Women are often the ones tasked with preparing meals on a daily basis, caring for the wellbeing of their families, and being responsible for maintaining a clean, well-balanced, peaceful and welcoming home.
And yet, while so much time and care goes into carrying out this most important role, research has shown that women are likely to be the main culprits in transmitting a bacterium that has been labelled a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This bacteria is called H. pylori.
More than 50% of the world's population are infected with H. pylori, which is usually acquired in early childhood, making it the most widespread infection in the world.
This means that at least one in every two people have this bacterium residing in them.
Whilst the prevalence of H.pylori infection is about equal amongst men and women, research is clarifying that infected mothers are likely to be the main source for childhood H. pylori infection.
As H. pylori infection commonly occurs via the oral route - that is, through the exchange of saliva, food and water - overcrowded conditions, especially in developing countries, create closer contact between mothers and children, and between siblings.
This might be the main reason for the high infection rates reported.
The problem with having H. pylori is not so much the infection itself, but the consequences of its presence in our bodies.
Australian scientist and natural-source medicine specialist Dr Vagif Soultanov says: "Infection by Helicobacter pylori is the most common link to gastritis and gastric ulcers."
He adds that it is also a major risk factor for stomach cancer. Left untreated, those infected with H. pylori are six times more likely to develop stomach cancer.
H. pylori infection is linked to chronic gastritis, a long-lasting inflammation of the stomach, which can lead to atrophic gastritis, a precursor to stomach cancer.
Gastritis is one of the most common afflictions of the stomach.
It can occur suddenly or gradually. Symptoms vary among individuals, and more often than not, the condition doesn't produce any symptoms at all.
Those who do show symptoms usually experience stomach pain, usually described as a burning sensation in the central upper abdomen. It may be associated with bloating, burping, and loss of appetite.
The symptoms often occur after eating, and many patients wake up in the early morning hours with abdominal pain.
Chronic inflammation can lead to the development of gastric or stomach ulcers.
An ulcer is a serious condition referring to an open sore that develops on the inner lining of the stomach. It is like having an open wound in the stomach.
Left untreated, a patient's digestive processes are impaired, and the patient is at risk of internal bleeding.
When a patient's stomach lining is injured, these "weak spots" became a fertile area for cancerous cells to grow, hence, the link to stomach cancer.
A natural option
Now that we have identified the main culprit of gastritis, we can take active measures to overcome it.
Besides lifestyle changes (eg maintaining regular meals), H. pylori treatment is an essential step towards recovery from gastritis.
While medical practitioners mostly agree that these infections must be treated in order to prevent gastritis from developing complications like ulcers and cancer, the current standard care regimens are not without their challenges. For example:
- Antibiotic resistance - with increasing antibiotic usage, effectiveness is compromised as the bacteria develops defences to overcome the drugs.
- Poor patient compliance - with some treatment regimens requiring the intake of up to 17 tablets daily, as well as the occurrence of side effects, patients either shy away or drop out from treatment.
However, new research has unveiled the potential of a conifer pine needle extract named Bioeffective® A, as a natural-treatment option or daily protectant against gastritis.
Originating from the pine forests of Russia, this extract is produced from the green needles of Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies. It is a nutraceutical, and has been shown to be a safe and effective dietary supplement in the treatment of H. pylori infections.
A randomised double-blind clinical study demonstrated the ability of this extract to treat H. pylori infection, improve stomach functioning, and also reduce pre-cancerous lesions of the stomach in patients with atrophic gastritis.
The research programme for the pine extract dates back some 80 years.
Although it has been listed in the Russian pharmacopoeia since the 1950s, this nutraceutical was a closely-guarded national secret within the shrouds of the tightly-regulated former Soviet Union.
It was only through an inter-government scientific exchange programme with Australia, and the fall of the old USSR, that it was introduced to the rest of the world.
Dr Soultanov has been intimately involved in researching this extract.
Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur recently, he described it as an important nutritional substance, which has the potential to revolutionise the way we treat illness and disease today.
He adds: "Clinical research aside, I am humbled daily by the experience of witnessing first-hand the amazing impact Bioeffective A has on the lives of patients in my naturopathic practice".
This article is courtesy of Nuvanta Sdn Bhd. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.