[UPDATE — A summary of the alternative treatments can be found at the end of this entry. You may also read through the comments to discover how these food-based medicines eradicated H Pylori for myself as well as others’ experiences. Also, many of the treatments are linked and will lead you to the products I used and other sites that can offer help. Good luck to everyone in your treatment! Don’t give up hope — H Pylori infection is treatable!]
Well to be fair, I’m still being tested for other things like magnesium and iron deficiencies and c difficile infection, but after nearly a year of investigating other possibilities, including heart issues — and being diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic Syncope — I’m very happy to find that many of these miserable symptoms may be attributed to one nasty little undiagnosed bug: Helicobacter pylori.
This sneaky creature happily swims in your stomach acid and buries itself in the lining of your stomach and intestines. Our immune systems typically don’t access the stomach lining well, so joy and long life for those buggers if they go undetected! And really, a gastrointestinal doctor, or a G.I. for short, is the person who should discover this bug and begin the eradication process. Shall I tell you how many GIs I’ve seen over the last year? I was in the hospital for almost a week last April, underwent all kinds of tests, including an endoscopy and colonoscopy, later saw Dr. A. S. [name removed – email me if you plan to see a GI with those initials] in Great Neck, NY at least five times (he finally ended our all-too-brief sessions, in which he did nothing but earn a pretty penny for each five to ten minute visit and run one stool test for parasites, by telling me that he couldn’t do anything else for me), and then saw Dr. C. W., who told me that he believes my problem to be cardiological but ran some tests that my primary doctor had already run (tests he had access to in the computer but clearly didn’t review) when I insisted that the consistent thread in all of my symptoms was gastro-related.
Not so incidentally, it was my new primary physician who finally got the correct diagnosis, despite the fact that I had been seeing GIs who should have tested and picked it up long ago.
Oh! How could I forget my very kick ass gynecologist, Dr. John Gomes? He called me in the hospital, counseling me after a few ER visits, and saw me in his office to make sure none of my symptoms were related to my female anatomy. He checked my ovaries, tested for perimenopause, etc. But overall, Dr. Gomes spent time, unrelated to his own practice and services, just checking in on me. Should you need your lady parts checked or if a baby is in your future, I, once again, recommend this OB/GYN positively!
So why have I had good luck finding such great doctors and bad luck solely with gastroenterologists? Maybe I was a specialist in the torture of the innards in a past life? Who knows. But what’s done is done, and I hope to warn others who might see Dr. A.S. (no matter how “nice” he seems during his very expensive five-minute visits with you) or Dr. W. [again, email me if you want the name], who is like a quick hurricane breeze: completely disinterested in what you have to say and focused only on his own pre-determinations of what is wrong with you to the point that he too spends only five minutes in the room before he’s gone. By the way, I faxed him a question regarding my symptoms; he had his secretary leave me a message “never to email him again” as if a fax didn’t constitute a valid communication between a patient and a doctor. And the fax actually could have pulled him out of his “it’s an arrhythmia” diagnosis if he had actually considered its contents. I wrote to him explaining that I had begun taking a natural antibiotic, Grapefruit Seed Extract, which was making me feel better. I wanted to know why. His secretary, after telling me three times on my machine not to “email” the doctor anymore, finished the call with, “And Dr. W. doesn’t know what that stuff your taking is.” Um, yeah. And I don’t know what that stuff he’s practicing is, but it sure isn’t medicine motivated by that pesky Hippocratic Oath, which actually isn’t obligatory, or a sense of accountability.
So yes, back to the H Pylori. Dr. Hazan found the H Pylori antibody in my blood, and I then had to wait for the confirmation from a stool culture to determine if I had an active infection. So what does a sick-o do in the meantime? She hunts for alternative medicines that will treat the little terds invading her intestines. I’ve been using a number of items for the last few days that seem to be helping me immensely and suddenly.
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR H PYLORI (with Links)
(& by “alternative” I mean beyond the usual western medicine antibiotics that are obviously losing their steam)
* Manuka Honey (Active)– This is the new bomb for anyone suffering from a bacterial or staph infection — internally or externally. It’s picking up steam in serious cases of flesh wounds and post-surgery (watch this graphic video) that won’t heal due to antibiotic-resistant bugs, and they’ve also documented its use against h pylori. Expensive but well worth the investment. I’ve gotten all three of my bottles now from Amazon, though you can pick it up on other sites. And it tastes yummy too!
* Probiotics — “Probiotic strain Bacillus subtilis 3, whose safetyhas previously been demonstrated, is known to have antagonisticproperties against species of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Inthe present study, it was also found to inhibit H. pylori” (Source: AAA).You should be taking a probiotic supplement, whether you’re sick or not, but especially if you use antibiotics. After much compartive shopping and on the recommendation of Dan Hoy, I use Jordan Rubin’s Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra, which you can also purchase on Amazon or at your local Vitamin Shoppe.
* Mastic Gum — “Even low doses of mastic gum — 1 mg perday for two weeks — can cure peptic ulcers very rapidly,but the mechanism responsible has not been clear. We have foundthat mastic is active against Helicobacter pylori, which couldexplain its therapeutic effect in patients with peptic ulcers” (Source: New England Journal of Medicine). I’ve been taking one gram a day in the morning on an empty stomach.
* Broccoli Sprouts (American Journal of Gastroenterology) — In laboratory tests the chemical, sulforaphane, killed helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and often fatal stomach cancers. And the good news is there appears to be enough of it in broccoli sprouts and some varieties of broccoli to benefit people who eat the vegetables” (Source: USA Today).
“A diet rich in broccoli sprouts significantly reduced Helicobacteri pylori (H. pylori) infection among a group of 20 individuals, found a team of researchers in Japan. H. pylori is known to cause gastritis and is believed to be a major factor in peptic ulcer and stomach cancer.
Scientists are focusing on the anti-cancer properties of a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane. Among other things, this chemical can help cells defend against oxidants, the highly reactive and toxic molecules that damage DNA and kill cells, potentially leading to cancer” (Source: DNC).
Along with eating more broccoli, I take one capsule of Broccolive by New Chapter in between meals each day now.
* OmegaBrite – Essential fatty acids as recommended by my new therapist below.
* THE BOMB – Monolaurin (Lauric Acid) — I came upon Dr. Marcus Ettinger’s blog and this doozey of an entry in which he describes his own bout with and treatment of h pylori. He has since very kindly emailed with me and stressed the importance of the monolaurin.
“Researchers have shown that monolaurin has a direct and potent germ killing effect on H. pyloria, regardless of stomach pH. The H. pyloria germ killing ability of monolaurin has been confirmed by a second group of researchers” (Source: Wellness)
- An Antioxidant
- Has Anti-inflammatory qualities
- Produces Anti-cancer activity
- It is Antimicrobial
- Has Anti HIV properties
- May slow down the development of Alzheimer’s”
“Both the methanol extract and curcumin inhibited the growth of all strains of H. pylori in vitro with a minimum inhibitory concentration range of 6.25-50 micrograms/ml. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that curcumin inhibits the growth of H. pylori cagA+ strains in vitro, and this may be one of the mechanisms by which curcumin exerts its chemopreventative effects” (Nat. Institutes of Health).
MY SYMPTOMS (which presumably aren’t all related to h pylori & may have thrown the docs):
* I originally had a racing heart, three months of diarrhea, and would nearly pass out, especially in the middle of the night. I also could not lie down for hours after each episode. Yes, I would leap up from sleep in the middle of the night to crawl around, trying not to faint, and then have many nasty visits to the toilet. Follow that with the topper of being utterly spent and not being able to lie down due to weird chest/stomach pressure, and you’ve got a nice recipe for exhaustion, missed work, and a social life put on major hold.
* Next, I moved on to leaping up from sleep to pace for hours while my heart raced and I shook. A few times, my heart raced to the point I thought I was having a heart attack (I once wished I could just go unconscious to avoid the experience,which was painful and frightening), and then I would projectile vomit. Yum. I ended up in many ERs, to no avail.
* I have since graduated to heart palpitations and many bouts of bowel movements that are solid but frequent. Dr. Ettinger (above) recommended magnesium for the palpitations, and I have since learned how much the American diet lacks this essential element. It’s kind of incredible. Read these stories. And these. You might just avoid things like prescription meds and an invasive EP study (which was next on my cardiologist’s list! — The bug and the heart are not typically connected: “A common stomach bug may also be linked to the development of irregular heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, suggests a small study in Heart” Source: Science Daily).
Okay, so day and night symptoms include: weight loss, shaking, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea alternating with constipation, loss of appetite, racing heart, syncope, shortness of breath, palpitations, weakness/fatigue, night sweats/hot flashes, and anxiety.
The anxiety leads me to point out things that helped along the way:
* Friends. I’m going to miss some folks who sent their well wishes, and of course, I’m grateful, but a few folks pop to mind in the immediate.
Michael Steinman — Lots of talks and love and encouragement and kindness. After Ana, my best friend.
Dan Hoy — Sound, strong advice, the kindness of someone who knows. And a killer poet too.
Alex Dickow — Your worry and suggestions and reminders of poetry from France distracted me nicely on a few lonely nights.
Caroline Wilkinson — Sympathetic and encouraging recently — thanks for recommending Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill” which I just got and began reading.
And so many others …you know who you are! Thank you!
* Lavender Baths — the warmer, the better.
* Massage – either from a friend, partner, or paid for — the stress of illness tenses muscles you inevitably stop using for awhile while you ruminate on sofas, in beds, and on toilets. Yes, toilets. Get those muscles touched, rubbed, and loved. Pay for it if you have to.
* FOODS — All sorts of organic soups, chicken broth, chicken legs, blueberries, kiwi fruit, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, Rudy’s organic raisin bread, capers, olives, avocados, bananas, carrots, lettuce, soy cheese, almonds, almond and peanut butters, fresh salmon, and oh, lots other lovely fresh items, many of which I obtained from my local Trader Joe’s. Eat well and frequently, especially alkalizing foods to avoid nasty reflux and heartburn, so the body has nutrients, is replenished often, and can fight!
I hate to tell you, because it’s tough, you need to give up –for a couple of months — your love of coffee, alcohol, white carbs such as white pasta, white rice, white bread (these convert to sugar in the gut), most fruits (also sugar), dairy (take a calcium supplement for a spell), and plain old sugar like the stuff found in yummy chocolate and cookies. Avoid other common acidic foods like tomatoes and orange juice. Sorry! Tough, but worth allowing your gut time to heal!
* Yoga – I never thought I would do it. But now Ana and I imitate Rodney Yee and his gang for about fifteen minutes, both morning and night, everyday. Easy and well worth it!
* Fennel Tea — When you do begin to heal, you may go from diarrhea to constipation. “Fennel has been found to stimulate appetite, and to aid digestion. An infusion prepared by boiling a tablespoon of fennel seeds in 100 ml of water for half an hour, is highly beneficial in indigestion, biliousness, flatulence and constipation” (S. Directory).
* Pets – Love them every chance you get! They’re very therapeutic~
* Jordan Rubin’s supplements and books. Despite the religion he infuses all of his advice with, his supplements are notoriously good (I forgot to mention above that I take Garden of Life enzymes with each meal), and his book, Restoring Your Digestive Health: How the Guts and Glory Program Can Transform Your Life, turned me on to chicken again (free range, organic, that is!).
* Goji Berries and Blueberries – No joke. Eat them once your system is able to digest well enough.
“Modern day studies have also found some benefits to goji berries; they’ve been said to have potential in fighting cancer and protecting the liver. Goji berries contain 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, linoleic acid, more beta carotene than carrots, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, selenium and germanium.
And the American Institute for Cancer Research has this to say: ‘We now know that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.’
Aside from protecting the brain and fighting cancer, blueberries have been associated with lower cholesterol, protection against heart disease, macular degeneration, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and peptic ulcers, and healthier elimination” (Source: SixWise.com).
* L Glutamine – Glutamine Supplement Fights Effects of H. pylori Infection. Put a half teaspoon of the powder on your oatmeal every morning.
* Cognitive Behavioral Therapist – I’ve never been an anxious person, until now. Nor have I ever been in therapy, until now. Not knowing what’s wrong with a body for so long can wear a soul thin. So one easily begins imagining the worst. So far, I’ve seen this therapist three times, and she’s been very helpful with advice that I need to hear and put into action. Plus it’s fun to talk about myself. I guess I have an ego after all. Was there ever a doubt, even while sick?
And so on.
I just want to add a few notes to round this entry off. I realize I’m lucky and am very grateful not to have something worse than a bacterial infection. Happily lucky. I’ve learned a good bit about illness, the medical system, and still don’t know how chronic sufferers of anything can keep a chin up in the face of not knowing and in the face of a medical system that is, at best, impaired, and at worst, greedy. I’ve encountered people who have far worse conditions than I’ve endured and have better attitudes and more strength than myself. I’m not a good sick person, oh how I know. I’ll spare you from my midnight considerations of the ‘other side’, but you may see a little in some of my recent writing.
Overall, I just wanted to tell those who have been in touch, thank you, and to warn others of possible pitfalls in the system. If your gut, literal or figurative, tells you something needs to be tested, something’s still not right, press your doctor or find a new one. Don’t stick with one for five visits in a row only to be told he “can’t do anything for you.” Don’t ignore the feeling of being ignored or the sense that your words aren’t being taken seriously. Do your research and advocate for yourself. Make copies of your tests and records. Keep in mind that one doc doesn’t automatically know what the other has done or thinks might be wrong. Don’t get a test, especially an invasive one, if it doesn’t sound exactly necessary. And so on. I blather, so will end for now. Good luck and wishes for a strong will if you come upon this entry in search of help! And now, on to my own healing!
SUMMARY — Alternative Medicine for H Pylori Eradication
(Thanks, Tara Williams)
The three main Natural Remedies that finally eradicated H Pylori for Amy:
Monolaurin – 1200 mg twice a day (derived from coconut milk). It’s a natural antibiotic that many use for a variety of reasons. It’s especially popular with folks who get mono (Epstein Barr virus). I would pay about 13 dollars a bottle and went through two+ bottles. I used Ecological Research brand.
The first two to three days of taking the full dose of Monolaurin, I experienced nausea symptoms “die off” and felt even sicker – but it did pass. I’m told it’s called “herxing” after the Herximer effect.
Manuka Honey (activated and only from New Zealand) 16+ or 20+ strength. Take a teaspoon twenty minutes before each meal (on an empty stomach) and one before bed on an empty stomach for about a month. I would take my spoonful after I took the Mastic Gum so that the water wouldn’t dilute it and send it directly to the kidneys.
Mastic Gum (derived from the Greek Mastic tree) 1000 mg (1gram – two pills) in the morning before food and the same at night before bed on an empty stomach. (Once H Pylori is eradicated, continue taking Mastic Gum for a few months – it keeps the H Pylori from returning and has other benefits like lowering cholesterol).
Amy also took:
Probiotic – VSL #3 – medical grade Probiotic to replace good bacteria (Amy took for about one month). 450 billion/powder packet is mid-level strength and can be bought over the counter. It’s about $90 for a thirty day supply if you take one packet of powder a day. (worked better than Garden of Life probiotics).
L Glutamine — Put a half-teaspoon of the powder on your oatmeal every morning. It helps heal gut tissue, thanks to the bacterial damage this potent bug can do. They recently also made the connection for people with H Pylori that L Glutamine slows the damage and helps to heal it.
Aloe Juice — take aloe vera juice daily (you need the unprocessed, cold pressed kind of aloe juice because it heals).
Digestive Enzymes – by Garden of Life with each meal — they help the stomach digest foods more easily, as the h pylori reduces stomach acid in many cases.
Diet is key in helping you to improve as your body fights the bacteria. If you do not adjust your diet for a few months, your gut will not be able to heal and the H Pylori will return. You should absolutely eliminate white flour products like carbohydrates (white pastas, white rice, bread, etc). These are sugars! Sugars only feed bacteria and provide no nutritional value. Also, cut out obvious sugars like cookies and ice cream! You should even limit fruits for the time being. Your goal is two fold: don’t feed the bacteria and give the gut easy-to-digest alkalizing foods and time to heal. Avoid foods like tomatoes, red meats, and dairy products too. You can catch up on calcium later. Milk is acidic in the gut. Coffee is difficult on the digestive tract. Eat foods that alkalize – do not eat acidic foods.
Other natural remedies that can be used in addition to Amy’s cocktail:
Magnesium is like magic, and the glycinate form is the least harsh on the digestive system. Once H Pylori is eradicated and you are healing, trying to regain your strength, consider diluting a tablespoon of Blackstrap Molasses in half a cup of water and drinking daily. Blackstrap Molasses provides an incredible range of nutrients that helped Amy bounce back (for more info from many who have used it, click here).
Oil of Oregano -Those of you who are long-suffering may want to try a few drops of Oil of Oregano under your tongue a few times a day too.
Bladderwack to keep the buggers from adhereing to the lining of your stomach.
Red Wine — moderate intake of red wine is also unkind specifically to H Pylori. Stellar Organics :-) …because it also has no added sulfites.
How H Pylori Is Diagnosed
Stool sample – Most reliable determination. But may still show positive for 2-3 months even after cured.
Endoscopy – sample tissue tests taken.
Blood Test – Blood antibody test. A blood test checks to see whether your body has made antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. If you have antibodies to H. pylori in your blood, it means you either are currently infected or have been infected in the past.
Breath test – can be done right after treatment to see if cured rather than wait 1-3 months for stool change.
Felt like gone after one month, but stool still tested positive. Two months of natural remedy cocktail and Amy’s stool results came back negative, and her symptoms were gone.
Original Symptoms — Diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, racing heart, shortness of breath and anxiety, miserable aches and pains in my back, legs, and arms that no doctor could conclusively say was a direct result of the infection. But I know with certainty that these weird pains and miseries were due to the infection because they have since cleared up.
Sexy Alexander Dickow allergist alternative medicine Ana Bozicevic anxiety bacterial infection Blackstrap Molasses broccoli sprouts Caroline Wilkinson cognitive behavioral therapist colonoscopy Dan Hoy diarrhea alternating with constipation Doctor Dr. Harshit Patel Dr. John Gomes enzymes Garden City Gastroenterologist General Practioner Ginger Ginger Soother Grapefruit Seed Extract Great Neck GSE gut H Pylori Helicobacter pylori Illness immune booster infection Internist intestinal Jordan Rubin L Glutamine Lauric Acid lavendar bath loss of appetite magnesium manuka honey massage mastic gum matula tea Michael Steinman Monolaurin natural remedies nausea neurocardiogenic syncope North Manhassat NY omegabrite organic snacks pets Physician Primary Physician probiotics racing heart shaking shortness of breath stomach stomach ailment supplements syncope vomiting weight loss yoga
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.