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H. Pylori

H. Pylori Defined

gut health Aug 09, 2023

Did you know that 30-40% of people in the United States get an H. Pylori or Helicobacter Pylori infection at some point in their lives? This is a bacterial infection that is often contracted in children, but is also often missed and can be spread any time through saliva (which means if you have it, you can spread it to your loved ones), through fecal contamination (in water or in food) and through poor hygiene practices (contact with the anus and not washing your hands).

So, what does H. pylori do exactly? Essentially, this pesky bacteria attacks the mucous lining that protects your stomach. Flagella allow H. pylori to embed itself in the stomach, making it difficult to remove at times. It also increases Interleukin 8 - an immune modulator, neutralizing the innate responses we have to naturally get rid of it. After this bacteria eats, its byproduct, an enzyme called urease, actually makes your stomach acid less acidic. Less acid in your stomach can lead to all sorts of problems including peptic ulcers, acid reflux and other pathogenic infections. That’s right, less stomach acid actually leads to acid reflux!

With a weakened stomach lining, ulcers can be created because the hydrochloric acid that is produced to help break down food as well as pepsin, an enzyme that digests proteins in food. Over time, these fluids can create small holes in the stomach or duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.

When there is less acid in the stomach, the base of the esophagus called the esophageal sphincter, stays open. The esophageal sphincter is the muscular tube that is usually triggered by the presence of stomach acid to close when we’re digesting, so acid and food don’t head back up the esophagus. When acid isn’t detected and the esophageal sphincter stays open, acid can creep up, especially when we lie down to go to bed. Hence, more acid reflux is felt at night. There are other instances that can effect this muscle, including nerve damage, but this is common for those with H. pylori.

On the other side of the stomach, heading into the intestines, we can also experience issues. When we don’t have enough stomach acid we are not as protected against pathogens we might ingest with food. Believe it or not, our stomach acid is an incredible weapon against viruses and bacteria and yes, parasites. If these buggies can slip right through the stomach and into our intestines, we can develop dysbiosis, or an unbalanced gut. Usually we want a balance of probiotics and negative gram bacteria, yeast and other fungus, and even beneficial parasites. However, this delicate balance that makes up our inner garden can be disrupted.

What should you look for if you suspect you have an H. pylori infection? Symptoms usually include:

  • Gastritis

  • Belching

  • Bloating

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea and vomiting that may include vomiting blood

  • Passing dark or tarry like stools

  • Fatigue

  • Low red blood cell count

  • Decreased appetite

  • Diarrhea

  • Peptic ulcers

  • Heartburn

  • Bad breath

Gut issues are no joke and so many of us live with them for years, thinking everything is normal. We think it’s okay to be bloated in the afternoon or to have acid reflux or to have IBS, etc. It’s not normal, it’s just common. Fortunately, there are ways to remove H. pylori and restore your gut health, including herbal protocols if you want to try these first before antibiotics, as well as antibiotics. Feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation if you suspect you are infected.

Remember, if you have an infection and are working to clear it, have your loved ones checked out as well. Not everyone with H. pylori is symptomatic and the last thing you want to do is to keep contracting it if others close to you are infected.

If you have any of these symptoms or suspect you may be infected, get tested.

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