A Functional Nutrition approach to Helicobacter Pylori infection

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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that infects the stomach lining, often leading to chronic inflammation (gastritis) and is a major cause of peptic ulcers. Because of its effect on the gut lining, H Pylori can impair the stomach’s ability to produce gastric acid and intrinsic factor, both of which are crucial for nutrient absorption – especially Iron and Vitamin B12.


Discovered in 1982, H. pylori is unique in its ability to survive the acidic environment of the stomach by producing urease, an enzyme that neutralizes stomach acid. This bacteria is typically acquired in childhood and can persist throughout life if not treated. H. pylori infection is common worldwide and is associated with various gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach cancer. In South Africa, diagnosis is made through stool or biopsy tests. Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics and acid-reducing medications.


Personally, I prefer to guide clients who test positive for H. pylori away from double or triple antibiotic therapies due to high resistance rates and their detrimental impact on beneficial gut bacteria. Acid-reducing medications also pose risks of nutrient deficiencies and may contribute to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).


Natural approaches

Oregano oil: Research published in Phytotherapy Research and Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology highlights oregano oil’s potent antibacterial effects against H. pylori. Carvacrol, its primary compound, exhibits significant antibacterial activity, suggesting it as a natural treatment option.

Berberine: A review article in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology highlighted the broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects of berberine, including its efficacy against H. pylori. It disrupts the bacterial cell membrane and inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis, which helps reduce H. pylori colonization and infection .

Zinc carnosine: Explored in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, zinc carnosine promotes gastric ulcer healing and reduces inflammation induced by H. pylori. It inhibits bacterial adhesion to gastric cells, potentially reducing bacterial load and associated pathogenic effects.

Sulforaphane: Sulforaphane has been shown to possess potent antibacterial activity. It disrupts the bacterial cell wall and inhibits the growth and colonization of H. pylori in the stomach lining.  Additionally, sulforaphane reduces inflammation in the gastric mucosa by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, such as NF-κB and COX-2, which are involved in the inflammatory response associated with H. pylori infection.

Saccharomyces Boulardii: Sacc Boulardii is a probiotic yeast which has the ability to modulate the gut microbiota. By interacting with immune cells in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, Saccharomyces boulardii can modulate immune responses. This modulation may help regulate the inflammatory response triggered by H. pylori infection, potentially reducing gastric inflammation and associated symptoms.


Personal approach

In my practice, I prefer combining these nutrients and natural treatments to manage H. pylori infections effectively. This approach aims to achieve positive therapeutic outcomes without the adverse effects associated with triple antibiotic therapy. Each intervention supports gut health, reduces inflammation, and targets H. pylori infection, offering a comprehensive alternative or adjunct to conventional treatments.