Stomach Discomfort - H. Pylori
Discovered in 1982, Helicobacter pylori, commonly known as H. pylori, is bacteria found deeply burrowed in the mucus layer of the stomach lining or first part of the small intestine. H. pylori causes 80 percent of ulcers in the stomach, 90 percent of ulcers in the duodenum of the small intestine and is the main cause of gastric cancer.
The bacterium causes irritation and inflammation to the stomach, predisposing the tissues to become cancerous. It can block the immune responses by releasing the enzyme urease, which turns urea into ammonia and neutralizes the gastric juices around it, allowing it to thrive inside the stomach membrane.
Each year, H. pylori causes millions of cases of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Symptoms of H. pylori include fatigue, nausea, loose stools, irritable bowels, stomachaches, gas, bloating, belching, burning pain or indigestion, headaches, back pain, anxiety, loss of appetite and skin disease. H. pylori can live in the mouth so you can get it from kissing your partner and sharing eating utensils. It can also be acquired from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates two-thirds of the world population is infected with H. pylori, making it a massive issue.
The standard treatment for H. pylori is a two-week course of 3 to 4 aggressive antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance and patient noncompliance are two major reasons for treatment failure. There are many strains of H. pylori, some of which are antibiotic resistant and sometimes using antibiotics can make the H. pylori more severe. There are many natural treatments used in combination to inhibit H. pylori.
H.pylori, like most diseases, thrives on a poor diet of processed foods, high sugar and gluten-containing foods.
Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit IndigoHealthClinic.com.