Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a gram negative bacteria that burrows into the
mucosal layer of the stomach. It is behind many gastric problems including acid
reflux/GERD, ulcers, gastritis and even, rarely, stomach cancer. People usually start
with low stomach acid symptoms as the bacteria suppresses it but, over time,
symptoms become chronic unless you get rid of it.
The suppression of the stomach acid helps it survive, but it means you don’t absorb
nutrients as well, are more likely to get infections in the stomach, small and large
intestine because there’s no acid to kill them off. Think: SIBO, candida and the like.
H pylori also damages the linings of arteries, veins and capillaries so gives a higher risk of
cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes. There is also a higher risk of
gastric cancers and autoimmune conditions. Not good.
What causes H pylori infection?
Most of us probably have H pylori in our stomachs, but not everyone has a problem
with it. Most often (in my clinical experience), it will become an issue because
our stomach acid level drops too low and it gets a toe-hold. We naturally produce less
acid as we age, if we are under stress, our nutrient levels are low, especially Vitamin
B6, D and zinc or if you take PPIs or antacids.
If our mucosal immunity (Secretory IgA) is low too, we won’t be able to fight it off as
effectively either. I see this a lot.
H pylori Symptoms
Mostly indigestion (especially after protein-heavy meals), nausea, burping, bloating,
upper abdominal pain. It’s the cause of most gut ulcers. More chronically, it is linked to
migraine, skin problems (especially rosacea and acne), fatigue, diarrhoea and
constipation to name a few.
H Pylori Testing and Treatment
Test for current, active infection using a stool antigen test.
Breath tests will also show active infection but are more unreliable – and difficult to
do/post – than stool, I’ve found. Blood antibody tests will show past infection.
Getting rid of an H pylori infection is not always easy. The standard medical treatment is a 1 or 2 week course of treatment called triple therapy. It involves taking two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and an acid suppressor drug. It sometimes works. It often doesn’t, I think, because the bacteria, like many others, is becoming resistant to the antibiotics.
However, there are some things you can do to help augment the triple therapy approach if you are using that. There are also quite a few supplement protocols and approaches you can use. It can get quite confusing, I know.
To help, I have distilled down what I have found works for most people in-clinic and shared those tips for you. Hope it helps!