Free Shipping on All Orders $75 Or More!

Your Trusted Brand for Over 35 Years

Life Extension Magazine

<< Back to January 2008

Natural Solutions to Chronic Stomach Problems

January 2008

By Julius G. Goepp, MD


Long recognized for their multiple health benefits,20,58 licorice extracts (with the potentially blood pressure-elevating glycyrrhizin molecule removed59) provide yet another nutritional weapon in fighting H. pylori infection. Various laboratory studies have shown that these extracts have potent anti-inflammatory activities, reducing cytokine production while increasing production of protective stomach mucus.60,61 Licorice extracts can also actually kill H. pylori in stomach tissue,19 even antibiotic-resistant strains of the organism.62,63 Indeed, in one laboratory head-to-head comparison, licorice extracts were as effective as famotidine in preventing ulcers,64 and animal studies have shown a potent effect on speeding the healing of existing ulcers.65 These characteristics of licorice neatly complement those of zinc-carnosine and cranberry extracts, and, in the words of Dr. Rea Krausse, a German microbiologist, provide “hope that it can form the basis for an alternative therapeutic agent against H. pylori.”63

Human studies conducted since the 1970s bear this out, showing that deglycyrrhizinated licorice could reduce aspirin-induced gastritis,66 and also promote healing of duodenal ulcers.67 The prestigious British Medical Journal published a report in 1978 showing that among patients 60 years and older, a deglycyrrhizinated licorice extract medication called “Caved-(S)” was as effective as cimetidine (Tagamet®), the first of the pharmaceutical anti-acid medications.68 The same researchers extended their findings in a 1982 study, enrolling 100 patients with endoscopically proven gastric ulcers and giving them either cimetidine or Caved-(S).69 At six weeks, 63% of patients were healed by endoscopic examination, and 91% at 12 weeks, with no difference between the drug and the licorice compound! And when the researchers examined the long-term effects of either treatment at preventing recurrence of ulcers, they again found that both the drug and the supplement had virtually identical effectiveness (and that ulcers rapidly recurred when either treatment was stopped).70


As we’ve seen, the “cocktail” of zinc-carnosine, cranberry, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice already provides a multi-armed approach to gastric protection and improved stomach health. News about another natural remedy called picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa) is now generating intense excitement in the medical community.71,72 Well known to practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, picrorhiza is a perennial herb found high in the Himalayas. Its extracts are now being found to have potent antioxidant, 73-75 immune-stimulating,76-80 and anti-inflammatory81-84 properties—activities that clearly have a role in gastric protection. Since picrorhiza so dramatically combats the very changes caused by H. pylori (infection, inflammation, oxidant stress, and tissue injury), it’s no wonder that this ancient herb is now at the forefront of research on stomach health.


Already used to speed healing in other infectious gastrointestinal conditions such as hepatitis A,76,85 picrorhiza extracts also demonstrate unique wound-healing properties, stimulating tissue growth, nerve cell recovery, and blood vessel formation that may promote recovery from tissue damage.86-88 In a dramatic illustration of the extract’s ability to combat stomach ulcers, Indian scientists administered it to rats with ulcers induced by the potent NSAID indomethacin.89 Compared with an untreated group of animals, the supplemented group had much faster rates of ulcer healing, accompanied by a profound drop in levels of oxidized tissue components. And while antioxidant enzyme activity was decreased in the untreated animals, those treated with picrorhiza actually had elevated antioxidant activity.


The health of the stomach has, ironically, been one of the most neglected areas for which excellent nutritional support is known. As modern scientists begin to recognize the genuine value of ancient practices, using ultra-modern techniques to understand them, the situation is changing for the better. We now understand that H. pylori causes the majority of serious stomach ailments through a complex series of infectious, inflammatory, oxidative, and tissue-destructive processes. The nutrient combination of zinc-carnosine with cranberry extract, licorice extract, and now picrorhiza extract brings together for the first time the infection-fighting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tissue-healing capabilities of multiple compounds with complementary actions. It seems likely that widespread use of these supplements may help the rest of the world follow in the footsteps of the Japanese, who have reduced the rates of stomach disorders such as cancer by careful attention to nutritional education.33

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-800-226-2370.

  1. Mallampalli A, Untupalli KK. Smoking and systemic disease. Clin Occup Environ Med. 2006;5(1):173-92.
  2. Modena JL, Acrani GO, Micas AF, et al. Correlation between Helicobacter pylori infection, gastric diseases and life habits among patients treated at a university hospital in Southeast Brazil. Braz J Infect Dis. 2007 Feb;11(1):89-95.
  3. Salih BA, Abasiyanik MF, Bayyurt N, Sander E. H pylori infection and other risk factors associated with peptic ulcers in Turkish patients: a retrospective study. World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Jun 21;13(23):3245-8.
  4. Satyanarayana MN. Capsaicin and gastric ulcers. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(4):275-328.
  5. Szabo S, Deng X, Khomenko T, et al. New Molecular Mechanisms of Duodenal Ulceration. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2007 Jul 26.
  6. Fox JG, Wang TC. Inflammation, atrophy, and gastric cancer. J Clin Invest. 2007 Jan;117(1):60-9.
  7. Davidson G, Kritas S, Butler R. Stressed mucosa. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2007;59:133-42.
  8. Boeckxstaens GE. Neuroimmune interaction in the gut: from bench to bedside. Verh K Acad Geneeskd Belg. 2006;68(5-6):329-55.
  9. Iezzi A, Ferri C, Mezzetti A, Cipollone F. COX-2: friend or foe? Curr Pharm Des. 2007;13(16):1715-21.
  10. D’Elios MM, Montecucco C, de BM. VacA and HP-NAP, Ying and Yang of Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric inflammation. Clin Chim Acta. 2007 May;381(1):32-8.
  11. Lai LH, Sung JJ. Helicobacter pylori and benign upper digestive disease. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2007;21(2):261-79.
  12. Robinson K, Argent RH, Atherton JC. The inflammatory and immune response to Helicobacter pylori infection. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2007;21(2):237-59.
  13. Gotz JM, van Kan CI, Verspaget HW, et al. Gastric mucosal superoxide dismutases in Helicobacter pylori infection. Gut. 1996 Apr;38(4):502-6.
  14. Gotz JM, Thio JL, Verspaget HW, et al. Treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection favourably affects gastric mucosal superoxide dismutases. Gut. 1997 May;40(5):591-6.
  15. Lochhead P, El-Omar EM. Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2007;21(2):281-97.
  16. Wilson KT, Crabtree JE. Immunology of Helicobacter pylori: insights into the failure of the immune response and perspectives on vaccine studies. Gastroenterology. 2007 Jul;133(1):288-308.
  17. Lesbros-Pantoflickova D, Corthesy-Theulaz I, Blum AL. Helicobacter pylori and probiotics. J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):812S-8S.
  18. Lin YT, Kwon YI, Labbe RG, Shetty K. Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori and associated urease by oregano and cranberry phytochemical synergies. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Dec;71(12):8558-64.
  19. O’Mahony R, Al-Khtheeri H, Weerasekera D, et al. Bactericidal and anti-adhesive properties of culinary and medicinal plants against Helicobacter pylori. World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 21;11(47):7499-507.
  20. Langmead L, Rampton DS. Review article: herbal treatment in gastrointestinal and liver disease—benefits and dangers. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001 Sep;15(9):1239-52.
  21. Noguchi K, Kato K, Moriya T, et al. Analysis of cell damage in Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis. Pathol Int. 2002 Feb;52(2):110-8.
  22. Tran CD, Campbell MA, Kolev Y, et al. Short-term zinc supplementation attenuates Helicobacter felis-induced gastritis in the mouse. J Infect. 2005 Jun;50(5):417-24.
  23. Sempertegui F, Diaz M, Mejia R, et al. Low concentrations of zinc in gastric mucosa are associated with increased severity of Helicobacter pylori-induced inflammation. Helicobacter. 2007 Feb;12(1):43-8.
  24. D’Souza RS, Dhume VG. Gastric cytoprotection. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1991 Apr;35(2):88-98.
  25. Cho CH, Luk CT, Ogle CW. The membrane-stabilizing action of zinc carnosine (Z-103) in stress-induced gastric ulceration in rats. Life Sci. 1991;49(23):L189-94.
  26. Cho CH, Ogle CW. The pharmacological differences and similarities between stress- and ethanol-induced gastric mucosal damage. Life Sci. 1992;51(24):1833-42.
  27. Barrera JL, Verastegui E, Meneses A, et al. Combination immunotherapy of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a phase 2 trial. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000 Mar;126(3):345-51.
  28. Russell RM. Changes in gastrointestinal function attributed to aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jun;55(6 Suppl):1203S-7S.
  29. Bae CY, Keenan JM, Fontaine P, et al. Plasma lipid response and nutritional adequacy in hypercholesterolemic subjects on the American Heart Association Step-One Diet. Arch Fam Med. 1993 Jul;2(7):765-72.
  30. Varas Lorenzo MJ, Lopez MA, Gordillo BJ, Mundet SJ. Comparative study of 3 drugs (aceglutamide aluminum, zinc acexamate, and magaldrate) in the long-term maintenance treatment (1 year) of peptic ulcer. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 1991 Aug;80(2):91-4.
  31. Rodriguez de la SA, az-Rubio M. Multicenter clinical trial of zinc acexamate in the prevention of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug induced gastroenteropathy. Spanish Study Group on NSAID Induced Gastroenteropathy Prevention. J Rheumatol. 1994 May;21(5):927-33.
  32. García-Plaza A, Arenas JI, Belda O, et al. A multicenter clinical trial. Zinc acexamate versus famotidine in the treatment of acute duodenal ulcer. Study Group of Zinc acexamate (new UP doses). Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 1996 Nov;88(11):757-62.
  33. Matsuzaka M, Fukuda S, Takahashi I, et al. The decreasing burden of gastric cancer in Japan. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2007 Jul;212(3):207-19.
  34. Matsukura T, Tanaka H. Applicability of zinc complex of L-carnosine for medical use. Biochemistry (Mosc.). 2000 Jul;65(7):817-23.
  35. Shimada T, Watanabe N, Ohtsuka Y, et al. Polaprezinc down-regulates proinflammatory cytokine-induced nuclear factor-kappaB activiation and interleukin-8 expression in gastric epithelial cells. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999 Oct;291(1):345-52.
  36. Arakawa T, Satoh H, Nakamura A, et al. Effects of zinc L-carnosine on gastric mucosal and cell damage caused by ethanol in rats. Correlation with endogenous prostaglandin E2. Dig Dis Sci. 1990 May;35(5):559-66.
  37. Cho CH, Hui WM, Chen BW, Luk CT, Lam SK. The cytoprotective effect of zinc L-carnosine on ethanol-induced gastric gland damage in rabbits. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1992 Apr;44(4):364-5.
  38. Ito M, Tanaka T, Suzuki Y. Effect of N-(3-aminopropionyl)-L-histidinato zinc (Z-103) on healing and hydrocortisone-induced relapse of acetic acid ulcers in rats with limited food-intake-time. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1990 Apr;52(4):513-21.
  39. Seiki M, Ueki S, Tanaka Y, et al. Studies on anti-ulcer effects of a new compound, zinc L-carnosine (Z-103). Nippon Yakurigaku Zasshi. 1990 May;95(5):257-69.
  40. Yoshikawa T, Naito Y, Tanigawa T, et al. Effect of zinc-carnosine chelate compound (Z-103), a novel antioxidant, on acute gastric mucosal injury induced by ischemia-reperfusion in rats. Free Radic Res Commun. 1991;14(4):289-96.
  41. Furuta S, Toyama S, Miwa M, et al. Residence time of polaprezinc (zinc L-carnosine complex) in the rat stomach and adhesiveness to ulcerous sites. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1995 Apr;67(4):271-8.
  42. Kato S, Nishiwaki H, Konaka A, Takeuchi K. Mucosal ulcerogenic action of monochloramine in rat stomachs: effects of polaprezinc and sucralfate. Dig Dis Sci. 1997 Oct;42(10):2156-63.
  43. Hiraishi H, Sasai T, Oinuma T, et al. Polaprezinc protects gastric mucosal cells from noxious agents through antioxidant properties in vitro. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Feb;13(2):261-9.
  44. Nishiwaki H, Kato S, Sugamoto S, et al. Ulcerogenic and healing impairing actions of monochloramine in rat stomachs: effects of zinc L-carnosine, polaprezinc. J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999 Jun;50(2):183-95.
  45. Watanabe S, Wang XE, Hirose M, et al. Insulin-like growth factor I plays a role in gastric wound healing: evidence using a zinc derivative, polaprezinc, and an in vitro rabbit wound repair model. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Nov;12(11):1131-8.
  46. Kato S, Tanaka A, Ogawa Y, et al. Effect of polaprezinc on impaired healing of chronic gastric ulcers in adjuvant-induced arthritic rats—role of insulin-like growth factors (IGF)-1. Med Sci Monit. 2001 Jan;7(1):20-5.
  47. Suzuki H, Mori M, Seto K, et al. Polaprezinc, a gastroprotective agent: attenuation of monochloramine-evoked gastric DNA fragmentation. J Gastroenterol. 1999;34 Suppl 1143-46.
  48. Suzuki H, Mori M, Seto K, et al. Polaprezinc attenuates the Helicobacter pylori-induced gastric mucosal leucocyte activation in Mongolian gerbils—a study using intravital videomicroscopy. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001 May;15(5):715-25.
  49. Kashimura H, Suzuki K, Hassan M, et al. Polaprezinc, a mucosal protective agent, in combination with lansoprazole, amoxycillin and clarithromycin increases the cure rate of Helicobacter pylori infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Apr;13(4):483-7.
  50. Mahmood A, FitzGerald AJ, Marchbank T, et al. Zinc carnosine, a health food supplement that stabilises small bowel integrity and stimulates gut repair processes. Gut. 2007 Feb;56(2):168-175.
  51. Zafra-Stone S, Yasmin T, Bagchi M, et al. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):675-83.
  52. Ariga T. The antioxidative function, preventive action on disease and utilization of proanthocyanidins. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):197-201.
  53. Vattem DA, Ghaedian R, Shetty K. Enhancing health benefits of berries through phenolic antioxidant enrichment: focus on cranberry. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2005;14(2):120-30.
  54. Burger O, Weiss E, Sharon N, et al. Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus by a high-molecular-weight constituent of cranberry juice. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2002;42(3 Suppl):279-84.
  55. Zhang L, Ma J, Pan K, et al. Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Helicobacter. 2005 Apr;10(2):139-45.
  56. Shmuely H, Yahav J, Samra Z,et al. Effect of cranberry juice on eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients treated with antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):746-51.
  57. Gotteland M, Brunser O, Cruchet S. Systematic review: are probiotics useful in controlling gastric colonization by Helicobacter pylori? Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Apr 15;23(8):1077-86.
  58. Olukoga A, Donaldson D. Liquorice and its health implications. J R Soc Health. 2000 Jun;120(2):83-9.
  59. Petry JJ, Hadley SK. Medicinal herbs: answers and advice, Part 2. Hosp Pract (Minneap.). 2001 Aug 15;36(8):55-9.
  60. Khayyal MT, Seif-El-Nasr M, El-Ghazaly MA, et al. Mechanisms involved in the gastro-protective effect of STW 5 (Iberogast) and its components against ulcers and rebound acidity. Phytomedicine. 2006;13 Suppl 5:56-66.
  61. Kim JK, Oh SM, Kwon HS, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of roasted licorice extracts on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses in murine macrophages. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Jul 7;345(3):1215-23.
  62. Fukai T, Marumo A, Kaitou K, et al. Anti-Helicobacter pylori flavonoids from licorice extract. Life Sci. 2002 Aug 9;71(12):1449-63.
  63. Krausse R, Bielenberg J, Blaschek W, Ullmann U. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of Extractum liquiritiae, glycyrrhizin and its metabolites. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Jul;54(1):243-6.
  64. Aly AM, Al-Alousi L, Salem HA. Licorice: a possible anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer drug. AAPS PharmSciTech. 2005;6(1):E74-E82.
  65. Baker ME. Licorice and enzymes other than 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase: an evolutionary perspective. Steroids. 1994 Feb;59(2):136-41.
  66. Rees WD, Rhodes J, Wright JE, Stamford LF, Bennett A. Effect of deglycyrrhizinated liquorice on gastric mucosal damage by aspirin. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1979;14(5):605-7.
  67. Larkworthy W, Holgate PF. Deglycyrrhizinized liquorice in the treatment of chronic duodenal ulcer. A retrospective endoscopic survey of 32 patients. Practitioner. 1975 Dec;215(1290):787-92.
  68. Morgan AG, McAdam WA, Pacsoo C, Walker BE, Simmons AV. Cimetidine: an advance in gastric ulcer treatment? Br Med J. 1978 Nov 11;2(6148):1323-6.
  69. Morgan AG, McAdam WA, Pacsoo C, Darnborough A. Comparison between cimetidine and Caved-S in the treatment of gastric ulceration, and subsequent maintenance therapy. Gut. 1982 Jun;23(6):545-51.
  70. Morgan AG, Pacsoo C, McAdam WA. Maintenance therapy: a two year comparison between Caved-S and cimetidine treatment in the prevention of symptomatic gastric ulcer recurrence. Gut. 1985 Jun;26(6):599-602.
  71. Anon. Picrorhiza kurroa. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Jun;6(3):319-21.
  72. Govindarajan R, Vijayakumar M, Rawat AK, Mehrotra S. Free radical scavenging potential of Picrorhiza kurrooa Royle ex Benth. Indian J Exp Biol. 2003 Aug;41(8):875-9.
  73. Chander R, Kapoor NK, Dhawan BN. Effect of picroliv on glutathione metabolism in liver and brain of Mastomys natalensis infected with Plasmodium berghei. Indian J Exp Biol. 1992 Aug;30(8):711-4.
  74. Chander R, Singh K, Visen PK, Kapoor NK, Dhawan BN. Picroliv prevents oxidation in serum lipoprotein lipids of Mastomys coucha infected with Plasmodium berghei. Indian J Exp Biol. 1998 Apr;36(4):371-4.
  75. Sun M, Fan HW, Ma HY, Zhu Q. Protective effect of total glucosides of Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora against oxidative stress in glomerular mesangial cells induced by high glucose. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2007 Apr;42(4):381-5.
  76. Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, Doshi JC, et al. Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent–experimental & clinical studies. J Postgrad Med. 1996 Oct;42(4):105-8.
  77. Gupta A, Khajuria A, Singh J, et al. Immunomodulatory activity of biopolymeric fraction RLJ-NE-205 from Picrorhiza kurroa. Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Oct;6(10):1543-9.
  78. Puri A, Saxena RP, Guru PY, et al. Immunostimulant Activity of Picroliv, the Iridoid Glycoside Fraction of Picrorhiza kurroa, and its Protective Action against Leishmania donovani Infection in Hamsters1. Planta Med. 1992 Dec;58(6):528-32.
  79. Sharma ML, Rao CS, Duda PL. Immunostimulatory activity of Picrorhiza kurroa leaf extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 1994 Feb;41(3):185-92.
  80. Smit HF, Kroes BH, van den Berg AJ, et al. Immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory activity of Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Nov;73(1-2):101-9.
  81. Barbieri SS, Cavalca V, Eligini S, et al. Apocynin prevents cyclooxygenase 2 expression in human monocytes through NADPH oxidase and glutathione redox-dependent mechanisms. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Jul 15;37(2):156-65.
  82. Thomas M, Sheran J, Smith N, Fonseca S, Lee AJ. AKL1, a botanical mixture for the treatment of asthma: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. BMC Pulm Med. 2007;74.
  83. Zhang Y, DeWitt DL, Murugesan S, Nair MG. Novel lipid-peroxidation- and cyclooxygenase-inhibitory tannins from Picrorhiza kurroa seeds. Chem Biodivers. 2004 Mar;1(3):426-41.
  84. Zhang Y, DeWitt DL, Murugesan S, Nair MG. Cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme inhibitory triterpenoids from Picrorhiza kurroa seeds. Life Sci. 2005 Nov 4;77(25):3222-30.
  85. Luper S. A review of plants used in the treatment of liver disease: part 1. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Dec;3(6):410-21.
  86. Gaddipati JP, Mani H, Banaudha KK, et al. Picroliv modulates the expression of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and IGF-I receptor during hypoxia in rats. Cell Mol Life Sci. 1999 Oct 15;56(3-4):348-55.
  87. Li P, Matsunaga K, Ohizumi Y. Nerve growth factor-potentiating compounds from Picrorhizae Rhizoma. Biol Pharm Bull. 2000 Jul;23(7):890-2.
  88. Singh AK, Sharma A, Warren J, et al. Picroliv accelerates epithelialization and angiogenesis in rat wounds. Planta Med. 2007 Mar;73(3):251-6.
  89. Available at: Accessed September 25,2007.