When bad bugs happen to good people! Take a deep breath, it’s a long one.
Blastocystis Hominis is a parasite that infects the human digestive tract. While many carriers remain asymptomatic, it’s becoming more well known as a common cause of IBS. The Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney lists these symptoms as an indication of possible infection: “diarrhoea/constipation, mushy stools, abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and pain. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, weight-loss, chronic fatigue, depression, low-grade fever, bloody stools and anal itching”.
Up until not so long ago this parasite was actually considered a yeast - so was overlooked in terms of the symptoms it causes. It’s still controversial as to whether treatment is necessary due to so many people having the parasite but presenting no symptoms. It can be tricky to find a doctor in the know and willing to help as there’s still ongoing research being done. I was lucky enough to find the magical Dr Dane Pervan.
For those of us who do choose to seek treatment, a 3 pronged antibiotic approach is required and it can be tricky to get rid of. It’s a tiny cyst like parasite that likes to burrow into the walls of the intestine, so not as easy to get rid of as other parasites that just float around (eewww). Below is a picture of my antibiotic arsenal – 3 different types 3 times per day, I also have 3 nilstat in my hand as I was treating candida at the same time. I will warn you, this was not fun…
Infection usually occurs through eating contaminated food, drinking infested water or dealing with animals. You don’t necessarily have to have travel to a third world country either. The best way to get tested is through a complete stool analysis that includes DNA testing. Any other stool test is close to hopeless (trust me; I went through 3 tests with normal doctors that showed nothing before I forked out the cash for one of these babies). They’re expensive but the overview you get on the state of your insides is WELL worth it.
Helicobactor Pylori affects over 30% of the world’s population. It’s a bacteria that hangs out in the lining of the stomach and is known to cause stomach ulcers. Carriers again can be asymptomatic but the symptoms associated with infection include: heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. In my personal experience it also affects stomach acid production hence impairing digestion. Testing can be done via: gastroscopy, urea breath test, blood test or the stool test listed above. For me, the stool test was most successful as I’d gotten 2 negative results in the breath tests prior to stool testing.
It’s not 100% certain how it’s transmitted, but oral-fecal, oral-oral, poor hygiene and contaminated water seem to all be culprits. It’s also commonly known to be picked up during childhood – often passed on from an infected family member. To eradicate H. Pylori a combination of antibiotics and a stomach acid suppressor is prescribed. I was also given some herbs to take along with the H. Pylori eradication kit, Nexium HP7, pictured below that my doctor recommended.
Candida is another one of those things normal doctors don’t really jump up and down about. Because we all have candida in our system anyway – a lot of people brush it off when it comes back positive in a (stool) test. If you have an overgrowth though, it’s seriously worth looking at and treating, through diet and supplements with the optional addition of a drug called nilstat. There’s also a specific strand of probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii which is known for its yeast eating abilities, candida is a type of yeast. It pretty much opens up a fermentation factory in your gut.
When stomach acid is low and the balance of good to bad bacteria askew (dysbiosis), candida has the perfect place to thrive and quickly overpopulates - especially if you couple that with a diet high in sugar and processed foods. The list of symptoms is looooong and varied: depression, headaches, brain fog, sleep issues, anxiety, bloating, joint pain, constipation/diarrhoea, nail infections, eczema, acne, thrush, allergies, fatigue as well as intense sugar cravings as the yeast screams to be fed… Often candida does not just ‘happen’ so it’s important to figure out what allowed it to flourish, and eliminate that, to avoid it returning.
Leaky Gut is a big one, so I’ll try and nutshell it. Usually after things like the above go down in the gut the gut lining is affected. So much so that little gaps start to form in the gut lining. Considering we need that lining to keep things in, when things leak out it causes trouble. Food particles, waste, drugs and supplements can all cross over the barrier and leak into the blood stream. When this happens the body reacts by attacking – these particles are now foreign invaders which the body most get rid of! In short your body uses precious energy to attack things that shouldn’t have ended up in the blood stream to begin with.
If this goes on long enough you’ll start to experience a similar range of symptoms as those listed above for candida. Often the symptoms can start off subtle so they just go on ignored. From experience, if you feel like crap every day because of leaky gut, well, you kinda get used to it as your new norm. But long term ignorance causes a great stress on the immune system as it’s always ‘on’. The craziest thing about it – leaky gut left untreated, can lead to an autoimmune disease. The body becomes so confused attacking the particles that have crossed over your gut barrier into the blood stream that it starts to attack the body’s own cells. I know it sounds insane, but it’s a true story. Check it out here for more detail: What is Leaky Gut and how can it cause so many health issues?
Treating leaky gut is a long term commitment to diet and lifestyle changes such as: stress management, sleep quality, appropriate exercise and finding happiness in your daily life. Supplement support is encouraged as well as learning to take life easy. First you must treat the cause of it though so getting some tests done is of the utmost importance. No point under taking a healing journey only to be back at the start because you failed to eradicate parasites or had H. Pylori suppressing things or candida funking the place up. If you have any stomach issues, you can pretty much bet on the fact that you have leaky gut; if you do want to test however, a simple ‘drink a solution pee in a bag over 6 hours’ urine test can be done.
My condensed version of what I’m doing diet wise can be found over here: When JERFing isn’t enough (aka the autoimmune protocol) and The Paleo Mom has a great article here on: Repairing the Gut My biggest regret in this area is not educating myself earlier on or having the balls to tell my doctor what I thought was up and what tests I thought I needed. Not all practitioners do the stool testing either, so I had to find one that did and pretty much tell him that I refuse to come in unless I received a stool kit, and promptly. Luckily I found an understanding naturopath here in Perth, Shannon Buford at Cura Medicine who sent me home with a lab kit from Diagnostic Insights.
So pretty please, if any of this resonates with you or you've found yourself nodding at the symptoms listed, make the investment to get yourself tested… sooner rather than later.
Big Love xx
Big Love xx