Parasites: the hidden menace
After 18 months on GAPS, we have healed a LOT! But we also hit a bit of a brick wall in terms of the final, obvious immune response issues like remaining anaphylaxis to nuts in my son, and random belly bloat, fatigue and brain fog in my daughter and I.
My daughter still had big patches of cradle cap that was causing her hair to grow out really thin and weak, she was regularly wetting herself, and would still get random bloated tummy from food that I know is fine. It was confusing. She also had a persistently itchy bum and had started biting her nails.
My son has so vastly improved, but still has a few allergies, still gets the legs cramping at night when he increases foods like garlic or coconut oil (both anti-parasitic foods), and his bowel movements are not always regular or solid. He also had the itchy bum every so often.
I was suffering the worst and was starting to get grumpy: my random bloated tummy had returned with a vengeance, and I was cutting out dairy, fruit, nuts in an effort to discover what was causing this. I had gained weight weirdly, without eating any differently, and I couldn’t lose the weight, not even 100 grams, even though I was practicing intermittent fasting. I had reverted to needing 9 hours of sleep a day, and found it difficult to exercise without feeling really flat. I was starting to question the diet.
My husband ended up with his wrecked gut from when he first had Giardia in his twenties. Maybe he had never fully eradicated it, and had passed it on to us? His healing is coming, but much slower than he had hoped.
I started to take a food diary and discovered something astounding: all of our symptoms were MUCH worse during the Full moon and the New moon. Now before you scoff at this ridiculous hippy statement, let me tell you what I discovered next: Parasites come out to breed at Full Moon. They come out of the gut mucous that lines your GI tract, and in doing so, they disrupt the neurotransmitters that connect your gut to your brain. I have recorded in my diary that my kids went MENTAL over Full moon. They were less in control of their behaviour, only on these dates. At new moon, the parasites come out again to lay their eggs, which cause not only behavioural disruption, but the kids also complained of itchy bums over these corresponding dates. They would scratch their bums, and then they would bite their nails, and the eggs would go back into their bodies, and the lifecycle would continue! That’s where the term ‘lunatic’ comes from: parasites! I now understand from my research that there are many weird behavioural traits that point to parasitic infection including: nail biting, hair sucking, and toe walking, to name a few.
So then, armed with this new focus, I took myself to the doctor and got tested for parasites.
I have an awesome doctor. He basically takes the position that I am a mother with heaps of information; that I know more than him about using nutrition to heal chronic health; but he knows more than me about treating acute health issues like broken arms and life-threatening infections. He listens and learns from our experiences, and even shares it with other patients, which is hugely affirming. I defer to his incredible skill and knowledge as well, and am so grateful for it, when it concerns acute health issues. So he wrote out all the tests that he thought I should have, and then wrote out all the tests that I thought I should have too. I said to him: “I bet it’s a parasite that is causing all of this grief with my body.”
He laughed and said he was sceptical, but agreed to run the tests.
When my results came in, he called me personally because he was so excited. My body was 100% healthy, except for raised ferritin levels. I had recently been tested for hemochromatosis, a disease which causes your body to store ferritin, because my cousin was diagnosed. But I didn’t have hemochromatosis. Then he turned to the parasite tests, and showed me that I had Blastocystis Hominis and Dientomoeba Fragilis. While all the literature said that these parasites were ‘harmless’, we both agreed that I was not asymptomatic, and this was all we had to go on.
I went away and did my research, and when I returned, it was armed with information that showed that raised ferritin levels had been linked to infection, including PARASITIC infection, so there was a tenuous link or a confirmation, if you will. In the meantime, I had started an herbal treatment, and 50% of my symptoms had disappeared within a week. Not only had that, but my period which had shifted to a 25 day cycle since my daughter was born, suddenly moved back to a 28 day cycle.
We were both astounded, so we got the kids tested.
And I said to him: ‘I bet they have giardia’.
He laughed and said he was sceptical, so when we returned to the office to get the results, it was such a wonderful moment: he called the kids over to him, looked them in the eyes and said to them: “Kids, your mommy should have been a doctor. She is very smart.”
Now I know that it was a bit tongue in cheek, but what a lovely affirmation from a doctor that I am not crazy, and that my children should believe in me. I felt that it was God moving through this doctor, to tell me I was on the right path.
It should be noted that I wasn’t taking a random guess about the giardia: my husband had it in his 20s, it lead to all his gut trouble, and I had a premonition that it might be one of the BIG causes of all my boy’s gut issues. My son, my poor darling, has Blastocystis Hominis, Dientomoeba Fragilis AND Giardia. That he has healed SO much and is still carrying this burden of damaging parasites just points to the miracle all over again.
My daughter has Blasto and Giardia, which explains to a tee why her healing had stalled.
In the meantime, I have sent various family members who display symptoms off to get their stool tests done
. So far, 100% have tested positive for Blastocystis Hominis! What a revelation for my family this has been!
When you do the GAPS protocol, Dr NCM advises you not to waste your money on expensive tests, because the treatment will remain unchanged. Save your money, and do the diet: it should resolve all related issues over time. However, she does caution that if after 8 months you are still suffering digestive issues, then it is most likely parasites that aren’t moving out with the diet alone. It’s kind of a good idea to only treat parasites after this much time has passed, because it will give your body a gentle head start on healing the damage, reasserting the good bacteria (which manage the parasites), and allowing your detox pathways to cope with parasitic die-off. Which can be epic. As usual, she was spot on, and this was our experience exactly. I suddenly felt an enormous relief, all my questioning about whether this was the right path for us could be dismissed. Everything was going according to plan, even though we now had to treat these blasted things!
Everywhere I read, it became clear that Blasto and D Frag where considered asymptomatic by the medical world, but people who were suffering from IBS, CHRONIC FATIGUE, depression, anxiety, persistently poor bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation), persistently poor weight management (some people can’t keep it on, some people can’t lose it), joint inflammation, and many other symptoms, often had one or both of these parasites. There is growing evidence that the only people who have these parasites and are asymptomatic, have healthy gut flora. The symptoms seem to be the worst in people with candida issues. This is because candida is food for parasites.
The standard medical treatment is hard-core antibiotics.
Well, I was never going to do that after all the work we had done to repair our microbiome, and lucky for me, I have a doctor who agreed. The statistics of eradication from the use of antibiotics is at BEST 50%, and the consequences are not good:
Increased human antibiotic resistance (as much as I avoid them, we all want those antibiotics to work when our lives are at risk from infection!)
Fairly severe side-effects from the antibiotics including GI pain, diarroeha, nausea and vomitting.
Further damaged gut health as any good bacteria is eradicated, which means the underlying candida infection is free to thrive and so the downward spiral continues.
I came up with my own treatment plan, including what is already recommended on GAPS. It involves non-toxic antifungal medication, a LONG course of Diatomaceous Earth, and regularly rotating treatment of natural well-regarded herbal remedies like garlic, and black walnut hull.
Since we started the plan, the first week was a bit hard, with swollen tummies and diarrhoea. This was because the infestation of parasites was dying, and releasing their toxins into our GI tract. As this moved through, it caused feelings of stomach sickness, fatigue, and inflammation. The broth was critical to keep the gut lining safe during this time.
These are the symptoms we have reduced:
Fatigue (gone. I no longer wake up tired, and only need 7 hours sleep a day)
IBS: almost 100% gone. My daughter and my stomachs are mostly flat now. When they are bloated, it corresponds perfectly with a change in the parasite treatment, and die off.
My daughter’s cradle cap cleared up within 2 weeks
She can hold in her number 1s with NO issue now.
My sons leg cramps are gone
There sleep is unbelievable. No waking up at night since we started
No brain fog for me
I have started losing weight, 2 kgs so far, but I am excited!
I have, for the first time on GAPS, been able to increase my kefir and sauerkraut without weird and powerful mood swings. Obviously, these foods were directly impacting the parasites and causing stressful die off! This is a HUGE relief
My monthly cycle has returned to 28 days for the first time since my daughter was born!!
All of us have lost the intermittent dark rings under our eyes, and are no longer going through regular detox symptoms
It’s working! We are fitting the final pieces of the puzzle into place! I am overjoyed!
I plan to continue this treatment for 6 months. Why the heck not? These little parasites are NOT coming back!
For the full Parasite Treatment Plan, click here.