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Taking antibiotics to remedy gastritis? The remedy may be as simple as boosting your inner ecosystem with beneficial microflora.
Gastritis: also known as inflammation of the stomach lining.
It's a burning or gnawing pain in the central stomach area at about the level where your ribcage comes together in the center of the chest. This feeling can develop or get worse after eating, with stress, after a surgery or serious infection, and sometimes it even occurs with pregnancy. In addition to the burning and gnawing pain, there can be nausea and bloating.
Go to a doctor with these complaints, and the standard protocol is a simple cocktail of antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). However, within the last 10 years, several studies have vouched for the efficacy of probiotics to remedy gastritis and gastric ulcers.
Doctors are taking note; PPIs are not intended for long-term use beyond 6 weeks. Antibiotics are also beginning to become problematic. Not only are antibiotics costly, but the overuse of antibiotics is creating drug-resistant microbes that can be difficult to manage.
At one time, everyone believed that nothing could survive the extremely acidic environment of the stomach.
After all, the stomach has the same pH as car battery acid. Things changed when Dr. Barry Marshall, who had done quite a bit of research on the matter with Dr. Robert Warren, drank an entire beaker teeming with Helicobacter pylori. (1)
Prior to his experiment in 1982, Marshall had found H. pylori in the stomachs of patients with gastritis and stomach ulcers. The medical community was hard-pressed to believe that gastritis was linked to a bug in the stomach until, ten days after Marshall drank the H. pylori culture, an endoscopy showed signs of gastritis and H. pylori.
Since then, antibiotics have been recommended with standard gastritis and gastric ulcer remedy. However, currently scientists are exploring new avenues to treat infectious disease. Antibiotics have been around for less than 100 years and already our agricultural animal meat and ground water are saturated with them. Which means - we are too. Not only that, but microbes have the genius of nature on their side and are constantly evolving resistance to antimicrobial agents.
The most studied probiotic for therapeutic use has been the lactic acid-producing bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus.
Several studies have found Lactobacillus to be extremely effective as a preventative measure against gastritis, as well as in resolving gastritis, in healing the lining of the stomach, and in alleviating diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. (2) Probiotic beverages are an amazing way to build the reserves of these bacteria in the gut.
One recent study has revealed that Bifidobacterium bifidum, a particular strain called CECT 7366, has a 95% in vitro inhibition rate of H. pylori.
B. bifidum is a beneficial microbe that is commonly found in fermented milk products, such as yogurt and whole milk kefir. It tends to colonize in the large intestine and has been used to remedy inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders and harmonize the immune response system.
Researchers of the study conducted their trials in mice. They found that after 21 days, mice treated with B. bifidum CECT 7633 developed significantly fewer ulcers than the control group. They concluded that the probiotic treatment partially relieved the damage of gastric tissue caused by H. pylori colonization and that the probiotic has functional activity against H. pylori. (3)
While H. pylori infection is falling in industrialized countries, and with it peptic ulcers and gastric cancer have decreased continuously over the past 30 years, gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD) and esophageal carcinoma have increased continuously in the same time period.
Some scientists believe that total eradication of H. pylori may actually be related to an increase in mortality rates for GERD and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Evidence has been collected that shows H. pylori protects against esophagitis and related complications. If this proves consistently the case, then using beneficial microflora to keep H. pylori overgrowth in check may prove therapeutic and preventative. (4)
Current treatment protocol for gastritis and gastric ulcers aims at completely eradicating H. pylori.
This method has a 90% efficacy rate and therefore is considered successful. However, the medical community as a whole has been encouraging the reduction of antibiotic use due to the increase of antibiotic resistant superbugs.
In fact, recently James Hughes, former director of the National Center for Infectious Disease at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), made a public plea that medical providers severely restrict their use of antibiotics. (5)
Probiotic use of B. bifidum and Lactobacillus has been shown to protect the entire digestive tract.
Unfortunately, as effective as antibiotics are at eradicating H. pylori, growing evidence suggests that it may be more advantageous to support the integrity of the inner ecosystem with beneficial microflora that are able to keep aggressive colonizers, like H. pylori, in check.
Growing interest and confidence in beneficial microbial therapy is an effective answer to the problem of antibiotic overuse, which prominent medical doctors and health leaders are now actively addressing.
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