Standard antibiotic therapy for H. pylori have eradication success rate of under 60%, with several long-term side effects. This post (Part 2) covers how natural nutrients and supplements can lower the rate of H. pylori colonization, reduce symptoms of infections, and improve the outcome of standard antibiotic therapy. Read this post to learn how you can help your body combat H. pylori naturally.
H. pylori 2-Part Series
- H. pylori Infection 101: H. pylori Facts and Associated Diseases (Part 1)
- H. pylori Infection 101: Natural Factors that Combat H. pylori (Part 2)
What is H. pylori?
In most cases, supplemental or nutritional therapies do not permanently eradicate H. pylori. However, some nutrients can lower the levels of bacterial colonization and improve symptoms of stomach damage (R). Nutrition can also enhance the efficacy of standard antibiotic treatment and simultaneously prevent antibiotic side effects (R).
Foods and Supplements that Combat H. pylori
1) Broccoli Sprouts and Brassica Vegetables
Researchers have suggested that sulforaphane may protect the mucosal membranes of the stomach, which may lead to reduced inflammation (R). Improved mucosal membrane health may also make it more difficult for H. pylori to colonize the stomach effectively, explaining the reduced rate of colonization found in some studies (R).
In asymptomatic patients with confirmed H. pylori infection, eating 70 g/day of broccoli sprouts resulted in a significant decrease of colonization intensity (R). Another study also reported a loss of H. pylori colonization following broccoli sprout treatment in four out of nine test subjects (R).
In type 2 diabetic patients infected with H. pylori, broccoli sprouts powder in addition to standard triple therapy showed a considerable improvement in H. pylori eradication, and also showed improved heart health in subjects (R).
In mice, H. pylori infections were effectively eliminated by sulforaphane injections (R).
However, a small study with H. pylori-colonized humans in Japan was unable to demonstrate an improvement when supplementing broccoli sprouts (R).
Other brassica vegetables (cauliflower, swede, headed cabbage, turnip, radish) also contain compounds similar to sulforaphane, called isothiocyanates. Patients who consume high amounts of isothiocyanates had a lower risk of gastric cancer (R).
In a study sponsored by a cranberry juice company, regular consumption of cranberry juice was effective in reducing levels of H. pylori colonization (R).
Cranberry juice contains chemicals which reduce the bacteria’s ability to cling to cells, which lowers their ability to colonize those cells (R). This may explain why supplementation was able to improve treatment outcomes in H. pylori infection.
When cranberry juice was fed to mice infected with H. pylori, 80% of the mice were cured following the treatment. The eradication rate was 20% four weeks after the treatment (R).
Cranberry juice administered for three weeks inhibited H. pylori colonization rates in about 15% of asymptomatic, colonized children. However, in most subjects who became negative for H. pylori, the clearing effect did not persist following cessation of consumption (R).
In combination with traditional anti-H. pylori antibiotics such as metronidazole and clarithromycin, cranberry consumption improved eradication rates and suppressed infections in populations at risk for H. pylori (R).
3) Other Berries
Blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, bilberry and elderberry extracts enhance the susceptibility of H. pylori to clarithromycin and demonstrate strong bacteriostatic activity against clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori strains (R,R).
When adults with H. pylori infection were drinking blueberry juice during a 90-day period, 14% had negative urea breath test on the 35th day. This effect was also maintained on the 90th day (R).
Use of the probiotics Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii improved the eradication rate of H. pylori by ∼10% and reduced adverse effects of therapy by ∼15% (R).
Probiotics with studies to indicate that they are beneficial against H. pylori colonization include: L. acidophilus (R,R), L. reuteri (R,R), L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus with S. thermophilus (R), L. gasseri (R,R,R,R), L. johnsonii (R,R,R, R), L. salivarius (R), L. brevis (R), S. boulardii (R,R), and B. infantis (R).
Probiotics effective in reducing H. pylori therapy side effects include: L. rhamnosus (R), L. reuteri (R,R), S. boulardii (R,R,R,R).B. animalis spp. lactis (R), C. butyricum (R,R), and B. subtilis (R).
The specific mechanisms of action by which probiotics improve infection rates are currently unknown (R). Studies show that probiotics reduced the ability of H. pylori to effectively colonize the stomach, but it is not clear whether the effects are explained by competition for space and nutrients, changes in the stomach pH, chemicals produced by the other bacteria, or other changes caused by probiotic colonization (R).
Consumption of garlic for long periods of time did not affect the occurrence of H. pylori infection, but patients who ingested garlic had significantly lower H. pylori colonization rates than the group who did not (R).
In western China, those who ate raw garlic had a significantly lower level of H. pylori infection (R).
Several studies have proven that consuming vegetables in the garlic family is correlated with a reduced risk of gastric cancer, supporting the theory that compounds in garlic may have beneficial effects on stomach health or on H. pylori colonization (R).
Garlic contains chemicals called thiosulphinates, such as allicin, which has been shown to be toxic to bacteria, which may explain how supplementation was able to improve treatment (R). These chemicals also have strong antioxidant abilities (R). Downstream benefits from antioxidant intake could thus also explain the positive effects of garlic supplementation on infection and other immune processes.
One study found no beneficial effects on the rate of colonization in people ingesting garlic oil (R).
6) Oils and fatty acids
8-week supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) induced bacterial clearance in 53% of patients by the end of treatment and 20% of patients 6 months later (R).
However, a study showed that PUFAs added to a bismuth-based quadruple therapy had no effect on H. pylori eradication or inflammatory markers (R).
A specific omega-3 compound called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) reduced the ability of H. pylori to colonize the gastric lining in 50% of mice. Combining DHA with a standard triple therapy decreased the recurrence of H. pylori infection in mice (R).
Evening primrose oil (rich in the omega-6 unsaturated linoleic acid) heals ulcers in rats (R).
Fish oil exhibited a significantly inferior H. pylori eradication rate compared with a conventional eradication regimen, but it improved symptoms in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia regardless of H. pylori status (R).
7) Olive Oil
Panax ginseng significantly improves the eradication rate when added to the conventional H. pylori eradication regimen (R).
Panax ginseng is known to improve the response of antibody molecules, which protect the body from invasive microbes (R). This may help explain the improvements seen in treatment.
Curcumin has been used to heal peptic ulcers as well as to prevent H. pylori growth (R). Treatment with turmeric healed peptic ulcers in 48% of patients after 4 weeks and 76% of patients after 12 weeks of treatment. Abdominal pain and discomfort significantly lessened during the first and second weeks (R).
Curcumin is capable of eradicating H. pylori in mice, but does not seem to completely eradicate the bacteria in people (R). Poor absorption of curcumin in people could contribute to this ineffectiveness (R, R2).
Licorice ameliorated H. pylori-induced stomach lesions in mice (R).
In patients with peptic ulcer disease or non-ulcer dyspepsia, clarithromycin treatment in combination with licorice helped reduce colonization levels (R).
In patients with peptic ulcer disease, licorice is as effective as bismuth at reducing H. pylori (R).
Some chemicals in licorice help reduce inflammation and improve immunity, which could help explain the benefits of supplementation (R).
Ginger root has traditionally been used for treating various gastrointestinal ailments including dyspepsia, peptic ulcer, motion sickness, and inflammation (R).
In animal studies, ginger extract prevents and treats H. pylori-induced infection and inflammation (R).
Studies have shown that ginger inhibits bacterial quorum sensing, which could explain the decreased rate of infection (R).
13) Mastic Gum
Mastic gum is a resin produced by the Pistacia plant that is being investigated for the treatment of stomach ailments (R).
Clinical trials of mastic gum in H. pylori treatment show both negative and positive outcomes, indicating that benefits may be limited or purely supplemental (R).
In some studies, mastic gum was unable to eradicate H. pylori infection in mice or humans (R).
In mice, lactoferrin decreased bacterial colonization and H. pylori-induced gastritis (R).
There have been both positive and negative results in clinical trials testing the effects of oral lactoferrin (R). The supplementation of lactoferrin, in addition to antibiotic and proton pump inhibitor therapy, increased the rate of effective eradication and decreased side effect severity (R).
Another study with H. pylori-positive patients showed that administration of lactoferrin alone effectively suppressed the colonization of H. pylori in the stomach (R).
15) Green Tea
Green tea extract was also shown to partially inhibit enzymes used by the bacteria, which could limit their growth (R).
In animal studies, green tea catechin administration resulted in a 36% H. pylori eradication (R).
Similarly, the administration of green tea polyphenol in drinking water dose-dependently suppressed H. pylori infection in animal studies (R).
Propolis and raw honey have anti-H. pylori activity. Propolis also has anti-inflammatory and immune stimulatory activity– both mechanisms clearly important in the pathophysiology of H. pylori infection (R,R).
Oak tree and manuka honey, exhibit strong anti-H. pylori activity. In patients with dyspepsia, honey intake at least once a week was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of H. pylori infection (R).
More than 80 plant extracts exhibit anti-H. pylori activity. In most cases, however, studies in humans are lacking. Some of the plants, compounds, and supplements are listed below:
- Acacia nilotica, a medicinal plant native to Africa and India (R).
- Apigenin, a natural product found in various plants, was effective in Mongolian gerbils. Apigenin has the remarkable ability to inhibit H. pylori-induced gastric cancer progression (R).
- Apple peel polyphenols, effective in mice (R).
- Aristolochia paucinervis, a Moroccan medicinal plant (R).
- Avocado plant (R).
- Bacopa or water hyssop (R).
- Basil (R).
- Berberine (from the barberry bush and goldenseal) (R,R).
- Bixa Orellana from tropical Americas (R).
- Black Cumin seed (R).
- Brown seaweed (R).
- Byrsonima fagifolia and B. intermedia, Brazilian traditional herbal remedy, leaf extract (R).
- Carvacrol, a compound found in the essential oil of oregano, oil of thyme, oil obtained from pepperwort, and wild bergamot (R).
- Casuarina equisetifolia, a plant native to southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania (R).
- Centaurea solstitialis flowers, Turkish anti-ulcerogenic folk remedy (R).
- Chamomile (R).
- Chelerythrine, an alkaloid present in the plant Chelidonium majus (greater celandine) (R).
- Chinese mushroom extracts (R).
- Cinnamaldehyde, found in cinnamon (R).
- Davilla nitida leaf extract, a South- and Central-American plant (R).
- Eucalyptus (R).
- Eugenol, found in clove oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil and bay leaf (R).
- Evodia rutaecarpa fruit alkaloids, traditionally used in Chinese medicine (R).
- Fagonia Arabica, a tropical herb found in India (R).
- Feijoa sellowiana fruit extract, a South American tree (R).
- Fermented rice extract (R).
- Fingerroot (Boesenbergia rotunda), found in China and Southeast Asia, effective in Mongolian gerbils (R,R).
- Green Algae (Haematococcus and Chlorococcum), effective in mice (R,R).
- Hancornia speciose, South American plant bark extract (R).
- Impatiens balsamina, a Taiwanese folk medicinal plant (R).
- Juniper (R).
- Larrea divaricate, or chaparral, a South American plant(R).
- Lavender (R).
- Lemon grass essential oil, effective in mice (R,R).
- Lemon verbena (R).
- Licoisoflavone B and licoricidin, found in licorice (R).
- Marjoram (R).
- Mediterranean cypress (R).
- Melaleuca alternifolia or narrow-leaved paperbark (R).
- Mint (R).
- Myrtle (R).
- Nepeta camphorata and argolica essential oils, found in Europe and Asia (R).
- Nutmeg (R).
- Okinawamozuku (Cladosiphon okamuranus), edible seaweed from Okinawa, effective in Mongolian gerbils (R).
- Okra (R).
- Pau D’arco (pink trumpet tree) bark tea (R).
- Peppermint oil (R).
- Plumbagin, found in the Plumbago plants (R).
- Polyphenolic catechins, found in green tea (R).
- Pomegranate (R).
- Qualea parviflora bark extract, a South American plant (R).
- Quercetin, a compound found in many fruits, vegetables, leaves, and grains (R,R).
- Ravensara aromatic, from Madagascar (R).
- Rosemary (R,R).
- Sanguinarine, found in the bloodroot plant (R).
- Sicilian lemon essential oil (R).
- Strychnos pseudoquina, a Brazilian plant (R).
- Tannins, present in various plant tissues (R).
- Vitamin C eradicates pylori infection in 30% of patients treated (R).
- Walnut (Juglans regia) (R).
- Yerba Mate (R)
- Zinc (R,R).
- Refined deep seawater (RDSW) – actually exhibited anti-H. pylori activity and its intake significantly decreased H. pylori colonization in infected patients (R).
Factors that Increase the Risk of H. pylori Infections
Studies have found that the H. pylori bacteria thrive better in conditions with high salt, which may explain this correlation (R).
Smoking patients with more virulent H. pylori infection have a strongly increased risk of gastric cancer (R).
Buy Supplements for H. pylori
- Acute inflammation during H. pylori infection is characterized by enhanced production of proinflammatory Th1/Th17 cytokines, and production of specific antibodies in the stomach and duodenum (R).
- Chronic inflammation, associated with long-term gastrointestinal colonization, is reflected by suboptimal Th1 response observed at later stages of the infection, as well as by an increase in Treg lymphocyte count (R).
- IL-8 is the most significantly up-regulated gene in H. pylori infection (R).
- Higher pylori IgG levels were significantly associated with higher serum IL-6 levels among H. pylori-infected individuals (R).
- H. pylori infection in children is associated with high Treg response, as well as low Th1 and Th17 response (R).
- Dendritic cells exposed to H. pylori are programmed to become tolerogenic, driving Treg differentiation and thereby protection from asthma, through the production of IL-18 (R).
- H. pylori-infected children have higher transforming growth factor β (TGF‑β), a marker of regulatory T‑cell (Treg) responses (R).
- Several cytokines including IL-6, IL-10, and TGF-β1 as well as Foxp3+ cell numbers have been shown to be higher; however, some other cytokines consisting of IL-1β, IL-17A, and IL-23 are lower in infected children than in infected adults (R).
- For reasons that are unclear, the Treg response in children does not persist into adulthood, leading to the reversal of the suppressed Th1 and Th17 responses and increased gastric inflammation (R).