John Lykoudis, a general practitioner in Greece, treated patients for peptic ulcer disease with antibiotics, beginning in 1958, long before it was commonly recognized that bacteria were a dominant cause for the disease.
''Helicobacter pylori'' was rediscovered in 1982 by two Australian scientists, Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall as a causative factor for ulcers.
In their original paper, Warren and Marshall contended that most stomach ulcers and gastritis were caused by colonization with this bacterium, not by stress or spicy food as had been assumed before.
The ''H. pylori'' hypothesis was poorly received so in an act of self-experimentation Marshall drank a Petri dish containing a culture of organisms extracted from a patient and five days later developed gastritis.
His symptoms disappeared after two weeks, but he took antibiotics to kill the remaining bacteria at the urging of his wife, since halitosis is one of the symptoms of infection. This experiment was published in 1984 in the Australian Medical Journal and is among the most cited articles from the journal.
In 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with other government agencies, academic institutions, and industry, launched a national education campaign to inform health care providers and consumers about the link between ''H. pylori'' and ulcers. This campaign reinforced the news that ulcers are a curable infection, and that health can be greatly improved and money saved by disseminating information about ''H. pylori''.
In 2005, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Dr. Marshall and his long-time collaborator Dr. Warren "for their discovery of the bacterium ''Helicobacter pylori'' and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease". Professor Marshall continues research related to ''H. pylori'' and runs a molecular biology lab at UWA in Perth, Western Australia.
It was a previously widely accepted misunderstanding that the use of chewing gum resulted in gastric ulcers. The medical profession believed that this was because the action of masticating on gum caused the over-stimulation of the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The low (acidic) pH (pH 2), or hyperchlorhydria was then believed to cause erosion of the stomach lining in the absence of food, thus causing the development of the gastric ulcers.
On the other hand, in the recent past, some believed that natural tree resin extract, mastic gum, actively eliminates the ''H. pylori'' bacteria. However, multiple subsequent studies have found no effect of using mastic gum on reducing ''H. pylori'' levels.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011