Photo Credit: Scienceblogs.com
How would you like to snuggle up with that lovely little creature?
In this second installment of revelations from our recent trip to HealthNOW Medical Center, I will be sharing more of our results from the Metametrix GI Effects Profile test. In my first post on intestinal flora I shared information about our fledgling “good bugs” as well as some information about the importance of having balanced microbiota in our intestines. In case you missed that post, you can read it here. In today’s post I will be covering parasites, pathogenic bacteria and fungi/yeast.
The following is an excerpt taken from Scientific American:
Worms have been living inside the human body since Homo sapiens have been around. About half the world’s population (over 3 billion people) are in infected with at least one of the three worms forming what Columbia University parasitologist Dickson Despommier calls the “unholy trinity”—large roundworm, hookworm and whipworm. Most of those afflicted live in developing countries, where there is not enough clean drinking water or effective sanitation systems to keep infected feces from contaminating food and water, and where human excrement is used to fertilize crops. The most prolific parasitic worm in the U.S. and European Union: the pinworm, which is most common during childhood.
When I first began to write this post, I thought it would be fairly straightforward…annihilate the suckers! The more I researched parasitic worms however, I learned that there are actually two schools of thought on this matter, but more on that in a minute.
Before I share each of our results, I will start with a recap of each of our conditions/symptoms.
First up is my 3 year old son, Luke. Luke has been diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (via Enterolab), an IgG casein intolerance (via a blood test through IBT Laboratories) and a Class 2 IgE egg white protein allergy (via RAST test). Luke has had issues with “toxic poo” since he was just a few weeks old (any stool that touched the skin on his bottom would literally burn him and produce open wounds and welts). Luke also has a history of eczema on his face and up until last summer, he had a chronic case of cradle cap (at age 3). After using Dr. Rodney Ford’s e-clinic, we finally discovered Luke’s egg allergy and casein intolerance. Not long after removing those foods from his diet, his eczema and cradle cap cleared up, but the problem with his toxic poo remained despite being on a diet free of gluten, casein and egg. Further testing revealed some rather surprising information:
As you can see, Luke had several issues going on when this test was taken in January. His E.H.E. Coli was elevated, he was positive for a yeast/fungi of unknown taxonomy (not candida), and he was positive for hookworm, as well as another parasite! Luke recently finished antibiotic treatment for the hookworm and has been on a dairy-free, FOS-free probiotic (FOS will feed the yeast, plus I read some rather interesting new-to-me information about FOS over at SCD.org that you might be interested in).
As Luke’s intestinal flora reaches a more balanced level, the good bacteria should crowd out the yeast and bring down his elevated level of E.H.E. Coli. We are also treating his yeast overgrowth with a diet free of refined starches, sugars and several other foods that I found on The Candidia Diet website (click here for the ‘foods to avoid’ list). I also decided to add some Oil of Oregano after reading some research on the amazing health benefits, including the fact that it is a natural antibacterial and has FOUR times more antioxidant power than blueberries! Oregano was even found to be more effective against Giardia than the commonly used prescription drug, tinidazole. To read more about the health benefits of oregano, see Mark’s Daily Apple.
I am THRILLED to report that 6 weeks after implementing treatment, Luke’s bottom is now 100% free of the painful wounds that he had been suffering from for his entire little life. It makes me want to cry and dance a jig at the same time. It also makes me want to scream over the fact that we have spent countless hours going to numerous medical specialists, spent thousands of dollars (not to mention Luke’s intense suffering…seriously, it would even reduce my 65 year old father to tears) on blood tests, prescriptions, etc., all to be told that nothing was wrong and he would eventually out grow it. Not once did any of his medical specialists (including a pediatric gastroenterologist) suggest doing an inexpensive (about $350) and non-invasive stool test to look for the underlying root cause of the problem. I am so very thankful to HealthNOW Medical Center for giving my son his childhood back.
Moving along to my oldest son, Sam, who has latent celiac disease (positive celiac blood panel but a negative intestinal biopsy, I shared some of this story here. We also recently found out that Sam does have one copy of DQ8, one of the genes predisposing him for celiac disease). In early January, Sam began having chronic constipation again (this was what led me to get him tested for celiac disease for the second time in 2008…when I first had him tested in 2006, the results were negative). We went back to his pediatric gastroenterologist, who upon feeling his abdomen, said his colon was again distended and promptly put him back on Miralax, 2 capfuls a day for a minimum of one year so we could hopefully avoid more invasive procedures to correct the problem.
Thankfully, our trip to California was right around the corner and after running the same GI Effects Stool Profile on him, we discovered this:
A pinworm and another parasite, oye! We also discovered more issues with Sam, but I will save those for another post. Sam has one more round of treatment to undergo for the pinworm and we have implemented the same probiotic supplement and dietary changes for him as with Luke. I am happy to report that just 4 weeks into treatment…we have ‘movement!’ Sam is now going to the bathroom twice a day (without Miralax) versus the once every 4 – 5 days that he was going a few months ago.
My husband, Mike, has had his own GI issues off and on over the years but that could have been easily explained away by some his poor dietary/lifestyle choices. Once I began to learn more about celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity though, I began to have some suspicions, especially after our youngest son was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There is also the issue with Mike’s mom having 2, possibly 3 autoimmune conditions (she has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vitiligo and her GI is suspicious of Crohn’s). When we were at HealthNOW Medical Center, we did find out that Mike is in fact gluten sensitive and he has several other issues that need to be addressed as well (more on that to come in a future post).
As you will see below, Mike did not have a parasitic worm, but he was positive for another parasite, one of unknown taxonomy. Mike was also positive for an unknown yeast/fungi, which we are treating with the same probiotic as Sam and Luke, including the same dietary changes.
And lastly, there’s me. I have full-blown celiac disease (confirmed on two separate intestinal biopsies), dermatitis herpetiformis (confirmed by a skin biopsy and I shared some of my DH story in this post), Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (I shared some of my thyroid disease story in this post), and I have been in remission from psoriasis for over 20 years. That would be FIVE autoimmune conditions…all without any gastrointestinal symptoms whatsoever.
In case you did not catch that…diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc. is NOT a prerequisite for celiac disease!! That is what makes this condition challenging for even informed physicians to diagnose…and it’s also what makes this condition so damn dangerous for patients who have celiac disease but do not experience any gastrointestinal distress when eating gluten. I wish it were as simple as throwing up every time we ate something that is so harmful to us but it isn’t. If I did not get routine annual blood tests, I would have no idea how well I am managing my celiac disease. Just this past November in fact, my celiac panel came back positive despite a very strict gluten-free diet (I do believe I now know why, but more on that in another post).
Oddly enough, this part of my GI Effects test came back relatively benign compared to all the other tests I took. I have an overgrowth of the yeast saccharomyces, which I am treating with a different probiotic than my guys, Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF as well as a diet free of refined starches and sugars. The parasite of unknown taxonomy, according to the Metametrics GI Effect Profile Interpretive Guide means:
“The DNA probe identified kingdom protozoan, but genus and species probes for known human pathogens were negative. Suspect that the protozoan identified is likely NOT a human pathogen, and probably a transient, non-colonizer of the human GI.”
We are not treating this directly because the expectation is that the parasite will be crowded out when healthy conditions are restored.
The following is some information specifically on hookworms, from the Centers for Disease Control (bold emphasis added):
An estimated 576-740 million people in the world are infected with hookworm. Hookworm was once widespread in the United States, particularly in the southeastern region, but improvements in living conditions have greatly reduced hookworm infections. Hookworm, Ascaris, and whipworm are known as soil-transmitted helminths (parasitic worms). Together, they account for a major burden of disease worldwide. Hookworms live in the small intestine. Hookworm eggs are passed in the feces of an infected person. If the infected person defecates outside (near bushes, in a garden, or field) of if the feces of an infected person are used as fertilizer, eggs are deposited on soil. They can then mature and hatch, releasing larvae (immature worms). The larvae mature into a form that can penetrate the skin of humans. Hookworm infection is mainly acquired by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. One kind of hookworm can also be transmitted through the ingestion of larvae.
I will be the first to admit that I new very little about worms (a.k.a. parasitic helminths) and other parasites prior to doing research for this post, but the general idea I had in my head was that they were not welcome creatures and if you had them, then there was probably a hygiene issue that needed to be addressed. So remember earlier in this post when I said there are two schools of thought about parasitic worms?
As I was researching, I stumbled across a very interesting article on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s website: Worms Linked to Coeliac Relief?
At first, I had difficulty believing what I was reading, but it’s true and you can read more information about the study on clinicaltrials.gov: Inoculating Celiac Disease Patients With the Human Hookworm Necator Americanus: Evaluating Immunity and Gluten-sensitivity.
Apparently, celiac patients aren’t the only group of people looking into the possible benefits of helminthic therapy. I found a few other articles for different health conditions that hookworms may be beneficial for:
In case you are wondering (as I did), if it was a mistake to treat the parasitic worms in my kiddos, Dr. Petersen explained to me that due to their chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, it was important to treat the worms so we could reduce the load on their digestive tracts, better allowing for the complete healing of their guts. Should they happen to get reinfected down the road (once they are healed) and if they are not experiencing any symptoms, we may not opt to evict the little residents! I’m curious about your thoughts on this matter.
If you were found to have a helminth living in your digestive tract but were asymptomatic, would you want to expel them or leave them be?
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