By Michael A. Smith, MD
Millions of Americans are infected with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a strain of bacteria that is implicated in the vast majority of stomach ulcers.1 Stomach ulcers can cause gastric distress and it’s not surprising that this is one of the most common complaints that prompt men and women to visit their doctors.
Scientists have identified novel nutritional and herbal agents that provide synergistic support for stomach health by relieving inflammation, promoting tissue repair, and supporting the body’s defenses against H. pylori.
One of these remedies — a complex of zinc and carnosine — was previously available only in Japan as a prescription drug for ulcers but is now readily accessible as a dietary supplement in the United States. Together, these natural agents can serve as the foundation of a strategy to safely and effectively relieve chronic gastric distress and restore stomach health and comfort.
Scientists have long known that zinc and L-carnosine have antioxidant properties that promote tissue repair and healing. Zinc is an essential mineral contained in oysters, meat, seafood, beans, and nuts. L-carnosine, found in meat and beans, is a small peptide which consists of just two essential amino acids that are bonded together.
When zinc and L-carnosine are linked together in a single molecule, their tissue-healing effects become even more remarkable. In fact, research suggests that linking zinc and L-carnosine together in a dietary supplement is far more effective than a simple mixture of the two.
This type of formulation with zinc and L-carnosine, known as Polaprezinc, is approved in Japan as the active ingredient in a well-known prescription drug to treat ulcers. Studies show that both components of the compound remain bound together for some time in gastric juice and that they coat stomach ulcers, releasing L-carnosine and zinc, which help promote the healing of stomach ulcerations and exert inhibitory effects against H. pylori.
The zinc-carnosine complex which is now available to Americans as a dietary supplement is biochemically identical to the Japanese drug Polaprezinc, and scientists believe it is equally efficacious and without any serious side effects.1
Another option for addressing gastric distress is Picrorhiza kurroa, a traditional herb grown in the Himalayan Mountains. This herb has been shown to help support a healthy stomach wall. The herb has potent immune-supporting properties and plays a role in gastric protection and healthy liver function.2
Lastly, a patented blend of cranberry, blueberry, and grape seed extracts offers astounding relief from gastric distress. Rich in anthocyanidins and other antioxidant compounds, cranberry and other plant-based extracts have been shown to be beneficial for gastrointestinal health. These compounds also help regulate H. pylori by preventing the organism from attaching itself to the stomach and intestinal lining.3
1. Helicobacter. 2002 Dec;7(6):384-9.
2. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. 2002;17 (2):44-51.
3. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Dec;71(12):8558-64. 7.