It is well known that H. pylori can cause digestive symptoms such as heartburn, reflux, bloating, nausea and vomiting. However, the knock on effects of bacterial and parasitic infections can be profound and may cause seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Research has clearly shown that H. pylori can cause vitamin B12 deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia.
Typically, in medical research other nutrients are not studied. However nutritionists who use advanced laboratory testing techniques commonly see deficiencies in vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 when patients have digestive infections. It is also not uncommon to see amino acid and fatty acid insufficiencies.
If the body becomes nutritionally depleted as a result of H. pylori and other digestive infections, symptoms can develop elsewhere in the body.
For example, amino acids are required for the production of thyroid hormone and the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. B6 is required for the formation of dopamine. If these chemicals are low in the body, depression, anxiety and fatigue can easily set in.
Typically SSRI antidepressant drugs will be prescribed in these situations but the key to successful treatment is actually to ensure the gut is functioning properly. This means removing H. pylori, other infections and ensuring proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Convenient and inexpensive urine testing can be employed to evaluate nutritional status and short-term supplementation can be used to replenish specific nutrient levels.
It is known that H. pylori and other digestive infections cause inflammation in the digestive tract. H. pylori is well known as a major cause of gastritis.
Inflammation always requires an anti-inflammatory response. The body’s anti-inflammatory hormones are cortisol and cortisone. High levels of inflammation lead to higher than normal levels of cortisol. Because cortisol is a stimulatory hormone, high levels can lead to anxiety and panic.
An increased demand for cortisol also leads to a reduction in the sex hormones – progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. Imbalances in these hormones can cause a multitude of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, period pains, acne and more.
If the H. pylori is not dealt with and the inflammation continues, the cortisol levels will start to drop as the adrenal glands where it is made become fatigued. Low cortisol can also cause mood symptoms.
Doctors tend to overlook digestive infections as a cause of mood problems but the reality is that if a patient cannot absorb nutrients and has imbalanced hormones, mental and emotional symptoms are almost inevitable.