Did you know that Helicobacter pylori are present in about 50% of the globe’s population?
H. pylori cause chronic inflammation (gastritis) in the stomach and duodenum and is commonly known as the main cause of ulcers. The bacteria invade the lining of your stomach and produce a cytotoxin called vacuolating cytotoxin A (Vac-A), which over time develops into ulcers.
H. pylori are contagious and can cause a lot of bothering to some people. However, some individuals are lucky enough to have this bacteria present in their gut and experience no symptoms of the disease.
The potential causes of H.pylori infections
The exact cause of how H.pylori infection spreads is still unknown. But we do know that the infections are thought to spread from one person’s mouth to another. They may also be transferred from faeces to the mouth. This can happen when a person does not wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. H.pylori can also spread through contact with contaminated water or food. Once infected with the bacteria, it penetrates the stomach’s lining and generates substances that neutralise stomach acids. Our stomach’s pH levels range from 1.5 to 3.5 which is highly acidic. This is an essential part of our body’s defence. Most bacteria cannot handle acidic environments, but H. pylori is a true exception as the bacteria is well adapted to live in the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach.
H. pylori attack the lining that protects your stomach. The bacteria makes an enzyme called urease. This enzyme makes your stomach acids less acidic (neutralises them). This weakens your stomach’s lining. Your stomach cells then have a greater risk of being hurt by acid and pepsin, strong digestive fluids. That can lead to sores or ulcers in your stomach or duodenum. The H. pylori bacteria can also stick to stomach cells. Your stomach can’t protect itself very well. The area gets red and swollen (inflamed). H. pylori can also get the stomach to make more acid. Health experts don’t fully understand how.
What are the symptoms of H. pylori?
Symptoms may vary and most people with the bacteria may not experience any symptoms.
Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain/discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting that may include blood
- Passing dark or tarry like stools
- Low red blood cell count (anaemia)
- Decreased appetite
- Peptic ulcers
- Bad breath
The conventional treatment of H. pylori
H.pylori can be difficult to eradicate from the stomach with antibiotics because of antibiotic resistance. Practitioners often prescribe a double and even triple treatment of antibiotics, along with a protein pump inhibitor medication. The treatment often consists of 10 days to 2 weeks and the most common antibiotics used are amoxicillin, tetracycline, metronidazole, or clarithromycin.
Other recommended medications:
H2-blockers. These are used to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach by blocking the hormone histamine. Histamine helps to make acid.
Proton pump inhibitors. These help to keep your stomach from making acid. They do this by stopping the stomach’s acid pump from working.
Stomach-lining protectors. These medicines protect your stomach lining from acid and help kill bacteria.
Natural treatment of H.pylori and gastritis
There are plenty of natural remedies and simple strategies that you can implement right away! The best part is they will not only help you with your H. pylori but also improve your general wellbeing.
#1 DRINK TEA
Korean red ginseng is commonly touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginseng may strengthen the immune system, enhance brain function, fight fatigue and improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Ginseng also contains ginsenosides, a plant-chemical that inhibits H. pylori growth and helps to prevent gastritis, ulcers and cancer. The healthiest beverage on the planet, green tea. We all heard of the amazing health benefits of green tea and truly the list is endless. From improving brain function, fat loss, lowering risk of cancers to (you guessed right) helping with H.pylori. Green tea contains uronic acid that can block H. pylori from adhering to the stomach, as well as reducing inflammation.
#2 LOAD UP ON VITAMIN C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is possibly the most well-known vitamin on the planet. With its amazing properties, it is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It is also involved in the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, bones and teeth.
Phew, what a list!
And it doesn’t end there. As a powerful antioxidant vitamin C can help fight off the damage H.pylori bacteria may have produced. Foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, bell peppers or kale are great to implement to your everyday diet as it may help block H.pylori induced inflammation in cancer cells.
Furthermore, higher consumption of fruit, vegetables and vitamin C supplements were associated with lower risk of being infected by H.pylori in the first place. This can be explained by the high concentration of vitamin C in the stomach mucous. It likely reduces inflammation and protects against H. pylori infection.
#3 FATTY ACIDS
Now, let’s make one thing clear. Eating fatty fish don’t necessarily kill H.pylori bacteria. However, omega-3 fatty acids have excellent anti-inflammatory properties and therefore, high intake of healthy fats helps individuals with H.pylori infection by reducing their inflammation. By keeping inflammation down, the fatty acids inhibit gastric carcinogenesis.
Some great food sources are:
Fish and other seafood: salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines and oysters
Nuts and seeds: flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, brazil nut
Plant oils: flaxseed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, olive oil
#4 MICROBIAL HERBS AND SPICES
Whether used by the pinch or by the bunch, fresh herbs are not just a great and tasty addition in your cooking but also very beneficial. And highly beneficial when you have a H.pylori infection!
I highly recommend cooking using these herbs and spices:
- chilli powder
- garlic cloves
These herbs and spices have multiple mechanisms to protect the stomach from infection and kill off harmful pathogens like H. pylori. For instance, ginger is well-known to be one of the best natural cures for stomach bugs, including H.pylori infections. It acts as an antibacterial agent, protects gastric mucous, reduces inflammation and inhibits the growth of H.pylori. Another amazing spice is turmeric. Used for centuries, mainly in India and in Ayurvedic medicine it has several natural healing properties, including anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Turmeric can eradicate H.pylori infections by blocking the shikimate pathway required for metabolic production in bacteria.
#5 CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbages, brussels sprouts, bok choy cauliflower and broccoli contain plant-chemicals called isothiocyanates, particularly one called sulforaphane. This chemical inhibits H. pylori growth and improves gastritis.
The foods highest in sulforaphanes recommended being added to your diet to eradicate H.pylori are:
- sauerkraut juice
- broccoli sprouts
- bok choy
Low in calories and high in vitamin C, A and K. Cranberries are commonly recommended for the treatment of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancers and for improving immune functioning and decreasing blood pressure. And yes, they still have another amazing healing property. Cranberries fight H.pylory and they do it in two ways. First, they contain proanthocyanidins which kill the bacteria. Secondly, they prevent the H. pylori bacteria from adhering to the stomach mucous. They contain proanthocyanidins which kill the bacteria. Secondly, they prevent the h. pylori bacteria from adhering to the stomach mucus. Remember that cranberry juice you drink should be free of sugar and additives! (Source)
#7 MANUKA HONEY
True story! My father used to chase my mum and me with a spoonful of manuka honey nearly on a daily basis! And now, I understand why. The stuff is just amazing! Manuka honey is antiviral, anti-inflammatory and is also a great antioxidant. Traditionally used for wound healing, soothing sore throats, preventing tooth decay and improving digestive issues, Manuka honey has shown to be also effective with H.pylori infections. As it contains a natural form of hydrogen peroxide in it which is great for treating bacterial infection. The antibacterial properties of honey have also shown to be effective along with antibiotic treatment, specifically shortening the time required to fully eliminate H.pylori from stomach lining of patients with gastritis or duodenal ulcer, both caused by H.pylori infection.
#8 OIL OF OREGANO
I came across oregano oil while fighting my own battle with candida. Among its huge variety of health benefits the oil of oregano is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. When it comes to healing of H.pylori infections, oregano oil contains a chemical called carvacrol which destroys the cell membrane of the bacteria and stops it from replicating. One main benefit of oregano oil for all digestive issues is that it kills the bad bacteria while keeping the healthy bacteria intact. This is important as often, after a medical treatment with antibiotics the microbial balance is disrupted which creates dysbiosis.
H.pylori predominantly changes the stomach’s pH, among many other things. This drastic pH change consequently changes the gut flora which is considered as our second brain and absolutely crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. One way to improve our microbial balance between the good and the bad guys is with the help of probiotics. Furthermore, certain strains have been shown to be effective in not only re-establishing the microbe balance but possibly eradicating the H. pylori bacteria. These strains include S. boulardii and L. johnsonni La1. The following three strains were able to also decrease the consequences of antibiotics related side-effects; S. boulardii, L. reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus and are therefore recommended to be taken in a supplement form.
1. S. boulardii (BUY HERE)
2. Lactobacillus rhamnosus (BUY HERE)
3. L. reuteri (BUY HERE)
It’s important to stay positive. The healing process may be painful and long but there is a lot you can do. And the more control you take over your health, the better you will feel mentally and physically. Happy healing guys!
Reminder: Talk to a nutritionist or a practitioner for more specific therapy guidelines or if you are unsure about how to most effectively approach your treatment.
Feel free to book a FREE 30-minute session with a nutritionist specialising in digestive health and finally get some answers that Dr.Google can’t answer for you. ?