I have quite a few people booking in at the moment who have been diagnosed with a condition called Blastocystosis. Never heard of ‘blasto’ before? Not many even know how to pronounce it, let alone understand the detrimental impact this little bug can have on your health. To help shed some light on this common diagnosis, I thought I’d break it down and explain it a little deeper for those of you wondering exactly what it is, and how to manage it.
What is it?
Blastocystosis (BLAST-oh-sis-TOS-is) is an illness caused by a microscopic parasite, Blastocystis ‘hominis’. The parasite can live in our intestines and is protected by an outer shell, which makes it notoriously difficult to treat. It’s a pretty easy parasite to ‘catch’ as it can be picked up from any surface or by eating contaminated food or water.
It’s quite likely that most of us have the blastocystis parasite and not have any symptoms. Signs of gastrointestinal distress caused by blastocystis infection can include: abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, excessive gas, slimy stools that tend to float, upset stomach or nausea. Patients also report fatigue, skin rashes, and joint pain. Some people with Blastocystis have severe symptoms, while others have no symptoms at all.
How is a Blastocystis ‘hominis’ infection diagnosed?
Your doctor or naturopath will likely ask you to submit stool samples to check for the parasite. As Blastocystis ‘hominis’ can be quite difficult to diagnose, you may have to submit multiple stool specimens collected over a few days. Even in that case, the diagnostics may fail to detect the infection. And as is the case with many parasites, by the time you know you have it, you’ve probably already shared it with everyone around you.
How can I treat Blastocystosis?
Because it is a difficult parasite to treat, there are a number of different options that patients can choose. Some patients have reported success with several prescription medications such as antibiotics and antifungals, but the success rates for treatment of Blastocystis ‘hominis’ are much lower than for other diseases. I’m a firm believer in anti-parasitic foods and herbs like garlic, papaya seeds, oregano and coconut oil when attacking parasite infestations. Many practitioners find value in a series of colonic treatments to improve the environment of your colon, not only flushing out the suspecting parasites but creating an environment where they don’t want to live.
The thing I find really interesting about blastocystis is that some people experience horrible symptoms and feel quite unwell, whereas others remain asymptomatic indefinitely. My personal belief is that as humans we will never be able to cleanse our bodies 100% of all parasites for our entire lives, but what we should be doing in our modern world full of toxins is cleansing and resetting our bodies regularly so that parasitic colonies don’t have a chance to reproduce out of control.