You may have an infection, but unfortunately you could be dismissed if you don’t have the classic signs. There are many conditions tied to H. pylori and doctors only pick it up if you are symptomatic, meaning you have heartburn, stomach pain or ulcers.
A lot of you suffer with disturbing problems such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, bloating, nausea, reflux, esophagitis, stomach ulcers and fatigue related to anemia. These symptoms may also be tied to H. pylori, the digestive bug most notorious for causing ulcers. After H. pylori gets inside your body, it attacks your stomach lining, which is supposed to protects you from the harsh gastric acid your body secretes to digest food. Once the organism has done enough damage, acid can get through the stomach lining, and cause an ulcer(s). These may cause bleeding (which can cause dark, tarry stools) and ulcers also cause infections, or slow food from moving through your digestive tract in a timely manner. It’s bad news until you get the bug out of you. Later, I will show you how 10 other symptoms can be tied to this organism.
Complications of untreated Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) lead to severe reflux, dysphagia, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer and gastric lymphoma.
Chronic and serious digestive disorders have seen a rapid increase over the past few decades causing scientists to feverishly study the effects of probiotics and the gut microbiome. We need something other conventional medicine which has limited effectiveness and side effects galore. Without a pill to fix you, this leaves little hope for relief, even if you’re restricting yourself to chicken soup and a glass of water! It’s clear to me we need something other than conventional treatments and pharmaceuticals which have limited effectiveness and adverse reactions.
H. pylori can easily survive stomach acid, in fact it thrives in it. People often look surprised when I tell them that H. pylori can infect you all over, and plays a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and iron deficiency anemia.
Treating H. pylori is tough because it is a stealth and invasive organism. It doesn’t just hide out in the gut causing ulcers, although that is how we think of it. Today, the standard of treatment is dubbed “triple therapy” and includes two antibiotics (usually amoxicillin and clarithromycin) along with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole). Unfortunately, there’s a high rate of relapse. You can improve your odds of beating this infection if you take probiotics. More on that soon, but first, I want you to really wrap your head around this destructive pathogen.
H. pylori causes mineral malabsorption over time, and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) deficiency which contributes to dementia, irritability, memory loss, arrhythmias and hypothyroidism. Add bread -actually gluten- to your diet and you will lose even more B12, and lose it faster!
The mere presence of H. pylori activates your immune system causing it to stay on guard 24/7 and that pours a cytokine waterfall of inflammatory compounds all over your body. Then you become flooded with antibodies. The immune system activation appears to stir up bad super-antigens and molecular mimicry which confuses your body. It will cause you to lose “tolerance of self” so you attack yourself. You develop an autoimmune disorder which can be different for everyone. Lupus for you, rheumatoid for her, Crohn’s for him, and so forth. Infections combined with genetic SNPs are often the root cause of an autoimmune disorder. If you’re interested in learning more about SNPs (because we all have them), click here to read Genes, Methylation and Your Health.
The pylori bug also causes mineral malabsorption (not just B12) and this important. Over time, with an undiagnosed infection, you will become deficient in many trace minerals which can affect cardiac rhythm (yes arrhythmias!) and cause leg cramps and tons of other seemingly unrelated (but highly uncomfortable) symptoms. According to Internal and Emergency Medicine (2013), there is a link between H. pylori and arrhythmias. The abstract says specifically, “Silent autoimmune myocarditis has been hypothesized to be the cause of idiopathic dysrhythmias.”
The germ lodges in your heart, then your immune system attacks the bugs! It’s attacking them because that is what it is supposed to do. But the bugs are in your precious heart tissue! So the immune system is doing a self-directed attack at innocent tissue (this is what we call an auto-immune disease). The mechanism I just described is termed molecular mimicry. H.pylori in the heart can be the cause for your arrhythmias and only the antibiotics can treat it. The drugs for heart rhythm won’t help. A pacemaker will help but only because it forces your heart into perfect rhythm (which is fine), but I would still like you to investigate eradication of the organism. It’s worth a shot.
Just FYI, H. pylori can cause migraines and I told you how to correct this in my book, Headache Free: Relieve Migraines, Tension, Cluster, Menopause and Lyme Headaches I could go on an on, but the point is you will be given medication for each and every awful symptom, unless your sleuth doctor knows what I’m sharing today, and uncovers the pylori infection. It’s about connecting the dots.
You could have 10 different symptoms and 1 bug causing them.
ULCERS (we won’t count that problem because every one here already knows about pylori and ulcers.
Burping and nausea go with that, so I won’t count those conditions either.
- Chronic fatigue
- Rheumatoid arthritis (for a study, you can read this)
- Food sensitivities
- Hives, itchiness and skin rashes, especially in pediatrics (here’s a study)
- Allergies (because mast cells release more histamine in the presence of pylori)
- Stomach cancer or polyps
- Low sex drive (a pylori infection in the gut increases cortisol and reduces testosterone)
Recently, researchers evaluated 33 different trials that involved 4,459 participants with H. pylori. They wanted to know whether probiotics had any beneficial effect. They compiled statistics on 3 groups: People who took a dud pill (placebo), people who took antibiotics (triple therapy), and people who took probiotics with their antibiotics.
Individuals who had took probiotics with the triple therapy had a much higher success rate in treating the H. pylori overgrowth and experienced fewer adverse events. In fact, it helped people who had already done the antibiotic course unsuccessfully! Four probiotic strains stood out:
1) Lactobacillus acidophilus
2) Lactobacillus casei
3) Lactobacillus gasseri
4) Bifidobacterium infantis.
Taking a probiotic supplement with these strains (about 4 to 6 hours after your antibiotic) may help you beat the infection once and for all. Think of it as a ‘sticky’ bug, and if you can cause it more trouble in recolonizing you due to the presence of probiotics, well then, you have increased your odds for getting well! I like it!
Having H. pylori overgrowth is like having secret stealth enemy cloaked behind a firewall in the digestive mucosal lining engaged in warfare. The soldiers on the other side of the battle use multiple tools to attack but it creates a field of wreckage and ongoing problems. The battlefield and wreckage may be localized or widespread. Antibiotics don’t fully eradicate the germ. Even soothing slippery elm lozenges, marshmallow extract (watch my video here) and DGL supplements don’t kill it, they just make you feel better. If you want to make a gruel of slippery elm, watch my video here yes that is Sam (my husband) singing at the end. LOL. You can make a tea as well, you don’t have to drink slime if the texture bothers you. Just gently boil the shaved bark for 10 minutes, and drain. What I use in this video is a powdered slippery elm. FYI, you can buy commercially prepared lozenges at any health food store and online.
Mastic gum and zinc carnosine might help, but again, even theses have limitations for as good as they are. And as I’ve described above, probiotics taken along with ‘triple therapy’ give you much higher success rate in treating H. pylori. And for the kicker, there are a subset of people who do not have pylori, but they DO have acid reflux and it’s related to (shockingly) LOW acid, not high acid. Sam snuck up on me and taped a little video of my thoughts on hypochlorhydria and reflux, click here to watch that.
Depending on the situation you have (and whether or not you are infected), it maybe that you need acid, to read my article, “Strangely Acid May Ease the Burn, click here.
Feel free to leave your comments below in my forum.
Please help each other, as I can’t be everywhere at once.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.