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Expert Advice for Healing the Sneaky GI Infection That’s Making Women Sick & Tired

Learn the tell-tale symptoms and the steps one woman took to overcome the infection naturally

Grabbing meals on the go, running endless errands, staying up late to finish work or school projects — we all have days when we push ourselves too hard and end up experiencing digestive distress and fatigue. But if such symptoms strike on regular basis, a bacteria known as H. pylori may be to blame. Plus, if you’re 50 or over, your chances of infection can increase. Fortunately, when it comes to H. pylori, natural treatments are available. In fact, Kate Romero conquered it naturally after suffering from a stubborn infection for years.  Read on to find out if H. pylori could be sapping your health and energy and how to defeat draining symptoms fast. Then, keep scrolling for Kate’s story.

What is H. pylori?

Short for Helicobacetr pylori, H. pylori are a type of bacteria that invade the gastrointestinal tract. And according to Russel Dean Havranek, MD, of the Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio “H. pylori is one of the most common infections worldwide.” Spread by contact with other infected individuals as well as contaminated food and water, H. pylori is responsible for 80% of stomach ulcers. But as researchers reporting in the World Journal of Gastroenterology point out, the bacteria can also invade the intestines. Approximately 50% of the population harbors an H. pylori infection according to findings in the journal Epidemiology Reviews. But dips in immune system responses that occur over time may make older women especially vulnerable. And as Winston Cardwell, ND, a naturopathic physician at Atlanta Integrative & Internal Medicine, explains, “As you age, the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid, which protects against infection, declines.” In fact, a study in the journal Helicobacter suggests risk of H. pylori infection climbs by 375% between our 20s and our 50s.

Related: MD: Your ‘Heartburn’ May Be Caused By *Low* Stomach Acid — At-Home Test & Cure

How H. pylori wreaks havoc on health

It’s no secret that H. pylori-induced ulcers can produce gastric bleeding and abdominal pain. But H. pylori infection can impact the body in other ways, including the following:

H. pylori triggers tiredness

“Inflammation produced by H. pylori damages the lining of the intestines, impairing nutrient absorption and allowing toxins to leak into other tissues,” explains Rosario Ligresti, MD, chief of the gastroenterology division at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Plus, H. pylori damages acid-secreting cells in the stomach, say scientists reporting in the journal Gastroenterology. And in another study, harboring H. pylori increased the risk of low stomach acid by 300%. Why that’s a problem: “Stomach acid is needed to break down foods and absorb energizing nutrients,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, author of Pain Erasers. Indeed, experts reporting in the World Journal of Gastroenetrology note stomach acid shortfalls produced by H. pylori can significantly lower levels of folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. And findings in the journal Scientific Reports suggest H. pylori infection can double the odds of chronic fatigue.

H. pylori raises blood pressure

In fact, a report in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found folks with H. pylori infections were significantly more likely to have high blood pressure than their non-infected counterparts. Plus, a Journal of Human Hypertension study determined H. pylori increased diastolic blood pressure, the ‘top number’ reading that reflects pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Authors note inflammation produced by H. pylori impedes secretion of nitric oxide, a substance that safeguards against blood pressure elevations.

H. pylori increases diabetes risk

People infected with H. pylori are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who have never had the bug, say researchers in Diabetes Care. They tracked 782 healthy people for 10 years. Of the 144 people who developed diabetes, 97% had tested positive for H. pylori at the start of the study. And the risk of developing the disease was 2.7 times higher among those with the infection. Scientists speculate that toxins produced by H. pylori may make cells less sensitive to blood sugar balancing insulin.

Could you be harboring H. pylori? 

Doctors can ID H. pylori infection with breath, blood and stool tests. 

And if you experience the following red-flag symptoms, H. Pylori may be to blame.

  • Fatigue
  • Bloat/burping
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Ulcers

H pylori natural treatments

Doctors typically treat H. pylori with “triple therapy,” which involves taking an acid-blocking drug and two antibiotics. But according to experts, the following H pylori natural treatments can also combat infection.   

Supplement with black cumin

Black cumin seed eradicates H. pylori infections as effectively as antibiotics, according to one study. Black cumin seed and its oil are high in thymoquinone, a compound with potent antibacterial action, explains Dr. Ligresti. He recommends taking 1,000 mg of black seed oil containing 5% thymoquinone after meals twice daily. A brand to try: Life Extension Black Cumin Seed Oil 500 mg; (Buy at LifeExtension, $12 for 60 softgels)

Cut down on these carbs

Dr. Ligresti advises scaling back on starchy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, white rice, potatoes and beans as much as possible. (The sugar they produce during digestion helps H. pylori to thrive.) Also smart: Seasoning foods with turmeric and fresh garlic. They contain compounds that thwart the growth of H. pylori and speed healing of the gut lining. 

Related: Turmeric for Women: Experts Call It a “Complete Well-Being Tonic” for Your Health

Enjoy olive oil

Olive oil as an h pylori natural treatment sounds too simple to be true. But according to researchers in the journal Helicobacter, including 2 Tbs. in your daily diet can help destroy even drug-resistant strains of the bacteria within 10 weeks. Credit goes to antibacterial phytochemicals that abound in the oil. Tip: Refining olive oil can lower its phytochemicals, so consider opting for virgin or extra-virgin oil whenever possible.  

Related: Hydrogenated Oils Can Raise Your Risk of a Heart Attack, Increase Insulin Resistance + Make You Feel Sad — How to Avoid Them

Sip cranberry juice

Cranberry juice is rich in plant compounds that combat H. pylori by keeping the bacteria from latching on to the stomach lining. So say scientists reporting in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. They found that when folks infected with H. pylori drank 2 cups of cranberry juice daily for 2 weeks, they were 172% more likely to test negative for the infection compared to their counterparts who didn’t sip the beverage.

H pylori success story: Kate Romero, 65

Kate Romero, who healed with h pylori natural treatments
Jon McKee

For 14 years, Kate Romero battled fatigue, GI distress and breathing trouble — until she uncovered the surprising culprit and the natural remedy that made all the difference. Read on for her story:

What do I have to do for you to listen to me?” Kate Romero, then 47, pleaded with her doctor in June of 2004. “For nearly 10 months, I had been dragging myself through my days, battling relentless fatigue that made staying awake and alert nearly impossible,” she recalls. “But that wasn’t all: I coped with stomach pain, trouble breathing and unexplained weight loss.

Kate was tired all the time

“My exhaustion had me hitting a slump every day by 3 pm, despite getting 9 hours of sleep. I always needed a nap. And even though cooking for my family had always been a passion, many nights I had to choose between using what little energy I had for a heart-healthy walk or standing up to cook. My life became so limited. Social events were something others got to do, not me, because I was always too tired.

“I pleaded with my doctor, begging him to do more than recommend medicine like Pepto-Bismol or tell me I needed to improve my sleep routine. The doctor reluctantly gave in and ordered blood tests that revealed that I was in a health crisis.

“On the way home from my blood test, the doctor called and insisted I go to the ER immediately for a blood transfusion to treat blood loss, likely due to internal bleeding. The ER doctor diagnosed me with a bleeding ulcer that required surgery. “A what?” I asked, as terror set in.

An answer — at last!

“In the hospital, I was told the likely culprit was a stomach infection caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). I learned H. pylori bacteria invade the stomach, destroying the protective mucus layer and leaving you vulnerable to ulcers, or tiny sores on the stomach’s lining. While you sleep, acid can escape the stomach through these ulcers and flow up into your esophagus. That causes a sore throat and ruins your ability to get deep sleep. Suddenly, all the pieces fit together, and I understood why I’d been so tired and sick.

“But I spent the next 14 years trapped in a spiral of dragging myself through my days, barely functioning as I navigated 12 attempts to eradicate the infection with antibiotics. My doctor prescribed weeks — or months — of powerful antibiotics he hoped would clear up the infection, followed by endoscopies and biopsies to check for lingering presence of H. pylori.

“Year after year, my hopes of being free of the infection were dashed when tests indicated my gut still wasn’t healthy. I was still always tired while also battling stomach pain and weakness. Over time, I would often feel faint, and then I started having trouble breathing.

Energy restored!

“I found myself at my wit’s end because nothing could get rid of the infection. Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands and researched homeopathic remedies. I discovered that black seed oil, which is extracted from seeds of a black cumin shrub, has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that treat H. pylori without the side effects of antibiotics. I read studies about black seed’s ability to help heal the infection and the gut. I started feeling optimistic I might actually get off the carousel of taking prescriptions that never cleared up my infection or helped me reclaim my energy.

“Finding no reason not to give it a try, I opted to make my own black seed capsules to ensure the purity of what I was taking. (Premade capsules are available online or at drugstores.) I ordered a 4-pound tub of black seed and empty gel capsules. Excited at the chance to regain my health, I started filling the capsules the day they arrived.

“Within weeks of taking one capsule every morning, I was able to stay awake past 7 pm and wasn’t yawning as much throughout the day. My digestive symptoms also started to subside. And when I went for a follow-up endoscopy about six months later, my doctor and I were thrilled that my battle with H. pylori was over when the biopsy came back negative. My black seed self-care was extremely cost-effective, and the easy remedy gave me my life back. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more energized or alive!

For more on a healthy gut, keep reading!

The “Skinny” Fiber That’s Helping Women Heal Their Guts and Lose Weight

“Leaky Gut Is Now an Epidemic,” Says Steven Gundry, MD — 6 Easy Ways to Heal Your Gut & Lose Weight for Good!

Help for the Little-Known But Common Food Sensitivity Making Women Feel Sick & Tired

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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