Ulcers, Heart Burn and the H.pylori Connection

Ulcers, Heart Burn and the H.pylori Connection


There was recently a story in the media about a young MD with stomach cancer that passed away.  This doctor was a healthy young woman. The only risk factor she had which may have lead to the development of the cancer was a prior H.pylori bacterial infection of her stomach.  Prior to her death she advocated for more stringent testing for H.pylori for patients with conditions linked to the bacteria like ulcers and heart burn since the bacteria may be treated early simply by taking antibiotics. 


In naturopathic medicine one of our principles of treatment is to treat the cause and not the symptom.  With an H.pylori infection this leads me to take into consideration what may have contributed to getting this infection in the first place and what leads to this bacteria attacking the stomach and small intestine.  Studies have shown that approximately 50% of people over the age of 50 have H.pylori.  However, not all of these people have ulcers or heart burn and certainly not all of them get stomach cancer. 


There are two things that make certain people more susceptible to developing the conditions associated with H.pylori.  The first is gastric output.  Essentially, if your stomach is not secreting enough acid it won’t kill any foreign bacteria in your stomach.  Once the H.pylori takes up residence in the stomach it further increases the pH of the stomach, making it more alkaline and therefore making it more favorable for the H.pylori to colonization there.  What is interesting to note is that people with heart burn or ulcers taking medications to stop the secretion of stomach acid or taking antacids are ultimately helping the H.pylori to survive by eliminating or decreasing the acid in the stomach.  While these medications may be necessary in the short term, in the long term it is important to re-establish the proper pH in the stomach.


The other factor that influences H.pylori infection is a diet low in fruits and vegetables.  It has been found that decreased amounts of antioxidants in gastric juice is associated with H.pylori infection and can contribute to ulcer formation. 


There are many natural therapies which can decrease your risk of contracting H.pylori as well the risk of it causing illness.  These treatments will also ultimately aid in optimizing the digestive process so that you are getting all the beneficial nutrients from your food.  For those with a history of gastric or duodenal ulcers or heartburn, it is important to determine why those conditions have come up and to treat the cause in order to preserve the health of the gastrointestinal tract in the long run. 


Dr. Leppelmann ND has a practice at 208 Main Street in Selkirk and works at Nature Doctors in Winnipeg as well.  To contact Dr. Leppelmann ND in Selkirk please call 482-4464 or send her an email at  If you wish to contact her in Winnipeg please call 943

Published:May 9, 2012
Author:Jason Bachewich

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