H Pylori

How is it that the most common infection in the world is the least diagnosed in people with digestive conditions?

H. Pylori lives in a lot of us. Buried in our stomachs, living it’s life, protecting itself from our immune system and often causing a host of signs & symptoms including:

  • Belching
  • Pain after eating
  • Feeling full easily
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Chronic iron deficiency
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Bad breath

I was told once that there isn’t a need to test unless I was vomiting blood. Clearly, the above symptoms suggest it doesn’t have to be so severe. Patients with bloating and constipation have tested positive for H Pylori and then when treated their symptoms resolve. Get tested.

You’re more likely to have been exposed to H Pylori if you have:

  • Cats,
  • Sheep,
  • Have kids who swim in rivers and lakes,
  • Or get contaminated from a person with an active infection.

It’s contagious.

How do you know if you have H Pylori?

  1. Blood testing isn’t very specific for an active infection. You can’t tell if the antibodies being measured are fresh or old. You also can’t use blood testing to confirm if you’ve killed the bug.
  2. Breath testing is very sensitive and confirms eradication. During COVID labs aren’t testing breath samples so we are using,
  3. Stool tests which are very sensitive and confirm eradication. Especially helpful if you’re testing other parasites at the same time. This one’s my favourite.

Retesting H Pylori.

If you’ve ever had H Pylori it’s so important to retest to confirm it’s dead. A lot of patients don’t retest. I get it. It’s cumbersome and annoying. For me, it’s so challenging when patients don’t want to retest. I have this come up often and when I explain that there may be future implications for your health including gastric cancer and malabsorption especially when you are asymptomatic after treatment. I have no confidence of certainty without testing and retesting.

When you are initially Pylori positive and are successfully treated for symptoms using natural therapies I strongly recommend a retest because with this population I can say with greater confidence that eradication was unlikely, but that in the small <20% likelihood we should be sure that we aren’t setting them up for another problem in the future. H Pylori is so good at evading our immune system and that it’s much like shingles or cold sores, except we can’t see the shingle or the sore. It’s stealth like that.

In contrast, some patients want to know even more information like if you have the virulence strains of Pylori that code for cancer and ulcers. It is possible to do this but for many, cost is prohibitive.

Treatment of H Pylori

The only evidenced way to eradicate H Pylori is antibiotics. Usually a quad therapy is recommended. When using antibiotics you must remember to avoid one’s you have taken before. This is because resistance to H Pylori is high to certain drugs, which is why there are multiple combination regimens available.

There are many ways to help reduce the number of bacteria in the stomach, but only antibiotics are proven to get rid of them completely. Having said that here are some of the ways I coach patients to help the antibiotics work even better given they aren’t 100%. If it’s safe to do so through your medical practitioner you can consider the following during antibiotic therapy.

H Pylori Diet: What to eat, what to avoid

(This is not medical advice, but here are some suggestions that you can bring up with your doctor and see if they are right for you.)

  • Low salt diet (less than 2 grams per day) because salt helps H Pylori and makes it worse and keeps it coming back.
  • Broccoli sprouts – suppressive but do not eradicate. 70 grams per day.
  • Avoid caffeine, mint, chocolate, alcohol, tomato, spicy foods as they change the pressure in the stomach causing more symptoms.
  • 5 drops twice per day of oil of oregano as a natural antibiotic assistant.
  • Vitamin C 5 grams per day
  • S boulardii probiotic 5 billion twice per day
  • Lacto and Bifido probiotic blend high potency
  • Cabbage juicing or cabbage juice supplements daily
  • Bismuth 500 mg four times per day for 2 weeks unless constipated.
Herbal Tincture composed of:
  • Berberis vulgaris
  • Zingiber officinale
  • Curcuma longa
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra
Things to not be doing:

Hydrocholoric Acid (HCL) supplementation because acid suppression helps eradicate the bugs. A lot of people take acid thinking they need it because H Pylori reduces stomach acid. The opposite is true. Higher pH is worse for H Pylor, not lower.

If you have digestive symptoms and have the risk factors, don’t forget about this bug. It’s everywhere and needs to be ruled out.

If you need any additional advice on how to diagnose or how to treat H Pylori consult a naturopathic doctor at Mint.