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H pylori and probiotics: do they improve treatment & side effects?

Research on H pylori and probiotics demonstrates that probiotics can enhance the effectiveness of H pylori treatment and reduce its side effects.

But what does it mean for you?

Should you take probiotics alongside your H pylori treatment?

If so, which ones, how many, and how often?

This video and article helps you understand how probiotics can help you fight H pylori, restore balance to your digestive system and improve your symptoms.

A recent study on H pylori and probiotics

When I reviewed the 2015 H pylori research I came across a meta analysis study on H pylori and probiotics.

A meta analysis is a great way to prove or disprove a point because it pulls together many studies and pools the data.

You end up with what most people argue is a more robust set of information on which to base conclusions.

In this meta analysis, they looked at 45 well designed studies, including almost 7,000 patients.

Here’s what they said:

The use of probiotics plus standard therapy was associated with an increase in the H. pylori eradication rate, and a reduction in adverse events resulting from treatment in the general population.”

A slightly more detailed conclusion said:

Probiotics supplementing standard therapy in patients infected with H. pylori increased the eradication rate and decreased the overall rate of adverse events, independent of patient age, genera or dosage of probiotics, time of standard therapy or assessment, and therapy regimen. This study may represent a future strategy in the treatment of patients with H. pylori infection.”

Put simply, adding probiotics to H pylori treatment:

  • Improved H pylori eradication (from 72-82%)
  • Reduced the side effects of treatment

These benefits happened no matter what the specific probiotic was, and for people of all ages.

I wonder why doctors don’t tell you this?

(Hint: it’s because they don’t typically read medical journals, even though they could easily do so if they wished… for example, the study quoted above is available to everyone here.)

Setting the scene with H pylori and probiotics

There’s been a massive amount of research on something called the “microbiome” over the last decade.

Your microbiome is the sum total of microbes in your gut.

Advances in technology have allowed scientists to estimate how many microbes we have, and which ones.

It turns out that you have ten times more microbes in your gut than human cells in your entire body.

There are more than 1,200 different types of bacteria, fungi and parasites.

They weigh around 1-2 kilograms g (2-5 pounds).

Your microbes help you digest food, support your immune system, detoxify you, fend of “bad bugs”, and make chemicals that govern your mood and energy levels, as well as your weight.

Balance is everything

While most people think H pylori is a bad guy, it may actually be a normal part of the bacterial population.

Many different types of bacteria seem to have the ability to cause problems if they overgrow, or if they’re made more “angry”.

Other lifestyle factors – stress, diet, trauma, injury, food allergy, toxins – appear to have an ability to make good bugs turn bad.

When your microbes are in a healthy balance, you feel good.

When they fall out of balance, you can develop symptoms.

Imbalances can cause problems

Imbalances in your microbes can cause a lot of problems.

You can develop imbalances – known as “dysbiosis” in several areas of your body:

  • Digestive tract
  • Oral cavity / throat
  • Genitourinary tract (often times you have the same or similar imbalances as your gut)
  • Skin

We’re predominantly concerned with your digestive system here.

Dysbiosis in your digestive system can take several forms:

  • Bacterial
  • Fungal
  • Parasitic

You can have high or low levels of good bacteria, high levels of bad bacteria, high fungal levels, parasitic infections and so on.

The only way you can know what’s really going on is to run a comprehensive test.

Is H pylori an infection or an imbalance?

We know from fossils that H pylori has been hanging out in the human gut for tens of thousands of years.

It’s nothing new.

So this begs the question of whether it’s an infection or a normal part of the gut flora.

Could H pylori be “activated” in some people so it becomes “bad”?

Are other factors responsible for H pylori’s disease-causing ability?

Could stress, diet, injury, nutrient deficiency and other factors make H pylori angrier and nastier?

It’s a tricky one and too complex to explore here.

Certainly I’ve found from working with thousands of people that H pylori isn’t to blame in some cases.

It can hang out in the gut without causing any symptoms at all – people’s symptoms can clear up completely just be changing diet and removing other bugs (parasites, Candida, etc.)

Nevertheless, until we know otherwise, I still think it’s important to deal with H pylori when it’s found in lab testing.

H pylori and probiotics treatment

Research indicates that probiotics improve H pylori eradication rates, and reduce side effects.

You can add probiotics to your diet by eating these foods:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Picked vegetables (can really irritate the gut, so I recommend avoiding)
  • Fermented soy (e.g. Miso) although I typically recommend avoiding soy if you have digestive problems
  • High quality, live cultured yogurt (must say “contains live cultures” not “made with liver cultures)
    • Goat products can sometimes be more easily tolerated if people you have issues with cow’s milk
    • You can make your own probiotic yogurt, too

Alternatively, you can use probiotic supplements, which come in capsules, powders and liquids these days.

There are so many different supplements on the market that it becomes really hard to know which ones to use.

A high quality, multi-strain probiotic is the best way to go for general use.

My clients have reported good success using the following products:

  • Adult Formula CP-1 by Custom Probiotics
  • Candida Pro PROSymbiotics (this is the one I use)
  • Prescript-Assist TM

Because of individual responses to probiotics, I’m not suggesting you use any of the above products.

Please know that your response to a given probiotic will be unique to you based on your gut, the composition of the supplement, the time of day you take it, and whether you take it with or without food.

Typically when I recommend probiotics, I do so on the back of comprehensive lab testing that tells me more about a patient’s digestive health and bacterial balance.

In other words, a lot more info than simply whether they have H pylori.

Info on the kinds of testing I use can again be found here or in my free ebook on digestive testing here.

How to take H pylori treatment and probiotics together

If you’d like to try it, I recommend you take 1-2 capsules of a good multi-strain probiotic at least 3 hours away from your antibiotics.

That way, you at least minimize the chances of antibiotics killing the probiotics before they get a chance to do some beneficial work in your gut!

Obviously this strategy isn’t going to work for everyone, but the stats show it’s worth a try.

If you also shift onto an anti-inflammatory diet, use herbs and healing nutrients for your digestive tract, it’s likely that probiotics will have an even more beneficial effect on your digestive system.

H pylori and probiotics – summary

Science tells us that treatment for H pylori and probiotics taken together improves eradication and reduces side effects.

A good multi-strain probiotic supplement taken twice daily, 3 hours away from your antibiotics, is a sensible strategy.

In my experience, dietary changes enhance this effect and help to reduce your symptoms.

A more scientific approach would be to have your digestive system tested using a stool test, followed by a structured programme to address all findings.

I hope this helps.

If you have any questions, or any stories about your experience with probiotics, just leave them below and we’ll get right back to you!

Best,

Dave.

 

 

 

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