Whether you suffer from stomach discomfort or a simple thirst for knowledge has brought you here, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about Helicobacter Pylori.
What is Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori, often referred to as H.pylori, was first discovered by two Australian doctors, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, in the early 1980’s. Marshall was so determined to prove the connection between the bacteria and stomach ulcers - previously thought to be caused by stress - he drank H. pylori to infect himself. He soon developed symptoms of gastritis, which is the main precursor to peptic stomach ulcers. At first, the medical profession was sceptical about Marshall’s findings, however, it is widely accepted that the majority of stomach ulcers are caused by H. pylori.
Helicobacter pylori is a spiral shaped bacterium that grows in the gastrointestinal tract, including the duodenum (the upper section of the small intestine). The shape of the bacterium has evolved, enabling it to penetrate the mucus lining of the stomach wall, and avoid the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. In addition to this, the H. pylori bacteria secrete the enzyme urease which converts urea, a chemical commonly found in the stomach, into ammonia. Ammonia reduces the acidity of the area surrounding the bacteria, further facilitating its survival.
How do you get Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori infections are very common; nearly half of the British population have H. pylori present in their stomach. Most people become infected during childhood, however, the way in which the bacteria arrive in the stomach can differ. It can be passed from person to person through direct contact with saliva, or through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Without appropriate treatment, the bacteria remain in the stomach throughout life and can lead to serious consequences.
There are many ways to discover if H. pylori is present in the stomach:
- Breath Test: This is probably the quickest and easiest test. It involves swallowing urea, and then checking your breath after ten minutes for high levels of carbon dioxide. H. pylori breaks down urea in the stomach, which then releases carbon dioxide that shows up in a breath sample.
- Blood Test: This test measures the antibodies that are produced by our immune systems in response to H. pylori bacteria. However, the test cannot tell you if you’re currently infected with the bacteria, only that it has been present at some point.
- Stool test: A faeces sample is examined for H. wpylori antigens. This test can be used to diagnose infection or to discover if a course of treatment has been successful.
Symptoms of H. Pylori Infections
- Stomach ache
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Abdominal distention
- Frequent belching
- Constant feeling of hunger
Many of these symptoms are associated with various different medical conditions, so if you have any doubt speak to your GP or pharmacist to arrange a H. pylori test.
What problems can H. Pylori cause?
Despite the fact that most H.pylori infections show no symptoms, some of the medical conditions associated with the bacteria can be very serious.
Gastritis and peptic stomach ulcers are the medical conditions most associated with Helicobacter Pylori. Once established within the lining of the stomach, the bacteria start to weaken the protective mucous lining of the stomach wall and the duodenum. This allows stomach acid to damage the vulnerable stomach wall, causing irritation and eventually leading to a peptic stomach ulcer.
Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers:
- Lack of appetite
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Unexplained weight-loss
- Dull pain in the stomach
In a lot of cases, the pain of a stomach ulcer is most intense in the middle of night when the stomach is empty. This can lead to a lack of sleep, which only adds to the discomfort of an ulcer. The above symptoms are associated with many stomach related conditions, highlighting the importance of consulting your GP or pharmacist if you have any doubts.
Peptic ulcers have been found to be a precursor to gastric cancer, which means that H. pylori infections significantly increases the chance of developing stomach cancer. This type of cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide, and is expected to be the cause of death for over 10,000 people in the United States alone in 2016. Although the statistics show that 80% of stage 1 stomach cancer patients survive for at least five years after diagnosis, the problem for many is that the cancer is not diagnosed at this early stage. The commonality of the symptoms mean that many people avoid seeking medical advice, which allows time for the cancer to develop and become more aggressive.
Treatment for H. Pylori Infections
- Altering your diet
- Mastic Gum
Mastic Gum for Helicobacter Pylori
In order to treat the infection, you need to try and kill the bacteria. The good news is that H. pylori infections can be tackled using a product that has been used for hundreds of years and is 100% natural: Mastic Gum.
Mastic gum is a resin harvested from the mastic tree, found only on the Greek Island of Chios. It was Hippocrates, known to many as the father of medicine, who first identified the medicinal properties of mastic gum. The antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties of the gum, combined with its anti-oxidants, makes it very a powerful tool for fighting H. pylori infections. This has been confirmed by a number of recent studies.
Helicobacter pylori infection, although common, can become a serious problem if you are unaware that you are infected. If you think that you have the bacteria present in your stomach it is important that you seek medical advice from your doctor so that you can be correctly diagnosed. If you are unfortunate enough to be infected with H. pylori, remember that it can treated naturally using mastic gum. For more information on mastic gum follow this link: