While it is not known for sure how the Helicobacter pylori bacterium spreads, we have suspected for some time that the presence of H. pylori in the mouth compromises any attempt to eradicate it in the stomach. Research has shown that oral bacteria are connected to heart disease and diabetes, and, specifically, that the presence of H. pylori in the mouths of children is associated with recurrent abdominal pain and upper gastrointestinal bleeding.1 Now the first solid evidence indicates that it may be highly beneficial to reduce or eliminate oral H. pylori if our goal is to eradicate it in the stomach and gut.

A recent study conducted in Japan reveals that the conventional anti-pylori therapeutic regimen was significantly less successful when H. pylori was present in saliva or dental plaque than when it was not.2 The overall success rate was only about 50% when oral H. pylori was present, compared to a success rate of more than 90% when the bacteria were not measurable there. Insofar as we know, antibiotics have not been successful in eradicating H. pylori from the mouth, but the unique antibacterial phytonutrient mastic has shown promise in this regard. Solid scientific studies have demonstrated that when mastic kills H. pylori in the stomach, ulcers are healed.

The Japanese study followed 47 subjects (36 males, 11 females) with gastric H. pylori infection. For two weeks, they were kept on a regimen that included an antiulcer drug that worked as an antacid, along with a tissue-penetrating antibiotic. Four weeks after the end of this regimen, the researchers compared the success rate for gastric eradication and the prevalence of H. pylori in the mouth. Those subjects with oral H. pylori were significantly less likely to achieve gastric eradication (52.1% success rate) than those without it (91.6%). Two years later, during which time no further treatment was given, the eradication success rate continued to improve for both groups. However, those originally found to have had oral H. pylori still lagged significantly behind, with a 69.5% gastric eradication rate, compared with 95.8% for those whose mouths had not been infected.

Now the first solid evidence
indicates that it may be
highly beneficial to reduce
or eliminate oral H. pylori if
our goal is to eradicate
it in the stomach and gut.

The presence of H. pylori in the mouth tended to prevent conventional eradication therapy (multiple antibiotics) from working, and even when the therapy did work, there was a significant rate of recurrence of gastric infection.

We know that H. pylori often takes refuge in dental plaque, where it resides undisturbed together with periodontal bacteria. But a study has shown that it can be dislodged and killed by chewing mastic.3 This study has allowed us to conclude that regular brushing with mastic-containing toothpaste is likely to be helpful. Where stomach health is concerned, research has shown that daily ingestion of 1000 to 2000 mg of mastic for a month is enough to roll back the damage caused by duodenal and gastric ulcers.4-6 This appears to be true even with antibiotic-resistant forms of H. pylori.

Mastic is the switch hitter that appears to work to reduce or eradicate H. pylori and other bacteria in both the mouth and the stomach. We know this from published data and a growing body of anecdotal and clinical evidence.

As we go to press, scientists at the Gastroenterological Institute at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel have informed us that they will undertake a large study drawing on a pool of 5000 subjects to examine the effects of mastic on gastric ulcers. The H. pylori work of one of the researchers, Haim Shmuely, was recently published in the major biomedical journal JAMA.8 Other studies that we know of are currently underway or being planned in Japan, the Middle East, and possibly Europe. With the types of results we are hearing about, it won't be long before the little-known "secret" of mastic's healing ability is out of the bag. The world will be a better place without ulcers, not to mention certain gastrointestinal carcinomas that have been connected to H. pylori.9 A good first step toward such a better world would be to rid our mouths of this pernicious bacterium.


  1. Santamaria MJ, Varea Calderon V, Munoz Almagro MC. Dental plaque in Helicobacter pylori infection. Ann Esp Pediatr 1999 Mar;50(3):244-6.
  2. Miyabayashi H, Furihata K, Shimizu T, Ueno I, Akamatsu T. Influence of oral Helicobacter pylori on the success of eradication therapy against gastric Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter 2000 Mar;5(1):30-7.
  3. Topitsoglou-Themeli V, Dagalis P, Lambrou D. A Chios mastiche chewing gum and oral hygiene. I. The possibility of reducing or preventing microbial plaque formation. Hell Stomatol Chron 1984 Jul-Sep;28(3):166-70.
  4. Al-Habbal MJ, Al-Habbal Z, Huwez FU. A double-blind controlled clinical trial of mastic and placebo in the treatment of duodenal ulcer. J Clin Exp Pharm Physiol 1984;11:541-4.
  5. Huwez FU, Al-Habbal MJ. Mastic in treatment of benign gastric ulcers. Gastroenterol Japon 1986;21:273-4.
  6. Al Habbal MJ, et al. Upper G.I.T endoscopy in Arbil. Iraq Med J 1982;29:25.
  7. Huwez FU, Thirlwell D, Cockayne A, Ala'Aldeen DA. Mastic gum kills Helicobacter pylori. N Engl J Med 1998 Dec 24;339(26):1946. Correction: Mastic gum kills Helicobacter pylori. N Engl J Med 1999 Feb 18;340(7):576.
  8. Parsonnet J, Shmuely H, Haggerty T. Fecal and oral shedding of Helicobacter pylori from healthy infected adults. JAMA 1999 Dec 15;282(23):2240-5.
  9. Coelho LG, Passos MC, Martins GM, Bueno ML, Gomes BS, Lopes LG, Castro LP. Once-daily Helicobacter pylori treatment to family members of gastric cancer patients. Am J Gastroenterol 2000 Mar;95(3):832-3.