Did you know that over 50% of the population has an H. pylori infection? Dr. Marshall, the scientist who discovered H. pylori, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2005 for his discovery. His initial research was done on himself, as he infected himself to prove the bacteria’s causal connection with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach).
H. pylori is an opportunistic of infection that spreads more rapidly in people that have a compromised immune system. This is why there are higher rates of all parasite infections in Third World countries. In the US, we are seeing an increase in chronic stress and poor eating habits which compromises our immune function and makes us open for an attack.
H. pylori spreads very easily!
H. pylori unlike other parasitic infections, can be spread very easily via saliva and doesn’t require sexual intimacy per se. This is why it’s very common to see an entire family test positive for an H. pylori infection. Things like sharing a drink or silverware can be enough to spread the infection in a compromised individual.
One of the biggest problems with H. pylori is it production of a specific enzyme called “Urease” which essentially neutralizes hydrochloric acid due to its increase production of ammonia. Hydrochloric acid is needed to help digest protein, ionize minerals and create an acidic environments in the guts to stimulate bile release from the gallbladder to aid in fat digestion in the small intestine.
If we can’t ionize our minerals properly this will lead to a whole host of issues including osteoporosis, immune problems, thyroid problems and anemia. Lack of hydrochloric acid will also lead to indigestion, mal-absorption, gas, bloating, and a catabolic physiology (your body breaking down faster than they can build up). However, a large percent of H. pylori infected patients will not present with any symptoms, so it’s possible you could be feeling great and still have an infection.
H. pylori also irritates the stomach lining, hence its connections with gastric ulcers. This essentially creates silent inflammation, where now your adrenal glands have to come to the rescue to put out the smoldering fire in your gut. Your body uses cortisol from the adrenal glands to help put out the fire. But as your adrenals become more fatigued, cortisol will lose its capability of keeping the fire under control, this is the point where you will start to see the exacerbation of your symptoms. Many people can have this infection for a long period of time and don’t necessarily have any symptoms until their adrenals drop into stage III adrenal fatigue.
What makes H. pylori different?
H. pylori is a gram negative bacteria. What this means is that H. pylori has two cell walls, where most bacteria (gram positive) only have one cell wall. When there are two cell walls it makes it harder for antimicrobial medicines and herbs to eradicate the infection. This is analogous to a castle with stone walls for protection also being surrounded by a moat which makes it more difficult for any intruders to invade.
In between the first and second cell wall there is something known as “Efflux pumps”, these pumps have the ability to disperse the antibiotic medicines that were given to the patient back outside into the gastrointestinal tract. These efflux pumps are believed to significantly contribute antibiotic resistance which is so prolific today.
When the antibiotics are pumped back into the gastrointestinal tract patients can experience more die off reactions. These reactions can include fatigue, nausea, bloating, flu like symptoms and diarrhea. H. pylori has obviously adapted in a way that is made it more resistant to antibiotics.
The most common or conventional symptoms of an H Pylori infection:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and fullness
- Dyspepsia or indigestion
- Feeling very hungry 1 to 3 hours after eating
- Mild nausea (may be relieved by vomiting)
Below are H pylori symptoms that aren’t so common:
- Neurological pain
- Anemia, B12 or Iron
- Leaky gut (gastrointestinal permeability)
- Depression and anxiety: All of the neurotransmitters in our body are made from proteins are amino acids.
- Constipation and diarrhea: Inflammation can disrupt motility in the G.I. tract.
- Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or any other digestive disorder.
- Unexplanable weight gain.
- Fatigue or thyroid disorder. H pylori is linked to autoimmune thyroid disease
How to Test for H. Pylori:
- Blood tests: These tests are indirect and assess the specific immune responses to the H. pylori infection. The immune responses that are measured are H. pylori IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies. If you test positive for IgA or IgM you can be confident that you have an active H. pylori infection. Research has shown that patients that test positive for IgG antibodies tend to drop within six months of H. pylori removal (5).
- Stool test: H. pylori stool test’s are the gold standard and are the only test that look for the actual particles of the H. pylori bacteria.
Natural medicine treatment options:
It’s very important the right combination of herbs as well as the right dosage of herbs are used. This will give you the best chance of removing the infection the first time without terrible die off reactions.
Are you ready to make a change to get healthy? Are you ready to start a personalized treatment plan that works without the use of pharmaceutical drugs? To learn more about our functional medicine program or to schedule an appointment, please call (304) 263-4927 today. Dr. Terry Chambers is a Board certified chiropractor and acupuncturist, licensed in WV, and trained to perform functional medicine.