Ulcer Wars

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ulcer wars

It is called Helicobacter pylori and it affects every one of us. If you do not have this bacterium yourself, someone close to you most certainly does -- it is that common. Yet 99 per cent of cases are currently going undiagnosed because H pylori is just starting to become known in the medical community. The diagnostic medical tests for this disease are now becoming available in Canada.

This bacterium is the most significant discovery to affect holistic medicine in ages because it underlies so many chronic health problems (ulcers, neuraesthenia, chronic fatigue syndrome, stomach cancer, bowel conditions, PMS, yeast overgrowth, hemorrhoids, insomnia, low blood sugar, "nervous breakdown").

Thousands die each year in Canada alone from bleeding ulcers, ulcers which now can be "cured" or even prevented. It is significant too, because all truly holistic doctors, whether medical, naturopathic, chiropractic or dental, appreciate the lab tests (blood and saliva) readily accessible by mail from labs in the USA for the past several years, and now soon to be available in Canadian labs.

H pylori was discovered about 10 years ago downunder. The studies would not have been available in North America this soon were it not for the heroic efforts of the main discoverer. (Medicine has never welcomed new advances and history shows that they and their proponents are usually persecuted, often very severely.) The discoverer went so far as to infect himself with the bacterium, suffered the condition and then took the cure, all to gain the attention of the medical community.

Even with these valiant efforts it still took some years to get the truth of H pylori known in the United States and another three years to get the word out in Canada. Even then, due the lack of incentive in our socialized medical system, the news would not have gotten out this soon were it not for Dr David Suzuki's well-done documentary (aired on CBC in March, 1995) entitled The Ulcer Wars. This great documentary got the public asking questions.

Holistic members of the healing arts deplore the rampant abuse and over-use of antibiotics. However, in this case some of us are quick to concede that there appears to be no effective remedy other than the medical regimen. It consists of two different antibiotics taken simultaneously with a Bismuth compound.

Diagnosis

Until now, most doctors and patients have not suspected this infection unless there are stomach symptoms. But many patients do not present stomach complaints. Even when asked directly they seem to pass off stomach complaints as normal. Instead, their complaints are often unexplained, such as back pain, fatigue, unexplained anemia, hormonal upset, anal weeping, recurrent flu and food poisoning.

Natural practitioners have long suspected that there was some unknown factor in ulcer and gastric malfunction because, for example, in a large percentage of cases there was a lack of stomach acid instead of too much acid as was the common medical approach. And while chiropractic care to reduce nerve interference was a great help in clearing the ulcers, gastritis and other symptoms, they would return, not always paralleling the nerve interference.

Even if the patient continued good management (intelligent nutritional supplementation, diet, exercise, avoiding stress and preventive chiropractic care) there would still be a tendency toward recurrence at the slightest provocation, such as a trip or gardening in spring. There was a waxing and waning and medical authors referred to "seasonal re-occurrences."

Most doctors thought that it was perhaps an inherited predisposition. We know now that the many chronic and continuing health problems that these patients suffer is caused wholly or in part by this germ. Who would have dreamed that an as yet unknown, hard-to-kill acid-defying microbe could be at work upsetting so much of the body's physiology?

Battle of the Bugs

This amazing bacterium is probably as old as mankind. Not a lot is known about its transmission, except that it can be inoculated deliberately. But there is a wealth of research. I suspect that infection is often initiated by a health upset such as a severe disease, surgery, drugs or other poisoning, severe stress, or vertebral misalignment (subluxation), to name a few. In most cases it is probably transmitted from the parent.

The bacteria mainly inhabits the stomach causing irritation (inflammation) and consequent stimulation of secretion of gastric juice rich in acid. Normally this acid is important for digestion and normal health. But when secreted into an empty stomach at the wrong time, it eats into the stomach lining and intestines causing inflammation (gastritis) and ulcers. The whole area tightens up aggravating spinal subluxations and many resulting symptoms such as difficult breathing (tightened diaphragm), nausea, pain referred to the back, kidney area or gall bladder. The blood pressure and heart rate tend to increase and the patient may feel cold during attacks and hot later. I feel that it is related to many other conditions such as arthritis.

A simple test in the early stages is to palpate the stomach for tenderness and pulsations. Also, if the symptoms are relieved by eating or antacids, gastritis is obvious and the H pylori infection is suspected. The diagnosis can be clinched by having blood and saliva tests.

The medical drug regimen is reported to be 94 per cent effective. However, the drugs are not without side-effects. These are listed in the drug handbook of which every pharmacist and doctor has a copy.

In my experience the gastric secretion inhibitors (cimetidine) give the most problems and actually cause gastritis. According to the studies done, these gastric inhibitors actually have no effect on ulcer resolution or H pylori eradication and are only aimed at symptomatic relief in the first week. Besides, three powerful drugs are enough for most of us to take at once, anyway.

Some symptoms (what the patient complains of) and related conditions in Helicobacter pylori.

- Reflux or regurgitation

- Halitosis

- Gastritis

- Gastro-enteritis

- Colitis

- Hemorrhoids

- Anal and genital itching

- Anal weeping

- Tendency to anemia for unexplained reasons

- Nausea

- Morning sickness

- Loss of appetite

- PMS

- Prostatic disease

- Hypoglycaemia

- Hiatus hernia

- Constipation and/or diarrhea

- Fatigue syndrome

- Hypersensitivity to light, noise, touch

- Weakness

- Coldness

- Aching, stiffness, irritability

- Flu-like spells lasting days or weeks

- Food poisoning

Signs (what the doctor sees):

- B12 shots, or other supplements give good benefits to these patients even though there is no apparent deficiency

- Antibiotics taken for other reasons often give dramatic though temporary improvement in general symptoms and health

- Low BMR and "low thyroid" symptoms

- Tenderness in the stomach (upper abdomen)

- Strong pulsations in the stomach area

- Difficult breathing

- Increased blood pressure (during attacks subsiding later)

- Increased pulse rate (during attacks subsiding later)

- Symptoms relieved by food and antacids

- Floating stool

- Protein assimilation poor, emaciation

Tests:

- The white blood cell count is usually increased to high normal (approximately 10,000) indicative of chronic or latent infection. Specific blood and saliva lab tests are available from interested medical, chiropractic or naturopathic doctors who send the tests to the United States (until they become available in Canada).

Article copyright Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By William Scott

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