Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are bacteria that make their home in the stomach lining and cause inflammation and infection. An estimated two-thirds of the world’s population is infected with these bacteria. That may sound like a high number, but the good news is there are some effective natural ways to eliminate H. pylori.
The H. pylori microorganisms are responsible for up to 80 percent of gastric ulcers, 90 percent of duodenal ulcers, and can have a role in various other gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, bloating, abdominal burning pain, frequent burping, and vomiting. Less common symptoms can include fatigue, heartburn, tarry stools, anemia, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and bad breath.
H. pylori can be transmitted via saliva, fecal matter, and vomit, so kissing or sharing utensils or drinking containers with someone who has the bacteria, and changing diapers may lead to an infection. Many people who harbor H. pylori never experience symptoms but individuals who do develop chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and who don’t get treatment may face serious complications, such as bleeding ulcers or stomach cancer.
8 natural ways to eliminate H. pylori infection
Most natural treatment options for H. pylori result in a significant reduction in the number of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, but they do not achieve complete eradication. You may need to repeat treatment and/or use natural treatments to complement a conventional approach. However, you should know that conventional medical treatment (which typically consists of one or more antibiotics plus possibly an acid reducer such as a proton pump inhibitor, histamine blocker, or bismuth subsalicylate) does not guarantee complete eradication either. Talk to a trusted healthcare provider when exploring natural ways to treat H. pylori infection.
Use of beneficial bacteria supplements has been shown to improve the eradication of H. pylori infections that have been treated with conventional means. Three specific strains of probiotics that have been shown to be effective include Lactobacillus fermentum, L. casei, and L. brevis.
A new (2017) study reports that taking probiotics before and after conventional antibiotic treatment is critical because of the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. The reviewers concluded that “when probiotics are consumed in conjunction with antibiotics, the eradication rate may be improved through modulating the immune response and decreasing the adverse effects of routine drugs leading to gastroprotection.”
2. Green tea.
Several studies have shown that green tea may reduce the prevalence of H. pylori as well as help destroy or slow the growth of the bacteria. A 2015 study, for example, found that patients with indigestion who consumed green or black tea at least once a week had a lower prevalence of H. pylori than those who did not consume the teas.
A 2009 study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School evaluated the use of green tea against H. pylori in vivo and in vitro. The authors found that consuming green tea can prevent inflammation of the stomach lining if it is ingested before exposure to the bacteria. Catechins, the potent antioxidants in green tea, also have been shown to help eradicate H. pylori. [Editor's note: We recommend a high quality, all natural green tea like those from our partner, Bigelow.]
These aromatic cloves are known for their antibiotic properties, and they hold true for H. pylori infection. According to results of a 2016 clinical trial, individuals with H. pylori who ate about 3 grams for lunch and dinner showed a significant reduction in the bacteria population. Making garlic a regular part of your diet may help keep infection at bay.
4. Broccoli sprouts.
Sulforaphane appears to be the secret ingredient in broccoli sprouts. Research conducted in both animals and people has indicated that these young sprouts have an ability to reduce gastric inflammation, lower H. pylori populations, and also improve risk factors for cardiovascular disease. A 2017 study, for example, noted that sulforaphane “contributes to the protection of GI mucosa against oxidative injury induced by H. pylori.” Sprouts are a nutritious addition to salads, pitas, and smoothies.
5. Anti-H. pylori diet.
Investigators have devised an anti-H. pylori diet supported by promising results from various studies. Foods demonstrating some of the best activity against the bacteria include broccoli sprouts, highbush blueberry juice, and blackcurrant seed oil. Others include foods high in probiotics (e.g., kefir, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables), berries, wild caught salmon (and other fish rich in omega-3s), raw honey (especially Manuka), and cruciferous vegetables. Foods to avoid include caffeine, carbonated beverages, spicy foods, pickled foods, and low-fiber grains.
6. Licorice root.
Use of licorice root is a common natural remedy for stomach ulcers, which makes it easy to imagine it could be helpful in fighting H. pylori as well. In a 2014 study, the experts compared licorice with bismuth in a four-week, quadruple treatment approach on 60 patients with peptic ulcer disease. All participants received amoxicillin, metronidazole, and omeprazole; half also took licorice while the other half took bismuth subsalicylate. Use of licorice was found to be as effective as bismuth.
This is a promising, novel approach that utilizes ultraviolet light applied directly to the stomach lining. Use of phototherapy may be especially helpful for individuals who cannot tolerate antibiotics. Thus far, research has shown that the bacteria return once treatment has ended, but the therapy appears to be safe and feasible, so more exploration is warranted.
8. Bee products.
Both honey and propolis (resinous substance collected by honeybees from various plants) have been shown to be active against H. pylori. Raw and Manuka honey seem to possess the most antibacterial impact while propolis (available as a supplement) has more than 300 natural ingredients, including phenolic compounds that inhibit the growth of H. pylori. Honey and propolis may work best when used along with standard treatments for infection.
The art of treating gut bacteria with natural remedies has yet to be perfected, so it’s best to take doses suggested by your healthcare provider or the manufacturer.
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