Do you struggle with reflux, indigestion, heartburn, belching, bloating? Have you had ulcers or been diagnosed with gastritis? This post is a must-read for you. It’s estimated that 80-100% of those with duodenal ulcers and 70% of people with gastric ulcers have H pylori. If you have reflux and have been taking acid-blocking drugs, H pylori may be the cause of your symptoms.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Strong digestion is the cornerstone of good health. After all, it’s not just what you eat but what you actually absorb that counts. And if your good gut bugs, the ones working for you to digest your food and produce vitamins, are sharing space with the wrong types of bacteria and parasites in your digestive tract, your digestive function and overall health suffers.
Digestive complaints are among the most common I hear from my clients. I frequently recommend stool panels to clients to check for pathogenic bacteria, parasites, dysbiosis, and candida. H pylori is one of the most frequent bacteria I see among clients in my practice. Though you can take a course of strong antibiotics to knock it out, most of my clients opt for a more natural treatment. It’s also very important to note that many H pylori strains are resistant to antibiotics, which is why I favor an herbal approach.
You can get rid of H pylori without antibiotics!
What is H Pylori?
Helicobacter pylori is a gram negative, spiral-shaped bacterium that resides in the upper intestinal tract and in the stomach of infected individuals. Up to 50 percent of the world’s population is infected (more prevalent in developing countries). In developed nations, the percentage of infected people increases with age, with about 50 percent infected for those over the age of 60 compared with around 10 percent between 18 and 30 years. Of these, 85 percent are asymptomatic, and there is even evidence that not everyone needs to be treated, as it is theorized that the infection may actually be beneficial in influencing systemic immune responses.
Anyone who has noticeable (even if slight) digestive symptoms (think frequent belching, bloating, gas, heartburn, irregularity), hormone imbalance, thyroid problems, autoimmune issues, and/or vitamin-mineral deficiencies (such as iron and zinc) is likely experiencing more adverse than positive benefits from the bacterium. In these cases the h pylori should be treated. More on to treat or not to treat H pylori here.
Additionally, there are several different strains of H pylori, some more serious–linked to stomach cancer and peptic ulcers–and others that are considered non-virulent strains. Individuals infected with H. pylori have a 10 to 20% lifetime risk of developing peptic ulcers and a 1 to 2% risk of acquiring stomach cancer. Anyone who is experiencing or has had gastritis and/or ulcers in the stomach and small intestine should be tested for H pylori.
In order to proliferate and survive the harsh, acidic environment in the gut and stomach, H pylori neutralizes the acid in the stomach by producing large amounts of the enzyme urease, which breaks down the urea present in the stomach to carbon dioxide and ammonia. The ammonia then neutralizes stomach acid. This is one reason why H pylori causes bloating, belching, and reflux: It makes stomach acid less acidic, so food isn’t properly broken down, resulting in side effects consistent with indigestion.
Antacids are NOT the Solution
If you’re taking PPIs or acid-blocking drugs, listen up! Reflux is a very common side effect of H pylori infection for the reasons mentioned above: it causes low stomach acid. This prevents food from breaking down properly, so the food ferments, and the gases travel up the esophageal tract, causing burning. This is treated with acid-blocking drugs, which further reduce stomach acid and allow H pylori to proliferate. That’s right: reflux and heartburn are often caused by stomach acid that is too alkaline, NOT too acidic! (source) That’s why H pylori and reflux/heartburn go hand in hand. And those with low stomach acid production are at risk of SIBO and vitamin deficiencies from malabsorption.
Certain strains of H pylori that produce cytotoxins cause worse inflammation and damage to the stomach lining and intestinal cells and are more closely related to ulcers, gastritis, and cancer.
What Causes H Pylori?
It’s not known exactly how the bacterium is spread, but it has co-existed with humans for thousands of years. It can be transmitted person to person via saliva or stool, or it can hitch a ride to your stomach via undercooked food, especially chicken. Contaminated water is also a risk factor. Poor hygiene is a risk factor, making the bacterium more prevalent in underdeveloped areas.
You can prevent H pylori with good hygiene, like hand washing, but it’s important to note that if your digestive system is in good working order, you may be able to successfully ward off the bacteria if you come in contact with it. This is true of any parasite or pathogenic bacterial infection. The hydrochloric acid (HCl) produced in the stomach should have a pH of about 2, acidic enough to break down food AND kill invaders. If your immune system and digestive tract are working well, you won’t become infected even if you come in contact with these invaders because you should be able to kill them before they take root and proliferate. Many of us have inadequate HCl production, making us more susceptible to pathogens and parasites. HCl production declines with age, which may be one reason why older people have a higher rate of H pylori infection.
What are the Symptoms of H Pylori?
Note that H pylori may be asymptomatic.
- excessive belching, especially after meals
- reflux, heartburn
- nausea and/or vomiting
- lack of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- anemia and deficiencies
- gnawing abdominal pain
How to Get Rid of H Pylori
H pylori can be diagnosed via stool, blood, or breath test. You can order your own stool test here (the GI MAP), which screens for h plyori and lets you know if you have one of the strains linked to cancer or ulcers.
The standard first-line therapy is a one-week “triple pack” consisting of proton pump inhibitors (if you have ulcers, to allow the stomach lining to heal) and the antibiotics clarithromycin and amoxicillin. If you don’t have ulcers or severe symptoms, other antibiotics may be recommended. As I mentioned above, however, I recommend extreme caution with antibiotic use due to antibiotic-resistant strains of H pylori. This stool test gives you results about whether the particular strain you have is resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics.
Here is the herbal protocol I recommend for h pylori:
- mastic, the gum resin of the mastic tree, which kills H pylori. I use this mastic gum formula combined with licorice and zinc to help reduce inflammation and heal the stomach and intestinal lining.
- I use this glutamine-based formula called GI Revive to soothe and heal leaky gut.
- I recommend digestive enzymes alongside treatment, since those with H pylori have compromised digestion.
- Saccharomyces boulardii is a specific probiotic strain that helps treatment.
- I often recommend probiotics during treatment, but it depends on the person. I ALWAYS recommend probiotic replacement therapy once the killing phase is complete.
- Many have reported success using Matula tea. It’s pricey but apparently very effective (and they offer a money back guarantee). I recommend the tea along with the above supplements.
I recommend my basic, anti-inflammatory diet during treatment. I personalize my recommendations to the client, but the guidelines are similar. Cut out inflammatory foods, coffee (which thins the gut lining and irritates an already inflamed stomach), booze, sugar. Incorporate bone broth as often as possible, and consider a fish oil supplement to further reduce inflammation.
What to Do After the Herbal Protocol
I recommend roughly 8 weeks of the herbal protocol, followed by a basic leaky gut protocol with digestive enzymes and the GI Revive for several weeks following treatment. You’ll need a couple months at least of probiotic reinoculation to recolonize the gut with good bacteria. At that point, you may add back in certain foods over time (depending on how restrictive you’ve been): coffee, legumes, certain grains if you can tolerate them, dairy in some circumstances. Remember this is a very personalized program, so you may need to stay off grains and dairy indefinitely depending on your health history. But it’s critical to mind your microbiome and rebuild the probiotic diversity in the gut by getting enough prebiotic fibers.
Make sure your parters get tested and treated too. You can reinfect each other if you get treated and your partner does not. H pylori can also be spread through households and via kissing.
It should go without saying that I always recommend working with a practitioner to guide you through this process. It can be overwhelming and mind boggling to spend hours researching this stuff without help. I get so many clients who have driven themselves crazy sifting through information while trying to go it alone, and keep in mind these are only guidelines. Each person is different and requires a unique approach.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.
Hello, Will Mastic interfere with treatment of SIBO? It is “Illegal” on the SCD diet according to this site.
You want to address one issue at a time and not together. If you have SIBO, you should do the herbal protocol to kill that along with whatever diet works for you (usually low FODMAP/SCD), then get to a point where you can reintroduce some foods, indicating your gut is healing. I haven’t used mastic gum supplements on anyone with has active SIBO, so I can’t say. It’s best to work with a practitioner who can help you.
Hi there, Im missing a conclusion of the treatment – were the patiets / yourself testes for H Pyroli after the process and how many got rid of the barcteria? Thanks a lot
I was recently diagnosed with H pylori & my 5 year old is exhibition some of the symptoms. I have taken two antibiotic treatments to no avail. I have my 5 year old an appointment in a few days. I would like to try this regimen. So, you suggest taking the 2 Mastic formulas for 4-8 weeks with a strict diet. then start the l-glutamine, digestive enzymes, and probiotic regimen for approximately 3 weeks?
I don’t work with children, so you’d need to consult your child’s doctor on whether this protocol would be safe for a child. But yes, I recommend the mastic protocol for at least 4 weeks, followed by gut healing.
I have H Pylori. I am taking Amoxicillin and tums also I eat 2 yogard a day . I don’t want to take any other medicines because I have a iregular Hart beat and I on Diltazum (blood pressure pills) . What should I do
I’ve tried a bottle of the mastic formula, but the H. Pylori came right back – what should I do?
I need something very strong to kill this bacteria once and for all.
You have to follow a very specific protocol for at least 6 weeks. One bottle won’t do it.
Janet – Your irregular heartbeat may be caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. Try googling “irregular heartbeat and H. Pylori” or “Afib and H. Pylori”. There are correlations.
I’m currently living in Nigeria. I was recently diagnosed with H. Pylori bacteria and to commence medical treatment. I was also diagnosed for irregular heartbeat. Are they related?
How can I access your treatment in Nigeria? Have taken lits of drugs to no avail.
Can I do this along side a colon cleanse?
I was recently diagnosed with H Pylori via Endoscopy in preparation for Gastric Sleeve Surgery. I have no symptoms so I was shocked! I drink Khombucha tea often and take food enzymes regularly, as well as wash my hands often! I am reluctant to take antibiotics and prefer a natural course of treat meant!
Would you recommended this for chronic gastritis and H. Pylori infection or just acute?
The Mastic product does work very well for healing gastritis, as it contains zinc carnosine, soothing herbs, and mastic gum, which is good for healing the upper GI tract.
In your experience, is the bloating caused by h pylori situated up higher in the abdomen than bloating caused by SIBO or Candida? My bloating is in the upper abdomen, and although I was treated with antibiotics for h pylori 18 months ago (with a subsequent negative breath test), I wonder if I still have it. The bloating went away for about 4 months after treatment, but then came back. I’ve been treated for SIBO and Candida as well, but those protocols didn’t seem to have the same impact on the bloating that the h pylori treatment did. I’m just wondering if the location of the bloating in the abdomen is a clue to the cause. Thanks!
I need your help. my wife was diagnosed with H pylori a bout one and half years ago, and now the same has re occurred again. how can I get a permanent remedy for this?
I was on a course of antibiotics that I believe caused candida growth. Although I have been off of them for 3 weeks now, I continue to experience excessive bloating, fatigue, and irregular bowel movements. Probiotics are a regular part of my daily ritual, and I have eliminated carbs and sugar. How long should I expect my symptoms to continue for? I am seeing a nutritionist tomorrow who specializes in homeopathic remedies and I would love to know what questions to ask her. Thanks for your help!
Marianna, antibiotics can wipe out your beneficial bacteria and cause dysbiosis and candida/fungus to flourish. You’ll need to repair your gut, do probiotic therapy, and eat a proper diet to feed your microbiome: https://www.maryvancenc.com/how-to-feed-your-microbiome-diet-for-healthy-gut/
Make sure your practitioner specializes in gut health.
Hi MARY my name is Shanell Roberson I need help I have h pylori and gestris. I try mastic gum it did not work for me please help. I been suffering from this like 5 to 6 months now
Hi Shanell, you can reach me through my contact page if you’d like help eradicating h pylori.
I was just diagnosed with H pylori and am experiencing all the negative symptoms. I started the triple therapy today. I am interested in your treatment plan. Can your plan be followed while I take the antibiotics? Please advise.
Hi Sunflower, no, you should not do this recommended protocol with antibiotics. You can follow up the antibiotics with the supplements and gut healing I recommend.
If I have symptoms (belching, burning, anemia, unexplained weight loss) but have not been tested could I start the protocol? How much do you recommend taking?
Hi Courtney, I don’t recommend doing any herbal protocol without testing. Digestive symptoms can mean anything (SIBO, parasite, yeast). You’ll only know exactly what’s going on by testing. It’s never a good idea to fire without aiming first. You don’t want to spend unnecessary money and sanity treating something blindly.
I believe I have SIBO with H Pylori for years. Not sure if I have Candida overgrowth too or not? Can you please advise the best home kit tests that test for all 3 of these? Thanks
Hi Jeremy, I use the GI MAP via DSL labs. It’s the most accurate (via DNA in stool) and has the best array of GI health markers. However, you need to order that through a doctor or nutritionist. You can order stool tests yourself via directlabs.com that will check for h pylori and candida. The BioHealth 401H is a good one, and doctor’s data is ok. You need a separate lactulose breath test for SIBO. You can also order that via directlabs.com
Since the H. Pylori needs hydrogen in the stomach to survive but also causes low stomach-acid which leads to gas and bloating, do you recommend Betaine HCl, PPI or Omeprazole during a herbal protocol?
robert, I recommend a digestive enzyme supplement with HCl UNLESS the person has inflammation in the esophagus. HCl contraindicated for gastritis/esophagitis.
Hi. I have been sick for years. I am 47, female. I have ankylosing spondylitis, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, extreme hairloss, anemia. My functional medicine dr diagnosed me with hpylori and I was excited that maybe I had found an answer. He approach was like yours and I did the treatment for 8 weeks. ˆ I saw some improvements around week 4 but now that I have finished, which was a week ago I feel even worse. I have sent a stool test out to check for eradication. I never had the typical symptoms of acid reflux or stomach pain just all the autoimmunity and my bowels wouldn’t move without Linzess. Thankfully they have been working on their own. Shouldn’t I see improvement? My hair just won’t stop falling out and my dr explained that minerals and nutrients weren’t getting absorbed all these years. But I thought things would be improving at this point. I eat a Paleo diet, take supplements, etc. I know it will take time to heal all the damage but just thought I wouldn’t feel worse.I am just so discouraged. Your opinion? Thank you so much.
Pam, You may not be getting the proper stool testing (I use PCR testing like the DSL GI MAP), and you should also check for SIBO, which causes malabsorption.
I need help I was diagnosed with h-pylori back in March I’m on my second round of antibiotics and I’m still having trouble what should I do I got to go back in 3 months and redo the scope down my throat I am so tired of fighting this please help me and let me know what I should do please help and let me know what I should
Hi Marie Ann, if you’re interested in coaching to help with h pylori, you can contact me via the ‘get in touch’ page.
Hi Mary Vance,
I believe I have an H. Pylori infection. I have had very bad heartburn and other reflux symptoms since Monday. The heartburn is non-stop; Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and Zantac have done nothing to lessen the pain. I got tested (by a blood test) for H. Pylori on Tuesday and am still awaiting the results of that. Although, I strongly believe I will test positive for it, as two people in my household have either recently had the infection or currently have it, so there is a source of close contact.
I was given a PPI, and took my first one to take today to treat my heartburn. Although it might be too soon to tell, I still have bad heartburn.
If I do get tested positive for H. Pylori, and they give me both antibiotics and a PPI to take, should I take the PPI? After reading this article, I think it might be a bad idea?
Hi Leyla, I cannot give you any advice about prescription drugs. You’d need to work with your prescribing practitioner on this.
I have hpylori for years i have take all kinds of antibiotic and still there what you recommend and where I could get it.Thankyou
Hi Ines, if you’re certain you still have it (you may want to consider a test), I link to all the products i recommend in the post.
I’ve been on a long debilitating health battle for over a year in a half now. I have had a burning in my stomach and digestive problems for a long time now. I’ve been diagnosed with Sibo , Hpa axis dysfunction and I truly believe I have H.pylori. it came up borderline on a saliva test and then negative on a western medicine stool test.. Is this common? I was taking mastic gum a month prior and it got better then a month later it got worse..
Thank you so much for this post.
I’m trying to heal my H. Pylori and wanted to know the exact routine I should take (what to take when and how much of each).
I’ve had it for almost 10 years and have never been able to treat it and am in almost constant pain.
I have the GI Revive, but purchasing the others you mentioned.
Becca, it’s not uncommon to get conflicting results due to test accuracy. I recommend the GI MAP stool test for accuracy. Breath tests are fine also.
Hi Hannah, you can take each together as directed on the label. If you’ve been battling it for a while, best to do a stool test so you can see what else if going on a tailor a protocol to other potential GI issues.
Do you recommend taking digestive enzymes during the 6-8 week protocol with Mastic Gum or after? I’m asking because in the article above it says both, alongside treatment and after so I just wanted to double check.
Also, is there a different protocol for a chronic H Pylori infection? I’ve been battling it for years, I have no GI symptoms at all but tested positive for H Pylori many times. For me it causes malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies (especially B vitamins) which then cause hormonal imbalances 🙁
Margaret, yes, I do recommend digestive enzymes throughout treatment bc H Pylori lowers HCl. There isn’t a “different protocol” per se, but you may need to do the protocol longer, and I sometimes recommend discussing with your doctor if you would be a good candidate for antibiotics if you’ve been battling it for long (then follow up with herbs).
This comment is for Pam Jennings … Paleo is one of the culprits for all your problems … it focuses on meat and that is the worst to help you heal. I suggest vegetable based diet with juices that enter your bloodstream and change the body’s chance to fight anything at the blood level. No carbs, no lactose and certainly no sugar and of course NO MEAT!!! Try a Cleanse like the Candida Cleanse. It had helped me tremendously… my two cents based on experience!!
Hi Marina, thanks for your comment, but I wanted to clear up some misinformation here. First off, meat is not the enemy. In fact, many people with digestive issues cannot tolerate a lot of plant fiber bc it is difficult for an inflamed gut to break down. Also, a plant-based diet is very high in carbs, so I’m not sure what you mean about no carbs. Vegetables and juices (which I never recommend unless they are pure green juice, as fruit juice is too high in sugar) are all carbs. Meat and a low carb diet (meaning low in starches, no grains, focusing on leafy vegetables which are easier to digest) can be very healing to people with GI issues.
I have h pylori and have been following a low carb diet for a few months, focusing mainly on organic meats and veggies. I eat one fruit a day , mainly a green apple since it’s lower in sugar. Is that ok?
Hi Jessica, low glycemic fruit is fine while addressing h pylori for most people, but we all respond to foods differently, so I can’t really say without knowing your particular health history. To kill h pylori you’ll also need antibiotics and/or the protocol I mention in the article here.
I have pain in my gut, usually esrly mornings, it wake me up, and hard upper stomach with bloating, on second course of antibiotics, still have the gut symptoms, Please help
Hi Gladys, please submit an application if you’d like help resolving digestive issues: https://www.maryvancenc.com/coaching/
What kinds of hormonal imbalances can h pylori cause? Can it stop you from menstruating?
Rachel, the stress and inflammation h pylori causes may affect sex hormones and thyroid. H pylori also affects absorption of nutrients your body needs to make hormones.
Hi! This was so helpful. Thank you!
Hi love your blog. so very helpful. i have confirmed h pylori via gi map. i’ve had it for a year. do all your patients succeed with mastic gum? i’ve used it and i believe it really aggravates…..
Shahrad, you can use the matula tea mentioned. Ideally you use it with the GastroMend (mastic gum product), but it would probably work on its own.