Can H. Pylori Cause Graves Disease?

Published June 3 2012

When I first began consulting with people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, I didn’t know much about H. Pylori.  After all, when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease I wasn’t tested for this bacteria.  But I began learning more about this organism on my own, and then randomly began testing some of my patients for the presence of H. Pylori.  And although I didn’t keep track of the percentage of patients who tested positive, I will say that it was a good number of people.

Not all of my patients who test positive for an H. Pylori infection have overt symptoms.  In fact, I have people complete an extensive health history upon becoming a patient, and some won’t have any digestive symptoms, yet will test positive for this bacteria.  Although H. Pylori can cause other health issues, most of the symptoms are digestive in nature, including gastritis and ulcers.  These health conditions of course will impact one’s digestion, and can cause a lot of problems.

The Connection Between H. Pylori and Graves’ Disease

It seems that people with autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves’ Disease are more susceptible to developing H. Pylori.  And the reason behind this is because a compromised immune system can make someone more susceptible to getting infected with this organism.  H. Pylori is contagious and can therefore be transmitted from one person to another.  So while proper hygiene is important to prevent the transmission of the disease, having a healthy immune system can also be a big factor.

But is the reverse true?  In other words, can someone have H. Pylori first, and then as a result of this infection develop Graves’ Disease?  There are many different factors which can trigger an autoimmune thyroid disorder such as Graves’ Disease.  And it does appear that having H. Pylori can potentially trigger an autoimmune response in someone who has the genetic code for Graves’.  While there is controversy over this, there does seem to be a positive relationship between Helicobacter Pylori and thyroid antibodies.  In other words, having H. Pylori can increase the level of thyroid antibodies, and eliminating this organism can lower the thyroid antibody levels.

This of course doesn’t mean that H. Pylori is the cause of most cases of high thyroid antibodies.  Obviously there are other factors which can play a big role, such as allergies to gluten and dairy, estrogen dominance, as well as certain mineral deficiencies, most notably selenium.  But I’ve come across some people with high thyroid antibodies who eliminated gluten and dairy, balanced the hormone levels, took mineral supplementation, and didn’t notice a difference in the thyroid antibody levels until they eliminated their H. Pylori infection.  This doesn’t help everyone with high thyroid antibodies, but either way you of course want to permanently eliminate H. Pylori, so it’s definitely something to consider for anyone with an autoimmune thyroid condition.

Can H. Pylori Be Treated Naturally?

While I’d love to say that everyone who tests positive for H. Pylori can be cured through natural treatment methods, this isn’t always the case.  Most people do respond well to a combination of different natural treatment methods, but for some people medical treatment in the form of antibiotics is necessary.  For those who read this and figure they will just take the antibiotics and pass on the natural treatment approach, just keep in mind that the medical treatment approach of giving antibiotics doesn’t always work.

As for what you can do from a natural treatment perspective, I usually recommend certain dietary changes, along with taking certain supplements and herbs.  Of course you want to minimize your consumption of refined foods and sugars, and certain foods which can help include garlic, cranberry juice, and cabbage juice.  Certain herbs such as thyme, golden seal, and turmeric can also help greatly.  Mastic gum can also help greatly in helping to eradicate H. Pylori.  Obviously it can be costly to take all of the recommended supplements and herbs, and so some people will just try to clean up their diet and perhaps take one or two of the recommended supplements and herbs.  But for optimal results I would highly recommend doing everything I discussed above.

You might also want to consider taking both a medical and a natural approach.  In other words, some people will choose to take the antibiotics, and at the same time will eat well and take the recommended supplements and herbs.  Taking this approach almost always will permanently eradicate H. Pylori.  If you do combine methods, or just choose to take the antibiotics alone, make sure you take probiotics continuously during this treatment, and for at least a few weeks after you have discontinued the antibiotics.

So hopefully you can see the connection between H. Pylori and Graves’ Disease.  Once again, this doesn’t mean that everyone with Graves’ Disease will develop H. Pylori, or that H. Pylori will always trigger an autoimmune response for someone who has a genetic marker for Graves’ Disease.  But when someone has either condition, one should definitely consider following a natural treatment protocol in order to get to the underlying cause of the condition.