The Damaging Effects of H Pylori Infections:
H pylori is an opportunistic bacteria that can infect and spread rapidly in individuals with a compromised immune system (1). While this bacteria is natural and beneficial to our bodies in small amounts, it can be extremely dangerous when allowed to propagate without control. This infection is the leading cause of stomach ulcers, poor digestion and stomach cancer (2).
It is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population has elevated levels of H Pylori (3). This microorganism can spread very quickly through the saliva and so it is easily transmitted. It is very common to see entire family’s test positive for this infection. Immune compromised individuals can develop this through sharing a drink, kissing and eating off the same dishes as an infected individual.
H.Pylori and Stomach Ulcers:
Dr Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2005 for his discovery that H Pylori was the cause of peptic ulcers (4). This breakthrough reversed decades of medical information that held that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods and too much acid. It is still understood that chronic stress lowers the immune response and makes one susceptible to a H Pylori infection.
Most medical researchers thought that the stomach was too inhospitable environment for bacteria to develop. In order to prove his theory, in 1984 Marshall infecting himself with H. Pylori and developed a resulting condition of gastritis. He did a pre and post endoscopy to analyze the cultures in his stomach and it was shown that H Pylori was able to propogate in the stomach and shut down the stomach’s ability to produce adequate hydrochloric acid.
The Hazards of an H.Pylori Infection:
H.Pylori is a very sophisticated microorganism that has incredible adaptive advantages that give it the ability to survive the stomach’s harsh environment. It produces an enzyme called “urease” which breaks down the urea in the stomach into carbon dioxide and ammonia. This causes belching and halitosis (bad breath) for the individual and it neutralizes the acidifying effects of hydrochloric acid (5).
Hydrochloric acid is necessary for creating an acidic environment in the stomach to digest protein and ionize minerals. This also helps to stimulate bile release from the gallbladder to effectively metabolize fat in the small intestine. Without these key functions working optimally we become at risk for anemia, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and auto-immunity (6).
The secretion of mucous protects the stomach lining from irritation by food stuffs and microorganisms. H Pylori reduces the stomach’s ability to produce mucous and irritates the stomach lining. This creates a silent level of inflammation until the irritation become so severe that enough pain receptors fire off. This is the pathogenesis of stomach ulcers.
More Challenges with H Pylori Bacteria:
H Pylori is a gram negative bacteria which means that it has two cell walls. Gram positive bacteria have one cell wall. This double outer layer protects the bacteria and makes it harder for anti-microbial drugs and herbs to effect the organism. Other gram negative bacteria include salmonella, E.coli and shigella among others.
Most doctors try to kill off any form of bacterial infection with anti-biotics. However, gram negative bacteria contain “efflux pumps” within their cell walls that have the ability to disperse anti-biotic medications (7). This protects the organism and can be extremely hazardous to the individual. The efflux pumps help the organism survive and adapt and develop anti-biotic resistant capabilities.
The cell wall material of gram-negative bacteria is also a highly potent inflammatory mediator. This material is called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and is extremely toxic to the liver and signals major inflammatory processes in the body when it is released into the blood stream in high amounts (8). LPS is also called an endotoxin and is one of the major reasons why leaky gut syndrome is so hazardous to the body (9).
Abdominal Pain (mild- severe)
Bloating and distension
Belching and Gastric reflux
Constant bad breath
Other issues that can be caused by a H Pylori infection include pernicious anema which is a B12 deficiency (12). Your stomach produces a protein called intrinsic factor which allows the small intestine to absorb B12. H Pylori affects the stomach’s ability to produce intrinsic factor which causes this problem. The major symptoms associated with pernicious anemia are constant fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, swollen tongue and nausea.
H Pylori and Long Term Health Problems
H Pylori disrupts the digestive process so it can lead to inflammation throughout the gut and gastrointestinal permeability. This state of leaky gut can also cause iron-deficient anemia, irritable bowel symptoms with fluctuating diarrhea and constipation and ulcerative colitis.
Since gut health is intimately related to brain health, an H Pylori infection can lead to depression, anxiety and trouble concentrating (13). Altered digestion also increases food sensitivities and auto-immune reactions. This can lead to any number of auto-immune conditions that are so prevalent in our society today.
Testing for H Pylori Infection:
There are several different ways of testing for an H Pylori infection.
1) Stool Testing: This is considered the gold standard in H Pylori diagnosis as it counts the actual particles of the H Pylori organism. This is the test I use with clients to find out if they are infected.
2) Blood Tests: These tests look for anti-bodies to the H Pylori organism and will test for IgA, IgG and IgM reactions. If these anti-bodies test positive it is a clear diagnosis of an infectious process. Research has shown that this is a good test for acute infections but long-term infections and individuals with weakened immunity often do not have elevated anti-bodies.
The other issue with H Pylori antibodies is they may be present even when the infection is under control. This means you will test positive even you are actually negative and the organisms are in their proper numbers.
3) H Pylori Breath Test: The H Pylori organism produce urease which breaks down urea in the stomach into ammonia and carbon dioxide. The breath test measures for elevated CO2 that is produced from this reaction.
4) Endoscopy: This is a highly invasive procedure where a scope is inserted into the esophagus and stomach. This is stressful on the body and does a poor job of analyzing for the presence of this infection but it can see the results of the infection such as irritation, ulcerations and cancer in the stomach.
The most well rounded test that looks at H Pylori with great accuracy and also maps out the entire microbiome and looks for a wide variety of pathogens and markers of gut health is the GI MAP stool analysis you can find here
Natural Solutions for This Condtion:
It is easier to treat an H Pylori infection the earlier it is caught and diagnosed. An anti-microbial nutrition and supplement plan is necessary for this issue. One could easily begin by drinking clean water with fresh squeezed lemon and/or apple cider vinegar (ACV) throughout the day.
The organic acids in the lemon and ACV are anti-microbial and will help reduce the H Pylori count. An anti-microbial diet that uses lots of garlic, onions and herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, ginger and turmeric in your meals will also help fight off this infection. Doing oil pulling with coconut oil – 3x daily for 10-15 minutes of swishing will help reduce stress on the immune system and aid its ability to reduce H Pylori counts.
For individuals with a mild infection this may be enough to normalize H Pylori counts. Those with moderate to severe infections will need a specific protocol with intensive anti-microbial supplementation to get the H Pylori counts down low enough for the body to heal properly.
Supplements to Help Beat H Pylori:
There are certain supplements that I recommend to help beat H Pylori. These include GI Regulator which contains the proper array of anti-microbial herbal compounds to reduce H Pylori counts. In particular, grapefruit seed extract and berberine compounds (Oregon Grape) are particularly effective against H Pylori (14, 15).
This product is designed to help heal the stomach and intestinal lining, reduce H Pylori content and improve stomach acid production. The licorice root within Gut repair helps to stimulate the release of secretin which enhances the stomach’s mucus lining. This gives it its characteristic demulcent (agent that soothes and relieves irritation in mucosal membranes) properties (16).
This is why licorice is revered for its use with stomach ulcers, because it helps protect and heal the gastric lining. It is also a powerful defense against the H Pylori bacteria (17). This product also contains L-glutamine to repair the stomach and intestinal lining, aloe vera which is a powerful stomach soothing agent and arbinogalactan to help foster the development of a good microbiome.
Improving stomach acid production is one of the biggest factors in improving someone’s health. This supplement provides the key nutrients, supportive enzymes and bitter carminative herbs to create the proper environment for hydrochloric acid production.
Acid Pro-Zyme is formulated with a variety of compounds and is designed to support gastric acidity, digestion and normal gastrointestinal flora. Acid Pro-Zyme should be taken with, or immediately following a meal. Do not use if there is a prior history of, or a current complaint of, a peptic or duodenal ulcer.