The typical doctor-ordered protocol for Helicobacter pylori eradication is antibiotics twinned with proton-pump inhibitors – PPIs. However, given we’re on the verge of a so-called ‘antibiotic apocalypse’, with resistance at an all-time high, people can be forgiven for pursuing natural alternatives.
It’s not just antibiotics: PPIs come with their own risks. In two recent studies, the acid reflux drugs were correlated to more than double the risk of stomach cancer and a susceptibility to liver inflammation. Risks that are avoided if you can get rid of H. pylori naturally.
Helicobacter Pylori: What Is It, and Why Is It Bad?
Helicobacter pylori is a common bacterial infection. So common, in fact, that it’s estimated to be present in 50% of the global population. In most cases patients infected with the spiral-shaped bacteria don’t know about it and suffer from no symptoms. The majority are infected in childhood, and higher rates of incidence are recorded among those living in poverty or in crowded environments.
Far from being a 21st century bacterium, H. Pylori is believed to have coexisted with humans for thousands of years. So what’s the problem, you might logically ask. Well, for one epidemiological studies show that the mere presence of H. pylori makes your risk of developing non-cardia gastric cancer up to six times higher. For this reason, the International Agency for Research on Cancer added the bacterium to its list of carcinogens in 1994. Data also suggests a link between H. pylori and gastric and duodenal ulcers, as well as stomach problems like bloating and nausea.
It is because of these risks that doctors waste no time in prescribing aggressive treatment for those found to be carrying the bacterium. However, it should be noted that there is more than one perspective when it comes to H. pylori. In fact there are several beneficial effects of colonisation, one of which is that it plays a protective role against bacterial diarrhoea in children. As noted in a 2014 research paper published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, “Given the long period of H. pylori colonisation in the human stomach, mutual benefits obliged both partners to adapt themselves in order to establish stable symbiosis.”
The authors go on to add that while “we need to eradicate virulent H. pylori in people with adverse clinical manifestations, this conclusion cannot be generalised to all H. pylori positive subjects.”
That’s another topic for another day, though. If you’ve found your way to this blog, chances are you’re more interested in learning about the best natural cures for eradicating H. pylori altogether. Perhaps the idea of the typical triple therapy (two separate antibiotics plus acid reducers) does not sit well with you – and you’re not alone.
7 Effective Natural Remedies for Helicobacter Pylori
Without further ado then, let's dive in to the best natural compounds and ingredients for H. pylori removal. The following are among the most well-researched food-based treatments, with studies dating back to the 1990s.
1. Mastic Gum
Mastic gum is probably the most cited natural treatment for H. pylori – and for good reason. A resin from the pistachio tree, mastic gum’s ability to kill the Helicobacter bacterium was first reported in 1998 and has been referenced repeatedly since. The gum’s antimicrobial agents are numerous and include compounds in its essential oils, among them a-terpineol and (E)-methyl isoeugenol.
In a randomised trial conducted in 2010, H. pylori-positive patients were given 350mg of mastic gum three times per day for a fortnight; five weeks later, a third of them had eradicated the bug. Although that may figure might not seem like cause for ebullient celebration, when you consider that mastic gum is usually taken alongside other alternative treatments for H. pylori, it is encouraging. Mastic gum supplements are also widely available and, better still, cheap to buy.
2. Broccoli Sprouts
A component of broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane is highly effective against resident Helicobacter pylori, including antibiotic-resistant strains.
A potent antioxidant and formidable detoxifier, sulforaphane eradicated the bug in 78% of subjects consuming broccoli sprouts twice a day for a week. The report's authors added that the treatment “seems to enhance chemoprotection of the gastric mucosa against H. pylori-induced oxidative stress.”
Sulforaphane has also been shown to inhibit urease activity provoked by gastric H. pylori infections, which otherwise would generate ammonia, impede gastric acidity and promote inflammation.
Field of Greens powder contains 400mg of broccoli sprouts per serving, in addition to a number of other alkalising greens. Aim for two scoops per day as part of your natural Helicobacter protocol. You can add broccoli sprouts powder to water or your usual smoothie recipe.
Incidentally, broccoli sprout benefits don’t stop at destroying bad bacteria: they’re also a rich source of enzymes, containing up to 100 times more than most other vegetables and fruits. What’s more, the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts has significant anti-cancer properties.
3. Matula Herbal Tea
Matula herbal tea is not a cheap option, but it does appear to be successful in wiping out H. pylori. The tea is a fusion of five wild (non-GMO) herbs: oleaceae, asteraceae, alliaceae, fabaceae and myrtaceae. Some of these contain antibacterial compounds which can kill the bacteria, and the tea also protects stomach lining by regulating the production of gastric acid.
Matula tea is extremely well-reviewed, and the company who make it promise to refund you the cost if it does not destroy the infection in 30 days. Just drink two cups per day and retest for H. pylori 30-45 days after your last cuppa. According to the manufacturers, it is crucial to consume probiotics throughout your tea treatment. Which brings us nicely on to our fourth remedy…
Taking probiotics is probably the single best thing you can do for the health of your gut, since multiple factors affect the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. There should, of course, be more good than bad (most agree the split should be 85% to 15%), but harmony is disrupted by poor diet, elevated stress levels, alcohol, inactivity and antibiotic usage.
Pertaining to H. pylori specifically, probiotics make eradication more likely in those who favour the traditional triple therapy. The idea is that probiotics build up the good bacteria decimated by antibiotics, helping to restore balance and thus facilitate the pylori’s removal. They also counteract the negative effects of the drugs on the GIT.
Of course, chances are you don’t want to use antibiotics at all. Can probiotics help on their own? In truth there hasn’t been quite enough studies to assess the efficacy of probiotics on a mono-therapeutic basis, however the potential of certain strains has been suggested (L. acidophilus, L. fermentum, L. casei). Thirty-three clinical trials of the effect of probiotics on H. pylori concluded there was a significantly higher eradication rate among the supplemented groups compared to control groups, indicating a synergistic benefit.
Multi-strain probiotics are probably best, since a 2011 study showed that multi-strain treatment eradicated H. pylori in 13 of 40 dyspeptic patients. Using probiotics alongside one or more of the options on this list will certainly do no harm, and it should absolutely be part of your regime if you elect to follow the conventional pharmaceutical treatment.
At present Progurt is the strongest probiotic on the market, with each sachet giving one trillion beneficial bacteria – including L. acidophilus. Its super strength means fast colonisation, so you don’t have to consume every day: one sachet every few days – or even one a week – will adequately repopulate your good gut flora.
5. Manuka Honey
In common with Matula tea, Manuka honey is expensive: but it’s also one of the most useful natural products for H. pylori eradication. The best kind to use is Active Manuka, with a UMF rating of at least 10+.
UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor, a rating indicating the honey contains non-peroxide antimicrobial properties from methylglyoxal (MGO). Like broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane, it is this organic compound which directly tackles the Helicobacter. If there is no UMF figure stated on your Manuka, look out for an MGO number instead: you’re after one with a rating of 100.
While there is evidence to show that this medical-grade Manuka can inhibit the bacterium, no human trials have proved it capable of eradicating it altogether if used as a single therapy. Thus, it is perhaps best used as an adjunct with other products on this list – mastic gum and broccoli sprouts, perhaps. A good idea is to regularly add a spoonful to tea (Matula, or even green tea which has demonstrated anti-H. pylori adhesion effects in a small trial with Rhesus monkeys) or probiotic yogurt.
6. N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is known as a biofilm disrupter. Thus, rather than targeting H. pylori, it destroys the biofilm in which the bacteria resides. Think of biofilm as a protective casing for the bacteria, helping it survive antibiotics and endure in the stomach.
Numerous studies show that NAC augments the activity of allopathic therapy by reducing biofilm thickness. It is no stretch to imagine it also has efficacy when paired with alternative treatments. A typical recommended dose is 600mg two or three times per day.
7. Black Seed
Black seed (Nigella sativa) has been well-studied for Helicobacter pylori owing to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. One recent investigation, conducted in 2016, specifically looked at a combination of black seed and honey (known as “Dosin”). Nineteen patients who had a positive result for Helicobacter were given a teaspoon containing 6g of ground black seed and 12g of honey, three times per day after meals for two weeks. Of the fourteen who completed the study, eight had rid themselves of the infection when tested a month later.
Nigella sativa seed has also shown anti-H. pylori effects on its own. In a clinical trial from Saudi Arabia in 2010, 2g of black seed per day plus omeprazole achieved comparable results to a fortnight of triple therapy, giving a 66.7% eradication rate. 1g and 3g of black seed were less effective, though they achieved similar results to those engendered by a single antibiotic.
Black seed is a favourite ingredient of traditional medicine throughout Asia, where it has been used for thousands of years. Go for a good-quality black seed oil with a high thymoquinone content. Revitacell Black Seed Oil is a great option. If you want to replicate the previous trial, consume a few teaspoons of black seed oil per day, plus a few of Manuka honey.
There you have it: eight of the best natural therapies for H. pylori. And though this list is long, it’s by no means exhaustive. Other natural ingredients often touted for their benefits include pure slippery elm, fish oil, red wine, liquorice root, garlic, cranberry and aloe vera juice, turmeric, olive, oregano and coconut oil and vitamin C.
More Advice for Eradicating H. pylori Naturally
Are there any other tips worth following if you want to get rid of H. pylori? Why, yes, as it happens. The main thing is to avoid that which the bacterium loves – sugar, refined and processed foods (including processed oils which are pro-inflammatory) and gut-damaging allergens like gluten, dairy and soy. If you can manage it, cut down or cut out both coffee (which thins the gut lining) and alcohol. Use digestive enzymes alongside your treatment, since those with H. pylori tend to have compromised digestion.
As noted by Dr. Josh Axe, drinking contaminated water is one of the main ways you can contract H. pylori. Thus you might want to consider installing a water filter which gets rid of common contaminants such as heavy metals (lead, copper), chemicals (chlorine, fluoride) and pesticide traces.
These tips will certainly improve your chances of eradication, although it’s tricky to recommend one of the above natural products since what works for one may not work for another. What can be agreed, however, is that natural products come with no serious side effects; the same cannot be said for high doses of powerful antibiotic drugs.
Incidentally, if you get rid of Helicobacter using one of the above treatments, it’s advisable to keep using said ingredients intermittently after the bug has gone. This will help to ensure that it does not return. For example, mastic gum can be taken for one month twice a year; it is similarly easy to continue using black seed oil and Manuka honey. Of course, regular probiotic usage has its own benefits beyond keeping Helicobacter down.
You may have to experiment, but with the right protocol you can treat Helicobacter naturally. Good luck!