Hey there little guys…aren’t you cute? NOT! These tangly-looking bacteria have, I suspect, been the cause of my chronic heartburn for the past 10-15 years. I used to suffer with heartburn all the time before children – and pregnancy was 100x worse – but since I changed my nutrition to REAL FOOD about 5 years ago, I managed my symptoms pretty well. Using lemon essential oil topically also helped, as well as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice before eating. However in times of stress or times of indulgence (think Christmas, Easter & holidaying foods!) my heartburn would come back with a vengeance – and even after getting back on track with healthy eating, the acid reflux would hang around for a couple of months after, triggered by anything that I ate. Even in good times, random unassociated foods would occasionally trigger an episode.
I knew deep-down that my issues were caused by more than just foods, and that the usual treatments of apple cider vinegar, Betaine HCL, digestive enzymes and probiotics, while as good as these natural products are, weren’t addressing the root cause of my digestive problems – but rather they were masking it.
Last year when I started my Functional Medicine mentorship with Dr Daniel Kalish, I was super keen to do a GI stool test to screen for pathogens in my own gut (healers also need healing!). I suspected – in fact, I’d say innately knew – that I had a h.pylori infection. When my GI test came back positive, I was so excited. That sounds weird, I know! But now I knew that there was something very real causing my heartburn – and I had a very thorough protocol, passed down to me by world expert Dr Kalish, to follow to get rid of those little critters (as well as a number of other pathogens that were no doubt compounding my gut issues, and causing other treacheries in other areas of my body).
Naturally, I wanted to dive right in and eliminate the h.pylori, but the issue with doing that is that my adrenals were also burnt out – which also means my immune system (my secretory IgA response) was low as well. With low-immunity, going in to get rid of the bugs would not be very effective, and would no doubt result in a re-emergence – and possibly a re-emergence of a stronger breed. So I’ve been spending the last few months rebuilding my adrenals and immune system, and reestablishing my HPA axis, to make the treatment plan more effective. I’ve just started my h.pylori elimination phase last week – and I’m feeling as powerful as a warrior!
What is H.Pylori
- Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium that is found in the gastric mucous layer or adherent to the epithelial lining of the stomach. Causes damage to stomach lining and reduces stomach acid production.
- H. pylori causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. Stress compounds this as when we’re stressed, chronic infections flare up to cause symptoms or conditions.
- Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population is infected with H. pylori (a lot, hey?! Best to test for it!).
- H.pylori can be passed on through saliva (kissing, sharing drinks, etc) or through foods/soil infected with stool.
- Infected persons have a 2- to 6-fold increased risk of developing gastric cancer and mucosal-associated-lymphoid-type (MALT) lymphoma compared with their uninfected counterparts (CDC).
- Again, better safe than sorry to test, and not just ‘mask’ issues with HCL, probiotics and digestive enzymes. These supplements can make you ‘feel’ better, but the chronic infection will still be there, and can lead to ulcers and cancer. I will never treat digestive issues with these products unless a client does a stool test for pathogens. I would never want ‘mask’ a chronic infection, which could eventually lead to cancer.
- Heartburn, reflux, indigestion.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Morning nausea
- Can stunt growth in children.
- Can cause / compound eating disorders.
How to test?
There are a number of ways to test for h.pylori. Most GP’s will test using a blood test, or occasionally a breath test. I use a Stool Antigen test for H.pylori, as it is a more sensitive test for picking up an infection.
- Stool Antigens -This is how I test for h.pylori. If test is positive, you will definitely have an infection.
- Blood antibodies IgG, IgM, IgA – can produce false readings as antibodies may be circulating in the body from an early infection, even though there is no longer an infection.
- Breath Test – will detect an acute infection, but usually misses a chronic infection.
- Salivary Antibodies – largely discredited.
- Biopsy – along with a stool test, this is also a very accurate way of detecting h.pylori.
If you suspect you have h.pylori, or if you simply want to get to the root cause of your health issues with a scientific, yet natural approach, contact me to book in for a Functional Medicine Consult, or to find out more about what I can do to help you achieve optimal functioning health!
Much Biomey Love,
Filipa Bellette, PhD
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Doctor of Philosophy – Creativity