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Healing a Leaky Gut Part 2: Parasites, Pathogenic Bacteria and Fungi/Yeast

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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 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 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:

Parasitic Worms May Offer Effective Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

Micro-Worms to the Rescue? Clinical Trial Looks to Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Hookworms

Can Hookworms Protect Against Allergies?

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?


  1. Very interesting—thanks for sharing this. I also did this incredibly valuable test and was found to have Necator Americanus hookworms (I was shocked!) and h. pylori. It took two rounds of Albendazole for me to eradicate the little suckers and two months of natural treatment for the h. pylori but they're all gone now and I'm doing better. The only thing still showing in the last test was an unknown parasite—the same one you all had. My doctor said this one is positive in most of the tests he sees so I'm not going to worry about it. I'm taking probiotics, oil of oregano, coconut oil, and some other things along with a super healthy, restricted diet and am hoping that those will be killed off too, if they're not already. By the way, I also have Hashimoto's along with intolerances to gluten, dairy, corn and soy.

  2. Hey Heidi–I'm always amazed at and applaud all the research you do, but first, kudos for sharing and explaining your latest test results and family's current protocol to treat these results! You are helping so many by sharing this info. I love hearing the phenomenal news on both Luke's and Sam's progress! As far as the studies on the benefits of worms, I've read them before, but just reread them via your links to refresh my memory. My main impression of these studies is that the researchers are looking to resolve issues without solving the source of the problem or trying to come up with an alternative to the obvious solution, the gluten-free diet (and in some cases other free diet, like gf/df/sf for MS). Just a quick impression, but I'm betting there are many who would prefer having hookworms in their body than give up gluten if the "solution" was that simple. Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but that's one large "takeaway" for me from such studies. I do think that a large part of our immune issues are due to how much we've sanitized things and not let our bodies establish their own protections to fight the evils that invade our bodies. Not a very scientific answer, but those are my "quick and dirty" (or perhaps quick and clean) thoughts.

    Keep up the great work for your family and your readers, Heidi. It's making a huge difference! xo,


  3. Thanks for posting this! I recently took the same test, which revealed parasites (chlorysporidium? + one "taxonomy unavailable") and high gluten sensitivity, among other things. I see an integrative health care specialist, but my husband was so worried about me that he took me to his traditional md, who referred me to a gastroenterologist. What an ass. No respect for my doc who prescribed these tests (also had the metametrix triad), told me I was wasting my money, but didn't have a lot of answers either. Waiting on lab results for him. At any rate, I'm taking Alinia right now for one parasite–6 doses and it's gone, apparently. The other one we are not worried about.

    Leaky gut is really tricky! I have been dealing with it since August. Tried a rotation diet based on an IGG food sensitivity test that said I was allergic to everything I was eating (rice? potatoes? lettuce?), so I had to completely change my eating habits and selection. Over time I have realized by observation/journaling that gluten, dairy and soy are my biggest problems. We basically had to throw that IGG test out and start from scratch. I also have thyroid issues that no traditional MD could identify. My integrative health doc is giving me T3 and T4, cellular vitality, goldenseal, CoQ10, probiotics, and mitochondrial resuscitate based on these tests. Also glutagenics for gluten sensitivity/inflamed stomach lining. The antiparasitic has kicked my butt, but the supplements and diet are working. Latest food sensitivity test only revealed mild intolerance to eggs, white and pinto beans, and high intolerance to casein. So that's progress!

  4. Wow, Heidi! What a load of information! I'd be curious as to how I'd come out on all of these tests…very interesting! Would I keep the worms or let them be? Gee, I'd probably want them out! LOL

  5. Heidi,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with others. Personally, I am learning a great deal about the gut and brain connection. I came across a book The gut and psychology syndrome, By Campbell-McBride.

    Another resource to help advocate for our children. I applaud your efforts, keep encouraging parents to follow their instincts, to gain knowledge, and keep pressing forward. We are currently testing the gut, and waiting results, under the care of a functional medical doctor. We have experienced, life changing results by implementing gluten/dairy free. So much more I could share about that journey.

    Thank you for sharing and encouraging parents, to be advocates for their children.

  6. Wow, Heidi, what a wealth of information in this single post. We have not tested for parasites recently, although our nutritionist suggested testing for it if my son's symptoms don't improve after a change in diet over the next 3 months. Interestingly, I have a few friends who have cancer and have gotten tested for parasites (and heavy metals), and found one or both in their systems. It's quite amazing how complex our gut system is and how it directly relates to our health and well being.

  7. Hello my dear 🙂

    Additional update for you-no specific pathogen testing was done, but based on some of my other test results my doc feels I also may have a chronic low level gut infection. I am now taking Apex Energetics H-PLR (with a lot of oregano oil, natch! It smells like a pizza when I open the jar 😉
    Also, just came across this excellent article:

  8. Help! My 9 year old son is very sick. We were told he has a parasitic infection, unknown taxonomy. He has had stomach pain off and on since he was an infant that the doctors never seemed to get to the bottom of. About 2 1/2 months ago, he suddenly sat down, stopped playing, and has not played since. He was very active before, but now only lays on the couch all day until bedtime because getting up and moving around causes him so much pain. We also got a Metemetrix lab test done 2 months ago….stool test, but he still feels the same after taking GI-Revive by Designs for Health and other herbs for the leaky gut. I do not know for sure yet that our doctors have what it takes to help him. He started with a chiropractor, the one who gave him the test. Since then he has also seen an MD….or really a DO, a nutritionist who does muscle testing, and a physical therapist whose title is followed by IMT,C. I know the IMT stands for Integrative Manual Therapy and I guess the C is because he went to a school in Conneticut. Is anyone familiar with this kind of therapy or know if there is science behind it? I watch what he does when I take my son in and I cannot understand it for the life of me or how it could even work. He lays his hands over certain organs for a long time and I can see his hands pulsating. He and the nutritionist both said that my son does not respond to the normal herbs given for parasites and they gave him an herb called Quassia. At this point, I don't know what to think. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. He is very weak and has lost a lot of weight. I don't know how much of this his little body can take.

    Thank you so much for sharing all this information that most people will not share, Heidi. It gives me hope.

    • Hi Beth,

      I am so very sorry for all that your son is going through and the heartbreak his mama is feeling!

      My sons were both treated with an antibiotic for their respective parasites – we did not use herbs. Have you discussed antibiotic treatment with your son's doctor?

      Has your son been tested for celiac disease (via the blood tests) or other food allergies (via an IgE RAST blood test)? Does your son eat gluten and/or dairy? Did you have his intestinal flora tested through Metametrix? Does he take a probiotic? Did you have him tested for intestinal yeast overgrowth?

      Has your son ever been seen by a pediatric gastroenterologist? If not, you may want to consider going that route and talking to the doctor about doing an intestinal biopsy.

      I am not a doctor and am absolutely not qualified to "diagnose" anyone for anything, I'm just trying to think of a few areas you may want to discuss with your son's doctor. As for the IMT therapist, I've never heard of Integrative Manual Therapy before but after looking at this website:… I noticed they use NAET allergy testing and Dr. Vikki just answered another reader's question about NAET here. Personally, I would be leery of such treatment, but I'm a skeptic when it comes to alternative therapies and diagnostic practices like applied kinesiology (muscle testing).

      My youngest son had significant issues with his intestinal health and discovering/treating his gluten and casein intolerances, as well as his egg white protein allergy – plus his hookworm infection (via an antibiotic), his yeast overgrowth (through a low sugar diet) and poor intestinal flora through probiotics did AMAZING things for him. His eczema is gone, his bowel movements are normal and his energy level is the same as any other normal 4 year old.

      Lastly, don't ever give up hope Beth, you will figure this out!


  9. hello!
    What was the brand and dosage of Oregeno OIl for your 3 year old! I have a 4 year ld with the same issues!

  10. Whattofeedyourkids says

    I am doing a post on dairy free probiotics and Orthobiotic Probiotics are actually cultured on dairy! The company says there are no traces of protein in the finished probiotic supplement but I wanted to mention it because my son FINALLY got better when we stopped using “dairy free” probiotics that we’re cultured on dairy. I have a post here with a little info…

    Probiotics cultured on dairy can still be really helpful to restore gut balance–but sometimes switching to one that is not cultured on dairy can give you information on whether non detectable traces are an issue.


  11. Hi, I don’t know if you will see this post, this late, but don’t you have to take anti-parasitic drugs in cycles due to the life cycle/eggs, etc of parasites?  Did you do this?  Also, what kind of medication did you & the kids take?  It is an antibiotic or an anti-parasitic or are anti-parasitics a type of antibiotic? thanks, Joyce

  12. So informative…thank you so much for sharing!

  13. Really good information!  Here’s a great reference site for the diet component….great recipes and meal planning for conditions:

  14. I know this is an old post but I just wanted to comment in case someone searching for answers reads this. My dd tested negative for celiac and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Crohn’s was suspected. I felt better after going gluten free so after the celiac test was negative I decided to go ahead and put her on the diet anyway. It completely changed EVERYTHING for the better!! She was a TOTALLY different child and has no symptoms. Got a second opinion from a ped GI and he said it was totally possible for her to have celiac and the tests come back negative. So if you have already had the tests (it is VERY important to get testing done first) consider going gluten free just to see what happens. It can’t hurt! 🙂


  1. […] the following posts where I shared some of our problems with poor intestinal fauna (the good bugs), parasites (Sam had a pinworm and Luke had a hookworm infection), and adrenal fatigue.  I will also add that […]