H. pylori is a bacterial infection that I see regularly when I run stool samples.
So I thought I would do some research on it to see if I could understand its origin better, as well as the pathogenicity of the bacterium.
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty on this nasty little bug.
The full name for H. pylori is Helicobacter pylori.
H. pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that requires an environment with a lower level of oxygen (than is in the atmosphere) to survive, which is why it thrives so well in the human stomach (or animal stomach).
Studies show that this bacteria is the one responsible for most ulcers and cases of chronic gastritis or stomach inflammation.
H. pylori is very adapted to the gastric juices of the stomach, which allows it to colonize there, inducing inflammation of the gastric mucosa (another cause of leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability.)
It lives either within or beneath the gastric mucous layer, which makes the mucosa vulnerable to acid peptic damage which further spirals to liberating enzymes and toxins and adhering to the gastric epithelium.
This is a vicious cycle because the tissue damage that is caused incites an immune response in the host causing an inflammatory reaction. Then because of chronic inflammation, gastric acid secretory physiology is continually upset and then you have chronic gastritis, which can eventually get really bad and even cause stomach Cancer.
I had a client case who reported high levels of permeability on her intestinal barrier assessment IgG blood test and it wasn’t until we found and addressed the H. pylori that her symptoms went away completely and her health could be recovered – because everything we did up until that point was a band aid, with H. pylori being the root cause.
Apparently over 50% of people have H. pylori, usually acquired in childhood, which is why the number of peer reviewed papers have increased tenfold with now over 1,500 papers per year over the past few years (PubMed [www.pubmed.gov]).
H. pylori is passed person to person in a variety of ways. Kissing is one of those ways (passed through saliva) as well as unsanitary conditions in food or water. If you do have it, coffee and alcohol drinking and smoking increase the risk of an ulcer induced by H. pylori.
The pathophysiology of H. pylori is viewed as a complicated interaction between the host and the bacterium which is influenced by the internal environment (here is where I would look at pH and mineral balance and use a reacted Zinc to inhibit the growth) and modulated by many still unidentified factors, which makes this one a formally recognized bacterial carcinogen and one of the most successful human pathogens.
If not treated, one will have H. pylori their whole lives and may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and fullness, mild nausea, hunger 1-3 hours after eating, peptic lacerations, stomach cancer, lymphoid tissue lymphoma.
Simple blood, breath, and stool tests can determine if you are infected with H. pylori. I run a stool test and usually have my clients back up the results with a breath and blood test run by their doctor since any one of the three can come up negative even though the client does in fact have H. pylori.
There are a few natural treatments, but a naturopathic doctor and a holistic doctor that I recently spoke with about H. pylori both agreed that antibiotics (while concurrently taking probiotics) are the best and fastest way to kill H. pylori. Both of them had only seen success naturally treating H. pylori 2 times in 10 years.
So I agree that antibiotics are a necessity to successfully get rid of H. pylori (metronitazole is the most common one used). Often they are concurrently prescribed with medicines that reduce stomach acid which include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine receptor blockers (to control inflammation).
Both acid-reducing medicines help relieve peptic ulcer pain after a few weeks and promote ulcer healing. It is very important to run a follow up test 6-8 weeks after treatment to make sure it is gone.
“Although antibiotics can cure 80 to 90 percent of ulcers caused by H. pylori, eliminating the bacteria can be difficult. Patients must take all medicines exactly as prescribed, even when the peptic ulcer pain is gone.
At least 4 weeks after treatment, doctors test patients using a breath or stool test to be sure the H. pylori infection has been cured. Blood tests are not useful after treatment because a patient’s blood can test positive for H. pylori even after the bacteria have been eliminated.
If infection is still present, ulcers could recur or, less commonly, stomach cancer could develop. Thus, some patients need to take more than one round of medicines to kill the H. pylori bacteria. Bismuth quadruple therapy is one of several treatments used after initial treatment has failed—a strategy called “rescue” or “salvage” therapy. In the second round of treatment, the doctor prescribes different antibiotics than those used in the first round. Amoxicillin, however, can be used again to treat H. pylori infection because H. pylori resistance to this antibiotic is rare.”