What is blastocystis hominis?
Blastocystis Hominis, a microscopic parasite that resides in the human intestines, has gained increasing attention in recent years due to its potential link to gastrointestinal symptoms. By understanding the parasite and adopting preventive measures, individuals can take control of their gut health and enhance overall well-being.
What are the signs and symptoms of blastocystis?
The clinical manifestations associated with Blastocystis Hominis infection can vary widely among individuals. While some people may be asymptomatic carriers, others may experience digestive issues such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, stomach acidity and nausea. Fatigue, brain fog, loss of appetite, weight loss, and skin rashes are other potential symptoms. However, it’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by various other factors, and not all individuals with Blastocystis Hominis will exhibit noticeable symptoms.
What causes blastocystis and is it contagious?
Blastocystis is a microscopic single-celled organism (protozoan). For many asymptomatic patients the parasitic protozoans normally live in their digestive tract and are harmless, however, there are factors that make them harmful for symptomatic patients:
Some types of blastocystis may be more likely to cause disease in some people than in others.
Some individuals may be more vulnerable to blastocystis species because of a weakened immune system, gut health issues, or other diseases within the body.
Issues may be caused by other organisms that coexist in the gut with the blastocystis.
Blastocystis can be passed between people and from animals to people and is primarily transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water, or the exposure to human or animal faeces. Poor hygiene practices, exposure to contaminated environments, and close contact with infected individuals or animals may also contribute to the spread of the parasite.
Risk factors for blastocystis hominis
Leaving the parasite untreated may have potential health risk factors. Here are some considerations:
Persistent Gastro Symptoms: Parasites have been associated with intestinal symptoms such as acute diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea. If left untreated, this gut dysbiosis of the human gut microbiota and digestive problems may persist or worsen, leading to chronic discomfort and reduced quality of life. Not treating these issues may increase the likelihood of developing into serious digestive system issues such as ulcerative colitis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome and other issues within the gastrointestinal tract.
Nutrient Malabsorption: Parasitic infections, including Blastocystis Hominis, can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients in the gut. This may result in deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients necessary for overall health and well-being.
Weakened Immune System: Chronic or untreated Blastocystis may contribute to immune system dysfunction or suppression. A weakened immune system can make individuals more susceptible to other infections and health complications so it is important to support your body back to a healthy immune function.
Intestinal Dysbiosis: Blastocystis can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome, leading to an imbalance in beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria. This dysbiosis of the human gut microbiota may contribute to digestive issues, impaired immune function, and potential long-term health consequences.
Spreading it to Others: If an individual with Blastocystis infection does not seek treatment, they may continue to shed the parasite in their stool, potentially spreading it to others through contaminated hands, food, or water. Proper treatment can help reduce the risk of transmission to others.
Blastocystis hominis natural treatment
There are a range of natural remedies and herbal treatments your naturopath can use to assist to fight parasites and heal from the infection. It is important to work with a naturopath who not only can analyse your stool test results, but who also understands the contraindications of conventional prescription medication, antibiotic treatment and the internal use of essential oils for treatment. The natural treatments and traditional medicine your naturopath may include are:
Herbal Antimicrobials: Certain herbal remedies have antimicrobial properties which work to get rid of Blastocystis. Herbs such as oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, wormwood, black walnut, and berberine-containing herbs (like goldenseal and barberry) may help inhibit the growth of intestinal parasites, fight inflammation, promote healthy balance in the gut and promote good digestion.
Probiotics and Gut Restoration: Supporting the gut microbiome is crucial in blastocystis treatment and for soothing digestive symptoms. Probiotics, specifically strains like Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus acidophilus, can help restore gut microbiota balance, the intestinal mucosa, enhance immune function, and reduce the growth of harmful microorganisms.
Dietary Modifications and Nutritional Medicine: A nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet can decrease gut issues and aid in parasite management. Emphasis on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fibre rich foods. Avoid processed and sugary foods, as they can promote inflammation, compromise immune function and increase gut symptoms.
How blastocystis hominis is diagnosed?
Testing for Blastocystis typically involves the analysis of human stool samples as blood tests are unnecessary. Your naturopath or healthcare professional may order a comprehensive stool analysis or specific PCR-based stool tests to identify the presence of the parasite. If you have tested positive, it is essential to work with a qualified naturopath experienced in parasitic infection, stool testing and gut issues to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Tips for prevention
Practicing good hygiene, such as proper handwashing, can help reduce the risk of Blastocystis. Avoid consuming untreated or contaminated water and ensure that food is prepared and stored hygienically. Pay attention to personal hygiene while traveling to developing countries or in environments with potential exposure to the parasite.
Blastocystis can present challenges, but a holistic approach can aid in its management. By incorporating natural medicine and natural treatment approaches, promoting a healthy gut environment, and adopting preventive measures, individuals can support their immune system and maintain optimal gut health. If you suspect a Blastocystis infection or experience persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, consult with a naturopath or qualified health care professional for proper diagnosis and personalised treatment recommendations.