So since my last post about my Parasite journey I’ve been working through he issues it left behind and I’m finally feeling like I may own this body of mine again. Some great news is that both follow up stool tests have come back negative as well as another abdominal ultrasound I had this week. The other great news is that other than a few residual food sensitivities and systemic issues I’ll talk more about below, all in all I’m feeling pretty great. It looks like I was able to effectively eradicate the bug! This blog post is part 2 and all about how I treated Blastocystis Hominis.
Blasto is a little different than what you might expect from a parasite. It’s not a wormy looking creature with teeth, you can’t identify it visually with the naked eye, it’s not even really a specifies. It’s called a protozoa, it’s a thick-walled cell that hangs around in your system (mostly digestive system) and irritates you. It travels from mouth to anus and is usually spread through contaminated water or food. There are some studies that show mosquitos may also be a carrier but there wasn’t a lot of confirmed research on that so at this point it’s more of a theory. It can live up to 19 days in room temperature water meaning you could get it from the swimming pool ( Side note: please do not ever go swimming if you have diarrhea! keep your germs to yourself :))
It looks like this:
It’s apparently quite common and in fact in North America it’s often ignored. Until recently it wasn’t seen as pathogenic so physicians didn’t treat it let alone test for it. Other parts of the world had recognized it as pathogenic though and had been treating. The more research I did the more I found out that many people are suffering from Blasto (and other similar bugs) and there just isn’t enough interest, knowledge or awareness in this country for it to have been recognized as a treatable issue of concern.
The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) has changed it’s classification from non-pathogenic to pathogenic in recent years. They describe it a controversial bug because many people who test positive do not report symptoms (meaning they don’t notice anything). My personal opinion on that is 2 fold, I suspect I had it for quite a bit longer than the 10+ months I felt ill. I suspect there is an incubation period or at least a period of time where the ‘infection’ in minimal and symptoms are less. The other observation I have is that not everyone is in tune with their body. I see many clients who might not consider constipation, gas, joint pain, bloating, mental fog (the list goes on) to be normal. Many people live with signs and symptoms of many issues for year and years before seeking help. This goes for anything including injuries, inflammation, hormonal issues, allergies, sleep issues the list goes on.
I got the call at the end of October indicating a positive test after the millions of negative tests I’d had I was in a way relived. I felt like I finally had an answer to months and months of unexplained illness and pain. When my told me I tested positive for Blastocistosis but she didn’t know how to treat it and would consult with my GI specialist and get back to me. At this point I (as I always do) got to work. I researched the hell out of it. I read every section of this topic in every nutrition textbook I own, I referenced articles, joined forums and reached out to specialty clinics all over the world. What I found was that this particular bug, because of it’s cellular structure, is very hard to kill. I also found out that becomes resistant to any medication very easily. Most often parasites in this country are treated with a drug called Flagyl, unfortunately that medication on it’s own doesn’t usually work well enough and Blasto comes back stronger. Basically a superbug. My natural inclination is to always treat things naturally first before medication but what I also read was that natural parasite treatments haven’t been effective either.
One of the specialty clinics I found was in Australia and they have had a lot has a lot of experience with this parasite as well as quite a few others. I was able to obtain a protocol they use with good success. Unfortunately after I did some more reading I discovered these drugs are not available in Canada. I was able to get a hold of their 2 choice protocol which was something we had access to. At this point I used my experience of working on health care and prepared my case for the doctor. I printed everything I had, highlighted the important points and gathered my thoughts to present my case.
In the meantime the GI specialist’s office called me back about the results and booked me a follow up for a month away. I’d already had my upper EGD scope done by then and those results were normal. They indicated on the phone that they didn’t usually treat Blasto and that it likely wouldn’t be the cause of my symptoms but I could come back and discus it with the doctor at her next available time slot in 6 weeks if I wanted. I tried to explain what I’d read but obviously the receptionist couldn’t help me and I’d have to wait for my visit. I booked the appointment but decided not to wait around and instead booked a follow up with my family doctor. At this point I already had done the research and knew I wanted to try out this antibiotic combination treatment option. I really avoid medications and always try a natural route whenever possible but in this case I was so sick or being sick and tired that I was willing to try anything. I was also afraid to try something more natural or something that ended up being inadequate because I didn’t want to create any resistance.
My doctor knows me very well, she knows that I have worked in health care for a long time, she knows I prefer not to take medications and she knows that I was ill and that we had exhausted all avenues. She and I discussed our options including this protocol at great length and decided at this point that there was a strong case in treating it and that it was worth a try. The treatment was a combination of two antibiotics that I took 3x day for 10 days.
- Metronidazole 500mg 3x day for 10 days
- Apo-Sulfatrim DS 160mg 2x day for 10 days
I will tell you, while on the medication I felt extremely ill. Like sick, nasty, gross, awful ill that included, nausea, severe headache and mega stomach upset. Even with those symptoms though I noticed my other symptoms weird pain type dissipating. The severe distention and upper stomach pain went away by the 7th day and once I was finished the course of antibiotics my fatigue and mental fog disappeared and my energy hit the roof. Incredible. I couldn’t believe it. My tummy was even pretty flat with minimal bloating.
I also consulted with my naturopath before starting the treatment and we initiated a treatment to help support my digestive system and liver while taking these medications because man they are hard on you.
Antibiotics are really hard on your system as a whole. They kill off everything including what your body needs for immunity and optimal nutrition. The symptoms and side effects from antibiotic were pretty brutal and in fact I’m still dealing with them months later. I’m still suffering from candida 4 months later which show up as eczema, itchy, red, inflamed or splitting skin (feet and hands) thrush, vaginal dryness and more. Not nice but still better than the pain I was in! I’ve been working hard on eliminating this through nutrition and treatments natural protocols in clouding large doses of probiotics and anti fungals. It’s been an adventure and I’ll write another post about treating those issues as well!
After the course of antibiotics I really felt better. 2 weeks post treatment I submitted a stool sample and it came back negative hallelujah!
I didn’t stop there though although I could have but I was paranoid and wanted to make sure I killed the bug in all stages of it’s life cycle. Because apparently there are three stages and it’s worse during a full moon – ewww) and because the treatment I did wasn’t the full triple therapy treatment originally suggested by the Australian specialist I set out to find the natural version or the 3rd medication.
I designed a protocol using my nutrition background and training in essential oils and consulted my Naturopath. She added in some homeopathic tinctures and together we came up with a treatment that included oils, herbal and homeopathic tinctures. I followed this for another 6 weeks. Some great oils that help are oregano, clove and an On Guard blend that I now offer through my site since I use them everyday. I also continued on a gentle parasite herbal cleanse. Have a look at this one or this one.
One thing I’ll mention is during that time I was also following a specific anti-inflammatory nutrition protocol and once I felt better post treatment I veered from that especially over Christmas. I noticed some bloating coming back and didn’t feel great so that concerned me. There are a few reasons for this I’m sure, 1 being I wasn’t careful about my food intolerances, I took some liberties with dairy, additives like agar agar and too much sugar which feeds candida. Once I cut those out I felt great again. That I said this is an area I’m still dealing with. Parasites are known to cause food intolerances. Basically they create irritation within in your system that cause havoc. What I hope is that by eliminating those intolerances and following a healing diet I will be able to eventually add all or at least most foods back in. So far it’s been successful and each week I see better results, less bloating/reactions. I’ve been able to reintroduce about 1/3 of the items on my list but I still have a ways to go. I’ll post more about this too! (wow so much to write about! 🙂 )
That brings us to now. Like I said I’m feeling much better. I still have a few residual things going on but my energy is back to normal and I’ve been back to my usual training load for about 6 weeks now. I’ve also been able to add some foods I’d been avoiding back in with no reactions. I’ve just had my final test result come back required to say I’m parasite free which although I really did know by how I feel it’s still really reassuring.
I’ll continue to test annually just in case. I’ll also continue to use herbal parasite ‘cleanses’ annually or bi annually on my household (including the pets!) as a precaution. I will also always try and make my system as anti parasite friendly as possible especially when traveling! You can create an environment they don’t like just by eating fresh garlic! 😉
I’ll post about this too.
I hope this helps so many of you who’ve been ending in your questions and comments! I know it seems a bit overwhelming and a lot of detective work but it really is worth it if you can find out what it the cause of your symptoms. In many cases it’s really just a matter of a particular food being an issue for you but sometimes it’s more.
I didn’t write this post topic you or have you run to your doctor for multiple tests but what you need to do is tune into your symptoms and do the work. Really do some detective work on your own. Many issues really can be alleviated through nutrition and the world of conventional medicine isn’t really up to date with that yet (which where we nutritionists and nutrition coaches come in handy! 😉 ) Whatever the case, keep digging!
If you want some great info here are some great sites but keep your wits about you, it’s easy to self diagnose and you don’t want to treat if you don’t have to. Like I said, do your research.
As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Or tell us your story or share mine with someone it may help!