At Metabolix Health, we have helped hundreds of clients clear their h pylori infections with the power of functional medicine. Clients don’t usually consult us for h pylori. They come to us because they suffer from gut issues and other seemingly unrelated symptoms affecting their quality of life. But if h pylori infection is part of the overall health picture, it should not be ignored. It can affect so many aspects of your daily life. Let’s explore what h pylori are.
What is H pylori?
Firstly, the bacterium helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, infects more than 66% of the world’s population. Most often, h pylori infection is harmless. Still, in some cases, it can cause severe complications like gastric cancer and ulcers. H pylori cause more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. H pylori are often asymptomatic. The commonest of known bacterial infections is usually acquired in childhood, persists, and has been linked with dyspepsia, suppressed immunity, and autoimmunity. Many people live quite happily with h pylori until stomach inflammation or low stomach acid causes it to increase and cause damage to the lining of the stomach. Infected people have a 2 to 6-fold higher risk of developing gastric cancer and mucosal-associated lymphoid type MALT lymphoma-affected people. Let’s explore the various symptoms, how to test for h pylori infection, available treatments, and how to prevent h pylori infection from returning once it is treated.
Symptoms of H pylori infection
Symptoms of H pylori infection can be varied and many. Some signs seem unrelated to the stomach. But if you know anything about functional health, we see your health as one integrated system, and everything is connected. Firstly H pylori infection can cause all kinds of brain symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
H pylori infect the lower part of the stomach called the antrum, and it causes damage to the lining of the stomach and reduces stomach acid production. It is common in clients with heartburn, GERD, and bloating after eating.
Common H pylori infection symptoms:
- Heartburn or reflux
- Upper abdominal pain
- duodenal or peptic ulcer
- ongoing need for hydrochloric acid or digestive enzymes
- chronic urinary tract infections
- bacterial vaginosis
- depression and anxiety
H pylori infection is linked to conditions such as:
- NSAID gastropathy (inflammation from NSAIDs)
- Gastric carcinoma (stomach cancer)
- Lymphoma (cancer or tumors in the lymphatic system)
- Ischemic heart disease, ischemic cerebrovascular disorders
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- food allergies
- vitamin B12 deficiency
- open-angle glaucoma
- h pylori infections can increase inflammation throughout the body
How do you get infected with H pylori infection?
The h pylori bacteria most often enter the body through uncooked foods. One study documented 1/3 of cases through saliva and kissing.
H pylori origins can be linked to the mouth, vaginal, and prostate fluids. It is contagious between family members, and we recommend that partners and kids (especially if they have health challenges) test for infection.
The data strongly suggests that 85% of people infected with H pylori never experience symptoms, but here are a few clues that you may be struggling with h pylori:
- burning or ache in the gut – worse on an empty stomach
- loss of appetite
- weight loss or gain
Of course, these symptoms could be coming from many different root causes, so it’s essential to make sure you get tested to know for sure. And just because you test positive for h pylori doesn’t always mean it affects your health. If your h pylori are rated high on the stool test, we will advise treating the infection. However, suppose you have a mild infection rate and are not experiencing symptoms. In that case, we will likely not recommend any form of treatment. Depending on what else we find in your gut, we recommend supporting you with a gut rebuild program. More details of what this entails are listed below.
How to test for H pylori infection
Urea breath test
- For the urea breath test, a healthcare professional collects an initial sample of your breath by having you breathe into a bag. You are given a liquid to drink containing a substance called urea, and another breath sample is collected after a specific amount of time has elapsed.
- Blood tests for h pylori check for antibodies to the infection. Antibodies are proteins the body’s immune system makes when it detects harmful substances such as bacteria.
- Stool testing is our recommended method of determining h pylori infection. We recommend a DNA: PCR stool test that determines whether the DNA of h pylori remains in the stool, and it is the most accurate for functional health purposes.
If you have H. pylori, you tend to find other pathogens or overgrowths in the GI tract for this reason. Most clients will present with common commensal bacteria and a higher overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria such as strep and staph.
How to treat H pylori infections from a functional medicine perspective
What is critical to know – as a functional medicine practice, we do not prescribe pharmaceutical products. Sometimes we may be working with an athlete or a client who has a specific reason for needing antibiotics, and we will send them to their medical doctor, who can work with them and prescribe a suitable program of medications. Knowing that we are okay with traditional pharma medications when used responsibly is critical. Unfortunately, this is only sometimes the case, and often clients will consult us after several rounds of drugs, and they not only have yet to get better but are worse. And their microbiome has been ravaged from all the games of antibiotics. H pylori is a stubborn infection, and we find natural ways to eradicate it is often more effective than traditional medical routes.
H pylori and mycotoxins
If a client has mycotoxin exposures along with h pylori, treating the h pylori alone will usually not work out well. It will take a focused approach to remove the mycotoxin issue and then review what problems remain in the gut, including h pylori. What this says is that it takes skill and experience to work with clients with multiple issues. You can jump in, treat and expect to get better without understanding how these infections affect each other and the layering of pathogens in the body.
Prevention of H pylori
The best way to prevent h pylori is to wash hands and avoid others infected with h pylori. However, live in the same household as another person with h pylori. This may be challenging, and we recommend you get tested to ensure you are okay.
Treatment of H pylori infection
H pylori respond well to mastic gum as long as you take high enough doses. This again is provided it is the right time to treat the infection, and there aren’t other health issues that are a higher priority to clear. Probiotics are often used to help clear h pylori, and using different strains in different ways can be effective.
If you are suffering from low stomach acid, heartburn, or reflux or suspect you may have h pylori, schedule a FREE Gut Health Consultation with a member of our team, and we can guide you on the next best steps.