Parasites evade detection and diagnosis better than most human pathogens, which in part explains why most healthcare professionals deny their existence or clinical relevancy. Since diagnostic tests are often falsely negative or not reliable, astute clinicians must deduce the presence of parasites.
As Sherlock Holmes would say, “Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” In other words, once the more common causes of GI problems, such as bacterial or yeast overgrowth have been eliminated, the only possible cause of the symptoms must be parasitic.
I performed a study on 195 serial stool tests (CDSA) performed by Genova Diagnostics and found that parasites were detected on 17.9% of the samples. Now that a DNA analysis is offered by Metametrix Labs, I have found a much higher detection level. These study results suggest that parasites are a very common cause of gastrointestinal symptoms as well as many disorders and diseases.
Complaints of chronic GI symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, bloating and gas are common, but they are not necessarily present in the chronic stages of these infections. Occasionally all tests in such patients for GI functioning are normal, suggesting that something other than unfriendly flora is causing the symptoms.
This used to perplex me – but not any more. Now I know that the hard-to-detect parasites are quietly skulking behind the scenes. Parasites do not seek to damage the host unnecessarily, since they only want a comfortable home. Parasites often do not cause symptoms unlike unfriendly yeast or bacteria.
The newer stool testing offered by Metametrix (www.metametrix.com) which uses DNA detection technologies, is proving to be a far more reliable detection method than the older microscopy techniques, especially for finding these difficult to detect pathogens.
Parasites secrete toxins, some of which are toxic to the brain and can cause psychiatric and neurological symptoms. Some CAM (Complementary/Alternative Medicine) practitioners have suggested that the neuropsychiatric symptoms caused by parasites are reminiscent of the symptoms of “possession,” and that those infected or “possessed” by these demonic critters may have benefited by exorcism rituals, which often included herbal remedies which could result in them being “cast out.” Not being privy to the scientific knowledge about infectious diseases, our ancestor’s healers did their best with the information they had available to them.
When all diagnostic tests reveal no known cause of GI symptoms, and the causes of dysfunction are elusive, the conventional medicine phenomenological approach can be summed up in one statement – “Symptoms just happen.” Or the symptoms will be blamed on “stress” and the patient is told that “your symptoms are all in your head.” Such ridiculous appraisals confuse many patients who are experiencing problems in their bellies, not their heads! Patients who are told their symptoms “just happen” are usually prescribed psychotropic drugs or symptom suppressive chemicals to alter their symptoms.
The message conveyed here, “Since medical science can’t figure out what’s wrong with you, but just numb your symptoms with this extremely expensive, highly profitable, very toxic and addictive chemical which living cells have never encountered before in all of earth’s history, and I’ll see you in a few weeks.” The patient is usually advised to continue taking the chemical from then until eternity and return every few months or so to pay for another expensive office visit and a refill.
Many symptoms, disorders, syndromes, maladies and systemic illnesses are often caused primarily by parasitic infections, often accompanies by their bacterial and fungal associates, and they can be diagnosed through appropriate diagnostic testing, and then treated rationally and often cured with a combination of homeopathics, herbals, medication and other treatments.
Since no diagnostic test is perfect and the older detection methods are still relatively unreliable in the determination of parasites, and since GI symptoms are not caused by evil spirits and Freudian psychobabble, he clinician must maintain a high index of suspicion, consider the improbable and proceed to look for clues to implicate an unlikely culprit such as parasites.
Typical telltale findings indicative of parasitic infection include:
1) Vague symptoms of “creepy crawling” skin irritations and itching, especially at night.
2) A disparity of lactobacillus (low) to bifidus (high) on stool testing and cultures – parasites seem to compete more with acidophilus.
3) Blood in stool – yeast and bacteria generally are incapable of “chewing” through the cells lining the GI tract (mucosal cells) and into blood vessels, but the larger parasites are notoriously capable of inflicting this kind of injury.
4) Unexplained anemia, due to #3 above, or low iron, TIBC (total iron binding capacity), and/or ferriten, especially in a non-menstruating female or male.
5) Abdominal discomfort in the right lower abdomen, in the area of the caecum, the part of the large intestines which parasites often tend to congregate.
6) Low blood amino acid assays (blood) and low protein overall – parasites can consume protein before the host (us) can digest and absorb it. If digestion is good (normal digestive suggested in stool analysis and organic acids) and intake of protein is adequate (>60 grams a day), the question is, “what is preventing the protein from getting to the bloodstream?”
7) Unexplained deficiencies in other nutrients such as minerals (e.g., selenium, zinc). This finding coincides with #6 above.
8 ) A history of anti-parasitic treatment (herbs, homepathics, medication) which improved symptoms or may have immediately worsened symptoms (AKA Herxheimer or “dieoff”) when they were first taken.
9) A history of foreign travel to countries where sanitation is questionable or drinking water from an unusual source (such as a well at a campsite) that preceded symptoms, especially if an acute gastrointestinal illness occurred immediately thereafter.
10) Anal or rectal itching, AKA Pruritis Ani.
11) An unsatisfactory and unexpected negative treatment outcome with a comprehensive yeast or bacterial treatment program that includes the following:
a. Total compliance by the patient
b. A minimum treatment time of six weeks with an anti-fungal, antibiotic treatment
c. Treatment with a drug that was proven by culture and sensitivities to be effective against the particular strain of yeast or bacteria
d. No laboratory evidence of immune dysfunction due to HIV/AIDS, immunosuppressive drugs (e.g., prednisone) or heavy metals (e.g., mercury) or other toxicity impairing immune responsiveness.
If any of these are present to any degree and unfriendly flora such as yeast and bacteria have been ruled out as a cause of GI symptoms, however mild, parasites are the cause until proven otherwise. By Sherlock Holmes-style logic what else could it be? And since the exact parasite is often unknown, treatment must be presumptive with a broad range of anti-parasitic antibiotics, herbals and homeopathic remedies (see below).
Individuals who maintain an intact intestinal barrier (no “leaky gut”) and a well-populated “biofilm” of friendly organisms are relatively impervious to parasites or to any unfriendly flora. That is why two people can drink the same water from a contaminated well and only one person develops symptoms, or why 1000 people can eat contaminated beef from a burger chain and only 100 people get sick.
Have you ever wondered what happens to the other 900 people that simply shrugged-off the infectious organisms? Why does there seem to be no interest at all in their resistance? This apparent oversight stems from conventional medicine’s worldview that focuses on disease rather than on the resistance of the host (the mileau).
Most people also believe that parasites are only a problem in undeveloped countries and the third world. Parasites have always been a problem and will continue to infest the modern world. The natural resistance that indigenous people build up to the local parasites may not offer much help in preventing infestations in foreign travelers.
Much of the food we eat no longer comes from nearby farms – it may have been harvested from the other side of the world. And the natural foods that tend to inhibit the overgrowth of parasites, such as very hot and spicy foods typically served in warmer climates (where parasites are not killed by seasonal cold spells), may not be regularly included in the diet of those living in cooler regions.
Parasites can be tiny or very large. The microscopic varieties such as Giardia are probably much more common. In my office practice, assessment of 195 consecutive stool tests through microscopy revealed an incidence of 17.9%. Newer diagnostic testing using DNA analysis is far more accurate and initial estimates suggest that parasites are positive in over 50% of the specimens submitted.
Conventional and hospital based labs have a very poor record of detecting parasites in stool samples. Some years ago I treated a patient for parasites and they passed some obvious roundworms. These large and clearly visible parasites were washed off and sent to a local lab for analysis. The report was entirely negative for ova and parasites!
Since parasites are notoriously a diagnostic enigma, I usually recommend prescribing as many simultaneous treatments as possible. In other words, due to the uncertainty as to exactly which parasite is causing symptoms, a clinician is justified in treating with a wide array of interventions. The other line of deductive logic that supports this “shotgun” approach is that a single parasite is rarely alone. Even if only one is found on stool testing, others probably accompany the one that was fortunately spotted.
Do you have parasites?
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