Are there natural treatment options for people who have H.pylori?, what are the best H.pylori testing methods, how do you prevent a reinfection once you have successful treated?. At some point, these may be questions you have started to wonder about. In today’s article and video we are going to tackle these questions and much more.
Perhaps you have been struggling with stomach cramps, gas, this feeling of being bloated all the time, you have this fullness and heaviness that just sits in your stomach when you hardly eat anything, you are noticing that you are belching and burping more than ever, you have dry mouth and your significant other doesn’t want you to breathe on them because your breath is just awful. If that sounds like you….You have many symptoms of H.pylori infection as well as low stomach acid. I’m Dr Hagmeyer and I am the clinic director of Dr Hagmeyer.com where we help people from all over the world find natural solutions to chronic health problems using Functional and lifestyle medicine.
According to the CDC, about 66 percent of the world’s human population is infected with Helicobacter pylori and In developing countries, the numbers are even higher, with up to 80 percent of adults and 10 percent of children likely having a H. pylori infection. So, with it being this common, is H.pylori a problem you need to be concerned with?
H. pylori infections usually lead to peptic ulcers, but the infection or the ulcer itself can lead to more serious complications if proper treatment is not received. These include: internal bleeding, which can happen when a peptic ulcer eats away at the gut tissue lining. It’s important to understand that H.pylori is an opportunistic bacterial infection- what that means is that it spreads more rapidly in people that have a compromised immune system. In people with a compromised immune system, H.pylori can cause ulcers, it can exacerbate and flare up an autoimmune disease and H.pylori is reported to be the number one cause of stomach cancer. Proper treatment is essential.
Preventing H.Pylori Infection- Your Spouse or Significant Other Could Be Reinfecting You!
So one of the keys to preventing H.pylori infection as well as preventing a H.pylori reinfection is a strong immune system. Contracting H.pylori can be something as simple as sharing drink or using the same utensils as someone who is already infected with H. pylori bacteria.
I had a patient about a year ago who kept getting re infected with H.pylori infection. Every 3-4 months, he would go back to his doctor with all of the typical H.pylori symptoms, his doctor would prescribe the typical H.pylori treatment of antibiotics of proton pump inhibitors. The patient would feel better for a month or two but then all the symptoms would come back.
It wasn’t until his wife started seeing me for hormone and gut problems, that we tested and identified H.Pylori in her. Once we identified H.pylori in his wife, it became clear that she was they were re-infecting each other. After treating both husband and wife for H.pylori made the difference. So that’s just something to think about for all of you out there who continue to have symptoms and reinfections with H.pylori. Your spouse or partner could be re infecting you even though, their symptoms may not be as bad as yours. Testing and treatment of your partner and other family members for H.pylori is often required.
Thyroid Disease and H.pylori
I will tell you that because I work with many people who have chronic health problems, (people that have undergone chemo or radiation, or people who struggle with Hashimotos thyroid disease or people with Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Lyme) we see H.pylori infection on a very frequent basis. These patients often have H.pylori overgrowth along with a low white blood cell count on a CBC bloodwork. A couple of things to know about the stomach.
The stomach has PH of about 1-3. What that means is that the acid produced by the cells that line the stomach is pretty caustic fluid- (it’s very acidic) and its this acid that normally would keep H.pylori and other gut infections in check. But if you have been using over the counter medications like tums, Mylanta, or other acid blocking medications, or you have been prescribed proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics you are going to be a greater risk for gut infections.
Anytime you have low stomach acid production, you can create an environment conducive to the overgrowth of bacteria including H.pylori. Now… One of the things I see often in my patients with Thyroid disease, Celiac disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, is that their immune system will often attack cells called parietal cells. Its these parietal cells that produce and secrete stomach acid that help in digestion.
Video 3 -Causes of low stomach acid.
Low stomach acid, which leads to, GERD, acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, acid regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, chest pain/discomfort, cough and even hoarseness. So if you have an autoimmune disease, not only are you at risk for other kinds of autoimmune disease, but you are also going to be at a greater risk of H.pylori as well as low stomach acid.
Because H.Pylori can live in your saliva and intestines you can contract H.pylori infection a number of ways. Not only can you pass this gift on from kissing (like I mentioned earlier) but also from oral sex.
You can also become infected through food, through water and fecal contamination. Fecal contamination is when your hands touch fecal matter and then your hands touch your mouth. So, you want to make sure you are doing a good job washing your hands especially in public restrooms, escalators, when you touch doorknobs etc. Try to avoid those restroom hot air dryers that have been shown to blow fecal matter all over the place- opt for paper when you can.
H.Pylori- One Smart Bacteria
H.pylori is one smart bacterium. Here’s what happens in our body. We have these h.pylori bacteria that don’t like living in our acid stomach…. So what does h.pylori bacteria do? It creates an enzyme that neutralizes our stomach acid, then it burrows into our gut lining and finally it shuts down the acid producing parietal cells in the stomach. The end result of this is low stomach acid and gastric atrophy- and that’s where the symptoms of low stomach acid come in. You go to your doctor who then prescribes you Zantac or some other acid reflux medication for the next 10 years.
Remember earlier I said that we need to have stomach acid in the PH range of 1-3. It turns out, that PH range of 1-3 is needed to help digest proteins, fats and absorb amino acids, it’s need to ionize and absorb minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, Zinc, folic acid and many other B vitamins.
If we can’t absorb vitamins, minerals and fats properly, this is only going to lead to health problems that are rooted in nutritional deficiencies like osteoporosis, immune system problems, Breathing problems like asthma, thyroid problems, iron deficiency anemia, B12 anemia….. Restless leg, depression, fatigue, Brain fog, anxiety and so many other health problems. Here’s where things really get interesting, the acid in your stomach also stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder. So if you know that you have H.pylori infection I also want you to start thinking about the Bigger picture……
Vitamin Deficiencies Causes by H.pylori
H.pylori cause many different kinds of nutritional deficiencies. Remember this bacterium is the number one cause of low stomach acid. When stomach acids levels are low, proper digestion of proteins and fats cant take place you end up with Protein and fat malabsorption. So to offset this occurence, at a very minimum, I recommend that you take a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and supplement that with high quality omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 essential fatty acids.
The last thing I want to cover in today’s video is how you test for H.Pylori what kind of exam do you need?
Best Testing Methods For H.pylori
#1 Blood tests: blood tests will measure the immune systems response to the H.pylori infection. Your doctor may look at markers such as IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies. If you test positive for IgA or IgM, then that indicates you have an active H. pylori infection. However, I want you to know that blood tests are not very reliable for H.pylori and miss the majority of cases- No longer recommended.
#2 H.pylori Breath Testing. During the H.pylori Breath test you will swallow a capsule containing urea, If H. pylori is present in the stomach, the urea is broken up and turned into carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, then travels in the blood to the lungs where it is excreted in the breath. If the urea breath test is positive, and the isotope is detected in the breath, it means that H. pylori is present in the stomach. Order H.pylori Breath Testing and consult here
If the isotope is not found in the breath, the test results are negative for the infection. When the H. pylori is effectively treated (eradicated), the test changes from positive (isotope present) to negative (isotope absent).
#3 H.pylori Stool test: The stool antigen test checks to see if substances that trigger the immune system to fight a H. pylori infection (H. pylori antigens) are present in your feces (stool).
#4 Endoscopy or Scope. This one is the subject of much debate is the endoscopy or scope. Because this test is the most invasive test, its used more often in high risk patients. These will be people where an ulcers caused by H.pylori is suspected or if it’s needed to rule out other upper digestive conditions like cancer of esophagus, stomach or small intestines. During this test, after being sedated, a doctor threads a long flexible tube equipped with a tiny camera (endoscope) down your throat, through the esophagus and finally into your stomach and duodenum. This instrument allows your doctor to view any irregularities in your upper digestive tract and if necessary, remove tissue samples (biopsy). But the endoscope is limited to upper digestive tract.
Keep in mind that the endoscope does not rule out H.pylori in the lower part of the GI tract which is also a very common place to find it. If you have symptoms like Painful gas and bloating around or below the belly button, Constipation, Diarrhea it is best to run the H.pylori stool antigen test
Natural Treatment of H.pylori
If you have H.pylori there are a variety of natural treatment options available- sometimes these can be a stand alone treatment and sometimes they need to be combined with traditional medications. In some cases you may need to follow a conventional approach but we have seen success treating H.pylori naturally. Even if you decide to take the conventional approach to treating H.pylori, research shows that re-infection and success rates are improved with natural H.pylori treatments.
Natural treatment for H.pylori will require a combination of things like; usually things like antimicrobials, Biofilm disruptors, vitamins, minerals, probiotics.
Think like Mastica, Berberine, Oil of oregano, Wormwood, Neem, Olive leaf, Black walnut hulls, burdock, probiotics and then a good multivitamin with vitamin B12, B6 a good multi-mineral, Vitamin D, and one thing that I want to emphasize is that it is important that the right combination of herbs are used at the right dosage for the right period of time.
RIGHT combination of herbs are used at the RIGHT dosage for the RIGHT period/duration of time
I always recommend that you work with a functional medicine doctor who can determine the most appropriate testing you need, as well as tailor a treatment plan specific to your needs. This will give you the best chance of at successfully removing H.pylori on the first go around, it can also prevent many of the nutritional deficiencies that we see as a complicating factor that could slow down your healing and cause you to relapse.
If you suspect H.pylori and you need help contact us– We are here to help!
Whether you need help with implementing a specific diet or you want to dig into some of the other root causes with testing we offer many different services that can help you get on the right track.