Helicobacter pylori Bacteria Cause Ulcers, Not Spicy Foods or Stress

Helicobacter pylori what? H. pylori is a bacterium that can cause chronic inflammation in the lining of the stomach leading to severe gastritis, ulcers and potentially stomach cancer. The bacteria burrows through the protective mucous layer of your stomach, creating a defect or vulnerable area which allows hydrochloric acid, pepsin and other stomach enzymes to damage the inner layers of the stomach wall.

Helicobacter pylori bacteria

Micrograph of Helicobacter pylori bacterium. The flagella tails help the bacteria burrow into the mucus lining of the stomach wall.
Photo Courtesy: Yutaka Tsutsumi, M.D.

Besides abdominal pain, other symptoms may include excessive burping, feeling bloated, loss of appetite, black stools, nausea and vomiting. What’s interesting to note is that more than half the world’s population is infected with H. pylori, but many would not know because the bacteria does not cause symptoms in every person.

There are plenty of medical resources that will tell you all the details of who, what, where, when and how of  H. pylori. That’s not what this series of posts are about. I want to share with you what has worked for me and let you become aware of some of the alternative, natural remedies for eradicating H. pylori without having to take prescription drugs or even over-the-counter drugs, if you prefer not to. I’m hoping this will save some of you some time since I have done a lot of research on this topic and finally no longer suffer from a H. pylori infection.

Before the 1980s, Doctors Thought Spicy Food and Stress Caused Ulcers

Before I begin, I wanted to tell you one story that really kind of amused me when I was doing my own research on this bacterium. For the longest time, it was common consensus in the medical profession to believe that stomach ulcers were caused by either eating spicy, acidic foods or stress.

h. pylori stomach infectionIt wasn’t until the 80s when Dr. Barry Marshall finally convinced at least some physicians that a bacteria was the cause of some patients’ ulcers and could be cured with antibiotics. He did this by drinking a slurry containing live H. pylori bacteria. Within days, he suffered severe gastritis and tested positive via a gut culture of the bacteria to finally prove to his fellow colleagues that H. pylori can cause ulcers. This wasn’t done in the 40s, 50s or even 60s, but the 80s! There’s still so much to learn and proof that doctors don’t know everything. So spicy, acidic foods and stress may irritate your stomach and certainly irritate ulcers if you already have them, but they are not the cause.

What’s my story? Well my first visit to a doctor with my symptoms in the early 90s told me it was probably stress and I needed to be on a bland diet. The second doctor gave me a prescription acid-reducer, Aciphex, and told me to take it every day…forever. Even though I had classic symptoms of a H. pylori infection, neither doctor even mentioned anything about H. pylori or certainly nothing about a breath, blood or stool test for it. But even when taking the Aciphex, I still was having symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, etc.. I didn’t want to go to another doctor, so I started researching online.

Conventional Treatments for a Helicobacter pylori Infection

There is no single magic pill to get rid of H. pylori. Instead, your doctor will put you on a combination of several medications for up to four weeks, depending on the treatment regime:h. pylori drug treatment

  • Typically, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like omeprazole (Prilosec) or Lansoprazole (Prevacid) will be part of the treatment.
  • Multiple antibiotics will be prescribed, usually at least two, such as amoxicillin, clarithromycin, tetracycline and/or metronidazole.
  • Sometimes bismuth subsalicylate (aka Pepto Bismol) is used in long-duration therapies.
  • And/or a histamine receptor (H2) blockers such as cimetidine (Tagament), ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid).

There is no guarantee that this treatment course will completely eradicate the bacteria. There is about a 70-90% success rate and some patients will have to repeat the treatment at least once, some maybe more.

I personally have not taken this treatment course because I wanted to first try to eliminate with more natural, alternative methods. I have read on several forums where people who are currently on this treatment feel really awful. There are known side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue and further stomach upset. I even read one person’s comments that they almost rather die than continue taking the antibiotics. I want to note that I am not one who is completely against conventional medicine. If there ever was a Helicobacter pylori vaccine or one proven magic pill, I would be first in line.

Now that we got all that out of the way, my next post discusses the use of active manuka honey and mastic gum as a natural treatment for H. pylori.

H. pylori natural treatment

Question: Have you ever been diagnosed and treated for a Helicobacter pylori infection? Did it ever come back or was it completely eradicated and you are now symptom-free?


  1. I’m not sure if I have this but I’m going to try Manuka honey and zinc carnosine. My gastroscopy recently showed no damage and doctor didn’t really give much advice except to take somac and Zantac which I don’t really want to do. I’ve had some days ok followed by days where my throat and top of stomach is burning.
    What confounds me is this all started over a weekend. Gaviscon was easing it, now it’s not. I’m also trying ACV in water and digestive enzymes. But really I don’t know what is going on except a few weeks back I could eat and drink anything, coffee, wine, chocolate, any foods.

  2. Is it okay to try manuka honey while taking Prilosec

  3. Hi
    Can you take mastic gum if you are allergic to cashew nuts?

    • Marshall – Yes, good question since both the cashew and mastic plants are in the same family, Anacardiaceae, which is the cashew/sumac family. I know the major cross reactive foods for those with a cashew allergy are pink peppercorns and pistachios. I can’t find any definitive answer about mastic, but to be on the safe side, I would avoid it especially since it is in the same family as cashews.

  4. Hi
    I have been positive to h pylori for 18 months now, was allergic to triple therapy and one month after taking it was laid up for one month with appalling diarrhea and lost 12 lbs. OGD chronic pan gastritis and duodenitis. I get limited symptoms from the stomach but far worse is the ibs, cramps till I faint and it is so debilitating on a daily level. I have just radically changed my diet to low fat, no dairy which made it ten times worse and no sugar plus started taking manuka honey in porridge for breakfast. This does, of course limit what I can eat hugely. Today after months of diarrhea, cramps and not digesting food properly, I have had my first normal color stool. What joy. I am going to start taking the mastic gum. Any other suggestions as to what might help my situation. I nearly gave up work because of all of this. I was thinking of doing tests for eibo but they are expensive. The h pylori issues started same time as ibs do there has to be a link.

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