You left for Costa Rica imagining yourself basking in the sun, catching some waves, and soaking up the exotic sights and sounds around you.
Those visions become quickly blurred after you catch a stomach bug that leaves you curled in bed paralyzed with crazy abdominal pain.
You picked up “traveler’s diarrhea” but is that really the full picture?
When you get home, you’re still struggling with horrible digestive issues– but also new mysterious symptoms have popped up.
Suddenly you’re sensitive to foods that once didn’t bother you, you feel exhausted all the time, and you’ve got achy muscles and joints. What else could be going on?
Many of my clients have digestive issues connected to an intestinal parasite but these are often overlooked by their conventional medicine doctor, who isn’t interested in testing for these bugs.
As a result, some women can be misdiagnosed as having “IBS” (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and are sent on their way, only to learn later they actually have a parasite.
This post is a second part in a series where I wrote about my own personal experience with an intestinal parasite.
It was quite a journey and I hope my story can shed light on this controversial topic so that others can make sure they get the right testing and healing protocol.
Intestinal parasites can refer to either helminths (worms with many cells like tapeworms, pinworms and roundworms) or protozoa (single-celled organisms like giardia and cryptosporidium).
There are a number of ways to contract an intestinal parasite but we have to consider the individual and the environment they’re in.
The most common reason a person contracts a parasite in the first place has to do with having an already compromised gut microbiome. When you have a weak microbiome, parasites are able to easily take hold and reproduce rapidly.
Have you unknowingly been exposed to an intestinal parasite? There are important environmental factors that increase your risk of getting an intestinal parasite.
A compromised gut + environmental components creates a recipe for digestive disaster thanks to a parasite.
Parasites can destroy the intestinal cells in your digestive tract resulting in symptoms, like diarrhea, but it can also manifest as any other number of symptoms including:
Any combination of these symptoms can appear unrelated or unexplained. Some people may not display any symptoms at all. The best way to know for sure if you have an intestinal parasite is to get a DNA stool analysis.
All too often, clients come to me saying their doctor already ran a stool test on them and it came back negative.
However, when you work with me, we run a DNA stool analysis where we’re able to pick up intestinal parasites that were actually missed at your doctor’s office.
The DNA stool analysis I use in my practice tests for 15 different parasites.
This stool test is much more sensitive than the conventional stool test offered at your doctor’s office because it uses a special technology that measures the very DNA particles of the parasite we’re detecting.
This technology has a high sensitivity, meaning the parasite can actually be dead or in its dormant phase and it’ll STILL be detected.
This leads to more accurate diagnoses that were likely missed with the stool testing offered by your doctor.
There are a couple of options for you to consider when addressing a parasitic infection. The conventional medicine route usually includes a medication of some kind.
Sometimes, however, doctors may look at your results and decide you don’t need any treatment, even when your results clearly show you have an infection.
With a natural therapeutic method you would consider the whole individual instead of just throwing medications their way. There are many different angles to consider with an individual including: food sensitivities, herbal protocols, probiotics, and more.
These natural methods aren’t always fail-safe and sometimes you might need a combination of conventional + natural approaches.
Conventional medical treatment will vary depending on the type of infection, as well as the symptoms presented.
If someone has a parasitic infection but has mild or no symptoms, then many doctors may not see a reason to treat you at all and send you on your way (even if you’re struggling with valid digestive complaints).
On the other hand, medications might be given for other cases.
For example, someone with a Giardia infection might be prescribed Alinia. Someone with a hook worm infection could be prescribed mebendazole.
These drugs could cause many uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, weight loss, and insomnia–the very same symptoms that you may experience with your parasitic infection.
However, for other people, there may be NO issue with the side effects of these medications. I’ve had clients take the conventional route with medications and they were able to reach a resolution within a matter of days without any negative side effects.
For others, I’ve seen these medications cause more problems than what they started out with. Each scenario is going to be very individualized and it may take trial and error to figure out the best therapeutic route for you.
Fortunately, there are some natural treatment methods available to help boot out parasites.
For me personally, I wanted to try the natural route before resorting to medications so I could: 1.) forgo the expense 2.) avoid potential negative side effects
For myself, I was able to boot my hook worm infection in a matter of weeks with the use of professional grade botanicals (in addition to other interventions).
Herbal protocols tend to be much gentler on the gut flora so I often recommend trying a natural treatment approach if at all possible, and to resort to conventional treatment methods if the natural treatments are ineffective.
In addition to herbs, there are other important considerations for creating a parasite protocol.
It’s important to start with the basics! Did you know intestinal parasites contribute to food sensitivities due to the disruption they cause in the gut? Removing food and chemical sensitivities can provide quick relief before we work on re-balancing your gut.
There is evidence that taking probiotics can help to reduce the risks of infestation by specific parasites, or at the very least help to complement other anti-parasitic treatments.
For example, high dose S. Boulardii has been shown to be beneficial in crowding out Blastocystis infections. Lactobacillus reuterii could be beneficial in helping to crowd out Cryptosporidium infections.
Your specific probiotic protocol will depend on what infections or overgrowths you’re dealing with so this can get very specialized.
There are many well-known herbs & botanicals for eliminating parasites.
When one of my patients has an intestinal parasitic infection I commonly recommend an herbal complex which includes herbs most specific to their parasitic infection, along with a few other ingredients which can help with eradicating a parasite.
In addition to the herbal protocol, I find it is important to support detox pathways in order to avoid any potential die off symptoms that often occur with a sudden increase in toxins being released in the body.
Herbs, spices and other foods are excellent ways to help combat any unhealthy overgrowth in your gut in addition to providing tons of antioxidants.
Garlic, pumpkin seed oil, oregano, ginger, thyme, rosemary are just a few of these foods.
I recommend you purchase a few fresh herbs and begin using these in your everyday cooking. Experiment with flavors and add a little spice to your life! Here’s a wonderful guide to help get you started.
If tolerated, I also recommend adding in fermented foods like grass fed or coconut water kefir + fermented vegetables to help boost beneficial bacteria in your gut.
To give you perspective as to why fermented veggies are so beneficial: a 4-6oz serving has up to 10 Trillion CFU’s of beneficial bacteria! Most probiotic supplements contain only 5-25 Billion (not Trillion) CFUs. Fermented foods can pack a lot of punch!
It’s important to consider your individual scenario, your medical history, and which treatment route you prefer to take– in conjunction with the advice of a well-versed healthcare professional.
What works for one person may not work for another and it’s important you work with a health professional who sees you as an individual.
If you’re struggling with a digestive issue you think is linked to a parasite, then I can help! Don’t let diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and stomach pain ruin your life for good. Get answers to your digestive issues, even when your doctor said they couldn’t help.