Have you ever heard about the connection between H. pylori and histamine intolerance?
Bacterial issues and histamine intolerance tend to go hand-in-hand. Most histamine intolerant individuals are working to rebalance their gut bacteria using histamine safe probiotics.
But, did you know that there's a particular bacterium called H. pylori, which is carried by nearly half of the population, that has shown to play a role in histamine intolerance.
Not only is there a strong connection between H. pylori and histamine intolerance - but, many individuals experiencing common issues such as reflux and inflammation, or even more serious issues such as esophageal cancer have discovered H. pylori to be present and play a role in pathogenesis.
Let's dive in and take a closer look.
What is Helicobacter pylori?
Let’s start with the basics: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), is a strain of bacteria that infect the stomach lining and has been recorded as a major contributor and cause of ulcers in the stomach, distress on the small intestine and other gastroduodenal diseases (1).
This nasty bacteria can be passed along through saliva from an infected individual and, is also readily available for infection via utensils, food and water (2)(3).
Although not as prevalent in developed countries, H.Pylori is still a factor in many peoples lives and has a tendency of being brushed off very quickly by medical professionals as something less severe, which can lead to numerous misdiagnoses, as well as an increase in symptoms, such as acid reflux and heartburn, nausea and sometimes ulcers (4).
This lack of recognition is due to the fact that, although approximately half of the population possesses H. pylori, many live with it asymptomatically. Or, the symptoms that are being promoted as a result of H. pylori are considered normal, everyday symptoms such as reflux and heartburn.
Well, as we now know, these symptoms are not normal and can be indicators that something is going wrong. Additionally, these symptoms can develop into more severe disorders - so, it's best to put a stop to them early on.
Let's continue on to the specific relationship between H. pylori and histamine.
Histamine is a key chemical involved in the immune system and proper digestion and is derived from histidine; a fundamental amino acid associated with the growth and repair of tissues in the body (4).
Histamine is usually referred to when allergies and inflammatory reactions come up, as it sends out an alarm to the body that an invader has come in (ie. bacteria, infection, etc.) and it needs to be dealt with (5).
This mechanism is necessary for a healthy body and immune system, as it protects you from unwanted, foreign aggressors that could cause potential health problems.
But - what if that signal goes off while an invader isn’t actually present? This is where histamine intolerance comes in (2).
Histamine also influences the secretion of gastric juices (2). This is especially significant if you are struggling with H. pylori, as your stomach and bowel symptoms may become much worse due to the influx of histamine production and, therefore, HCL (stomach acid) production (5).
H. pylori and Histamine Intolerance
H. pylori and histamine can be an extremely dangerous combination, especially when histamine intolerance builds up.
Contrary to what many believe, histamine intolerance does not mean a lack of histamine production in the body (2). It actually means that your body is producing so much histamine, that the signals are constantly going off for invaders, even when there is absolutely no threat to your immune system, which could mean greater risk for the development of food allergies and sensitivities (2)(6). Not to mention, more stress put on your body, which could mean even more symptoms, including adrenal fatigue and danger of developing other issues and chronic illnesses (4).
Histamine intolerance can be caused by leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth (including SIBO), allergies (IgE), IG bleeding (ulcers) and diets high in histamine-rich foods (7). Other than diet, all of these culprits can easily be linked back to the potential connection between H. pylori and histamine.
The biggest issues surrounding H. pylori is that re-infection rates are getting larger and larger, antibiotic resistance is becoming more rampant, mis- and non-diagnosis is commonplace and, there is a massive lack of research and studies regarding effective alternative therapies (8).
So, when it comes to H. pylori and histamine intolerance, where do we go from here?
H. pylori: Tests and Diagnoses
Healthcare professionals and the health and wellness industry as a whole currently have a tendency to approach both H. pylori and histamine intolerance with skepticism and a lack of recognition or underestimation of importance.
But, with the available evidence, it's important to be more open-minded when it comes to strains of bacteria, especially ones as common and potentially harmful as H. pylori.
Simply because H. pylori and histamine intolerance don't commonly appear to be immediately life threatening, it doesn't mean that both H. pylori and histamine don't have the potential to develop into more harmful symptoms and chronic disorders.
For this reason, the presence of H. pylori is important to check for and should not be taken lightly, especially as it can wreak severe havoc on the whole body, and not just the gut.
Our body works as a whole - with no system functioning in complete isolation. So, if there is a bacteria that can weed its way into the lining of your stomach, you had best believe it will affect your entire being – which, many people observe as skin issues, inflammation, allergies, sensitivities and other symptoms of histamine intolerance.
More often than not, if you haven’t developed an ulcer yet, your healthcare professional will not test you for H. pylori, therefore, making this bacteria that much easier to spread to others and much more difficult to heal (8).
Knowledge is power, so knowing your options and requesting tests and/or examinations that will put your mind at ease and give you the information you need in order to make an informed decision regarding your health is key.
The best place to start the healing process is to find out if there's a link between H. pylori and histamine intolerance in your personal case. If so, eliminating H. pylori from your system, which can be done once you are diagnosed, is the next step to eradicate this bacterium that may be perpetually worsening symptoms. A urea breath test, blood test and stool test are all potential testing options for diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, removal of H. pylori comes next. Removal can be done in multiple ways, through proper supplementation and either via herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics, depending on your personal case.
Depending on how long you’ve been dealing with this bacteria and how severe the infection is, antibiotics may be the only way to truly rid yourself of H. pylori - however, in some severe cases, H. pylori has begun to become more resistant to antibiotics (3).
I typically recommend trying natural options first - and, as a last resort, you can turn to pharmaceutical options which may have more side-effects and wipe out more of the good bacteria - but, then you can move on to a more aggressive pre- and probiotic routine for re-establishing bacterial balance.
H. pylori and Histamine Symptoms: Top 7 Natural Interventions
When it comes to H. pylori and histamine intolerance, if you opt for natural interventions, it's notable that numerous alternative therapies have shown success in regaining control over H. pylori while also healing the gut and body (8)
- Probiotics have shown great success in possible prevention of H. Pylori and healing the stomach. Bifidobacterium is one strain that has been recommended (4,8). However, it's essential to ensure you're using probiotics that are histamine-safe. Many probiotics will naturally produce histamine and actually make histamine intolerance symptoms worse. Ensure you check this list I've compiled of high histamine bacteria, and ensure none of these common strains are contained in your probiotic.
- Berberine has not only shown direct activity against H. pylori itself - but, may even possess the potential to improve histidine metabolism. As histidine is a precursor for histamine, this offers potential benefits for individuals with histamine intolerance, giving it a double-effect against both the underlying pathogen and histamine issues themselves (9).
- Zinc has shown to reduce inflammation associated with H. pylori, as well as potential symptoms and complications associated with H. pylori such as gastritis (10, 11). Additionally, the use of zinc in combination with antibiotics has shown to significantly improve the H. pylori eradication rate, without increasing toxicity (12). These results demonstrate that adding zinc into your H. pylori elimination routine can have the overall effect of improving symptoms, reducing inflammation and getting rid of H. pylori faster and more effectively.
- Mastic gum is an especially interesting, as it has been studied to possess bacterialcidal activity against numerous H. pylori strains, including drug-resistant H. pylori (13) . Additionally, mastic gum has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant and even anti-cancer activity, making it an all-around beneficial treatment which is well-tolerated by individuals (14).
- Bismuth-based therapy has shown in studies to be a natural remedy which is as effective as current first-line therapies for H. pylori in clinical practice, with a good safety profile compared to current pharmaceutical drugs (15,16,17). These studies even demonstrated bismuth to work against antibiotic-resistant H. pylori (18).
- Mast cell stabilizers are great for improving histamine-associated symptoms induced by H. pylori infection. H. pylori tends to cause overproduction and release of histamine from mast cells, therefore, using a natural mast cell stabilizer, such as Anti-Hist, can drastically improve H. pylori associated symptoms while also benefiting the infection itself.
- Whole foods diet should absolutely be a main focus for anyone, especially when you’re dealing with H. Pylori and histamine intolerance. In particular, broccoli has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer properties, which makes this an excellent vegetable to add into your whole foods diet (8). For a comprehensive low histamine diet which emphasizes gut-healing and anti-inflammatory foods, click below to download the low histamine food list!
H. pylori and histamine intolerance can be a very rough combination and tend to work a little too well together, meaning they can cyclically perpetuate one-another and worsen your symptoms and disorder very quickly.
Putting emphasis on a clean diet filled with low-histamine foods (fresh meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, gluten-free grains, eggs, etc.) will help to ensure you don’t exacerbate your histamine intolerance symptoms (4).
Unfortunately, when it comes to pesky bacteria, like H.pylori, the risk can be quite high and it's almost impossible to avoid the potential for contamination. Knowing what symptoms to look out for, how the bacteria will effect your body and how you can heal it is much more important than trying to live your life in quarantine.
If you suspect you have H. pylori and histamine intolerance, knowing your options and the dietary and supplementation modifications, such as beginning a low histamine diet and using gut balancing and symptom improving supplements such as a low histamine probiotic and a natural mast cell stabilizer, can make a major impact in your healing process.
1. Ma ZF, Majid NA, Yamaoka Y, Lee YY. Food allergy and Helicobacter pylori infection: A systematic review. Front Microbiol. 2016;7(MAR):1–5.
2. Alexander BJ, Ames BN, Baker SM, Bennet P. Textbook of Functional Medicine. Jones DS, Quinn S, editors. Washington: The Institute for Functional Medicine; 2010. 3-66 p.
3. Malfertheiner P, Megraud F, O’Morain CA, Gisbert JP, Kuipers EJ, Axon AT, et al. Management of helicobacter pylori infection-the Maastricht V/Florence consensus report. Gut. 2016;66(1):6–30.
4. Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 4th ed. Avery, editor. London: Penguin Group; 2006. 980 p.
5. Haas EM, Levin B. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts; 2006. 925 p.
6. Hurduc V, Bordei L, Buzoianu E, Plesca DA. P242 Helicobacter pylori infection and speci fi c immunoglobulin e antibodies to food allergens in symptomatic children admitted in a digestive endoscopy unit. BMJ [Internet]. 2017;102(November 2016). Available from: https://adc.bmj.com/content/102/Suppl_2/A128.2
7. Myers AM. The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. Harper Collins; 2017. 400 p.
8. Ayala G, Escobedo-Hinojosa WI, de La Cruz-Herrera CF, Romero I. Exploring alternative treatments for Helicobacter pylori infection. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(6):1450–69.
9. Sun, H., Wang, H., Zhang, A., Yan, G., Zhang, Y., An, N. and Wang, X. (2015). Berberine Ameliorates Nonbacterial Prostatitis via Multi-Target Metabolic Network Regulation. OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology, 19(3), pp.186-195.
10. Ishihara, R., Iishi, H., Sakai, N., Yano, H., Uedo, N., Narahara, H., Iseki, K., Mikuni, T., Ishiguro, S. and Tatsuta, M. (2002). Polaprezinc Attenuates Helicobacter pylori-Associated Gastritis in Mongolian Gerbils. Helicobacter, 7(6), pp.384-389. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12485126
11. Suzuki, H., Mori, M., Seto, K., Miyazawa, M., Kai, A., Suematsu, M., Yoneta, T., Miura, S. and Ishii, H. (2001). Polaprezinc attenuates the Helicobacter pylori-induced gastric mucosal leucocyte activation in Mongolian gerbils-a study using intravital videomicroscopy. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 15(5), pp.715-725. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12464972
12. Tan, B., Luo, H., Xu, H., Lv, N., Shi, R., Luo, H., Li, J., Ren, J., Zou, Y., Li, Y., Ji, F., Fang, J. and Qian, J. (2017). Polaprezinc combined with clarithromycin-based triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis: A prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. PLOS ONE, 12(4), p.e0175625.
13. Miyamoto, T., Okimoto, T. and Kuwano, M. (2014). Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil of Mastic Gum and their Antibacterial Activity Against Drug-Resistant Helicobacter pylori. Natural Products and Bioprospecting, 4(4), pp.227-231.
14. S. Paraschos, S. Mitakou and A.-L. Skaltsounis (2012). Chios Gum Mastic: A Review of its Biological Activities. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 19(14), pp.2292-2302. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22414110
15. Fiorini, G., Zullo, A., Saracino, I., Gatta, L., Pavoni, M. and Vaira, D. (2018). Pylera and sequential therapy for first-line Helicobacter pylori eradication. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, p.1.
16. Tursi, A., Franceschi, M., Allegretta, L., Savarino, E., De Bastiani, R., Elisei, W., Baldassarre, G., Ferronato, A., Scida, S., Miraglia, C., Penna, A., Licci, C., Rizzo, G., Pranzo, G., Cassieri, C., Brandimarte, G., Picchio, M. and Di Mario, F. (2018). Effectiveness and Safety of Pylera® in Patients Infected by Helicobacter Pylori: A Multicenter, Retrospective, Real Life Study. Digestive Diseases, 36(4), pp.264-268.
17. Gómez Rodríguez, B., Castro Laria, L., Argüelles Arias, F., Castro Márquez, C., Caunedo Álvarez, Á. and Romero Gómez, M. (2017). A real life study of Helicobacter pylori eradication with bismuth quadruple therapy in naïve and previously treated patients. Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas, 109.
18. Tsay, F., Wu, D., Yu, H., Kao, S., Lin, K., Cheng, J., Wang, H., Chen, W., Sun, W., Tsai, K. and Hsu, P. (2017). A Randomized Controlled Trial Shows that both 14-Day Hybrid and Bismuth Quadruple Therapies Cure Most Patients with Helicobacter pylori Infection in Populations with Moderate Antibiotic Resistance. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 61(11).