Bacteria that may treat ulcers

Spanish scientists have identified a strain of probiotic bacteria that may be useful in treating ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori.

“H. pylori is considered one of the major risk factors underlying the development of gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers,” according to the researchers.

“Currently, antibiotic-based treatment for H. pylori infection is neither sufficient nor satisfactory, with the most successful treatments reaching 75 to 90pc eradication rates. The use of probiotics is a potentially promising tool to prevent H. pylori,” the researchers said.

According to an expert consultation conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization probiotics are “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host.”

The regular intake of probiotic microoganisms has been demonstrated to prevent several disorders including diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.

Among probiotics Bifidobacterium is one of the favorite genera in studies focused on the prevention of gastrointestinal infection and is often used in fermented dairy products or food supplements.

Helicobacter pylori
Helicobacter pylori

Some studies have been done in vitro (in test tubes or petri dishes) showing bifidobacterial activity against H. pylori.

In this study, the researchers tested numerous strains of bifidobacteria isolated from the feces of breast-fed infants for activity against H. pylori.

They identified one strain (Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366) that under certain conditions had an inhibition level of nearly 95 percent in vitro and tested its activity against infection in mice.

After 21 days, mice treated with the potentially probiotic strain developed significantly less ulcers than the control group.

Additional tests suggest that treatment partially relieved damage to gastric tissue caused by H. pylori infection. Ingestion of the bacteria did not induce any disease or mortality in both healthy and immunocompromised mice.

The findings appeared in the February 2011 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

One Reply to “Bacteria that may treat ulcers”

  1. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the bacteria responsible for most ulcers and many cases of stomach inflammation (chronic gastritis).

    The bacteria can weaken the protective coating of the stomach, allowing digestive juices to irritate the sensitive stomach lining.
    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    As many as half of the world’s population is infected with H. pylori. Those living in developing countries or crowded, unsanitary conditions are most likely to contract the bacterium, which is passed from person to person. H. pylori only grows in the stomach, and is usually contracted during childhood.

    Interestingly, many people have this organism in their stomach, but don’t get an ulcer or gastritis. Coffee drinking, smoking, and drinking alcohol increase your risk for an ulcer from H. pylori.

    If you are a carrier of H. pylori, you may have no symptoms. If you have an ulcer or gastritis, you may have some of the following symptoms:


    Abdominal pain

    Bloating and fullness

    Dyspepsia or indigestion

    Feeling very hungry 1 to 3 hours after eating

    Mild nausea (may be relieved by vomiting)

    Signs and tests

    Simple blood, breath, and stool tests can determine if you are infected with H. pylori. If you have symptoms, your doctor will determine if you should have these screening tests.

    The most accurate way to diagnose H. pylori is through upper endoscopy of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Because this procedure is invasive, it is generally only done on people suspected to have an ulcer, or who are at high risk for ulcers or other complications from H. pylori, such as stomach cancer.

    Risk factors include being over 45 or having symptoms such as:



    Difficulty swallowing

    Gastrointestinal bleeding

    Unexplained weight loss

    Following treatment, breath and stool tests can determine if you have been cured of the infection.

    Patients who have H. pylori and also have an ulcer are most likely to benefit from being treated. Patients who only have heartburn or acid reflux and H. pylori are less likely to benefit from treatment. The treatment does not work in all patients.

    Treatment must be taken for 10 to 14 days. Medications may include:


    Two different antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin), amoxicillin, tetracycline, or metronidazole (Flagyl)

    Proton-pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), or esomeprazole (Nexium)

    Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), in some cases

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Once the H. pylori bacteria are gone from your body, the chance of being infected again is very low.

    H. pylori infection is linked to stomach cancer and ulcer disease.
    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have blood in your stool, abdominal pain, ongoing indigestion or heartburn, or any of the other symptoms mentioned above.

    Seek immediate medical help if you are vomiting blood.

    A clean and germ-free environment may help decrease your risk of H. pylori infection.

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