July 2002 | Ulcers and Helicobacter pylori

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By Dr. Matsen

It is a well-known fact within the medical community that the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) play a role in the formation of some ulcers in the digestive system and are also suspected to contribute to cancer of the stomach.

Fifty percent of the world’s population is believed to carry H. pylori in their gut, possibly transmitted via houseflies. H. pylori are relatively harmless if the stomach and intestinal membranes are strong. If, however, H. pylori penetrate a weakened membrane, your immune system will attack the bacteria and this immune assault can cause gastritis, indigestion, and ulceration. Factors that markedly weaken the stomach membrane are peroxide-laden bile (see Eating Alive II, page 418), coffee, and stress.

The common medical treatment for killing H. pylori is a triple antibiotic approach. Unfortunately, this treatment can destroy your beneficial intestinal flora, so it’s wise to first try the more gentle approach of the Eating Alive Program and the mild products mentioned below.

In my Comment last month I noted that a recent study shows that propolis may kill H. pylori. In December 1998, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that mastic gum could also kill H. pylori bacteria, even at low doses of one gram per day for two weeks, usually taken at bedtime. Mastic gum is a resin from a tree of the pistachio family found only on the Greek Island of Chios.

New research at Johns Hopkins University has shown that sulforaphane (a sulfur compound) in broccoli and broccoli sprouts is capable of killing H. pylori as well. Broccoli also has other properties that help prevent hormonal cancers such as breast and cervical cancer (see Eating Alive II, pages 451-453).

I’ve recommended cabbage juice (4 to 6 ounces/125 to175 ml, twice per day) to successfully treat ulcers and it is likely the sulforaphane in the cabbage that gives the benefit. Other sulfur-containing plants that are purported to inhibit H. pylori are garlic and onions. Licorice root is known to strengthen the stomach membrane, probably because it reduces the breakdown of adrenal hormones, thus reducing the effects of stress.