How H. Pylori Can Cause a Variety of Unrelated Symptoms

A successful client case study sheds light on how a gut infection can cause recurrent, diverse, and seemingly

A successful client case study sheds light on how a gut infection can cause recurrent, diverse, and seemingly unrelated symptoms.


If you are someone with a diverse collection of symptoms that most doctors can’t help with, always consider turning your attention towards the gut. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said “All disease begins in the gut.”

Many medical mysteries can benefit from some health detective work focused on digestive function. Testing for infections is number one. Because of bio individuality, people will have different symptoms of gut infections, some of which seem completely unrelated to the gut.

“All disease begins in the gut.”

Let me give you an example of one of my current patients, Lizette. She came in to see me with chronic anemia, fatigue, cold hands and feet, irregular periods, and skin clarity issues.

She had been suffering with recurrent anemia since 2004, even after being treated for it with iron supplementation.

She also wondered if chronic coldness in her hands, feet, and nose, even in hot weather, and skin issues like melasma and acne were related to her other symptoms. And because she’s a young woman, she wanted her energy back so she could live a full and active life.

Testing revealed an H. pylori infection. This is a bacterial infection that lives in the lining of the stomach, and causes a variety of health issues.

ParasitesH. pylori burrows deep into the stomach to inflame the mucosal lining and slow down the activity of the parietal cells, which produce stomach acid. H. pylori is well known for causing gastritis, ulcers, and heart burn, but it can also cause a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms, like the ones that Lizette experienced, through the reduction of stomach acid.

Stomach acid is extremely important for digestive and overall health because it’s the primary line of defense against pathogens entering into the intestines. Strong acid will kill invaders such as bacteria, yeast, and parasites in the stomach. Adequate stomach acid is also needed to properly digest food, particularly hard to digest foods like animal protein.

Without proper protein digestion, it is hard to absorb iron and other critical nutrients for energy such as zinc, vitamin B-12, and amino acids.

To fix Lizette’s anemia and energy issues, we had to treat the H. pylori infection, which succeeded in fixing her fatigue and her other symptoms concurrently.

A sign that our H. pylori treatment was working well was a worsening of Lizette’s symptoms in the initial weeks of treatment. A flare up of her skin issues signaled that the bacteria was dying off.

This is a well-known phenomenon in the functional medical world and often referred to as a herxheimer reaction, meaning “healing crisis” or “die off.” Things often get worse before they get better.

blood testThere are four ways to test for H. pylori. These are the breath test, blood test, stomach biopsy, and stool test.

The conventional way to treat H. pylori is antibiotic therapy. But antibiotics are not 100 percent effective due to antibiotic resistance and the nature of H. pylori.

H. pylori burrows deep into the stomach lining and forms a protective shield from the body’s own biological materials. This protective layer is called a biofilm. In stubborn cases, it’s important to break up the biofilm with herbs or medications.

Natural treatments for H. pylori include sulfurophane (found in broccoli sprouts), matula tea, mastic gum, bismuth, and turmeric. But because H. pylori, like other gut infections, is a complicated condition to treat, it’s always best to work with a trained functional medicine practitioner to avoid doing more damage.

For example, digestive support in the form of enzymes and bitters may be suggested to optimize digestion and absorption, while hydrochloric acid can present a risk to some due to a compromised stomach lining. Repairing the stomach lining may also be necessary with herbs like DGL licorice.

While diet is not a major factor in the eradication of H. pylori, some foods can irritate symptoms, such as coffee, carbonated beverages, and pickled and spicy foods.

Because H. pylori lowers stomach acid as the first line of defense against pathogens, it can be accompanied by other gut infections, such as candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), so it is recommended to test for a wide variety of gut bugs.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

Discussion

I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!

82 thoughts on “How H. Pylori Can Cause a Variety of Unrelated Symptoms

  1. Hi Dr. Ruscio,

    When doctors order a stool test for H. Pylori, are they able to look for other infections in that same test?

  2. Hi Dr. Ruscio,

    When doctors order a stool test for H. Pylori, are they able to look for other infections in that same test?

    1. Hi Nate,
      It depends on what the doctor orders. Multiple things can be tested for in a given stool sample, but it all depends what the doc asks the lab to test.

  3. I am about to start mastic gum. I had H pylori for over 2 years.
    I been feeling all the symptoms above or even worse.
    I am taking PPIs is it safe to take mastic gum while on PPIs?
    I started to take probiotics, multivitamins,omega 3,bean sprout extract and thinking about taking 1 gram of mastic gum at night.
    I eat healthy but only around 1400 calories its hard to eat food right now.
    I am trying to get off the PPIs. I take 20mg of pentaprazolum every second day now.
    Or should I just stick to PPIS and herbal medicines.
    I also got lots of thrush and candida issues and I believe I got SIBO

  4. I am about to start mastic gum. I had H pylori for over 2 years.
    I been feeling all the symptoms above or even worse.
    I am taking PPIs is it safe to take mastic gum while on PPIs?
    I started to take probiotics, multivitamins,omega 3,bean sprout extract and thinking about taking 1 gram of mastic gum at night.
    I eat healthy but only around 1400 calories its hard to eat food right now.
    I am trying to get off the PPIs. I take 20mg of pentaprazolum every second day now.
    Or should I just stick to PPIS and herbal medicines.
    I also got lots of thrush and candida issues and I believe I got SIBO

  5. I have hpylori, is this causing my reoccurring MS
    I have tried it all over the last 3 years, most recently the Matula tea and now Mastic gum. It all helps but just as soon as I eat the wrong food or get over stressed,or take in chemicals, I relaps.
    Does anyone ever completely get rid of this or over the symptoms

  6. I have hpylori, is this causing my reoccurring MS
    I have tried it all over the last 3 years, most recently the Matula tea and now Mastic gum. It all helps but just as soon as I eat the wrong food or get over stressed,or take in chemicals, I relaps.
    Does anyone ever completely get rid of this or over the symptoms

  7. Hi,

    I recently started a probiotic and I am gaining weight. I already have insulin resistance from PCOS, but I’ve managed to get my weight stabilized for the past year.

    I read somewhere that eradicating H Pylori can increase ghrelin by 6 times. Do you know anything about this, and could my weight gain be caused by killing off H Pylori (or other bacteria)? I can’t seem to find much info about probiotics and weight gain.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily,
      I have heard that HP eradication can lead to weight gain in certain cases. Most evidence suggests a slight weight loss from probiotics, but there is one study that suggested weight gain is also possible. I would stop the probiotic and see how you do. A lower carb diet is often helpful for those with insulin resistance.

      1. Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, low carb diets make me very sick as they cause me extreme stomach discomfort and diarrhea, and I get very weak. I wish I could fix my stomach so that I could handle lowering my carbs.

  8. Hi,

    I recently started a probiotic and I am gaining weight. I already have insulin resistance from PCOS, but I’ve managed to get my weight stabilized for the past year.

    I read somewhere that eradicating H Pylori can increase ghrelin by 6 times. Do you know anything about this, and could my weight gain be caused by killing off H Pylori (or other bacteria)? I can’t seem to find much info about probiotics and weight gain.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily,
      I have heard that HP eradication can lead to weight gain in certain cases. Most evidence suggests a slight weight loss from probiotics, but there is one study that suggested weight gain is also possible. I would stop the probiotic and see how you do. A lower carb diet is often helpful for those with insulin resistance.

      1. Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, low carb diets make me very sick as they cause me extreme stomach discomfort and diarrhea, and I get very weak. I wish I could fix my stomach so that I could handle lowering my carbs.

  9. The doctor did a stomach biopsy and found h pylori bacteria. My symptoms are all my left side to my hip area has muscles spasm and soreness. I feel emotional, little brain fog, nauseous, sinus pressure, tension headaches. I have been taking antibiotics for 8 days now. I also eat healthy and take probiotics, mastic gum, 1 garlic twice a day, turmeric, black current seed oil. I have been eating healthy and taking supplements for 1 month and 1/2. The last 2 days I felt great, just today I started feeling worse with the symptoms muscles spasms, emotional, little brain fog and sinus pressure. How do I know the bacteria is dying? What are the die off symptoms? Is there something I’m doing wrong? How long does it take for the bacteria die?

    I sometimes also get chills, hot and cold flashes.

  10. The doctor did a stomach biopsy and found h pylori bacteria. My symptoms are all my left side to my hip area has muscles spasm and soreness. I feel emotional, little brain fog, nauseous, sinus pressure, tension headaches. I have been taking antibiotics for 8 days now. I also eat healthy and take probiotics, mastic gum, 1 garlic twice a day, turmeric, black current seed oil. I have been eating healthy and taking supplements for 1 month and 1/2. The last 2 days I felt great, just today I started feeling worse with the symptoms muscles spasms, emotional, little brain fog and sinus pressure. How do I know the bacteria is dying? What are the die off symptoms? Is there something I’m doing wrong? How long does it take for the bacteria die?

    I sometimes also get chills, hot and cold flashes.

  11. AMEN!!! I am 45 and I have had so many issues with my health. From vitamin D,iron and countless other treatments. I was put on metformin for my bloodsugar as well as had weight gain no one could explain. With a history of thyroid problems (including thyroid cancer) EVERYTHING was blamed on my one love which was left.
    After seeing many Docs I was blessed with a GI doc who tested me for H Pylori and bingo it was positive. I am in my first week of treatment. I will let you know how it plays but I already feel better.

      1. Hi Dorren, it has been a few weeks now since you were treated. How are your syptoms now? I have just started triple therapy. I also had low vitamin D, iron, and a host of minerals.

      2. Hey Doreen we sound similar! I am also hypothyroid and has a huge thankfully benign growth on thyroid. My functional MD found hpylori AND SIBO. How did your treatment workout??

    1. Hi there. I have had similar issues for years. Diagnosed with IBS, fatigue, ulcers, aching muscles, acid reflux to name a few. On several meds for each and still had severe pain. Finally a GI doc said it was H. Pylori. I have changed my diet to 100 grams of protein a day and 50 mg of carbs for over a month. Still get stomach issues. Started 3 types of meds today. How well did you do Doreen?

  12. AMEN!!! I am 45 and I have had so many issues with my health. From vitamin D,iron and countless other treatments. I was put on metformin for my bloodsugar as well as had weight gain no one could explain. With a history of thyroid problems (including thyroid cancer) EVERYTHING was blamed on my one love which was left.
    After seeing many Docs I was blessed with a GI doc who tested me for H Pylori and bingo it was positive. I am in my first week of treatment. I will let you know how it plays but I already feel better.

      1. Hi Dorren, it has been a few weeks now since you were treated. How are your syptoms now? I have just started triple therapy. I also had low vitamin D, iron, and a host of minerals.

      2. Hey Doreen we sound similar! I am also hypothyroid and has a huge thankfully benign growth on thyroid. My functional MD found hpylori AND SIBO. How did your treatment workout??

    1. Hi there. I have had similar issues for years. Diagnosed with IBS, fatigue, ulcers, aching muscles, acid reflux to name a few. On several meds for each and still had severe pain. Finally a GI doc said it was H. Pylori. I have changed my diet to 100 grams of protein a day and 50 mg of carbs for over a month. Still get stomach issues. Started 3 types of meds today. How well did you do Doreen?

  13. I started getting chronic hives when i changed my diet for my gut health and i did test positive for h pylori. Sre the hives a symptom that it was working?

    1. Hives are not typically a sign that something is going well. I would look into what you’re eating to see if there’s something you may be sensitive to that you’re now consuming more of than you were before.

  14. I started getting chronic hives when i changed my diet for my gut health and i did test positive for h pylori. Sre the hives a symptom that it was working?

    1. Hives are not typically a sign that something is going well. I would look into what you’re eating to see if there’s something you may be sensitive to that you’re now consuming more of than you were before.

  15. i had h.pylori since 4 years ,treated many times with herbs i.e mastic,manuka,triphpla ,probiotics,oil of oregano etc,i take digestive enzymes with my every meal from last 3 years ,but still have loose stools(from 4 years on regular basis) .
    The triple therapy had 1 time but no relief ,although my stool tests show negative status of h.pylori after these treatments .
    however still have pain in stomach ,now from last 2 weeks i have nausea after eating (still taking enzymes) ,a sharp pain in stomach which it is empty .
    should i take another round of antibiotics ? this time quadruple therapy?

    thankyou

  16. i had h.pylori since 4 years ,treated many times with herbs i.e mastic,manuka,triphpla ,probiotics,oil of oregano etc,i take digestive enzymes with my every meal from last 3 years ,but still have loose stools(from 4 years on regular basis) .
    The triple therapy had 1 time but no relief ,although my stool tests show negative status of h.pylori after these treatments .
    however still have pain in stomach ,now from last 2 weeks i have nausea after eating (still taking enzymes) ,a sharp pain in stomach which it is empty .
    should i take another round of antibiotics ? this time quadruple therapy?

    thankyou

  17. 2 years ago i got h.pylori infection with loose poops,wieght loss .
    Treated it year back with antibiotics and mastic gum,this last month got blood test as negative for h.pylori
    But i’m having loose stools 3 times daily also nausea after eating “is this gerd”?
    yes i take digestive enzymes daily .colonoscopy and blood tests are normal though.
    what you suggest?

  18. 2 years ago i got h.pylori infection with loose poops,wieght loss .
    Treated it year back with antibiotics and mastic gum,this last month got blood test as negative for h.pylori
    But i’m having loose stools 3 times daily also nausea after eating “is this gerd”?
    yes i take digestive enzymes daily .colonoscopy and blood tests are normal though.
    what you suggest?

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Yes, GI Map tests for h. pylori and Dr R uses it (though he uses other labs as well). I’ll pass on the second part of your question for him to hopefully answer in an upcoming listener q+a episode. Stay tuned!

  19. Hi do you use the GI map to diagnose H pylori? Why would I get a positive on this test but not on a biopsy?
    Thanks

    Zoe

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Yes, GI Map tests for h. pylori and Dr R uses it (though he uses other labs as well). I’ll pass on the second part of your question for him to hopefully answer in an upcoming listener q+a episode. Stay tuned!

    1. Hi Jaclyn,

      Just to make sure I understand, are you asking if it’s possible that a blood test comes back positive, but the other methods of testing (stool, etc) come back negative?

    1. Hi Jaclyn,

      Just to make sure I understand, are you asking if it’s possible that a blood test comes back positive, but the other methods of testing (stool, etc) come back negative?

  20. Hello good morning my name is Elizabeth im 23 years old 2018 I found out I’m positive with ph pilory infection I’m finish the therapy twice I felt lil much better then before but i still get pains under my left ribs and my back I’m not sure if I’m cure or how long does it take to get cure its been long process I really exhausted from drinking antibiotics my skin was very dark now it’s Lil bit clearing up wonder if I’m cure

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You” because it walks through a DIY protocol to overcome tough gut issues and then to make sure the gut is healed and happy. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

  21. Hello good morning my name is Elizabeth im 23 years old 2018 I found out I’m positive with ph pilory infection I’m finish the therapy twice I felt lil much better then before but i still get pains under my left ribs and my back I’m not sure if I’m cure or how long does it take to get cure its been long process I really exhausted from drinking antibiotics my skin was very dark now it’s Lil bit clearing up wonder if I’m cure

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You” because it walks through a DIY protocol to overcome tough gut issues and then to make sure the gut is healed and happy. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

  22. Great info, I’m dealing with pretty bad die off right now. Not fun lol. I have a question. Due to H Pylori infection I do now have low stomach acid which caused me to have multiple infections. I do also have ulcers in my stomach. What’s a good way to increase my stomach acid? I can’t take Betaine or apple cider vinegar because of the ulcers. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Renee,

      Definitely talk with your doctor, but you may not want to work on increasing stomach acid until your ulcers are healed. I’d recommend checking out Dr Ruscio’s book “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks through a DIY protocol to help with stubborn gut issues and he devotes a whole section to stomach acid. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

  23. Great info, I’m dealing with pretty bad die off right now. Not fun lol. I have a question. Due to H Pylori infection I do now have low stomach acid which caused me to have multiple infections. I do also have ulcers in my stomach. What’s a good way to increase my stomach acid? I can’t take Betaine or apple cider vinegar because of the ulcers. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Renee,

      Definitely talk with your doctor, but you may not want to work on increasing stomach acid until your ulcers are healed. I’d recommend checking out Dr Ruscio’s book “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks through a DIY protocol to help with stubborn gut issues and he devotes a whole section to stomach acid. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

  24. I’m 57 – recent visit to Dominican Republic. Concerned I may been exposed to H Pylori. Long story, but does H Pylori survive in adult stool enough to cause infection. I had a run in with a toilet and toilet blush. Now concerned about exposure. I’ve read it doesn’t survive in adult stool due to transit time.

    1. It likely doesn’t survive long outside of its host, but if you’re worried about it, you can ask your doctor to order a test.

  25. I’m 57 – recent visit to Dominican Republic. Concerned I may been exposed to H Pylori. Long story, but does H Pylori survive in adult stool enough to cause infection. I had a run in with a toilet and toilet blush. Now concerned about exposure. I’ve read it doesn’t survive in adult stool due to transit time.

    1. It likely doesn’t survive long outside of its host, but if you’re worried about it, you can ask your doctor to order a test.

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