So remember those digestive issues I’ve been experiencing for the last several weeks that mysteriously popped up & that I’ve been in the process of fixing using a very specific combined SCD/paleo approach? Weeell when the doctors said that I did not have any parasitic bacteria present in my gut, they were wrong. Yup, that’s right. Turns out I have been infected with a parasite known as Blactocystis Hominis (B. Hominis, for short). But it took a couple stool tests for it to show up. Sneaky little parasite.
In my most recent stool test the results came back that I have few Blastocystis Hominis present in my gut. Few. Some numbers or perhaps a percentage would be nice. But I guess I’ll settle with few, since that’s all they’ll give me.
When my doctor first called back to tell me the news she informed me that my treatment option was to take a dose of antibiotics – they had two variations available & I could choose which one I preferred. Or, since my symptoms had cleared up & I was no longer experiencing diarrhea I could choose to do nothing. My initial thoughts were hell no am I taking an antibiotic. But rather than express this viewpoint to my doctor I politely told her that I would need a few days to think about it, hung up, and began my new research project.
For the past week I’ve done hours of internet research on Blastocystis Hominis, the traditional medical approach to treatment & different antibiotics’ effectiveness on the parasite, the natural/holistic approach to treatment & different herbs’ effectiveness on the parasite, other methods/tactics used to kill parasites, etc. etc.
I’ve learned a lot about this specific parasite & have come to realize that while I tend to have a rather anti-antibiotic mindset that in certain cases they may be necessary & this may in fact be one of those cases. This parasite is one of the hardest to get rid of for a couple reasons. First, while antibiotics & natural herbs traditionally used to kill of other parasites have been proven effective against B. hominis, it can build up resistance to both forms of treatment rather quickly. It also has a complex life cycle consisting of four different life stages, which do not all respond to the same treatment and therefore while one antibiotic or herb can effectively kill off one form of the bug, say the adult form, the eggs (or cysts) will remain unharmed & thus allow the protozoa to reproduce following treatment. Lastly, B. hominis can inhabit multiple segments of the digestive system, can hide in intestinal mucus, can stick & hold on very tightly to the intestinal membranes, and can retreat to areas such as the large intestine & colon in times of “danger”.
An additional tricky thing about B. hominis is that it has been found present in the GI tract (in smaller quantities) in completely asymptomatic or seemingly healthy people but also in the gut of those (usually in larger quantities) experiencing severe digestive problems such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, IBS-like symptoms, and more. In recent years it has been discovered that different subtypes of the parasite exist and it is speculated that certain subtypes may cause negative symptoms while other subtypes do not. Subtype I is believed to be the pathogenic type, more likely to cause symptomatic infections or pose risk when combined with other types of infection or when in the presence of other pathogenic or “bad” types of bacteria. Subtype 3 is believed to be the asymptomatic type, predominantly found in the guts of individuals experiencing no current negative digestive symptoms. However, there are also intra subtypes found amongst subtype 3, and differences in the morphology of these intra subtypes correlates with the organisms pathogenic potential. In other words, if B. hominis (subtype 3) exists in one morphology in an individual they will experience no symptoms, however if that same organism transitions to a more mature morphology then the individual will progress from an asymptomatic to a symptomatic state. In other words, Blastocystis hominis seriously sucks.
Blastocystis hominis, in it’s parasitic state (or when it grows/gets out of control) can do a lot of damage to the intestinal wall, leading to a leaky gut, inflammation, & decreased immunity. This alone explains why there is a strong association between B. hominis & IBS and why B. hominis is so often detected in patients with IBS. This also explains why the symptoms I was experiencing back in May/June were so similar to those that occur when someone has a leaky gut or IBS/IBD. I will never know for sure but my speculation is that I somehow contracted this parasite & either 1. my immune system/gut was already compromised (due to a past recent viral infection or just overall stress in general) allowing the parasite to reproduce & cause some serious damage or 2. there were some other bad bacteria already present in my gut & they joined forces with the new addition (B.hominis) to wreck havoc together. Joy.
The strength of the disease (termed, Blastocystosis) greatly depends upon the condition of your body. Since I was able to heal my leaky gut & correct any other bacterial imbalances with a gut healing protocol (that you can read about here) I currently have few B.hominis present in my gut & have what would be referred to as an asymptomatic case of B. hominis. So while I could easily choose to do nothing, put the parasite in the back of my mind, & hope that it presents no future difficulties, this is not something I feel comfortable doing. B. hominis attacks the body violently & creates trouble when it’s under stress or weakened. While I aim to keep my daily life as stress-free as possible, one of my favorite activities is CrossFit, an exercise/fitness program where stress is inevitable. I am also entering my senior year of college & want to be able to go out with friends & enjoy myself without having to worry about my leaky gut or digestive issues returning. Because of this I want to completely eradicate my gut of all Blastocystis hominis. I want those suckers outta here.
In order to do this I have made the decision to use a combined medical/natural approach. I am going to continue with my current diet that now consists of low-starch veggies such as cooked zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, spinach, and carrots, lots of healthy fat primarily animal fats, coconut oil, and olive oil, and a good amount of protein ideally from grass-fed/pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish/seafood. I have also been drinking bone broth (made weekly from the bones of local, grass-fed cows) every morning and consuming gelatin (in the form of tea gummies) regularly. This is the diet that has helped to heal my leaky gut/digestive issues most likely caused by this parasite in the first place and therefore will be the one I stick with as I begin my plan in killing the parasite for good. I may make a few adjustments here & there, adding a few more types of vegetables or foods as I see fit but most simply each of my meals will consist of a some high-quality animal protein, a good amount of healthy fat (either added or naturally occuring in the cut of meat), and some low-carb/sugar veggies. I have yet to make any firm decisions regarding the antibiotic but I think that taking it is inevitable & as soon as I have a solid plan laid out I will be writing a follow up post on the exact steps I am going to take, so stay tuned!
While people generally have large amounts of trouble eradicating this parasite, which I initially found discouraging, this now serves as fuel for the fire. I am highly determined to get this parasite out of my system so that I can continue to heal my gut & become the healthiest version of myself. See ya later, B. hominis.