H. Pylori and Gastrointestinal Ulcers
Up to 50% of the world population is colonized with Helicobacter Pylori- a bacteria that lives in the gut. The trouble is that this bacteria can overgrow and cause stomach ulcers (which can present as heartburn, acid reflux and other GI upset.) Up to 80% of all ulcers are caused by H. Pylori. The majority of people will never show symptoms. However, these people will always be at risk for developing ulcers- especially as they get older and their immune system does not function as well. This colonization also puts folks at a higher risk of Stomach Cancer.
Many people will never ask their doctor about their symptoms- they figure it’s common to have heartburn and so they will use antacids (tums, zantac, prilosec) indefinitely, treating the symptoms but never resolving the cause of their discomfort. Left untreated, stomach ulcers put you at a higher risk for other problems down the road including Stomach Cancer and GI Bleeds (these can go very bad, very quickly!)
Other people who do ask their MD’s about it may never be tested. Many doctor’s don’t test for H. Pylori (the tests are expensive, some are unpleasant and many MD’s may not realize how common the problem is.) They may mis-diagnose your condition as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – prescribe Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix or other Rx-strength antacid and the symptoms will resolve but you are still in the same predicament as if you never saw the MD!
If you ARE tested and found to be positive (also a problem because the most common tests are unreliable…) your MD may prescribe a long-term regimen of Antibiotics, GI protectants and Antacids. These regimens are EXPENSIVE and difficult to follow. You may not be able to afford it or may not take it properly which could result in (at best) a failure to cure and (at worst) antibiotic resistance and further illness (including an overgrowth of Clostridium Difficile – a horrible diarrheal infection that is difficult to treat.)
But, there’s great news! Probiotics (specifically Bifidobacterium) may actually Heal ulcers caused by H. Pylori! Why is this such great news- besides the fact that it will eliminate your ulcer and your symptoms? There are several reasons: Probiotics are easy to take (usually only once a day), there is no risk of developing other infections like with the use of antibiotics, they are relatively inexpensive AND they have additional health benefits including: seasonal allergies (YEP), eczema, IBS and others. 🙂
So, what exactly are some of the symptoms of an H. Pylori infection and when should you see a doctor?
Signs & Symptoms
- An ache or burning pain in your abdomen
- Frequent burping
- Weight loss
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any persistent signs and symptoms that worry you. Seek immediate medical help if you experience:
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bloody or black tarry stools
- Bloody or black vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Bifidobacterium Study Abstract:
Helicobacter pylori is considered one of the major risk factors underlying the development of gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers. Moreover, 50% of the population carries this bacterium, and consequently, when it is detected, eradication of H. pylori is strongly recommended. Regarding the use of probiotics as functional agents, several studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between the addition of certain probiotic bacteria and in vitro inhibition of H. pylori; however, in vivo studies showing bifidobacterial activity against H. pyloriremain scarce. In this study, a Bifidobacterium bifidum strain which proved activein vitro against H. pylori has been isolated, with inhibition levels reaching 81.94% in the case of the supernatant and even 94.77% inhibition for supernatant purified by cationic exchange followed by an inverse phase. In vivo studies using a BALB/c mouse model have proved that this strain partially relieves damage to gastric tissues caused by the pathogen and also decreases the H. pylori pathogenicity ratio. This novel strain fulfills the main properties required of a probiotic (resistance to gastrointestinal juices, biliary salts, NaCl, and low pH; adhesion to intestinal mucus; and sensitivity to antibiotics). Furthermore, the absence of undesirable metabolites has been demonstrated, and its food safety status has been confirmed by acute ingestion studies in mice. In summary, the results presented here demonstrate that Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366 can be considered a probiotic able to inhibit H. pylori both in vitro and in vivo.