antibiotic-resistance is suspected. Here, bismuth and an H2 antagonist antacid drug may be added to try to protect the stomach from the harsh therapy. Quadruple antibiotic courses are also utilized when necessary, and doubling of furazolidone, or use of rifabutin and ciprofloxacin are also utilized, as well as rabeprazole and tinidazole. The patient may do some research into these harsher antibiotics to evaluate the side effects and risks, which can be considerable, and are often understated. The rising incidence of H. pylori strains resistant to amoxycillin and clarithromycin in the United States creates a situation where multiple long courses of antibiotics, increasingly strong and complex, need to be utilized. The adverse effects of these harsh antibiotic regimens results in a large percentage of noncompliance. Many health experts believe that this is not sufficiently addressed in studies of cure rate. To learn more about the problems with antibiotic resistance and the studies of adverse effects of antibiotics, you may go to an article on this website entitled Antibiotic Overuse Alternatives.

The concern among most experts today is that as testing has become more available, routine prescription of antibiotics to treat patients has resulted in a great surge of antibiotic-resistant strains of H. Pylori, affecting the whole population, and eventually making treatment with antibiotics very problematic. Physicians often feel obligated to treat all patients with a positive test with antibiotics, and few MDs are aware of the options with Complementary Medicine, or support this type of care. Still fewer MDs are aware of the history of controversy surrounding the virulence theory of H. Pylori, and the evidence that it is a symbiotic bacteria, with overgrowth a sign of gastric dysfunction. Treatment of gastric dysfunction in standard medicine still merely relies on drugs that block aspects of the gastric function.

The Helicobacter Foundation does not recommend routine antibiotic treatment for patients who are asymptomatic but are identified with H. Pylori, except for those patients with a high familial risk of stomach cancer, patients in whom gastric metaplasia (transformation of the gastric epithelium, or lining, to a type of epithelium that resembles that of the small intestine, and is believed to be a potential precancerous state, or a risk factor for gastric cancer) has been identified on gastric biopsy, or infected spouses of patients who have been reinfected with H. Pylori a second or third time after the initial antibiotic treatment. This last exception is telling for patients. There are a growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of H. Pylori now due to overuse of antibiotics, and with H. Pylori ubiquitous in the environment, especially the drinking water, there is a great risk that if the gastric environment is not healthy, H. Pylori will again overgrow after harsh antibiotic eradication. The answer to this dilemma is to restore a healthy gastric function and environment.

Another serious problem with this guideline for antibiotic therapy is that symptoms of H. Pylori are difficult to define. Practically any symptom of the epigastric to upper abdominal region could be assumed to be linked to H. Pylori, so this is a very subjective call. Many of these symptoms could be related to gastric dysfunction or small intestinal pathology instead of H. Pylori. Heartburn could be related to GERD or transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations and the reflux of acid into the esophagus. This is often not related to excess production of stomach acids, and may even be related to gastric hypofunction. Transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (LESR) are now implicated in a large percentage of these heartburn cases, and studies in Europe in 2009 confirmed that very mild stimulation at a single acupuncture point (P6) decreased these LESRs by almost 50% in double-blinded placebo studies. A vareity of conservative treatments in an evidence-based Complementary Medicine protocol should be a first line therapy and also integrated into standard antibiotic therapy.

The Helicobacter Foundation does not recommend antibiotic treatment for cases of H. Pylori without significant symptoms presentation. The logical course of therapy for these patients is found in Integrative and Complementary Medicine, and the Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist can deliver an evidence-based protocol to not only treat H. Pylori, but to also restore healthy gastric function and treat health problems associated with H. Pylori.

The physiology of gastric protein digestion and urease catabolism

Acid hydrolysis breaks up proteins very thoroughly, but proteins that are in the stomach for a short time are often poorly digested, and much of the protein fragments, or polypeptides, are usually broken down with pancreatic enzyme activity. A large number of broken proteins, or peptides, are also resistant to the action of gastric juice. Studies have shown that about 50-57% of protein normally reaches the small intestine in the form of peptone, 11-14% in the form of proteose, and about 30% as insoluble protein. Peptone and proteose are peptides not quiet broken down into amino acids. Thorough cooking of meats results in more proteose. A small amount of protein may be absorbed in the stomach itself, before reaching the intestine. There is quite a lot of protein breakdown in the stomach, and stomach hypofunction and slow emptying may result in even more protein breakdown than normal, and more urea. The stomach secretion that is a key to initial protein breakdown in pepsin, and acidic enzyme secretion of the stomach. The precursor to pepsin in pepsinogen, which is released from the chief cells in the stomach lining. Pepsin is most efficient in breaking down hydrophobic peptide bonds and aromatic amino acids (tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine). Stimulation of pepsin secretion is dependent on hydrochloric acid, the hormone gastrin, and vagal nerve stimulation. Sufficient hydrocholoric acid must be excreted to create an acidic enough environment for pepsinogen to unfold and become the acidic enzyme pepsin. With gastric hypofunction, insufficient pepsin activation and protein breakdown will occur, as well as inhbition of stomach emptying. Pepsin is also inhibited by the inhibitor pepstatin, and of course, antacids will inhibit pepsin by removing acids and decreasing acidity. Pepstatin is produced by various actinobacteria, which may be common to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, and form fungus-like branches called hyphae, like the fungal form of Candida strains. There are thus a number of variables in the breakdown of protein in the stomach.

Scientific studies have shown that stomach acid secretion is often greater in H. Pylori positive patients with ulcers. In these studies, the stimulation of excess gastric acid was similar before and after eradication of H. Pylori with antibiotics, suggesting that the H. Pylori was not the cause, but a reaction to increased gastric acid. Studies have also associated delayed gastric emptying and hypomotility with higher levels of H. Pylori. Deterioration of the gastric mucosal barrier system is associated with H. Pylori as well. While there are many studies that associate gastric inflammation with H. Pylori, and in fact, duodenal inflammation, despite the lack of evidence of direct colonization of the duodenum with H. Pylori, the various gastric dysfunctions and hypfunctions associated with overgrowth of this common gastric bacterial suggest that we should be seriously looking at the overgrowth of H. Pylori as a response to gastric problems, rather than a cause.

Standard research operates on the apriori assumptions that H. Pylori is a virulent infection, although there is a universal admission that the virulence factors are still poorly understood. The virulence factors implicated in early research, which has guided most of the research in the last 25 years are: 1) the bacteria produces urease to neutralize the acidic envrionment and allow initial colonization; 2) the bacteria has flagella that allows it to move through the gastric mucosal barrier; 3) most strains of H. Pylori produce a protein that may cause the formation of vacuoles in the gastic epithelial cells; 4) another protein produced by many strains of H. Pylori produces antibodies. The protein believed to be associated with virulence was named cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA). The prescence of antibodies to an H. Pylori protein does not confirm that H. Pylori is virulent, as antibodies are produced in response to almost everything that we eat to some extent. The prescence of excess antibodies to common foods is what determines a diagnosis of potential food allergy. All of this foundation data that is used to build the case for the virulence of H. Pylori is unclear. This unclear data is used as sound apriori evidence to research the various aspects of the virulent pathology. The house has a weak foundation.

Understanding the symptoms associated with H. Pylori overgrowth

We know for a fact that H. Pylori releases urease, and that urease is useful to break down urea, a byproduct of protein digestion. We also know that a significant amount of protein digestion occurs in the stomach, and that the urease metabolism creates a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). What does the stomach usually do with all of this CO2? Bloating and gas occurs, and there may be a reflux of gas as burps or belches. A foul taste and bad breath may also occur with this stomach dysfunction, and symptoms such as chest pain, epigastric pain, and nausea may also be attributed to excess gas and bloating. Bad breath may be a sign that the excess gas and reflux contains ammonia, a byproduct of protein breakdown along with urea. The vast majority of gas produced in the digestive system is absorbed through the membrane into the blood circulation, or metabolized, but as the stomach lining becomes less healthy, the gas may cause discomfort. Hypochloridia, or low stomach acid production, also is a common cause of excess gas and bloating. H. Pylori overgrowth often accompanies this gastric hypofunction, and lower esophageal sphincter relaxations may also be occurring, allowing the CO2 gas, as well as stomach acids, to reflux into the lower esophagus. If the patient experiences a foul taste of bile, there may be a problem also with lower stomach sphincter relaxations and reflux from the small intestine into the stomach. This type of reflux, in recent years, been identified as a significant problem (you may read my article on acid reflux to learn more). If gas and bloating are part of the symptom presentation, or foul taste in the mouth, improving gastric function, and even small intestine function, pancreatic, and bile metabolism, may help correct this situation. Other natural means of relieving stomach gas include eating more onions and garlic, which contain sulphurophanes, which neutralize the excess carbon dioxide in your stomach, although this does not correct the underlying causes.

Constipation and diarrhea are also classic symptoms associated with H. Pylori overgrowth. The complexity of the potential causes for chronic or episodic constipation and diarrhea is great, and these symptoms are not usually directly tied to H. Pylori overgrowth, but to a more complex array of problems in gastrointestinal dysfunction. H. Pylori overgrowth may be a sign that the stomach is involved in this dysfunctional syndrome. To gain a full understanding of these symptoms, go the article on this website entitled Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, and Crohn's Disease. Gastric hypofunction and H. Pylori overgrowth may be a significant contributor to a succession of steps that perpetuate irritable bowel syndromes and GI dysfunction. A more holistic and thorough assessment and treatment strategy is perhaps important.

Anemia is often associated with H. Pylori, as it is with a number of dysfunctional gastrointestinal problems. The explanation that H. Pylori inhibits iron absorption, and that iron absorption is the only cause of anemia, is ridiculous. This doesn't hold water. Gastric dysfunction creates a number of problems that could cause or contribute to microcytic anemia. Pernicious anemia is perhaps the most prevalent type of microcytic anemia, with various malabsorptions occurring that directly contribute, especially B12 and folates. Vitamin B12 is usually absorbed in the intestines with the help of a chemical called intrinsic factor, which is excreted from the cells in the stomach lining. Poor health of the stomach lining, as well as a number of other causes, such as chronic use of various medications, including those that treat acid reflux and stomach dysfunction, typically causes B12 malabsorption and deficiency. The intestinal flora and fauna often respond to this deficiency by aiding in the digestion and absorption of B12 lower in the intestinal tract. Much of our dietary B12 comes from protein foods, or meats. A vegetarian will adapt by growing bacteria in the lower intestines that actually produces the Vitamin B12 as well. This is the reason that patients with more severe B12 deficiencies receive an intramuscular injection instead of a pill, and why supplements that work should be a sublingual tablet, or fluid, that dissolves under the tongue directly into the bloodstream. If anemia is detected on blood tests, a differential diagnosis, determining the type of anemia, should be performed, although frequently this testing is skipped, with a superficial assumption made that iron deficiency is the problem. While pernicious and iron deficient anemias may present a varied and confusing array of underlying causes, the solution to these anemias is more simple: restore a healthy gastric function and homeostasis. Giving the patient an oversimplication as an explanation, and treating allopathically, is not helpful.

Indirect symptoms, or atypical, as they are called, include anxiety, depression, fatique, migraine headaches, PMS, sinus congestion, rosacea, itchy skin, insomnia, weight gain, and weight loss. To directly link H. Pylori to these symptoms requires either a simplistic explanation that doesn't quite make sense, or a more complex explanation that tries to convince that patient that H. Pylori could be the sole, or significant, cause of hormonal and inflammatory imbalances. Most patients realize that there must be a more holistic explanation, and the simple eradication of H. Pylori with antibiotics will not fix all of these problems. The gastric dysfunction that is associated with H. Pylori overgrowth is also associated with hormonal imbalances, metabolic syndrome, and even inflammatory dysfunction. Other health problems that are also associated with H. Pylori include a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto's thyroid disease, Crohn's disease, Diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis. The vast research is still confused on this subject, trying to implicate proteins from H. Pylori in the autoimmune responses, but this is an absurdly simplistic explanation that would require one to believe that one or two proteins produced by H. Pylori are responsible for a large variety of disparate autoimmune responses. These autoimmune diseases themselve are still not clearly understood as researchers ignore the broad systemic dysfunctions that allow these diseases. To fix such complex diseases, and to treat this broad array of symptoms associated with H. Pylori obviously takes a more complete and thorough holistic treatment approach.

Cancer is another disease attributed to H. Pylori overgrowth, yet only 1% of patients with H. Pylori develop stomach cancer. To reconcile this fact, research has explored whether just one or two strains may be causing cancer, but this research is really going nowhere to reconcile the data. A more logical assumption is the H. Pylori is a marker for stomach cancer and the dysfunctions that may cause it, and not the cause itself. One reason that research funding continues to push in this direction of cause and virulence instead of association, is that if the subject of H. Pylori association was fully explored, we might find that many of these health problems and diseases have a more complex underlying set of causes that required a more holistic correction of homeostasis. This finding would support the widespread use of holistic therapies in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, and discourage much of our dogged allopathic approach.

Lastly, H. Pylori overgrowth has been linked to Osteoporosis. Once again, the standard explanation is that when stomach acid is low, protein is not broken down well, and essential minerals are not absorbed properly. The obvious contradictions with this explanation and other standard explanations of H. Pylori pathology are amazing. Coupled with this is the fact that osteoporosis is itself a complex disorder that has more to do with hormonal regulation than with malabsorption of proteins and essential minerals. If this were correct, studies would not show such poor success with calcium and magnesium supplementation. Another explanation is that the high level of inflammation caused by H. Pylori creates a massive cortisol imbalance, affecting the hormonal system and leading to osteoporosis. Here too, we see that the body normally handles periods of inflammatory stress by adjusting the cortisol production. Chronic cortisol imbalance is a big problem, but most patients with this disorder do not have a serious pathology linked to H. Pylori. Now, since half the population tests positive for H. Pylori, we might say that half the population has a variety of health problems that could be attributed to H. Pylori. The absurd circular nature of this approach to research and understanding should ring an alarm bell.

Herbal medicine proven to treat gastritis and H. Pylori overgrowth

The USDA maintains an herbal database of medicinal plant chemicals entitled Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases that accumulates scientific study of herbal and nutrient medicine. A number of herbal and nutrient chemicals are shown to have antigastritic activities. These include papain, betaine, thiamin/Vitamin B1, allithiamin, procyanidins, glycine, and OPCs. Thiamin is an interesting compound. It is synthesized in bacteria, fungi and plants, yet all animals utilize thiamin in their biochemistry. Helicobacter pylori is able to synthesize thiamin, but only when presented with exogenously supplied HET (hydroxyethylthiazole) and HMP (hydroxymethylpyrimidine). This is another chemical that helps the body with gastric inflammation, that could be produced by a symbiotic H. Pylori under a regulatory, or feedback, mechanism. Thiamin is also recommended as a treatment for other gastric diseases, such as hyperemesis gravidarum, where a combination of B6, C and thiamine is recommended as part of the treatment protocol by experts. Allithiamin, an active metabolite of thiamin, is found in onions. Benfotiamine, a synthetic S-acyl derivative of thiamine, is increasing used in nutrient medicine, showing itself to be a potent antioxidant and able to lower advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) by 40% in some studies, perhaps explaining the efficacy in treating H. pylori. Medical doctors have also used benfotiamine to neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and neprhopathy, often combining a high dosage with pyridoxine hydrochloride, a Vitamin B6. Thiamin hydrochloride, pyroxidal-5-phosphate (B6), betaine hydrochloride, and fucoidan, and herbal chemical proven to inhibit Helicobacter pylori adhesion to gastric cells, are all part of a formula called Gastric Aid from Vitamin Research, that treats gastric hypofunction.

Papain and betain are now widely used in TCM herbal medicine, often combined with beneficial herbs to promote tissue healing and decrease inflammation. The product Resinal E, from Health Concerns, contains Papain, along with Bromelain, Trypsin, Chymotrypsin, Rutin, Dragon's Blood (which is proven to reduce H. Pylori overgrowth), San Qi, Frankincense (Boswellia, proven to effectively treat chronic tissue inflammation), Myrrh resin, Borneol, and Catechu (long used to treat ulcers and diarrhea effectively). Betaine is found in a number of Chinese herbs, including Astragalus and Ling zhi (Reishi mushroom), Gou qi zi (wolfberry), and Achyranthes, as well as Echinacea, and Yarrow. These herbs are commonly prescribed in formulas to treat gastrointestinal inflammation as well. Procyanidins are phytochemicals found in Gui zhi and Rou gui (Chinese aromatic cinnamon), as well as St. John's wort. OPC is also found in the medicinal cinnamon, and OPCS is found in Gingko biloba, St. John's wort, Horse chestnut, and green tea.

Scientific studies have also identified a number of other effective herbs to reduce H. Pylori overgrowth, including Nigella sativa, or black cumin seed, which eradicated H. Pylori overgrowth as well as triple antibiotic therapy (see study cited below). A variety of commonly used Chinese herbs in the treatment of gastritis have been proven effective, with Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC), a rating of antimicrobial effect, with standard dosage. These herbs found effective include Myristica fragrans seed (nutmeg), Zingiber (ginger), Rosemary, Achillea millefolium (yarrow), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel seed), Passiflora incarnata, Oregano, Curcuma longa with ginger, Gentiana lutea, Cardamon seed, and Mellissa officinalis leaves. Strong peppermint, anise, and Gingko biloba also had a antimicrobial effect against H. Pylori. Alcohol extract of Artemesia argyi (Ai ye), Areca catechu (Da fu pi), Euphorbia (gan sui and da ji), Bombax malabaricum (Mu mian), Alpinia speciosa (Cao dou kou and Gao liang jiang), showed strong anti-H. Pylori activity, as well as other Chinese herbs. These studies are cited below in additional information. Of course, the common food herbs, such as cumin, nutmeg, ginger, fennel, cardamon, anise, rosemary, and oregano, have to be of sufficient dosage, and the studies utilized alcohol extracts, not just a sprinkling of spice varieties of these herbs.

In 2005, a study of very commonly prescribed Chinese herbs was conducted by Nanjing University in China, and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. This study showed significant anti-Helicobacter pylori activity in 30 commonly prescribed herbs in TCM practice, including Fritillaria thunbergii (Zhe bei mu), Magnolia officianalis (Hou po), Shisandra chinensis (Wu wei zi), Corydalis yanhusuo (Yan hu suo), Citrus reticulata (Qing pi), Bupleurum chinense (Chai hu), and Ligusticum chuanxiong (Chuan xiong). The most potent antimicrobial effects, though, were from three lesser known herbs, Abrus cantoniensis (Xiang si zi), Saussurea lappa, and Eugenia caryophyllata (Ding xian), and all were given as alcohol extracts. Aqueous extracts of Cassia obtusifolia (Jue ming zi), Fritillaria thunbergii (Zhe bei mu), and Eugenia caryophyllata (Ding xian) were also found to be remarkably effective inhibitory antimicrobials against all 6 Helicobacter pylori strains studied. The commonly prescribed antibiotics in standard medicine are not effective against all strains. To link to this study on PubMed, click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15814268. One may now access much more scientific study of various herbs that are proven to be effective antimicrobials, or antibiotics, to treat gastritis with H. pylori overgrowth. The added benefit of herbal therapy is that these herbs contain a variety of synergistic chemicals that help heal the stomach and correct gastric dysfunction as well, and do not have the devastating side effects, health risks, and potential for causing resistant strains of the bacteria to evolve.

Acidic polysaccharides from various Chinese herbs have also been found to significantly inhibit Helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric cells, and especially to gastric cancer cells of the epithelium. Artemesia capillaris (Yin chen hao) was found very effective in this regard, but also polysaccharides on ginseng exhibited an anti-adhesive effect, as well as from green tea. Research in 2008 in Seoul, South Korea, at Konkuk University School of Medicine cited the effectiveness of ginseng, green tea, red wine, flavonoids, broccoli sprouts, garlic, and probiotics as inhibitors of H. pylori colonization and adhesion, and found that some of these common herbs and foods decreased gastric inflammation by inhibiting cytokine and chemokine release, and inhibited nuclear factor-kappa beta DNA binding, exerting anti-cancer properties. These medical researchers suggest that with further research, such phytoceuticals and other herbs and nutrient medicines will be accepted as standard treatment for H. pylori by the medical community. (PMID: 18956590)

A common herb consumed in Japan, and related species that are prescribed in China, Rabdosia, have been found in studies to be very effective against H. pylori overgrowth. These herbs have been studied heavily and found to have chemicals that are significantly effective to treat a wide variety of diseases, including cancers. Rabdosia rubescens leaves (Long ling cao) are widely used to treat hormone-sensitive cancers of the prostate, as well as esophageal cancer, and U.S. studies at Rutgers University found that 12 diterpenoids in this herb are modestly cytotoxic against cancer cell lines that cause liver, colon and leukemic (blood) cancer. The Rabdosia commonly taken in Japan, Rabdosia trichocarpa, or Rabdosia japonica, was found to have a potent antibacterial effect against H. pylori, as well as a potent overall effect to treat gastritis (see the link to study below in additional information).

When overgrowth of H. pylori leads to an inflammatory state, or gastritis, or other gastric symptoms, the TCM acupuncture/herbalist may choose from a variety of commonly used herbs to treat individually, and provide a scientifically proven antibiotic effect. If a large number of patients took advantage of these remedies, as well as holistic treatment to correct gastric hypofunction and hypochlorydia, we would not be facing the dilemma of antibiotic-resistant strains of H. Pylori, which are very difficult to treat. The question is not a petty concern of which type of medicine is better or stronger, but what is best for the patient and public health. The thoughtful physician, considering all objective information, will have the patient try this course instead of continuing standard treatment protocol which is producing harsh side effects and health problems, and creating a dangerous increase in antibiotic-resistant H. Pylori. While herbal and nutrient medicine, probiotics, and acupuncture may not present as strong of a protocol to eradicate Helicobacter pylori as the harsh antibiotic course commonly prescribed, the combination of these therapeutic protocols will protect the patient from H. pylori pathology, as studies cited below in Additional Information prove. Evidence points to the fact that we may not want to have H. pylori completely eradicated as well, but rather restored to a non-pathological homeostatic state in the stomach, which could act to benefit us symbiotically. In addition, a high percentage of patients receiving the harsh antibiotic therapy commonly prescribed see an eventual return of H. pylori pathology, as well as an acquiring of an antibiotic-resistant strain of H. pylori. Obviously, if University Medical Schools around the world have been investigating these Complementary treatment protocols for H. pylori, there is a need for such therapy.

The True Understanding of Bacteria, and the importance of bacteria and microbes to our health

Bacteria are perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood living organism on the planet. Anti-bacterial has become one of the most popular terms in our language, and overuse of bacteriocide chemicals, antibiotics, and disinfectants have become one of the leading threats to public health, according to the Center for Disease Control. At the same time, probiotics, or introduction of healthy microorganisms into the digestive tract with supplements, has also become increasingly well known and popular, and now organic farming, or the growing of food without the use of chemicals that are synthesized to kill symbiotic insects and microorganisms, as well as synthetic nutrient fertilizers that destroy the natural balance of microorganisms, is also becoming popular once again in the population. Just as the overuse of chemicals has created a crisis in our food production in the United States, with food crops now resistant to common pesticides and herbicides, and unhealthy feedlot raising of cows creating crises of antibiotic resistant pathogenic bacteria affecting the human population, a crisis is being created in our bodies as well because of our resistance to understanding and working with bacteria and other microorganisms in our bodies. For millions of years, humans have worked together with beneficial bacteria to create a healthy body and environment, and in only the last one hundred years we have ruined this healthy relationship as we discovered ways to kill bacteria.

While bacteria do create infectious diseases that are sometimes devastating, and the creation of antibiotics has changed the way we live and allowed for control of devastating diseases, we need to continue to evolve our understanding of bacteria and our ways of utilizing science to create a better, safer and healthier world. As with many aspects of our lives, the commercial issues often grow to dominate and control issues of public health. As we gain increased understanding of our environment, we are unable to use this understanding to change in a logical manner, purely because a lucrative industry has been created that perpetuates old technology and fights change if it decreases profit. Change often occurs only when we are faced with dire consequences, as we see now with the subject of climate changes accelerated by our dependence on fossil fuels, excess meat production, and overpopulation. In the last one hundred years, humanity has created changes in the way we live that are amazing, yet we have also created a way of life that has abandoned our respect for the natural interdependence with the rest of life on the planet. This co-dependence is a matter of survival, though, and the science of the way of nature must be once again emphasized if we are to re-establish our place in this world and insure our health and healthy future, both outside and inside our bodies.

While the discovery and creation of antibiotics and antibacterial chemicals has improved treatment overall, the statements that imply that there was no antibiotic treatment and disinfectant before these pharmaceuticals were created is patently false. There is a long history of effective antibacterial and antibiotic therapy with herbal medicine. The advent of antibiotics made it much easier to use stronger medications and have a standard supply of these medications on hand. Before these drugs, there were proven herbal antibiotic antibacterial medicines, though, and modern research not only proves that they work, but also that many of them are useful to insure that the antibiotic drug works more effectively when used with shorter courses and smaller doses of antibiotic drugs. In addition, many studies around the world now prove that herbal chemicals are effective against drug-resistant strains of antibiotics. The greater use of herbal antibacterials and antivirals, along with the maintenance of a healthy bacterial flora in the body, and an efficient and healthy immune system, is the choice of most patients that educate themselves to this important health aspect.

Without bacteria, neither our bodies or our world would survive. The book entitled Microcosmos, Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution, written by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, explains how bacteria created our living environment, maintain the tight level of oxygen tension in the air we breath (despite rising carbon dioxide levels), are integral to our evolution, and in fact, make up a majority of the cells in our bodies. In fact, there are about ten times the number of bacterial cells in the intestines as animal cells in the entire body. The bacterial colony continues to operate symbiotically and with a type of intelligent decision making that still eludes our understanding. Perhaps this lack of understanding is what perpetuates our fear of bacteria. To frame your understanding of the importance of bacteria, and the intelligent bacterial colony across our entire planet, let me refer you to an article in the New York Times Science section of May 24, 2010, cited with an e-link below in additional information. The article, From Trees and Grass, Bacteria That Cause Snow and Rain, reveals how scientists have only now discovered that a common bacteria, pseudomonas syringae, which grow on our food crops, trees and grasses, are carried in aerosol form into the sky and form the nucleus of raindrops and snowflakes, exerting a living control of the falling of snow and rain by expressing proteins that trigger freezing at higher temperatures than usual, prompting the formation of ice crystals in the atmosphere that then fall to the earth and melt into rain drops. These specific bacteria have been found to compose the nucleus of snow crystals in over 70% of high altitude rain drops and snow flakes in some studies. The healthy balance of bacteria on the plants that we grow for food, the grasses in our yards, and the trees in our backyards and parks, are responsible for the balanced control of rain and snow precipitation in our world. We need to stop using so many harsh chemicals to kill these wonderful bacteria.

We have known for some time of the importance of bacteria concerning the formation of rain and snow, and have utilized the proteins formed in bacteria for cloud seeding and snow making. Commercially, ski resorts have been using these proteins to create snow, and a single bacterium in commercial production may produce enough protein molecules to stimulate a thousand snow flakes. Researchers are now convinced that a variety of bacteria, and even fungi, exist that exert a control over the formation of rain and snow. How does this relate to probiotics, you may be wondering? To fully grasp the subject of healthy flora and fauna, or symbiotic microorganisms in our digestive tract, we, as a community, or culture, need to understand the importance of bacteria, and the intelligent way that bacteria works with us, in our bodies, and on our foods, to maintain the complex balancing act that keeps us healthy, and keeps our environment healthy as well, which is all important to the health of the individual. Just as we depend upon healthy bacteria growing on our food crops, grass, and trees to make sure that we get timely rain and snow to survive, we depend upon healthy symbiotic bacteria to keep our bodies healthy as well. Simply ignoring the subject of bacterial balance, operating on the misconceptions that we maintain in our society, and expecting that eating some yoghurt advertised as containing probiotics will guarantee a healthy digestive system, is a gross oversimplification, and an ineffective way to utilize an understanding of nature and the human organism to achieve or restore healthy function. A comprehensive and holistic approach to probiotics involves restoration of the balance between the bacterial colony and animal cell organism in your body, and involves the intelligent choices of natural foods, avoidance of unnecessary chemicals in the food, household and general environment, and avoidance of unnecessary antibiotic, antibacterial, and disinfectant chemicals as well. This doesn't mean that we vilify these products and technologies, but that we use them intelligently when we need them, and not just because some corporation wants to increase sales.

Utilizing probiotic microorganisms to restore your intestinal health may require not only a superior product, but also attention to the whole environment that these symbiotic bacteria need to colonize and maintain your health.

A sensible protocol to better utilize probiotics and restore the healthy balance between bacteria and our animal cells in the digestive tract

For a person with a relatively healthy digestive tract, simply taking some probiotics is probably reasonably effective. For persons with unhealthy intestinal tracts, the challenge of these probiotic bacteria to colonize and restore bacterial balance is great. For this reason, professional probiotic products now incorporate added ingredients to enhance bacterial growth in the colon, such as fructooligosaccharides, lactobacillus growth factor (pantethine), and pantothenic acid. Oligosaccharides are considered prebiotics, or nutrients that stimulate growth or activity of healthy symbiotic intestinal bacteria. Quality products also utilize various strain of bacteria that are thought to be most helpful, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, longum and infantis, and Bacillus coagulans, with at least 10 billion colony-forming units per gram. The serving size would generally be about 100 mg, giving one-tenth of ten billion per dose, or 1 billion bacilli. Lactobacilli are gram-positive anaerobic or microaerophilic bacteria that help convert the carbohydrate sugar lactose, and other sugars, to lactic acid. These make up a small portion of the normal symbiotic bacteria in the intestine, but are proven to possess potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Since Lactobacilli acidophilus are commonly used in food production, this is an easy bacilli to supplement with. Bifidobacterium are a type of gram-positive anaerobic bacteria that are the major genera of the gut flora, or the predominant symbiotic bacteria in the colon. These have been studied and proven to potentially lower incidence of allergic reaction and prevent tumor growth. Bifidobacterium are considered essential to ferment carbohydrates. Fructooligosaccharides are plant-derived sugars that naturally enhance the ability of Bifidobacterium to ferment carbs. Bacillus coagulans is a gram-positive anaerobic bacterium that has been proven beneficial in treating IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), improving bloating, and increasing immune responses to viral challenges. As time goes on, there will be more species approved by the FDA and European Union for human consumption. Pantothenic acid, or Vitamin B5, is an essential nutrient in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, improves the lipid profile, and has been found effective in tissue healing. Pantothenic acid is found in small quantities in nearly every type of food, but high amounts are found in whole grains, legumes, eggs, and royal jelly. Supplementation with a sufficient dosage is found useful in stimulating the metabolism.

Besides these standard probiotic bacteria there are now types of probiotic bacteria that are researched to provide additional benefit for patients that have health problems that are potentially related to imbalance of the symbiotic microbial colony in the intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, nutritional deficiencies, and even chronic skin rash (atopic dermatitis) have been linked to poor intestinal health and allergic immune hyperactivity related to unhealthy microbial colonies in the gut. One type of probiotic bacilli that has gone through years of clinical trials and proven to be a potent medicine is Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (ATCC 531013), which is commonly just called Lactobacillus GG (GG referring to the scientists that patented this strain, Gorbach and Goldin). This type of bacterium is a transient colonizer in the intestine, but does exert some potent medicinal benefits, and thus is recommended for patients with various health problems. Lactobacillus GG is now commonly used as a preservative for yoghurts, but a therapeutic dose is much higher than what is found in standard yoghurts. Lactobacillus GG thrives in acidic guts, is stable in the presence of bile, and produces lactic acid (the deficiency of which accounts for indigestion when eating dairy products). This makes Lactobacillus GG ideal for patients with chronic acidity, potential problems with bile breakdown, and patients with poor digestion of dairy products. Lactic acid is one of our main food fermenters as well, and persons with bloating an constipation may benefit from this probiotic. Studies have shown that Lactobacillus GG benefits patients with chronic urinary tract and vaginal infections by increasing biosurfactant excretion that inhibits adhesion of pathogens to the urinary tract and vaginal membranes. Studies have shown benefit in treating various types of diarrhea, reduction in the incidence of respiratory tract infections (chronic bronchitis), and treatment of atopic dermatitis. In 2005, a study showed that Lactobacillus GG was successful in treating antibiotic-resistant enterococcus that perpetuated kidney infections. Lactobacillus GG is thus a useful addition to therapy when utilizing probiotics for patients with these problems. Lactobacillus GG is patented and marketed as Culturelle in the United States.

Besides using a quality professional probiotic product, though, persons with a history of intestinal problems may want to first clear and detoxify the intestine, and possibly promote intestinal wall health, before taking the probiotic, to better insure that the probiotic colonizes and positively affects the intestine. If there is an imbalance of flora and fauna, or if there is evidence of an unhealthy bowel lining, such as in IBS, colitis, Crohn's, or celiac disease, or even with diverticulitis, an individualized course of clearing of unhealthy flora and fauna, and improvement in the immune responses and tissue health, could make the probiotic work for you. A number of Chinese herbs and formulas can effectively clear unhealthy bacteria, viruses, and parasitic microorganisms. Using a short course of these herbs before beginning probiotic therapy, as well as intermittently during the probiotic course, could help normalize the flora and fauna to better achieve an ultimate healthy balance. Use of bovine colustrum may also be helpful to establish an improved immune response, as this mother's milk molecule contains bioidentical antibodies to a number of common human pathogens, including E. coli, cryptosporidium, shigella, salmonella and staphylococcus, as well as rotavirus, that is associated with diarrhea. Bovine colustrum was used as the main source of human immunoglobin therapy before the development of antibiotics. Bovine colustrum is safe and effective, and contains a number of nutrient chemicals that are also beneficial to overall health and health of the intestinal lining. Athletes routinely use bovine colustrum to insure optimum performance, and colustrum contains potent antioxidants, as well as chemicals that improve blood quality, such as hemopexin, which binds free heme (as in hemoglobin) in the body.

The normal bacteria in the intestine not only helps to finish the digestion and fermentation of our foods, but also helps us in a number of other ways. These bacteria produce essential nutrients as needed, especially various B vitamins, such as B12 and biotin, and Vitamin K (needed for healthy blood clotting factors). They also produce various hormones, many of which are needed to regulate fat storage and utilization (such as leptin), and chemokines (molecules that guide immune cells to the right target). Bacteria normally make up most of the flora in the colon, and our feces is composed of about 60% bacterial cells in the dry mass. This shows that the bacterial colony must be healthy and reproduce to insure health. It is thought that about 30-40 species of bacteria make up 99% of the normal flora. These normal bacteria work as a colony to prevent the growth of other harmful bacteria, stimulate a healthy immune response, finish food fermentation to produce gases that supply oxygen to the tissues, and supply other essential nutrients that we may need, such as essential fatty acids. Normal gut flora also maintain the right acidic balance in the intestines, and in the rest of the body. Healthy gut bacteria also inhibit overgrowth of yeasts, such as candida albicans, and fungi. When the intestinal flora are depleted, such as with antibiotic use, they cannot compete effectively for intestinal lining epithelial attachment sites, leaving the epithelium open to invasion by unwanted pathogenic microorganisms, and food molecules that are still not broken down, and lead to overreactive immune responses (celiac disease). When the acidity is imbalanced in the intestines, there is a high chance that various microorganisms will flourish that lead to poor health, such as candida. This chronic acidity also stresses the body and its ability to control acidity, putting stress on the complex calcium metabolism, as well as the kidney, as it produces blood plasma CO2 to control acidity in the body.

Besides using professional quality probiotics in a step-by-step regimen in Complementary Medicine, one can also incorporate prebiotic nutrients into the diet. These are obtained by chewing a little raw steel cut oats in the morning, barley (or consuming dried barley sprouts), and eating jicama, chicory root, or Jerusalem artichoke (all with inulin). Fermented soybeans, such as in tempe, are also a good source. Other foods that may contain prebiotics include raw garlic, leek and banana (minimal amount), as well as cooked onion, and whole wheat flour. The highest content of prebiotics in food are found in raw chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes and dandelion greens. While many people are reluctant to consume these raw foods, the consumption of a clove of raw garlic is reknowned for improving and maintaining the health. Unfortunately, the garlic smell on the breath is undesirable for most people, and the eating of a little raw leek is a good substitute. Eating homemade whole wheat and barley flour pancakes in the morning is also a good habit to obtain prebiotics. If you juice, you might want to incorporate just a little raw jicama, chicory root, dandelion green, leek, or onion into the juice.

How antibiotic overuse hurts our own cells

The authors of the book Microcosmos reveal that mitochondria, the organelles (small organs) found in most animal cells, that generate most of our ATP (adenosine triphosphate), or cellular fuel, via oxygen utilization, were derived from bacteria. The authors also state that mitochondrial ribosomes (DNA and RNA), as well as symbiotic bacteria, tend to be sensitive to exactly the same antibiotics as pathogenic bacteria. Streptomycin is an example of a common antibiotic that harms the cellular mitochondria and normal symbiotic bacteria in the body. For this reason, overuse of antibiotics creates problems with the health. Imbalance of gut flora and fauna, as well as of symbiotic bacteria in the mouth, vagina, and other tissues, can be negatively affected, and create chronic problems with one's health and immunity. Since mitochondrial dysfunction is now found to be at the heart of many diseases, especially chronic neurological diseases, and degenerative disorders, antibiotic use should be used only when necessary, and restoration of the gut flora and fauna, and strengthening of the immune system, should always be considered after using a course of antibiotics.

The Important Role of Bacteria in Maintaining our Environmental Health

Besides the role of bacteria and fungi in controlling the formation of rain and snow, bacteria maintain an intelligent tight control of the percentage of oxygen in the air we breath, as well as the health of the upper atmosphere that protects us from the deadly radiation emitted by our sun. Oxygen, which is very necessary to our life, makes up about one-fifth of our atmosphere. Study of the fossil records of our planet's past has revealed that it is the stabilization of atmospheric oxygen at about 21 percent that keeps us alive as we now exist. If the oxygen concentration would rise much higher than this, or if it had risen much higher than this in the last hundreds of millions of years, there would be, or would have been, a worldwide conflagation, according to the authors of Microcosmos. This is due to the high combustible state of an oxygen-rich air. If the oxygen level would fall below this tight level of concentration, living organisms as we know them would have a difficult time thriving. If oxygen falls a few percentage points aerobic (oxygen-breathing) organisms would start to asphyxiate. If oxygen increased by a few percentage points in the atmosphere, living organisms could spontaneously combust. While we think that we humans are responsible for the future of our environment, and that the large increase in carbon dioxide gases from industry, increases in the production of meat (methane gas), destruction of the plant life (e.g. the rain forests, coral reef algae, and peat bogs), and overpopulation, show that humans are responsible for the balance of gases in the atmosphere, the truth is that we still lack a fundamental understanding of the complex way that a holistic and synergistic bacterial intelligence actually maintains the necessary balance of gases, temperature and every other aspect of our life-giving environment that evolved in so complicated a fashion over so many millions of years.

This doesn't mean that we should ignore our responsibility to act responsibly in the framework of nature to maintain a healthy environment and life on the planet, but it does show us that we better adopt a new attitude if we are to succeed. We need to adopt the virtue of humility and understand that in all of this wonderful creation, we play a less significant role in a the natural order than we might fantasize, and that we need to operate within our designated role, understanding and working with the rest of nature. By reconfiguring our role in an industrial age, we can quickly adapt to the changes necessary to reclaim a technological way of life that is in harmony with the rest of life on the planet. The bacterial colony is already adapting to us. We need to work with bacteria to improve our world. Bacteria, acting intelligently will modify changes in global warming, and in fact will help clean up a lot of our messes. In 2010, the gulf oil spill was enormous, and the one technology that succeeds in cleaning up most of this spilled oil on the ocean floor is bacterial growth that eats the oil. This enormous bacterial effort dwarfs any man-made technology. Unfortunately, the aerobic bacteria that grow at an incredible rate also consume most of the oxygen, killing themselves and all life on the ocean floor. What happens then is that the organic debris from these bacteria create food and fuel for a fairly quick restoration of the denuded ocean floor. While humans talk, bacteria act.

In the evolution of life on this planet, oxygen and sun radiation, or light, were perhaps the two most toxic elements on the planet. Oxygen and light together were even more toxic. As the molten core of our planet created mineral elements with high heat combustion fueled by enormous pressures, metal oxides came to the surface in the form of gases. These gases escaped from the planet, but eventually, an atmosphere was created that trapped the gases. About 2000 million year ago, natural decay quickly accelerated the oxygen trappead in this atmosphere, from about one part in a million, to about one part in five. Microbial life on the planet was destroyed, yet evolved defenses with DNA replication and duplication, gene transfer, and mutation, to create bacteria that could not only survive, but use these toxic elements to thrive. Cyanobacteria evolved that developed a metabolic system that required oxygen and sunlight, and utilized the combustibility of oxygen to break down carbon based molecules and yield carbon dioxide, creating energy in the process. Eventually, this energy creating process was incorporated into the animal cell, probably in a manner that today we would call an infection, and small but efficient oxygen burning organisms, called mitochondria, became part of our cells. Decay of carbon matter via fermentation produces a couple of molecules of ATP, the fuel of our muscles, from each carbohydrate molecule, while the action of the mitochondria can produce as many as 36 molecules of ATP, making us the efficient organism that we are today. Thank you, cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria also created photosynthesis, producing the abundant vegetable life that not only feeds us, but also produces the oxygen that we breath. While we tend to look at these scientific facts in isolation, and appreciate them in science, we still tend to ignore the complex holistic balance that is still maintained by these bacterial processes, and overlook our own responsibility to continue to work within this bacterial framework to maintain the balance. The gift of higher intelligence means that we must use this intelligence to understand and exert a conscious effort. Organisms without such a higher intelligence, or type of reasoning, behave according to the natural encoded genetic intelligence that they are born with. Our responsibility is to think.

In much the same way as allopathic medicine ignores the big picture and focuses on a particular aspect of disease and injury to correct it, we have ignored the big picture when it comes to our biotic health.

Additional Information:

  1. A sizable research study in 1991 identified H. Pylori as a risk factor for stomach cancer as a cofactor, but reading the study reveals that H. Pylori alone could not be a cause of the cancer, and an assumption that it is an infection that causes inflammation is at the heart of the study. The researchers admit that they can only identify H. Pylori as a marker of risk for stomach cancer, yet the conclusion was that it is associated, and may be a cofactor in pathogenesis. This weak finding of association established H. Pylori as a pathogen for all future research, instead of leaving open the question of whether it is a symbiotic bacteria that overgrows in relation to the stomach dysfunctions that cause gastritis, ulcers, and cancer.: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199110173251603#t=article+Results.
  2. A 2008 controlled human clinical study at Asahikawa Medical College in Japan found that eradication of Helicobacter pylori did not regress the findings of intestinal metaplasia (GIM) in the stomach over a 4 year period. Eradication of H. pylori is recommended routinely for all patients with GIM, and this study shows that this treatment may not be sensible, and may not reduce even the mild increased risk of gastric cancer in these patients. The medical doctors here did note that perhaps positive changes in the types of cells of the GIM may be reducing gastric cancer risk, although this is far from certain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18321787
  3. A naturopathic website outlines the link between H. Pylori and hypochloridia, or gastric hypofunction, along with an array of associated health problems that many patients tested positive for H. Pylori that have gastrointestinal problems experience: http://www.digitalnaturopath.com/cond/C42513.html
  4. A research study in 1996, published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Vol. 41, No. 5, May 1996, by Siegfried E. Miederer and Peter Grubel MDs, shows that activity of urease in the stomach is reduced at the pH of 8.2, and peaks at pH between 5.0 and 7.0, a more acidic range. Gastric hypofunction and a less acidic stomach environment would require more urease to break down urea, a byproduct of protein digestion and ammonia. H. pylori evolved to thrive in more acidic environments, and symbiotically produces urease to achieve improved protein digestion and breakdown when this is needed, but studies show that in a higher acidity, H. pylori quits producing urease. Normal gastic acid has a pH that is very acidic, between 1 and 2, maintained by a hydrogen ion content, and regulated by a proton pump H+/K+ ATPase enzyme. The acidity of the stomach varies very much as the stomach reacts to food and the environment, and theories explain the overgrowth of H. pylori based on problems with gastric function and the symbiotic response of this very common human bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, in response to gastric hypofunction: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8625767
  5. A 2004 study showed that gastric acid secretion was higher in patients that were H. Pylori positive, but that the level of gastric acid stimulation was similar before and after eradication of H. Pylori with antibiotics. This shows that H. Pylori growth accompanies excess gastric acid, and does not necessarly affect its rate of secretion: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-4389.2004.00205.x/full
  6. A 2011 study at the University of Louisiana and Texas Tech University found that Helicobacter pylori may utilize host cholesterol and glycosylation to produce surface membrane advanced glycosylation endproducts (AGEs) to achieve a broad spectrum resistance to antibiotics, antifungals, and natural antimicrobial peptides: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21464244
  7. A 2010 review of all scientific studies of efficacy of standard multiple antibiotic therapy for H. pylori eradication, by researchers at the Catholic University of Rome, Italy, noted that studies have shown a mere 55 percent success rate with the standard 7-day triple-therapy, although most groups still cite a nearly 80 percent success rate. Increasing use of the quadruple-therapy regimen that follows failure of this first-line therapy is noted, as well as areas of the world where antibiotic resistant strains of H. pylori now exceed 20 percent of cases. Studies cited show a success rate of this harsher follow-up drug regimen of 80-90 percent still, but rising incidence of antibiotic resistance to these stronger antibiotics (metronidazole, bismuth, amoxicillin, clariothromycin) is expected as well. Studies show that pre-treatment with N-acetylcysteine increases success, implying that this and other treatments in Complementary Medicine may insure greater chance of succes when drug eradication is chosen, and Complementary Medicine as a follow-up, repairing the damage from harsh antibiotic therapies, is also increasingly acknowledged. The data for a return rate of Helicobacter pylori after drug eradication, a significant concern often cited in the past, is now rarely included in studies, and no mention of such long-term outcome measures is even mentioned in this comprehensive review published in the medical journal Clinical Experience in Gastroenterology: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3449761/
  8. A 2011 broad multinational multicenter study of the one-year recurrence rate of Helicobacter pylori infection after antibiotic eradication, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), noted that more the 27 percent of patients obtaining just a single triple-antibiotic course had such a recurrence, and overall, with multiple courses of stronger antibiotic regimens considered, the recurrence risk was 11.5 percent at one year. There are no studies in PubMed of follow-up greater than one year: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3697935/
  9. A 2013 study at the University Children's Hospital, in Zagreb, Croatia noted that there is indeed evidence that Helicobacter pylori provides positive health effects for children and is associated with lower incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, allergic diseases, and asthma, and even the prevention of the Th2 dominance over Th1, a hallmark of autoimmune disease, when within normal range: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24180409
  10. The feedback mechanisms of H. Pylori are elucidated in this article from 2001, where these medical doctors in Nancy, France, note that there is no relationship between H. pylori overgrowth and gastroesophageal reflux or esophagitis, and in fact, evidence that normal H. pylori growth may be preventive of these problems. A careful review of all scientific studies by specialists in 2001 showed that the question of H. pylori as a cause of disease was not proven, despite the almost religious zeal of standard medicine to see H. pylori as a simple disease and the need for eradication: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11603095
  11. A University of California at Davis publication entitled Helicobacter pylori: Physiology and Genetics, is available here from the NCBI, offering a complete array of information concerning this complex species and its relation to human physiology: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2463/
  12. A 2009 study in Great Britain confirmed that mild acupuncture electrical stimulation at a single point (P6) reduced transient lower esophageal relaxations, the culprit in many cases of chronic heartburn or reflux, that is often attributed to H. Pylori, by nearly 50%: http://www.rxpgnews.com/research/gastroenterology/GERD/article_2229.shtml
  13. A 2005 study at the University of Illinois Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (who put up an extensive phytochemical database that was taken down by the Bush administration) showed that a number of commonly used herbs have a significant antimicrobial effect against H. Pylori: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16317658
  14. A 2014 study at the University of Lisboa, in Lisboa, Portugal, noted that studies from around the world demonstrate that many herbal medicines have significant anti-H. pylori activity as well as a gastroprotective effect not seen in pharmaceuticals. Chemical activities studied included enzyme inhibition, modulation of the host immune responses and attenuation of inflammation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24914319
  15. A 2014 study at the National Institute of Public Health, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, noted that many studies confirm the efficacy of herbal medicines to treat H. pylori infection, not completely eradicating the bacteria, but shown to maintain low bacterial levels, and also useful to prevent the adverse effects of antibiotics, modulate immune responses, provide gastroprotection, and generally promote improved health. It appears that TCM and herbal medicine is finally being acknowledged: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24587621
  16. A 2010 study at the King Faisal University College of Medicine in Saudi Arabia identified the herb Nigella sativa seed (black cumin seed), and found that it performed as well as triple antibiotic therapy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20616418
  17. A 2005 study at the National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan found that alcohol extracts of a number of Chinese herbs showed a significant antimicrobial effect against H. Pylori, including Artemesia argyi (Ai ye), Alpinia speciosa (Cao dou kou and Gao liang jiang), Bombax malabaricum (Mu mian), and Paederia scandens. Lower anti-H. pylori activity was found in Areca catechu (Da fu pi), Euphorbia hirta (Da ji and Gan sui), and Gnaphalium adnatum: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15681161
  18. A 1997 study of a commonly prescribed Japanese herb, taken for gastritis, potently inhibited H. pylori. The herb Rabdosia trichocarpa, or Rabdosia japonica, called Qing hao su in China, is also a common herbal ingredient in Japanese herbal remedies for gingivitis, and like its Chinese relatives, has proven to have a modest antitumor and anticancer effect. A related species Rabdosia longituba, or Akichouji, is commonly called the trumpet spurflower in the West. : http:///www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9241802
  19. A 2013 review of current treatment strategies for H. pylori overgrowth and symptoms, by the University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, Research Institute for Medicines and Pharmaceutical Sciences, found that a combination of herbal medicine and probiotic therapy was effective : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22077218
  20. A 2011 study of Chinese herbal extracts used to treat H. pylori overgrowth, at Huaihai Institute of Technology, in in Lianyungang, China, found that 15 herbal extracts were effective in reducing high levels of urease, a marker for H. pylori growth, with Magnolia officinalis (Hou pou), and Cassia obtusifolia (Jue ming zi) most effective. An alcohol extract of Magnolia officianalis was 90.8% effective in reducing urease levels : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21639688
  21. A 2010 study of Chinese herbal extracts used to treat H. pylori overgrowth, at Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China, found that with water extracts derived traditionally with decoction (broth dilution method), that Coptidis rhizome (Huang lian), Scutellaria root (Huang qin), and Isatidis root (Isatis root, or Ban lan gen) were most effective. The esteemed Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, New York, U.S.A. states on their website that the Isatidis root exhibited antimicrobial, antiviral, immunostimulatory effects, and radioprotective effects in vitro and in animal studies, with scientific studies showing that this Chinese herbal medicine enhances immune reticuloendothelial function in membranes, reduces tissue injury, enhances blood cell production, modulates the system of inflammatory cytokines, and improves severe enteropathy (intestinal disease): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21105198
  22. A 2011 review of current clinical treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome, frequently associated with overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori, by the National Defense Medical College, Saitama, Japan, a decidedly conservative standard medical school, noted that eradication of Helicobacter pylori was performed significantly less in Japan than other countries, and that Chinese herbal medicines were more frequently prescribed by Japanese Medical Doctors in clinical practice for these disorders than in other developed countries : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21443699
  23. A 2011 study at the University of Munster, Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology and Phytochemistry, Munster, Germany, found that the herbal chemical NPA (N-phenylpropenoyl-L-amino acids), a polyphenol conjugate with amino acids, interacts with bacterial adhesins to significantly inhibit Helicobacter pylori outer membrane adhesion. Such NPAs are found in Theobroma cacao (cocoa), Angelica archangelica, Coriandrum sativum (cilantro), Hedera helix (English ivy), and Sambucus nigra (black elderberry) (PMID: 15969528). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21520488
  24. A 2003 study at the University of Lausanne, University Hospital of Lausanne CHUV, in Switzerland, found that there is ample evidence that probiotics modulate Helicobacter pylori colonization of gastric mucosa: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14507588
  25. A 2008 study at MTT Agrifood Research Finland found that a combination of bovine colustrum and 3 strains of probiotic lactic-acid-producing bacteria effectively inhibited adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to cancer cells and inhibited pro-inflammatory Interleukin-8 (IL-8) from H. pylori: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18627549
  26. A 2001 study at the Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology, in Heidelberg, Germany, showed that an alcohol extract of St. John's Wort, or Hypericum perforatum, showed significant anti-Helicobacter pylori activity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11518059
  27. A 2014 study in South Korea found that various probiotic lactic-acid-producing bacterial strains can suppress Helicobacter pylori overgrowth, including Bifidobacterium longum BG7, Enterococcus faecalis SL5, Lactococcus lactis SL3, and Pediococcus pentosaseus SL4. Of these, only Bifidobacterium longum is commonly included in probiotic formulas, but these other strain may be used as effective medicines to inhibit H. pylori or inhibit H. pylori adhesion to cancer cells in the future: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25277407
  28. A New York Times Science article explains how science has just now discovered, in 2010, the integral role of bacteria on our food crops, grasses and trees on the control of rain and snow formation and precipitation: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/science/25snow.html?ref=science
  29. An August 3, 2010 article in the New York Times Science reveals how 21% of breast milk is an indigestible substance that seems to be purely a nutrient to feed probiotic bacteria in the infant, showing how important symbiotic bacteria are to our health: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/science/03milk.html?_r=1&ref=science
  30. A 2013 study at Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, China, found that the hormone Vitamin D receptor is upregulated significantly in the stomach with overgrowth of H. pylori, showing that the body utilizes this hormone to increase innate immune responses to control overgrowth. By supporting this innate immune response, H. pylori overgrowth could be corrected, or prevented, and this indicates that hormone Vitamin D deficiency, which is now very common could be involved in the failure of the innate immune system to control the H. pylori colony: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24188043