Herbal Remedy Note

Using garlic on a Helicobacter pylori ulcer

An anecdotal first person healing account


Medical History

Someone without a knowledge of H. pylori ulcers should probably read the Helicobacter pylori entry in the Wikipedia before reading this account to give perspective and background. I happen to have an established history of rectal bleeds (blood in the stool) that result from H. pylori in the duodenum. If this were my first encounter with a rectal bleed my actions in this account would probably have been foolish, but because of my history and experience with the disease I felt the risk was justified. It was a personal decision that each patient has to make for themself.

My previous treatment had involved the use of an endoscope down the esophagus and a biopsy that was positive for pathogenic H. pylori. Many people are infected by H. pylori but show no symptoms because they have an infection from a benign species instead of the pathogenic variety that causes ulcers.

My past bleeding has been slow at first allowing me a lead time of at least a week before intervention would be critical. The trick is in the timing. Just because an infection is wiped out by an antibiotic there is no surefire way to how big the remaining lesion is and how long it will take to heal. In a hospital they will monitor your blood count every four hours until it stops declining and starts going up again. If it doesn't stop declining past a critical point, a transfusion is given. By the time you reach that critical point, you will be too weak to walk. How robust you are can make a big difference on how soon the will feel the danger signs. To give you an idea based on my own case, my normal blood count is 15 and when I walked into the emergency room it was 7 and I did not feel weak or dizzy. A value of 7 is very dangerous. If you were not in a hospital and were experiencing heavy bleeding you could go to sleep, have a heart attack and never wake up. At no time did I feel any pain or discomfort. I became weaker and weaker in the hospital and was very susceptible to passing out until a transfusion was given. The symptoms that brought me to the hospital that first time was black hard stools and lots of bright red blood in the commode. Below I describe a recent recurrence of my old condition.

What Happened

On Monday I noticed the telltale distinctive strong foul flatulence and stool odor of digested blood. The totally black stool is a dead giveaway of blood in the bowels from the upper digestive tract. I checked the keywords "wiki" and "pylori" into Google to refresh my memory about the treatment.

I watched the stool color for a day hoping the black color would go away, but it didn't so I went out and bought the extra strength Zantac 150 and a bottle of the 325mg red Ferrous Sulfate tablets from behind the counter. My energy level was high and there was no weakness or windedness on a vigorous two mile daily walk.

On Tuesday I continued to watch the stool color for a couple more days after taking the medication and the flatulence smell died down, but the bowel was still pitch black and quite soft. If the stool had been dripping with fresh bright red blood I would have gone to the emergency room assuming the blood flow was too heavy to allow self-medication.

Some More Research

Remembering how a big dose of garlic had totally wiped out a nasty inner ear infection in two days many years ago, I typed "pylori" and "garlic" into Google. Voila, a researcher reported "We have demonstrated in vitro that H. pylori is susceptible to garlic extract at a fairly moderate concentration. Even some antibiotic-resistant H. pylori strains are susceptible to garlic. Clinical trials are necessary to explore the possibility of using garlic as a low-cost remedy for eradicating H. pylori."

I called the local free clinic to try to get a prescription for the antibiotic Flagyl (Metronidazole) but they didn't have any openings. The clinic was closed for the next several days and I was short on cash so I decided to treat myself and be responsible for my own health.

The Treatment

Starting Thursday morning I began my new antibacterial dietary regimen. In addition to the Zantac and the Iron I had two very simple meals each day. I would cook up half a cup of brown rice. While it was cooking I would grate up four large fresh cloves of garlic (15-20 gm). Then I would chew a few spoonfuls of rice and chase it down with a teaspoon of unchewed finely grated garlic. I kept alternating until the rice and garlic were gone. The meal was taken with copious amounts of water and a minimum of a half gallon of water was taken throughout the day, preferably a gallon. Remember that as you bleed, your blood volume and thus your blood pressure goes down. No juices were taken, but DGL licorice tea was used to soothe the stomach.

By the end of the day Thursday, the flatulence was completely odorless and the light pinkish coloration in the stool water disappeared.

By Sunday morning, after three days of treatment, there was a dramatic improvement and the stool was back to a rich brown with no trace of black. I am sure my blood count was a little low, but early detection and treatment had kept it in check. At no time was the stool hard and I never felt weak or dizzy. I did find that if I took a nap, it would last longer than usual.

The dietary regimen was continued for several more days to assure success. It was changed to three meals a day and the garlic was used only once a day. H. pylori is very persistant and the healing lesion is delicate and susceptible to abrasion. Once the bleeding has stopped, it is important to keep it that way. The Zantac and Ferrous sulphate were continued for four weeks. Susceptible people may just continue taking Zantac for the rest of their life or incorporate garlic daily in their diet. H. pylori is found in the U.S. water supply. One option for the health-conscious person is to drink distilled water.

Closing Thoughts

Being a human guinea pig had its payoff for me and a sense of personal empowerment for the future.

Don't ever expect a U.S. doctor to suggest this treatment, there was a time in history when they might have suggested garlic for intestinal problems in general, but not any more. The total cost of the garlic was $.98 for a bag of peeled cloves at an Eastern market. This is quite a bargain at a time when doctors and hospitals are pricing themselves out of the health care business.

Cautionary Notes:

Medical Implications-Obviously the safest approach to take with this type of treatment is to do it under a doctors supervision. Be aware that many doctors will simply tell you to go to the hospital because with blood loss the clock is ticking and a transfusion may be needed if the bleeding is heavy. A hard black stool or bright red blood in the toilet can indicate that the bleeding is profuse.

If the doctor won't cooperate, try looking for an N.D. or a holistic M.D. If you have anemia, diabetes, dizzy spells, or heart trouble among other conditions where mild blood loss puts you at risk, this kind of treatment may be too hazardous too consider.

Body Odor-Beware that when taking large quantities of garlic people may be able to "smell you coming." Contrary to breathmint and mouthwash commercials, this has nothing to do with personal hygiene, the highly aromatic active ingredient, Allicin, just emanates from your pores. Washing will have no effect, the smell will just taper off after many hours. If your loved ones don't like it, tell them to eat a small clove of garlic to numb their nose. You can sprinkle it raw into some tasty dish or pop it into a large stuffed olive.

Iron supplemenatation with large doses like the 325mg pill mentioned here has potential side effects. Such doses are enough to kill a child. Large doses can also blacken and harden the stool although I did not notice this effect in my case. If you take more than one of these pills per day while you are bleeding, the combined effect may make your stool so hard that you have to reach inside your anus with your fingers and pull the bowel out manually in cases of extreme constipation. An article in the Wikipedia called "Human iron metabolism" makes interesting reading. The half life of ferrous sulfate in the body is said to be about 6 hours and 100 mg of vitamin C will potentiate the bioavailability. The absorbtion is said to improve if the Iron is not taken with a meal, but two hours apart from it.

Success Rate-Even with the best current medical treatment available, the success rate of fighting an H. pylori infection may be no better than 80-90 percent. Many strains have acquired antibiotic resistance. Garlic may be able to provide the extra complementary boost that will push effectiveness past the tipping point, but research in this area is lacking.

Acidic Foods-anyone who has received medical treatment for ulcers will be warned about aspirin and its cousins such as ibuprofen as well as acid and spicy (peppery) foods usually without any additional specifics. The strongest acids are mineral acids such as the carbonic (fizzy water) and phosphoric acids used in soft drinks. Just as dangerous, but more prevalant are the organic acids such as acetic acid (vinegar), citric acid (found in limes, lemons, plums, tomatoes, prune juice, and orange juice), oxalic acid (found in star fruit, black pepper, and rhubarb stalks), malic acid (found in sour apples and irritating sour candies such as Mega Warheads), and lactic acid (dairy products). Ascorbic acid also known as vitamin C is quite acidic weighing in at about pH 2.5, less acidic forms labelled as "buffered" are also available. A table of the most acidic foods and drinks can be found in charts on the internet called "Approximate pH of Foods and Food products" and "Drinks That Eat Teeth." Acidity is measured on a scale called pH and the lower the pH value the worse it is likely to be for an ulcer. The pH scale is logarithmic and as a result, each whole pH value below 7 (neutral) is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, using the "Drinks That Eat Teeth" chart lemon juice, coke and pepsi are roughly one hundred times more acidic than tomato juice and strong vinegar is ten times more acidic than orange juice. Contrary to the healthly for teeth image promoted by milk producers, based on the chart values, some milk products are acidic enough (pH 5.5 or below) to demineralize teeth.

The acidity of most food groups tend to cluster, the fruits are a glaring exception to this rule of thumb. In general grains, beans, lentils, vegetables and high protein foods are the least acidic while soft drinks and fruits are the most acidic except for melons with dairy and tomatoes toward the middle. The left column of the chart below is arranged alphabetically and the right column shows the same items arranged by acidity.

                    Relative Acidity of Various Foods

Item Approximate pH &     nbsp;         Item Approximate pH
Apple 3.30 - 4.00 Stomach acid 2.00
Apricots 3.30 - 4.80 Lime Juice 2.00 - 2.35
Bamboo Shoots 3.50 - 4.60 Lemon Juice 2.00 - 2.60
Bananas 4.50 - 5. Lime 2.00 - 2.80
Beans, refried 5.9 Cranberry Juice, canned 2.30 - 2.52
Beans, Soy 6.0-6.6 Grenadine Syrup 2.31
Blackberries 3.85 - 4.50 Star Fruit 2.4
Blueberries 3.12 - 3.33 Vinegar 2.40 - 3.40
Bread, White 5.0-6.2 Pepsi 2.49
Broccoli, Cooked 6.3-6.52 RC Cola 2.50
Buttermilk 4.41 - 4.83 Coke Classic 2.53
Cantaloupe 6.13 - 6.58 Gelatin Dessert 2.60
Cheese, Cottage 4.75 - 5.02 Loganberries 2.70 - 3.50
Cheese, Cream, Phila. 4.10 - 4.79 Chili Sauce, acidified 2.77 - 3.70
Cherries, frozen 3.32 - 3.37 Orange Minute Maid 2.80
Chili Sauce, acidified 2.77 - 3.70 Gooseberries 2.80 - 3.10
Coffee, Black 4.7 Plums, Blue 2.80 - 3.40
Coke Classic 2.53 Hawaiian Fruit Punch 2.82
Corn 5.9-7.3 Squirt 2.85
Cranberry Juice, canned 2.30 - 2.52 Grapes, Seedless 2.90 - 3.82
Cucumbers, Dill pickles 3.20 - 3.70 Dr Pepper 2.92
Cucumbers, pickled 4.20 - 4.60 Pomegranate 2.93 - 3.20
Curry Paste, acidified 4.60 - 4.80 Gatorade 2.95
Dates, Dromedary 4.14 - 4.88 Orange Juice 3.0 - 4.19
Diet 7UP 3.67 Grapefruit juice 3.00
Diet Coke 3.39 Tamarind 3.00
Diet Dr Pepper 3.41 Grapefruit 3.00 - 3.75
Diet Mountain Dew 3.34 Strawberries 3.00 - 3.90
Diet Pepsi 3.05 Mint Jelly 3.01
Dr Pepper 2.92 Nestea 3.04
Enchalada sauce 4.40 - 4.70 Diet Pepsi 3.05
Fresca 3.20 Wine, Sparkling 3.1
Fruit cocktail 3.60 - 4.00 Rhubarb 3.10 - 3.40
Garlic 5.80 Red Pepper Relish 3.10 - 3.62
Gatorade 2.95 Orange Slice 3.12
Gelatin Dessert 2.60 Blueberries 3.12 - 3.33
Gooseberries 2.80 - 3.10 Quince, fresh, stewed 3.12 - 3.40
Grapefruit juice 3.00 Fresca 3.20
Grapefruit 3.00 - 3.75 Cucumbers, Dill pickles 3.20 - 3.70
Grapes, Seedless 2.90 - 3.82 Pineapple 3.20 - 4.00
Grenadine Syrup 2.31 Mountain Dew 3.22
Guava, canned 3.37 - 4. 10 Raspberries 3.22 - 3.95
Hawaiian Fruit Punch 2.82 Sauerkraut 3.30 - 3.60
Honey 3.70 - 4. Apple 3.30 - 4.00
Ketchup 3.89 - 3.92 Peaches 3.30 - 4.05
Kumquat 3.64 - 4.25 Apricots 3.30 - 4.80
Lemon Juice 2.00 - 2.60 Cherries, frozen 3.32 - 3.37
Lime Juice 2.00 - 2.35 Tangerine 3.32 - 4.48
Lime 2.00 - 2.80 Diet Mountain Dew 3.34
Loganberries 2.70 - 3.50 Sherry-wine 3.37
Mangoes 3.40 - 4.80 Guava, canned 3.37 - 4. 10
Milk, Acidophilus 4.09 - 4.25 Diet Coke 3.39
Milk, Cow 6.40 - 6.80 Mangoes 3.40 - 4.80
Milk, Sour, fine curd 4.70 - 5.65 Diet Dr Pepper 3.41
Mint Jelly 3.01 Sprite 3.42
Molasses 4.90 - 5.40 Bamboo Shoots 3.50 - 4.60
Mountain Dew 3.22 Pears, Bartlett 3.50 - 4.60
Mustard 3.55 - 6.00 Mustard 3.55 - 6.00
Nectarines 3.92 - 4.18 Fruit cocktail 3.60 - 4.00
Nestea 3.04 Plums, Red 3.60 - 4.30
Olives, green, fermented 3.60 - 4.60 Olives, green, fermented 3.60 - 4.60
Orange Juice 3.0 - 4.19 Kumquat 3.64 - 4.25
Orange Minute Maid 2.80 Diet 7UP 3.67
Orange Slice 3.12 Sherbet, raspberry 3.69
Peaches 3.30 - 4.05 Honey 3.70 - 4.
Pears, Bartlett 3.50 - 4.60 Raisins, seedless 3.80 - 4.10
Pepsi 2.49 Blackberries 3.85 - 4.50
Persimmons 4.42 - 4.70 Ketchup 3.89 - 3.92
Pineapple 3.20 - 4.00 Vegetable Juice 3.90 - 4.30
Plums, Blue 2.80 - 3.40 Nectarines 3.92 - 4.18
Plums, Red 3.60 - 4.30 Prune Juice 3.95 - 3.97
Pomegranate 2.93 - 3.20 Milk, Acidophilus 4.09 - 4.25
Potatoes 5.40 - 5.90 Cheese, Cream, Phila. 4.10 - 4.79
Prune Juice 3.95 - 3.97 Dates, Dromedary 4.14 - 4.88
Quince, fresh, stewed 3.12 - 3.40 Cucumbers, pickled 4.20 - 4.60
Raisins, seedless 3.80 - 4.10 Tomatoes 4.30 - 4.90
Raspberries 3.22 - 3.95 Enchalada sauce 4.40 - 4.70
RC Cola 2.50 Buttermilk 4.41 - 4.83
Red Pepper Relish 3.10 - 3.62 Persimmons 4.42 - 4.70
Rhubarb 3.10 - 3.40 Bananas 4.50 - 5.
Rice, Brown 6.2-6.8 Curry Paste, acidified 4.60 - 4.80
Salmon, fresh, broiled 5.36 - 6.40 Coffee, Black 4.7
Sauerkraut 3.30 - 3.60 Milk, Sour, fine curd 4.70 - 5.65
Sherbet, raspberry 3.69 Cheese, Cottage 4.75 - 5.02
Sherry-wine 3.37 Molasses 4.90 - 5.40
Soybean Milk 7.0 Bread, White 5.0-6.2
Sprite 3.42 Salmon, fresh, broiled 5.36 - 6.40
Squirt 2.85 Potatoes 5.40 - 5.90
Star Fruit 2.4 Garlic 5.80
Stomach acid 2.00 Beans, refried 5.9
Strawberries 3.00 - 3.90 Corn 5.9-7.3
Tamarind 3.00 Beans, Soy 6.0-6.6
Tangerine 3.32 - 4.48 Cantaloupe 6.13 - 6.58
Tomatoes 4.30 - 4.90 Rice, Brown 6.2-6.8
Vegetable Juice 3.90 - 4.30 Broccoli, Cooked 6.3-6.52
Vinegar 2.40 - 3.40 Milk, Cow 6.40 - 6.80
Water 7.0 Soybean Milk 7.0
Wine, Sparkling 3.1 Water 7.0

*Selectively edited combination of USDA data and “Drinks that eat Teeth” that lists the most acidic common foods with a smattering of representative members of other food groups.


Keywords: Garlic, clove, bulb, Allicin, DGL Deglycyrrhizinated licorice, Home Remedy, Folk Remedy, natural remedy, herbal remedy, herb therapy, self medicate, Helicobacter pylori, H. pylori, gram negative, ulcer, infection, antibiotic, healing, treatment, bleeding, stomach, rectal bleed, diet, Herbal Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Botanicals, Medicinal Herbs, doctor, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, drugstore, drug


Medical Disclaimer: Self-medication of a rectal bleed is particularly dangerous because many different life-threatening maladies can produce the symptom of blood in the stools. This account is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. I will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising therefrom. What you do to your body is your responsibility, not mine.