If you’ve ever suffered from Heliobacter pylori infection, you’ll definitely want to avoid getting it again. And if you haven’t had it, you’ll want to prevent it.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that infects the gut and can cause a host of chronic health issues. It’s a relatively common microorganism, present in about two-thirds of the world’s population.
Most people can have H. pylori without any symptoms. However, in other cases, it can cause ulcers in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. Chronic cases may even lead to gastric cancer.
The good news is that new research shows that using probiotics may support antibiotic treatment for H. pylori infection and reduce the side effects of that treatment.
Scientists only discovered the bacteria H. pylori in 1982 when they found that it was the cause of most stomach ulcers.
Before that, it was believed that stomach ulcers were caused solely by stress, spicy foods, smoking, or other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
The lining of your stomach and gut is designed to protect you from the acid your body uses to digest food. However, H. pylori attacks the lining of your stomacha and gut, causing gastritis – the inflammation and weakening of the mucosal lining. This can allow stomach acid to seep through the lining and cause gastric ulcers.
In fact, H. pylori infection is thought to be the cause of more than 80 percent of gastric ulcers and up to 90 percent of duodenal ulcers.
Ulcers are a major problem because they can bleed, cause infections, or slow down the passage of food through your digestive tract.
Many people with H. pylori infection never experience symptoms, but some symptoms that may develop include:
Medical treatment for H. Pylori infections generally involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria. You’ll also be given prescriptions for acid reducers to reduce damage caused by stomach acid. The most commonly prescribed antacids are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
However, antacids only temporarily relieve symptoms of ulcers. They won’t actually treat H. pylori infection. And antibiotic treatment can also lead to antibiotic resistance, which in turn reduces the effectiveness of treatment.
In China, for example, it’s been reported that the resistance rate of H. pylori to metronidazole increased by around 50% between 2000 and 2014, while resistance to clarithromycin has increased from 14.8% in 2000 to 52.6% in 2014. (1)
Even the strongest antibiotics may not completely eradicate H. pylori bacteria. Just a few bacteria can allow the infection to return.
Another major issue with antibiotic treatment for H. pylori are side effects.
Side effects of antibiotics are very common, especially when a combination of two antibiotics is used. This dual treatment has been found to causes more damage to the gastrointestinal microbiota of the patient, which can lead to an imbalance of bacteria that increase the risk of more harmful gastrointestinal pathogens spreading in the gut.
In addition, the use of proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) causes a reduction in gastric acid secretion, which allows pathogens to move more freely throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
The result is that patients treated with antibiotics and PPIs are less likely to benefit from the medication and have a higher risk of reinfection.
Probiotics are the ‘friendly’ bacteria that live in your gut and help with numerous daily processes, including digestion, immune function, mood, and much more.
These beneficial microbes have been proven to enhance intestinal microbiota, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, promote digestion, boost immunity, and increase resistance to infection. The most-researched probiotic bacteria strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Numerous studies have shown that probiotics may help to eradicate H. pylori infection and also reduce side effects during treatment.
Probiotics have been shown to modulate intestinal microbiota by maintaining balance and suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the gut.
When taken as an oral supplement, probiotics interact with the cells lining the gut (intestinal epithelial cells), which also make up a large part of your body’s immune cells. By ‘talking’ to these cells, probiotics help to trigger the production of different cytokines or chemokines which fight off disease-causing pathogens.
New research has shown that probiotic supplementation can help kill the H. pylori bacteria. It’s also been found that taking probiotics helps to prevent adverse symptoms associated with H. pylori treatment. (2)
Researchers included 140 studies that involved over 20,000 patients in the meta-analysis. More than 10 kinds of probiotics and combinations were used, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Researchers found that 84 percent of people who used probiotics managed to fully eradicate their H. pylori infection, while only 70 percent of those using antibiotics alone had achieved full eradication. The probiotics also reduced side effects.
In another study involving children with H. pylori infection, researchers compared the effects of triple therapy but placing the children into four groups: a S. boulardii plus inulin group, an L. acidophilus LB group, and a drug-free group.
The results showed that the children treated with S. boulardii ended up with significantly reduced levels of H. pylori, and that as many as 12% of the children showed complete eradication. (3)
The antibiotics used to treat H. pylori are designed to kill off the ‘bad’ bacteria, but they also kill off beneficial bacteria.
This results in a disruption to the balance of flora in the gut, which in turn can lead to a wide range of gastrointestinal issues.
A common side-effect of antibiotic use is diarrhea. Probiotics have been shown to restore this balance to reduce diarrhea.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium based probiotics also have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce the chance of gastritis, and also demonstrate antioxidant effects that reduce damage to the intestinal lining.
Probiotic bacteria have been shown to directly combat H. pylori, even when used without antibiotics.
One study found that four Lactobacillus strains present in fermented foods were able to inhibit the growth of H. pylori. This included the strain L. johnsonii, which was able to suppress H. pylori both in vitro and in mice.
Researchers showed that probiotic strains work by secreting antibacterial substances, competing for inhibition, enhancing mucus barriers, and boosting immune function. (4)
One of the most important mechanisms of probiotics in treating H. pylori is their ability to enhance the mucosal barrier.
H. pylori infection can severely damage the lining of the gut, which increases the risk of stomach ulcers and also predisposes the patient to reinfection.
Probiotics have been found to improve the integrity of the gut lining by supporting tight-junction proteins and promoting mucus secretion, which stabilizes the mucus layer.
These actions help to ward off H. pylori invasion and repair the gastric mucosal barrier, effectively preventing the initial infection and reinfection. (5)
Look for a quality probiotic brand that contains a high CFU count (colony-forming bacteria) and multiple strains of bacteria.
Also, make sure that the probiotic contains some form of protective technology that allows the bacteria to survive the journey through the gastrointestinal tract!
Most probiotic brands use vegetable capsules that deliver only around 4% of their bacteria safely to the gut. That's because the veggie capsules are quickly broken down in your stomach, and the live bacteria are then exposed to your stomach acid.
Probiotic bacteria are sensitive to this highly acidic environment and most of them are killed before passing through to your intestines.
To solve this problem, we compress our bacteria into special time-release tablets using a technology named BIO-tract. When these come into contact with moisture, they form a protective gel coating that keeps the bacteria safe in your stomach. Then, when the tablet passes through to your intestines, the bacteria are slowly released over 8-10 hours.
Tests using simulated stomach acid have shown that this method safely delivers at least 15 times more bacteria, when compared to regular vegetable capsules.
Our probiotic also has 12 strains chosen for their impact on digestion and immunity, and a total of 15 billion CFUs of bacteria.