The symptoms and dangers of an H. pylori infection
Helicobacter pylori is an opportunistic bacterium that can infect and spread rapidly in individuals with a compromised immune system. While this bacterium is natural and beneficial to our bodies in small amounts, it can be extremely dangerous when allowed to propogate without control. This infection is the leading cause of stomach ulcers, poor digestion and stomach cancer.
It is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population has elevated levels of H. pylori. This microorganism can spread very quickly through the saliva, so it is easily transmitted. It is very common to see entire families test positive for this infection.
The hazards of an H.pylori infection:
H. pylori is a very sophisticated microorganism that has incredible adaptive advantages that give it the ability to survive the stomach’s harsh environment. It produces an enzyme called “urease” which breaks down the urea in the stomach into carbon dioxide and ammonia. This causes belching and halitosis (bad breath) for the individual, and it neutralizes the acidifying effects of hydrochloric acid.
Hydrochloric acid is necessary for creating an acidic environment in the stomach to digest protein and ionize minerals. This also helps stimulate bile release from the gallbladder to effectively metabolize fat in the small intestine. Without these key functions working optimally, we become at risk for anemia, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and autoimmunity.
The secretion of mucus protects the stomach lining from irritation by food stuffs and microorganisms. H. pylori reduces the stomach’s ability to produce mucus and irritates the stomach lining. This creates a silent level of inflammation and severe irritation firing off pain receptors. This is the pathogenesis of stomach ulcers.
More challenges with H pylori & gram negative bacteria:
H. pylori is a Gram-negative bacterium, which means that it has two cell walls. Gram-positive bacteria have one cell wall. This double outer layer protects the bacterium and makes it harder for antimicrobial drugs and herbs to affect the microorganism. Other Gram-negative bacteria include Salmonella, E. coli andShigella, among others.
Most doctors try to kill off any form of bacterial infection with antibiotics. However, Gram-negative bacteria contain “efflux pumps” within their cell walls that have the ability to disperse antibiotic medications. This protects the microorganism and can be extremely hazardous to the individual. The efflux pumps help the microorganism survive and adapt and develop antibiotic-resistant capabilities.
The cell wall material of Gram-negative bacteria is also a highly potent inflammatory mediator. This material is called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is extremely toxic to the liver and signals major inflammatory processes in the body when it is released into the blood stream in high amounts. LPS is also calledendotoxin and is one of the major reasons why leaky gut syndrome is so hazardous to the body.
The most common symptoms associated with H pyloriinfection:
- Abdominal pain (mild-severe)
- Bloating and distension
- Belching and gastric reflux
- Constant bad breath
- Mild nausea
Other issues that can be caused by an H. pylori infection include pernicious anemia, which is a B12 deficiency. Your stomach produces a protein called “intrinsic factor,” which allows the small intestine to absorb B12.
H. pylori affects the stomach’s ability to produce intrinsic factor, which causes this problem. The major symptoms associated with pernicious anemia are constant fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, swollen tongue and nausea.
H. pylori disrupts the digestive process, so it can lead to inflammation throughout the gut and gastrointestinal permeability. This state of leaky gut can also cause iron-deficient anemia, irritable bowel symptoms with fluctuating diarrhea and constipation and ulcerative colitis.