Japan’s Big Three’s Models Named Best Deals

Car buyers are always in the lookout for the car offering the best value for their money. Different firms have been guiding prospective car buyers on how to choose the vehicle the suits their needs best. From performance to fuel economy to safety, all bases should be covered in choosing a vehicle.

IntelliChoice, one of the leading sources of pertinent information to car buyers, recently announced their “Best Deals” list. The list contains what the online outfit thinks is the best vehicle in different classes. For the month of April, IntelliChoice announced their “Best Deals” and this has been done coinciding with the ongoing New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) in the Big Apple.

This month’s list includes several models from Japan’s three biggest car manufacturers. These vehicles are seen as the measuring stick for future production vehicles unveiled and showcased at the New York Auto Show. James Bell, the publisher of IntelliChoice.com, has this to say with regards to the list and the vehicles showcased at the event: “Even more than recent auto shows, the New York show offered a look at some very compelling future competition to many of the mainstays on our monthly ‘Best Deals’ list.”

The Honda Civic hybrid is rated as the best deal for the Compact Car over $16,000 class by IntelliChoice.com. For the Compact Car under $16,000 class, the best deal is touted to be the Honda Civic DX with an automatic transmission.

Aside from these two models, another Honda produced vehicle was named as a best deal in its class – the Honda Civic Si. The said model is named as the best deal in the Base Sport Car class. The Honda Odyssey is once again named as the best deal for the Minivan class. The Honda Odyssey has been dominating that class in recent history but will face strong competition in the form of the Ford Flex recently unveiled at the New York International Auto Show.

A Nissan model is also named as one of the best deals for the month of April. The Nissan Frontier King Cab XE 2WD with a manual transmission is named as the best deal for the Compact Pickup Truck 2WD class. The King Cab is the first crew cab body style compact pickup truck in North America and since its inception in the U.S. auto market has been popular among car buyers. With its trademark dependability, the Nissan Frontier is not a surprise choice as the best deal for its class. Its high performance construction and components such as the Nissan spark plug wires are one of the reasons why the Frontier sits at the top of its class.

Toyota, the surging Japanese car manufacturer, also landed several of its models at the “Best Deals” list. The popular Toyota Prius is named as the best deal for the Midsize Car under $21,000 while the Prius Touring is named as the best deal for the Midsize Car over $21,000 class.

For the Large Car class, IntelliChoice picked the Toyota Avalon Touring as the best deal for consumers. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid with a third row seating and 2WD configuration is named as the best deal for the Midsize Crossover class. The Toyota Matrix Standard with manual transmission is also named as the best deal for the Small Wagon class.

For the Compact Pickup Truck 4WD class, IntelliChoice picked the Toyota Tacoma Regular Cab 4WD as the best deal. The Toyota Tundra Regular Cab V6 2WD Short Bed is named as the best deal for the Full-Size Pickup Truck 2WD 1/2 Ton class.

Investing Basics for Beginners

Investing money is a way for individuals to save toward their goals, whether it be retirement, a child’s college education, or some other financial goal. Beginning investors need to take time to determine their goals and learn some basic concepts of investing before jumping right into making an investment. Successful investing takes much research, time, and patience. As beginning investors start to have some success in making money through investments, they will develop a degree of skill. However, there is still a degree of risk involved even the most seasoned and skilled investors. Finding the answers to some basic investing questions will help make the efforts of beginning investors more successful.

How much money do I need to make an investment?

One common misconception by beginning investors is that they must have a large sum of money to make an investment. The truth is, many investments can be made for as little as hundreds or perhaps a few thousand dollars. One way to begin investing small is through dividend reinvestment plans or direct stock purchase options. Investors may be able to invest in a company’s stock options by paying a minimal start-up fee, often as little as $25 or $50 and making an initial investment. Once the money begins adding up, it can then be transferred to a brokerage account, where the investor will be able to begin investing larger sums of money.

What are the different types of investing?

Once investors determine that they have enough money to make an investment, the difficult part is often deciding where to invest their money. There are many different options for investors; some of the most common investment options are mutual funds, bonds, futures, and real estate.

  • Mutual funds – A way for individuals to invest without having to manage their investment “hands-on” is through investing in mutual funds. Mutual funds are investments that are handled by a fund manager. This fund manager invests the pool of money, contributed to by several individual investors, in the financial marketplace. The funds may be invested through closed or open-ended funds. Closed funds have a set number of shares that are distributed to the public and are traded on the open market; whereas open-ended funds to do not a set number of shares. The trader will re-invest into new shares for the investor. The shares are overseen by a professional money manager who is trained to select investments that will provide the largest returns to the investor.
  • Exchange traded funds – These funds, known as ETFs, are pools of investor money that is invested in similar ways to mutual funds. However, since ETFs are designed only to track certain indexes and much of their management is computerized, their maintenance costs and fees are generally much lower.
  • Bonds – When investors purchase bonds, they are buying an interest in a company or corporation. The companies issues bonds, which is a loan from an investor. In turn, the company agrees to pay this investor back at determined intervals with interest. Investing in bonds can be a fairly secure investment. Unless the company goes bankrupt, the investor is almost certain to receive back at least the minimum amount of his investment. These interest payments at set intervals can be a source of steady income for retired couples or others wishing to create a type of investment where they can generate consistent returns. The interest earned on bonds can be tax exempt with some types of bonds.
  • Real Estate – Real estate can a good investment when the timing is right but often requires a lot of work. One easy way for investors to enter the real estate market is through a real estate investment trust, or REIT. Investors become part owners in the investments of the REIT such as malls, park garages, hotels, or other real estate ventures. REITs often pay out high cash dividends to investors because the REIT pays no federal income tax in return for paying out 90 percent or more of their profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. Another way of making money through investing in real estate is through purchasing properties, improving the properties through repairing them or adding amenities, then selling them at a profit; or renting the houses to tenants and receiving a monthly income from the payments.
  • Futures – Futures trading is the marketplace where buyers from around the world buy and sell futures contracts. A futures contract is an agreement to receive a product at a future date with a set price. Once the price is agreed upon, the price is secure for the next year regardless of the changes in the market. Some common futures markets include commodities, currencies, stock indexes, interest rates, and other alternative investments such as economic indicators. The rewards of this kind of investing can be great but so are the risks. Therefore, futures should be left to the most experienced investors.

Should I diversify or stick with one investment?

Most professional investment advisors will confirm that diversification is the key to a successful investment portfolio. Investors who spread their investments out through several avenues reduce their risk of losing all of their assets should the investment fail. While it may be tempting to dive right in and start investing large sums or money, beginning investors should balance the potential profit against the risks they are exposing themselves to in the investment marketplace.

Using the services of a professional investment advisor

A professional investment advisor can provide beginning investors with the basic information needed to start an investment portfolio. An investment advisor sometimes is also a financial planner and can help with all financial matters. Some investment advisors are paid a percentage of the value of the assets managed, while others charge an hourly fee or are paid on a commission basis.

For investors who would like to avoid these fees, the best strategy is to do some study and start with mutual funds or ETFs offered by reputable companies.

Botox Facts

Botox injections are used for a variety of medical reasons, but can also be used cosmetically. When the drug is injected under the skin, it acts as a muscle relaxer by blocking nerve transmission in the face. This procedure can reduce the sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles that are associated with aging. There are a few things, however, which can interfere with the effectiveness of the procedure. Keeping these facts in mind will help you to achieve the best possible results.

Age is a Factor

Botox injections are most effective for patients under the age of forty. If you’re over 40, the injections will still work, but they will be less effective and it will take longer to achieve your desired results. Once you’ve reached this age, you begin to lose fat in your face. The fine lines and wrinkles that you’re seeing are no longer due to muscle tension, but to actually tissue loss, which cannot be reversed with this drug. A series of injections will still add youth to your appearance, but may not be able to completely eliminate fine lines and wrinkles.

Keep Side Effects in Mind

While many patients experience no side effects from an injection series, others develop headaches or feel nauseous after receiving their shots. Before you have a series of injections, you should be sure that you’re not allergic to the drug. Those who are allergic may experience respiratory difficulties after a shot series. Be sure to inform your cosmetic surgeon of any other medications that you’re taking, so that he can check for drug interactions. A drug interaction or allergic reaction can be life threatening, so it’s important that your doctor is aware of your allergies and medications.

The Procedure is Temporary

When you elect to have Botox injections, you should be aware that the procedure is temporary. A series of shots generally lasts four to five months; after this, you’ll need to make another appointment and repeat the procedure. Regular injections will help to ensure continued results, whether you’re having the procedure for cosmetic or medical reasons.

These injections aren’t only used for cosmetic purposes. If you experience migraines, chronic pain, or cervical dystonia, you may also be eligible for the injections. Depressed patients, those with overactive bladders, and men with prostate issues may also gain relief from their symptoms through these injections. If you struggle with these issues, consult your doctor to see if Botox is right for you.

How to Have Clutch Power

The key to your motocross bike’s performance lies in the clutch. You may be an ace as a motocross player but if your clutch is not doing its part, you may find your engine difficult to control. The following are some tips for an excellent clutch.

First of all, take out those Factory Clutch Springs and substitute them with stiffer ones. Bike factories never use maximum performance parts when assembling the clutch. High performance parts usually cost more money than those being used by factories. But keep in mind that you don’t have to change every spring. Usually two or three will do but you can experiment on what works for you.

Do not neglect your   transmission  oil. It’s not the same as cars and trucks wherein you can change the oil once a year only. Ideally, your oil must be replaced every two or three races. It may sound too much for you, but changing the oil is cheaper than a  transmission  overhaul. Remember that the crud that you pick up on the track accumulates and will put early stress on your clutch plates.

Always carry extra shims for emergencies. You’ll never know when you’re going to need these things. It might happen in the middle of a race and you won’t be able to remedy the situation. You can simply insert the right washer under the bolt. The added thickness will preload your springs and take away that spongy feeling in your clutch.

You can top off your  transmission  to the proper level with Automatic  Transmission  Fluid, that is, if it is GM compatible. But don’t use a Ford type fluid. The difference between the two is GM fluid grips better than a Ford fluid which is slick as molasses.

Never use factory-installed aluminum clutch plates. These plates are suitable only for regular use but not tough enough for extended motocross use. They don’t hold up as well as steel plates which are heavier but more durable. There are two drawbacks for aluminum plates. One, they wear more quickly than steel leaving metallic deposits in the oil, thus, hastening mechanical wear. Two, aluminum warps easily when subjected to extreme heat generated in motocross.

Aging plates build up a glaze layer on the surface which makes them slip more noticeably. When this slippage is noticed, take out your fiber clutch plates and sand the surface to remove the slippery glaze. Reinstall after cleaning.

Make sure your clutch lever isn’t set too tight. Set it so that a quarter can slide between the lever perch and the lever without catching the clutch cable.

Dirofilariasis – The Deadly Heartworm in Dogs

When a dog is suffering from heartworm, it means that they are infected with a roundworm commonly known as heart worm. The organism is actually Dirofilaria immitis, a parasite. This worm is transmitted by mosquitoes and will infect your dog’s blood, heart and lungs. Left untreated, the disease is fatal.

Causes

Heartworms are spread through mosquitos that carry the infective heartworm larvae. The larvae enter the dog’s body through the mosquito bite wound and travel through the dog’s body to the heart. This process will take approximately six months.

Once the heartworms are living inside your dog, the adults will release immature heartworms (microfilariae) into the bloodstream of the dog. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it will become a carrier of these microfilariae and infect the next dog it bites.

If a dog lives in a high risk area for heartworm, without preventative treatment it will almost certainly contract heartworm disease. Although heartworm is mainly endemic in tropical and subtropical areas, it is not limited to these areas. Heartworm has been identified in all 50 US states and is found worldwide.

Symptoms of Heartworm

Heartworm disease can be diagnosed by your veterinarian through a blood test. There are three classes of heartworm, and the symptoms vary from no visible symptoms to extreme ill health. It is difficult for a dog owner to identify heartworm in their pet.

The symptoms of heartworm include but are not limited to an occasional or more regular coughing, reduced canine activity or an intolerance to exercise, anaemia, fainting, chronic heart failure, labored breathing and high blood pressure.

The severity of heartworm disease will depend on the severity of the infestation, the duration of the disease and the response of the dog. All dogs are different in the way their bodies cope with the heartworm infestation.

Diagnosis

If your vet suspects your dog may have heartworm they can conduct a blood test, carry out an electrocardiograph (can reveal heart rhythm disturbances), a urine analysis or x-rays. They are looking for damage to or enlargement of the heart and associated arteries.

Treatment

Initially your dog will be hospitalized, and receive a dose of adulticide which will kill the adult heartworms. Depending on the severity of the infestation your dog may need to be hospitalized for a longer period. In some cases surgery may also be required to remove adult worms from the heart and jugular vein.

After the adult worms have been killed, treatment must be ongoing with a monthly dose of prophylaxis to kill eggs and larvae which have not been killed by adulticide.

You should be aware that the treatment for heartworm can be deadly. Even mild to moderate cases of heartworm will have a considerable impact on your dog. It is not an easy treatment for your dog, and should not be considered light heartedly.

Prevention

Heartworm disease is completely preventable through a regular dose of prophylaxis which is a preventative heartworm medication. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you with the appropriate medication and dosage to suit your dog.

If your dog does contract heartworm and has been successfully treated, you should take care to administer the monthly dose of prophylaxis as advised by your vet – reinfestation can easily occur especially in high risk areas.

Your Life GPS

Lately I’ve been hearing from many people that their spirit guides have left them. This is not true. They haven’t left. They’re just getting out of the way so you can learn how to move forward under your own power.

After 12/21/2012 your spirit guides began stepping back in order to allow you to fulfill your destiny – that of taking your power back. This process involves learning how to utilize your own innate wisdom instead of relying on your spirit guides, angels, and other people and beings to whom you have given your authority in the past.

It’s much like watching a small child learn how to walk. Initially the child is supported and guided by an adult. At some point the adult lets go of the child’s hands in order to allow them to learn how to walk on their own and travel in the direction of their choice.

So it is with your spirit guides. They’re letting you know that it’s time for you to walk your life path using your own knowledge and wisdom, and choosing your own direction.

Oh, they’re still around in case you really need them for guidance. But remember, they’re spirit guides, not directors. They now serve in a different capacity. Rather than being your commanders and issuing orders to you, they’re now serving as your advisors.

Much like the GPS system you use in your car, your spirit guides are now acting as your Life GPS, ready to give you directions to a destination should you ask. However you have the power to choose if you want to follow their suggested route, take another route, or even if you want to use your Life GPS or not.

Just as the highest and best purpose of a GPS is to advise you as to the best route to take to your desired destination, it’s still only advice. You have the power of choice as to whether you want to follow that advise. You are now empowered to choose how you want to get to your destination. You have the power to choose a new and different destination at any time. YOU are now in command of your life.

Although a GPS is handy, it’s not infallible. Often it can lead you to an incorrect address. Likewise, spirit guides can give you advice that isn’t correct or accurate.

With a GPS your location is sent to a satellite and then bounced back to the GPS in your car, where it’s displayed on maps stored within the GPS. There may be distortions in the   transmission  of the data. Additionally, the data within the GPS may be outdated or incorrect.

Similarly, your Life GPS  transmissions  may be corrupted. After all, your spirit guides are transmitting through other dimensions and realities. Most of them have never been human, so they can only advise you from their perspective, which may be lacking in current and correct data.

Only you know the correct directions for you to make as you travel on your life path. Use your spirit guides as your Life GPS and remember… it’s advice, not orders.

The Avian Plight

In 1997, the world’s attention was caught by an alarming passage of Avian influenza from birds to humans in Hongkong. All chickens and ducks were killed upon the order of the Hongkong government to contain the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus.

Avian influenza or more commonly called as bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. All birds naturally have these influenza viruses in their bodies. Wild birds have these viruses in their intestines but their bodies do not get infected or damaged by them. When passed on domesticated birds, avian influenza can cause sickness and death. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are mostly hit by the   transmission  of avian flu among birds. Infected domesticated birds can pass on the virus to humans when they are eaten or consumed. *Migratory birds* infected with avian flu also become agents of viruses’ transfer from one place to another.

H5N1 carrier birds pass on the virus to other birds through their saliva, nasal excretions, and feces. Birds get infected when they come in contact with these contaminated excretions even by just staying on a surface or ground where virus carriers have stayed. Cages, dirts, water, feeds, infected waterfowl or other poultries that have been exposed to the virus are the common sources of infection among domesticated birds.

Two forms of bird flu exist among domesticated poultries infected with avian influenza viruses. The low pathogenic form is almost invisible and undetected for it causes only very mild symptoms that can be mistaken as non-avian flu effects. Manifestations of low pathogenic avian flu infection include low egg production or ruffled feathers. The second form of avian flu is the high pathogenic avian flu disease. This form leads to multiple organ failures and damages among infected birds. About 90 to 100 percent of birds infected with this form die within two days upon contamination. The spread of this form of avian flu is more rapid among birds in flocks.

Albeit basically a matter among birds, humans are also susceptible to bird flu or avian flu infection. The first known cases of humans getting infected with bird flu happened in Hongkong in 1997. 18 people were recorded to have acquired respiratory illnesses after having contacted infected surfaces from poultry farms, the infection claimed six lives.

The virus’ passage to humans that happened in Hongkong caused a global alarm. Health institutions worldwide raised concerns that the avian flu might be as damaging as the pandemic of flu that claimed about 20 million lives back in 1918. Reasonable enough, the fear and alarm are worth noting. What is essentially fearful is the idea that humans can be infected and actually die from a virus that is basically existing among birds only. The premise the Hongkong incident set is that the virus is mutating into something deadly for humans.

As of 2005, worldwide coordinated statistics recorded a number of 130 people having been infected of avian flu of which 67 have already died. In recent years, cases of human infection have been high in Asian countries. The World Health Organization believes that Asia is at higher risks since people live in close distance with domesticated birds like chicken and ducks. Animal domestication and poultry raising are common among many Asian countries who are agricultural by nature. What worries many is the common fact that humans have little or even a lack of immunity to the virus known to be infecting only (until the 1997 Hongkong incident) the birds.

An even higher cause of alarm has been found in recent studies on the H5N1 virus. Recent researches have shown that H5N1 strains have become more deadly among chickens and mice. This mutation is also found to be making cats or feline susceptible to the infection. H5N1 is also found to be resistant to some of the drugs used to treat flu (such as amantadine). New strains of the virus are also said to be possibly emerging especially in Asian countries.

What is now being focused on by scientists and health experts around the world is the prevention of human-to-human  transmission  which is believed to be the possible case that happened in Thailand in 2004. If it becomes widespread, human-to-human  transmission  is believed to be harder to contain that bird-to-human  transmission . Experts say that the virus’ continual change will make it hard for the human body to naturally develop immunity against the infection. The H5N1 virus is found to be changing over time through the changes happening in their structure called antigenic drift and antigenic shift. This continual change of the virus disables the immune system to respond accordingly whenever the flu virus enters the body. The only possible solution seen by experts is for infection-prone people to have a yearly immunization with up-to-date anti avian virus strains. But the big problem is, until now there is no medical treatment available to combat the H5N1 virus, making the yearly immunization update a far-fetched option.

Why Are Metals Good Conductors?

Different metals are often employed for various applications because they are known for being good conductors of both heat and electricity. All of the appliances that we find in our homes and workplaces, such as kettles and computers, use metal for one reason or another. But why are they such good conductors? How does it all work?

Generally, atoms will tightly hold onto their electrons, not allowing them to move very much (if at all). In metal, however, atoms hold onto their electrons more loosely, allowing some of them to even be free moving. This is because the electrons form a metallic bond of sorts with each other, creating a moving sea vibrating electrons. They drift aimlessly through the metal, helping to give it it’s various properties, including strength.

Electrical conductivity

This term refers to a metal’s ability to conduct an electrical current, such as in a refrigerator or television. The outer electrons of the atoms are loosely bonded and are free to move through the material. When an electrical current is applied to a metal, it causes the free moving electrons to flow, which allows the current to pass through and be moved on.

Thermal conductivity

This term, on the other hand, refers to a metal’s ability to conduct heat, such as in a toaster or heater. The electrons nearest the heat source begin to warm up, causing them to vibrate fairly fast. In colliding with the cooler, slower moving electrons around them, the hot electrons transmit this heat energy on. Metal is such a good conductor of heat because their electrons are packed so closely together, allowing the vibrations to be passed on very quickly.

Metals are quite often cool to the touch, causing many people to believe that they are actually good conductors of cold, not heat. This, however, is a common misconception – metals are able to quickly absorb heat from their surfaces, including from human skin. It is this loss of heat that causes metal surfaces to feel cold underneath our hands.

When people ask why metals are good conductors of both heat and electricity, the short answer is because of the way their electrons are able to freely move around. To fully get into the specifics of how each element is effectively conducted by different alloys, you would probably have to attend physics classes in order to understand the processes. Having a basic understanding, however, should be enough to show why metal is so useful.

Heartburn Can Be Easily Cured

Do you suffer from heartburn, reflux or burping? Perhaps you rely on a medicine to help settle your tummy. I have written on digestive disorders on several occasions previously, but this time I would like to write specifically on a little bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection is recognised as the most prevalent bacteria to infect the human population in the entire world. You may well identify the following problem, and if you do, don’t despair. It actually is possible to free from heartburn, reflux or a low grade queasiness, which affects so many people.

Helicobacter is a clever little bug

In 1982, when Australian Dr. Barry Marshall identified a new bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (HP) as an infectious agent responsible for peptic ulcer disease, it completely transformed medicine’s understanding of the microbiology and disease of the human stomach. Your stomach is protected from its own gastric juice by a thick layer of mucous that covers the stomach lining. HP takes advantage of this protection by actually living in the mucous lining. Once this clever little bug is safe in this mucous, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease. Urease converts urea, of which there is an abundant supply in the stomach (from saliva and gastric juices), into bicarbonate and ammonia, which are strong (alkaline) bases. This creates a cloud of acid-neutralizing chemicals around the H. pylori, protecting it from the acid in the stomach. This cloud is also part of the reflux and burping process that occurs, which many HP people complain of.

Contributing to the protection of HP is the fact that the body’s natural defenses cannot reach these bugs in this mucous lining of the stomach. The immune system will respond to an HP infection by sending “killer T-cells”, (white blood cells), and other infection-fighting agents. However, these potential H. pylori eradicators cannot reach the infection, because they cannot easily get through stomach lining. They do not go away – the immune response just grows and grows over time. White cells die and spill their destructive compounds onto cells lining the stomach lining. More nutrients are sent to reinforce the white cells, and the H. pylori can feed on this. Within a few days, gastritis and perhaps eventually a peptic ulcer results in the lining of your tummy. And of course, the person who suffers is often blissfully unaware, takes an antacid or an acid-blocking drug long-term, and continues to eat and drink foods which only aggravate the healing process long term. So they go back to the doctor, only to be told to stay on the medicine. After a few years, the person resigns themselves to the fact that they will always require this “medicine” to cure their condition. Yeah right, and Alice lived happily after in Wonderland.

To confirm that HP caused the gastritis and peptic ulceration, Marshall swallowed cultures of the bacteria and contracted gastritis (inflammation of the mucus membrane of the stomach). He then underwent endoscopy (internal examination of the stomach), and provided biopsies from which the suspected bug was re-isolated.

Changing medical belief and practice takes time. For nearly 100 years, scientists and doctors thought that ulcers were caused by lots of stress, spicy foods, and copious alcohol. Treatment involved bed rest and a bland and boring diet. Later, researchers added stomach acid to the list of causes and began treating ulcers with antacids when they became fashionable.Unfortunate for poor Barry, nobody believed him. In fact, he was actually treated with ridicule and disdain when he first proposed the idea that a bacteria actually lived the hostile environment of the stomach. Before 1982, the accepted medical paradigm was “no acid, no ulcer”, and that stomach ulcers only occurred when excess acid damaged the stomach wall and that all treatment should be aimed at reducing or neutralising all that bad acid. Surely you remember the advertisements on TV with the man drawing on his tummy with a felt tipped pen, telling you that the acid has to “stay down there”. These commercials generally came on after dinner, the time when your tummy is most likely to play up, I can’t help but thinking how many of those sufferers possibly have an undetected H.pylori infection. There is still a lot of drug promotion regarding this acid reflux problem. Unfortunately, many such patients today are still seen as having “too much stomach acid”, and treated with antacids or stomach-acid blockers as front-line therapy, when in my clinical experience actually the opposite applies, they don’t have enough or have an infection which needs sorting. Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily digest food or kill microorganisms. Low levels of stomach acid increase the chance an organism’s survival. It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile, and it took an Aussie GP to prove all the world’s experts wrong.

It seems pretty silly to treat the acid problem perpetually, without enquiring into actually why this burping, reflux and upper abdominal discomfort is occurring in the first place. Albert Szent Györgyi, (1937 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine) said that: “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Today it is an established fact that most cases of peptic ulcers and gastritis, diseases that affect millions of humans worldwide, result from this HP infection, and not “too much acid” in the stomach at all.

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Albert Szent Györgyi

HP infection and prevalence

H. pylori is believed to be transmitted orally. Did you wash your hands? Many researchers believe that HP is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of tainted food or water. In addition, it is possible that H. pylori could be transmitted from the stomach to the mouth through gastro-esophageal reflux or belching, all common symptoms of gastritis. The bacterium could then be transmitted through oral contact.

HP infection remains a huge problem, is extremely common and infecting more than a billion people worldwide. It is estimated that half of the American population older than age 60 has been infected with H. pylori at some stage and the economic effect of ulcer disease in the US (as measured back in a study of 1989 data) showed that the illness cost then nearly $6 billion annually. ($2.66 billion for hospitalisation, not including doctor ‘s fees), outpatient care ($1.62 billion), and loss in work productivity ($1.37 billion).

One in five Aussies and Kiwis have HP, according to Dr. Barry Marshal, infection usually persists for many years, leading to ulcer disease in 10 % to 15% of those infected. H. pylori is found in more than 80% of patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers. You can imagine what this common complaint in NZ and Australia is costing, in terms of medication, doctor’s visits and lost productivity at work. Early research on HP characterised much of the work to come, the data that emerged from the study of all these samples was quite unexpected. It showed that HP is actually a common bacterial agent and that an amazing 30-50% of the world’s population are colonised with it.

How do you know if you have the HP bug?

The infection manifests differently in different individuals. In some people, it produces more acid in the stomach, and ulcers may result. In others, stomach acid suppression or complete lack (which we call achlorhydria) may result, and these people may be at a greater risk of gastric cancer. It is unclear why some people respond one way or the other.

Typical manifestations of a Helicobacter pylori infection:

· Nausea, or a low-grade feeling of being queasy. Could be vomiting.

· Avoidance of chilli, garlic or a specific food which “does not agree” with your tummy.

· Bloating worse after meals. Feeling worse after meals or certain foods.

· Recurring abdominal pain, intestinal cramps.

· Peptic or duodenal ulcers (over 90% of all cases have HP)

· Burping, this can be pretty bad. The person may have developed a reputation!

· Heartburn, and perhaps reliant on Quick-Eze or Gavascon, Losec, etc.

· Diarrhea or constipation after several years of infection.

· Disturbed sleep, perhaps waking up with a hollow feeling or heartburn. I have known some patients to prop up the head of the bed with a few bricks even.

· Symptoms worse at night, or worse lying down.

· Vitamin B12 deficiency. Have your practitioner test for this, you may well be deficient.

· Altered appetite, some times you may feel like eating, other times you don’t.

· After being infected for several years, you may have develop mineral deficiencies which can lead to a myriad of health problems.

· Helicobacter pylori is implicated in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

· Migraine headaches (40% of migraine sufferers are positive, and eradication subsides the headaches).

· Acne rosacea. Helicobacter pylori is suspected of causing rosacea (eradication of HP often results in a significant reduction in rosacea symptoms).

Is it any wonder how an ailing stomach is supposed to do its job, i.e., digesting and absorbing foods efficiently when a bacterial infection is causing such dysfunction? Your doctor may have initially prescribed a medicine such as Losec, Gavascon or Mylanta for your stomach, serving to block acid or dilute it. How is your tummy supposed to work at all now? Then you go back and complain that the symptoms are unchanged. What then? You can see what I mean, after many years of this infection you can feel quite unwell. I see one person or more each week like this, and have done so for many years. When I wrote an article to our local newspaper several years ago regarding HP, I received nearly ten calls. And almost al these patients had a HP infection, all were on either Losec, Quick-Eze, Gavascon or Mylanta.

Conventional HP Therapy

Please note that it is extremely important to obtain an accurate diagnosis before trying to find a cure of your heartburn or reflux. Many stomach or digestive diseases and conditions share common symptoms: if you treat yourself for the wrong illness or a specific symptom of a complex disease, you may delay legitimate treatment of a serious underlying problem, yes even stomach cancer. In other words, the greatest danger in self-treatment may actually be self-diagnosis. Always work with your health-care professional, preferably one who is experienced in gastrointestinal disorders. If you do not know what you really have, you simply can not treat it!

I have always had a great concern regarding the extensive use of antibiotic drugs required to treat HP infected individuals. The conventional medical clearing of HP from the stomach requires therapy from 10 to 14 days with multiple drugs. My concern is that prolonged or recurrent antibiotic treatment alters the normal microbial population of the entire gastrointestinal tract, eliminating many beneficial bacteria as well as HP, allowing the sufferer to develop a gut environment which may contain bugs like Candida albicans, proteus, or a whole host of other undesirables. You get rid of one problem, only to create yet another.

Triple Therapy

The use of only one medication to treatH. pylori was never recommended by Dr. Marshall. At this time, the most conventional treatment is a 2-week course of treatment called “triple therapy”. It involves taking two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and either an acid suppressor or stomach-lining shielding drug. Two-week triple therapy reduces ulcer symptoms, kills the bacteria, and prevents ulcer recurrence in many patients – but the recurrence can be as high as 75%. Complete eradication is difficult, I have had many patients who have come to me after having had triple therapy many years ago with average to poor results, and were placed on an acid blocker for many years after.I do recommend this for some resistant cases, and have been know to send some patients to a GP for triple therapy, then follow-up with natural treatment for 6 weeks. I have found that some patients may find triple therapy complicated because it involves taking 3 kinds of drugs, and as many as 20 pills a day. Also, the antibiotics and bismuth drugs used in triple therapy may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark stools, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, headache, and yeast infections, particularly in women.

HP Testing

The diagnosis of H. pylori infection has traditionally involved endoscopy with biopsies of the stomach’s mucosa. There are three ways to test for HP currently in NZ. To be honest, I only occasionally authorise a HP test these days, and generally have a “gut feeling” a person has this bug once they come into my room and complain of the above mentioned symptoms. Common sense – the patient will soon tell you if they are or are not improving, and it only takes about three to four weeks to really know what is going on. Just because the test results come back negative, you could still have this bug. You know me by now, please don’t get paralysis from analysis! If you feel significantly better after a HP treatment whether it be pharmaceutical or natural – you probably have HP regardless of what the test results say. Remember – up to one in five New Zealanders have this infection, so the odds are reasonably high you have it.

· The Urea Breath Test method of diagnosis relies on the Urea reaction being present, as mentioned earlier. This is a sound test – 90 – 95% successful in picking up the HP bug.

· Blood tests measuring HP antibody levels have been developed. However, these tests have suboptimal sensitivity and specificity (85% and 79%).

· Stool tests for antibodies – again, many factors can affect the outcome of this test, stay with breath testing. Many experts say that the fecal antigen test is bullet proof, but in my experience I have seen many “false negatives” with testing. That is, the results come back all ok, but the patient responds dramatically after HP treatment.

Natural HP Eradication

No clear indications exist for specific treatment of each and every individual case of HP associated gastritis. I have found the following treatments to be effective, and employed many different therapies over the years. Here are some treatments which I have found to work in various HP cases. Remember, recurrence rates are quite high, so you may want to persist with treatment until you feel much better, then hang in there for a few more months (lower grade treatment) to be absolutely sure. I recommend treatment in blocks of 6 weeks, then wait 2 -3 weeks, then another 6 week period of treatment. A good clinical tip for you: always treat this infection by taking something with meals, and also something in-between, or away from foods. This is designed to really drive the “kill” treatment home, and lets the treatment have access to the HP bugs in the gut with as well as away to some extent from foods and gastric juice involvement. I have a saying in my clinic: persistence breaks resistance. Remember Winston Churchill? – never give in, never give in, never give in.

· Manuka honey, which has high levels of hydrogen peroxide and has been shown in studies to be active against H. pylori. Go for the Comvita high UMF factor Manuka honey.

· Propolis works really well for some, but is dismal for others.

· Vitamin B12 – get this checked in your blood! You may well be deficient here.

· After antibiotic treatment is finished, (triple therapy) it makes sense to rebuild the gut flora with lactobacillus species. They won’t cure the condition, however. (A 2002 trial demonstrated that a mixed acidophilus preparation failed to eradicate the H. pylori infection in the patients upon whom it was tried).

· DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) – you can get this in capsules or liquid.

· Aloe Vera helps to heal the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

· Berberine is found in the herb Goldenseal, and it may be used as a natural herbal antibiotic.

· Eat grapefruit seeds, for some this is very effective long term. The extract is even better.

· Digestive enzymes may also be useful – especially with achlorhydria (low stomach acid)

· Gum mastic is a natural substance from the sap of the Mediterranean evergreen tree, Pistacia lemniscuses. Mastic gum has been shown to be effective in protecting the digestive system, healing peptic and duodenal ulcers, and eradicating H. pylori from the gut. I use this a lot, and give two capsules twice daily in between meals.

· Bismuth. It displays anti-inflammatory action (due to salicylic acid) and also acts as an antacid and mild antibiotic. Don’t freak out – It can also cause a black tongue and black stools in some people who take it, when it combines with trace amounts of sulfur in their saliva and gastrointestinal tract. This discoloration is temporary and absolutely harmless.

My favourite HP treatment regime? I would have to say gum mastica between meals, and with meals a preparation of Bismuth,deglycyrrhizinated licorice, grapefruit seed extract and goldenseal. I often recommend aloe vera and activated charcoal as well.

Do you get that annoying heartburn, and want to try and find a cause and ultimately a cure? Consult your naturopath or nutritional-friendly doctor who can check you out carefully and thoroughly and who will actually treat the cause, not the symptom. They should generally recommend a course of treatment and a specific diet designed for the individual, with promising results for many patients. And what a relief, to be free of heartburn, bloating and that “awful feeling in the tummy” again!