Treating H. pylori infection
The conventional approach to treating H. pylori infection is with a combination of antibiotics and acid-reducing medication.
The most common antibiotic treatment for H. pylori is a triple therapy of clarithromycin, amoxicillin, and metronidazole; or a combination of levofloxacin, amoxicillin, and metronidazole (5). This approach reduces stomach acid, while antibiotic therapy works to clear the H. pylori bacteria.
However, there are a few problems with this approach. First, H. pylori is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics (6). Second, long-term use of PPIs can have serious side effects, including an increased risk of bone fractures, kidney disease, and dementia (7).
Because antibiotic resistance in some areas of the U.S. has exceeded the accepted threshold considered effective for treatment, a more functional approach is likely more beneficial.
- Schedule an appointment now with a qualified functional medicine provider. Virtual appointments are available!
What’s the functional medicine approach to treat H. pylori?
The first step is to test for H. pylori and identify which strains you’re infected with. This can be done with a stool test or a breath test performed in your doctor’s office. Once you know which strain you have, you can treat them with specific protocols. In some cases, an antibiotic and/or acid-reducing medication may still be recommended during treatment.
There are also a number of dietary supplements shown to be helpful in the treatment of H. pylori, including (8,9,10):
- Oregano oil
- Mastic gum
- DGL licorice
- Zinc carnosine
- Honey and propolis
- Green tea
These supplements can be taken individually or in combination. The best approach is to work with a qualified health practitioner who can tailor a treatment plan to your specific situation.
Should You Use Probiotics for H. pylori infection?
There’s growing evidence that probiotics help treat H. pylori infection. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, and they can be found in supplements and certain foods. Given the increasing resistance of H. pylori to antibiotics, probiotics are part of a new strategy to increase the effectiveness of anti-H. pylori therapy.
Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Saccharomyces boulardii can effectively eradicate H. pylori infection (11).
Saccharomyces boulardii Probiotics and H. Pylori
Saccharomyces boulardii is a well-studied, yeast-based probiotic that has been shown to benefit everything from overall immune health, to Crohn’s disease, to basic digestive health. S. boulardii used in combination with conventional therapy has been shown to be effective at eradicating H. pylori, including infections in children (12).
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria Probiotics and H. Pylori
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics have also been found to support successful treatment of H. pylori. These probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, or added to the diet with a supplement.
The Bottom Line
H. pylori is a common infection that affects nearly half the world’s population. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of H. pylori and how you can be exposed to this bacteria. If you have H. pylori, there are a number of treatment options available, including the functional medicine approach. This approach uses dietary supplements, medications, and probiotics to treat the infection and support gut health. Work with a qualified health practitioner to create a treatment plan that’s right for you.