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Pilot study to assess the incidence and efficacy of treatment of H.pylori infection in a representative population from the Gyuto Monastery in Northern India.


Since 1994 Gyuto House Australia has hosted annual cultural visits for groups of monks from Gyuto Tantric Monastery in India.  While in Australia, the visiting monks have routinely had their health requirements met through the Gyuto House network of supportive health professionals - for the monks this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Throughout this period, a number of the monks reported stomach ailments. Approximately 50 monks were subsequently assessed and medically diagnosed as suffering with H. pylori infection. These monks were treated on a standard regimen of antibiotics for 2 weeks. This treatment resulted in the monks reporting complete resolution of all stomach (Phowa) symptoms.

Subsequently, each year since 2000 all visiting monks have been tested with around 80% being identified as infected with Helicobacter pylori. All of these have been subsequently treated and report complete resolution of Phowa symptoms and no reports of recurrence.

Phowa is a widespread condition in both the Tibetan monk and wider Tibetan exiled community in northern India that causes considerable morbidly with some suggesting it may be linked to the apparent high incidence of stomach cancer in the adolescent population.

On the basis of reported symptoms and the Tibetan community anecdotal evidence  the cause of Phowa is consistent with a provisional diagnosis of H. pylori infection most likely contracted in early childhood through lack of sanitation and hygiene.

In support of this Romshoo reported a highly significant association between H. pylori infection and chronic gastritis both in patient with fulminant peptic ulcer disease and the volunteers in Kashmir. This association with gastritis was 90% in the peptic ulcer group and 87.50% in healthy population (P<0.005)1. Poddar and Yachha also reported that almost 80% of the Indian population was infected with H. pylori an most by 10 years of age2.

Study Aims

  • To assess the incidence of H. pylori in a representative population (~50)from the Gyuto Monastery of Tibetan Monks in exile in Northern India.
  • To correlate the incidence of H. pylori infection to their individual experience of Phowa.
  • To assess the efficacy of treating infected cases with Nexium HP7.


  1. Romshoo. India Diagnostic and Therapeutic Endoscopy 1998(4); 135-139.
  2. Poddar and Yachha. Indian Paediatrics 2007(44).


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