Ulcers & H. pylori
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 5, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Prior to the 1980s, stress was thought to be the main cause of ulcers, and milk was often recommended to help “soothe” it. Since then, however, the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) has been recognized as the cause of most stomach and duodenal ulcers.
The reason? Usually it’s because there’s not enough stomach acid. Most individuals, especially as they age, produce too little stomach acid and other gastric secretions. So, even though you may have heartburn (acid reflux), it’s not because you’re producing too much hydrochloric (HCl) acid. Heartburn happens when the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach relaxes too much and doesn’t close properly. This allows HCl acid to ‘reflux’ back up the esophagus. It’s painful because the esophagus doesn’t have a protective layer of mucous, like the stomach does.
H. pylori can be ‘normal flora’ in some people, and not cause any problems. It’s only when the bacteria is able to overgrow, that it can become a problem. This happens when gastric secretions aren’t strong enough to keep it under control. H. pylori not only causes ulcers, though. If left untreated, it may be associated with the development of stomach cancer.
Natural treatments? One of the best is Manuka Honey from New Zealand. It has unique antibacterial compounds not found in other types of honey, and which are very effective against H. pylori. Its antibacterial potency is measured using a unique “Manuka factor” (UMF) scale that ranges from 0 – 30, with the higher the number, the stronger the antibacterial activity.
For other helpful, natural approaches to helping eradicate H. pylori, here’s an interesting article: http://bit.ly/dSjtCj
The key (after treatment) is to improve stomach acid production. That’ll help ensure that this bacteria can’t re-establish itself!
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan