Tracy Tranchitella, N.D. is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine who specializes in providing nutritional and homeopathic consultations, lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine and women’s health assessments and detoxification programs. She graduated in 1998 from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) in Tempe, Arizona. Currently, she lives and practices in Temecula, California. Dr. Tranchitella is licensed in the State of California and a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the California Association of Naturopathic Physicians (CANP).
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A 38-year-old woman came to me recently, complaining of menstrual irregularities and fatigue. She had menstrual problems dating back to her late twenties, and frequently experiences symptoms of early menopause, including mood swings, shortening cycle, and occasional hot flashes. She was trying many herbal remedies with minimal success to help balance her hormones. I began my examination of her medical history and discovered that she also suffered from ongoing digestive problems, especially constipation, bloating, and pain in her upper abdomen.
She felt much better when she did not eat, and her use of digestive enzymes seemed to be the only thing that gave her temporary relief against the pressure in her stomach following meals. She was taking Pepcid (as prescribed by her family doctor) for indigestion and had recently had an H. pylori blood test that was negative for infection. After reviewing her case, I recommended repeating the H. pylori blood test from Biohealth Diagnostics. The test came back highly elevated. The patient was treated with good success, along with nutrient support for other body systems and, in a short period, her health improved and cycles began to normalize as the balance to her body was restored.
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterial infection that invades the lining of the stomach and upper intestine. It is commonly associated with ulcer formation, and is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. Typically, symptoms of H. pylori manifest as pain and pressure in the stomach region, bloating, distention, and reflux disease (heartburn). Periodically, bad breath not associated with gum disease and bowel dysfunction such as diarrhea and/or constipation are present.
A common finding in someone dealing with this infection is the need for digestive enzymes and antacids. H. pylori can reduce hydrochloric acid (HCL) production in the stomach, leading to the inability to adequately digest food, especially protein. Antacids work by reducing the amount of organic acids released by partially digested food, as well as neutralizing the stomach’s production of HCL. Although many natural treatments exist for H. pylori, it is generally recommended that one use antibiotic protocols to eradicate this organism, and use natural supplements such as garlic, colostrum, mastic gum, and lactoferrin as adjunctive therapy.
A common mistake with H. pylori blood testing is inadequate data collection. H. pylori testing can be complex and misleading, and most of the medical literature still debates the most effective means of diagnosis. However, I have had good success with diagnosis based on clinical suspicion, patient history, and the use of specific antibody testing. Antibodies are specific immune chemicals produced against bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
These antibodies are called immunoglobulins, namely immunoglobulin G (IgG), or immunoglobulin A (IgA). Most medical doctors will only test for IgG against H. pylori, sometimes missing the more subtle immune response of the other immunoglobulins, as was the case with this patient when I repeated the test using Biohealth Diagnostics. She showed elevated markers of IgA and IgM, but not IgG. Both IgA and IgM are strong indicators of infection.
Helicobacter pylori eradication is an important component in improving overall digestive function as well as total body balance. The human body should always be viewed as a unification of body systems and interrelated physiological functions. Our patient had menstrual irregularities and the apparent onset of early menopause because her body was in a state of stress from a chronic infection. Her hormonal stress response coming from her HPA system was overtaxed, causing an imbalance in female hormones that contributed to her symptoms.