Monday, March 28, 2011

The Perfect Storm: Internal Environments Hospitable to Blastocystis

Last week, I received a call from a mother in California who had recently learned that her 19-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with Blastocystis. This mother's call renewed my interest in uncovering the prevalence in California of affliction by these potentially pathogenic protozoa. I am once again determined to document what my daughter has experienced in hopes that sharing our story will resonate with others, who in turn, are compelled to share a story of their own.

Initially, when my daughter was first diagnosed, I was obsessed with eradicating the Blastocystis from within her. She took a variety of medications, including Septra and then Alinia which made her hemorrhage and resulted in her first hospital stay in November of 2007. She was discharged with a prescription of Flagyl which was renewed, only for her symptoms to return.

A year later, she was treated for MAP with a combination of Rifampin and Clarithromyc. Everything worked for a while. We haven't found Blastocystis in her stools since November 2007, but then again, it is difficult to find, and quite frankly we haven't checked lately. Ignorance has been bliss.

We have also tried building up her system with probiotics, N - Acetyl Cysteine, and Glutathione. She avoided casein found in dairy products. This also worked for a while. We took her to a homeopathic doctor who used to be an ENT. He confirmed that she had rhinitis and a high IgG to Aspergillus Fumigatus. Homeopaths fight like with like. He had her take mold under her tongue and histamine (not antihistamine), along with vitamin K to clot the blood, vitamin D since she was low, and liposomal glutathione. This also worked, until we received test results showing Proteus Mirabilis in her stools and treated her with Cipro for a possible UTI.

Over the weekend, I began reading a book entitled Death and Dentistry by Martin H. Fischer. I'm only a fourth of the way through it. What I've learned thus far is worth sharing. Basically, the book says that "the conditions surrounding the life of a parasite-trivial matters like air and water or type of food substance available-had everything to do with what might happen to the parasitized host". The book explains how William B. Wherry, "by reduction of oxygen tension to proper level . . .made two specimens of Leptothix grow that had never before been cultivated, and an assorted lot of animal parasites".

Think about it. Laboratories have different preparation, fixative agents, and storage procedures for each laboratory sample depending on what they are trying to grow. Patients are instructed to fast or not to fast, proving even the food in your stomach makes a difference. The qualities of a host's environment may explain why some people with Blastocystis have symptoms and others do not.

Our daughter still has lots of gas and bouts of constipation. She has not gained weight. She gets nauseated and has headaches. All of which, I believe are a result of a leaky gut. She bleeds rectally. What started out as blood in her stools, graduated to rectal bleeding over the course of her treatments.

For the past six months, we have been trying a different approach. Rather than eradicating Blastocystis, we've been trying to create an internal environment within my daughter's gut that makes it difficult for Blastocystis to survive and multiply. We are trying to keep her system alkaline by following Sherry Brescia's Great Taste No Pain food combining plan.

She eats anti-inflammatory foods. She drinks green ice tea. She takes a tablespoon of Aloe Vera juice with meals. She eats a lot of peanut butter and whole wheat. Our daughter eats organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free poultry but no red meats (they produce an acidic environment and her urine was acidic 5.0 PH when she first got sick). She eats organic, pesticide free vegetables and fruits. (If the produce is peeled or cooked, I don't always buy organic due to the cost and lack of availability.) Fruit seems to make her symptoms worse (If this is a yeast, sugars feed it, colitis sufferers often are found to be frutose intolerance.). Bananas don't seem to be a problem. She eats very little dairy, just hard cheeses and an occasional mint-chocolate-chip cup of ice-cream from Baskin Robbins. I think the ice-cream actually helps her go the bathroom. She eats a lot of parmasan cheese. She used to have low zinc levels.

Last June, our daughter had a stool test done by Doctor's Data. This test revealed she had no growth of Bacteroidis fragilis and no growth of Bifidobacterium spp. I believe this may be a result of all the medications she had taken to eradicate the Blastocystis. Our approach currently includes trying to boost the beneficial bacteria in our daughter's gut flora. She takes SuperShield Probiotics. Because SuperShield is so strong and our daughter is ten and weighs only 70 lbs, she only takes one pill every few days.

Our daughter is very physically active. We think this may increase her oxygen level which Blastocystis may not appreciate. We find when she sits around, her symptoms get worse.

Our daughter has low Ferritin levels, possibly due to all of the bleeding. Iron feeds all organisms. I believe the low levels are beneficial, since they starve the Blastocystis or any other underlying infectious microorganism of iron. Please do your research and talk with your doctor before supplementing with iron!

In addition to altering her internal environment, I believe she may have a strep or staph infection, such as was discovered in her first urine sample, only to be dismissed as too little of a colonization to be of clinical significance. Our daughter's school has had several reportable incidences of strep. Her school, along with her brothers' high school, also reported incidences of MRSA in the fall of 2007 when she fell ill.

The author of Death and Dentistry contends that a person's mouth is a point of entry for infectious disease. It discusses EC Rosenow's observation that the "relation between infected tonsils or gums and gastric ulcer may be due, not to the swallowing of bacteria but to the entrance into the blood steam of streptococci of the proper kind to produce a local infection in the wall of the stomach." An infection that travels through the blood can relocate anywhere in the body. It can produce toxins or other byproducts that the body struggles to eliminate, compromising the health of the host, or just creating a better habitat in which Blastocystis can survive.

Thus, I believe, the perfect storm in which Blastocystis thrive consists of the chemical qualities within the targeted host (my daughter's urine was 5.0 PH), the presence of bacterium or their byproducts in the blood stream that compromises a host (no one has yet to culture my daughter's blood), allowing Blastocystis the opportunity to burrow into intestinal linings and cause disease. I believe that toxins in our modern, "developed" country, such as polluted air and water and genetically modified foods also aid in modifying our chemical make-up, compromising a host's ability to put up a good fight.

To summarize: My thoughts now are the effectiveness of Blastocystis to wreak havoc on a person's system is reliant on that person's internal environment. The perfect storm comes in when there's another pathogen, such as strep, staph, or an environmental toxin, including polluted water, polluted air, etc. that weakens and/or penetrates a body's protective linings, allowing parasites to burrow past our natural barriers and stake claim.

Please reply to this post or call me at 408-386-5761 if you have any questions, wish to discuss personally, or would like to contribute further to the information shared here.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you've really nailed it on the head - thank you! After 2 yrs supposedly B. Hominis free since the initial diagnosis, I recently discovered it's back - and worse - so researching again to delve deeper and found your blog.

One thing I've discovered this round is that the elimination of ALL sugars, starches (gluten and non-gluten) and yeasts as well as acid-producing foods has made a difference in symptom relief. Not fun, but definitely less painful, and will hopefully assist in healing the intestinal lining, making it less hospitable to B. Hominis in the future.

I noticed in your blog the mention of eating hard cheeses, whole wheat and peanut butter - they'd be the end of me! I literally had to throw out any food or condiment having wheat, yeast/mold, starch or sugar derivatives when I realized that's when symptom got worse. After frustration from way too many doctors and getting nowhere, I decided to try again to figure it out as best I could and listen even deeper to what my body tells me: I started a diet log, making notes of not just what I ate, but when, under what conditions, and what the results were. It became a process of elimination, and not an easy one! I now know that HOW I eat makes a huge difference. I do best when I eat small amounts, slowly, mindfully, and nothing past about 6pm if I want to get any sleep; also, eating the simplest cooked and blended foods (can you say baby food?), which is now down to non-starchy vegetables and fish for protein. Then I recently discovering that actually going off the mega-high doses of probiotics has lessoned my symptoms, and I now believe they too were feeding the B. Hominis..

I'll keep going with the same premise you brought up: enhancing the health of my gut & colon first, and hoping for the best. You also made me realize that increased fatigue has rendered me less mobile, therefore lowering oxygenation and quite possibly increasing blastocystis. If I have to drag myself around the block to do it, I will!

It's been a long road (over 10 years) of trying to justify and understand the cause behind the ongoing fatigue and digestive issues, resulting in multiple and what I believe to be related issues including severe medical complications culminating in 3 surgeries, lost jobs, financial collapse from medical expenses, and the list goes on. Huge gratitude for those who have put their experience and research on the internet to share with people like me so we can keep going and demand greater awareness and attention to issues like B. Hominis and it's widespread affects.

A couple other websites that have been helpful:,, and

MJ said...

Dear Anonymous,

What I've noticed with my daughter is that low Ferritin levels are associated with less symptoms. All microorganisms need iron. You may want to have a blood test as to your ferritin level every once in a while and chart the levels along with the severity of symptoms you have at the time.

Google the effects of iron-binding and blood-letting on Europeans that survived the plague (Yersinia Pestis) in the 1300s. Search the devastation that overloads of iron can have on a body's system.
Tomorrow my daughter is going to see her pediatric GI for a follow up. We're going to ask for more stool tests to see if the Blastocystis shows up again, is gone, or is just no longer detectable. I'll post the results when they are in.

She's still dealing with symptoms, but diet has helped at least as well as medications without the side effects. Staying alkaline seems to be important. Lemons and other surprising items aid in keeping your system alkaline despite the natural belief that they are acidic. Peanut butter actually has Omega 3s as well as fat and protein. It also has another benefit that starts with a "P" that a gentleman in our area has linked to aiding in colitis. I can't remember what it is, but it's been helpful in our daughter's diet.

You have to be careful with elimination diets since you lose nutrients that are important to good health. Dairy is good to eliminate since it produces mucous, but this limits your calcium, and when your ten, as is my daughter, calcium restriction can cause problems with teeth, which can lead to further complications if those bones break done allowing infection to enter your blood stream.
Our daughter gets constipated and thus the wheat bread. My husband figured out that jalapenos, salsa, etc. also help her to defacate.
I have been discouraged about the length of time our daughter has suffered, and the costs to her physically and to us financially. It's not something anyone not going through this understands. Hang in there and my cell is always available for those who want to call. It's 408-386-5761. I'll be commenting on the mishaps during testing and treatment during these past 3 1/2 years when I get a chance to write again this weekend. Take care. You are not alone. Our family understands!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I met a South African doctor at an after hours clinic who just happened to be a specialist in tropical diseases. He said there is no medical cure, in the usual sense, for blastocystis, and recommended liberal amounts of olive oil and turmeric on food, and avoidance or abstention from eating wheats, grains, potatoes, raw vegetables and fruits. No sugars, no starches, no foods high in GI index. Meats are good. Basically he said to go back to a caveman diet.
From my own experiences with fighting the parasite over the last 6 months, and from reading on the topic, I've picked up a few other good ideas. Oregano oil works well, in short bursts. Long-term the parasites become resistant to it. Olive leaf extract, 5mg daily as a liquid, is great, especially when other illnesses or infections come out. I've heard that wormwood and crushed cloves are both anti-parasitic, and can help for short periods. I take a teaspoon of turmeric in a glass of water, once to twice daily. It's the best thing I've found for dousing the parasites and killing them off. Good for the liver too, but not a pleasant cure. I've come to like it though, as I know it will help.
Things to avoid are pro-biotics, as these actually feed the bacteria, fruit and raw veges high in sugars. Some veges, such as onions, also caramelise to sugars when you cook them, so you have to think carefully about how much sugar is in veges as well. Even grapefruit is too high in sugars.
Some ideas for maintaining nutrition include Sprirulina tablets (made from a kind of algae), which are really high in nutrients and iron; seaweeds - there are many nutritious and yummy seaweeds from Japan; a variety of meats and cooked vegetables that are low in starch; turnips, beets and swedes are good to fill you up; eggs are great nutrition too.
If you kill the parasites, the mucus problems go away. You're in control when there's no white mucus on your tongue.
Best wishes

MJ said...

Dear Anonymous,
We have been giving our daughter lots of extra virgin olive oil. We cook with it and give it to her as a dip for carrots, cucumbers, red onions, avocados, bell peppers. We have also happened upon turmeric and put it in her rice. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, and we believe her colon is still inflamed. (Please note that Turmeric from Target was recently recalled for the presense of lead.) It's interesting because we, too, have found that sugars and frutose in many raw fruits aggrevate our daughter's symptoms. She's okay with bananas, and the National Institue of Health's new Alternative Medicine links have found a connection between an enzyme in pineapple extract and symptom relief in IBD. I had also heard that probiotics feed bacteria. It's just that our little girl had a stool test done by Doctor's Data. It was very comprehensive and showed that she had No Growth of Bacteroides fragilis group and No Growth of Bifidobacterium spp. These were listed as beneficial bacteria to have. No growth of these throws off the natural balance of bacterial flora in her gut. We believe all the medications that she's been on, including Septra, Alinia, Flagyl, Colazal, Clarithromyc 250 MG and Rifampin 300 MG
combined to treat for possible MAP, and Ondansetron 4 MG ODT when she couldn't keep anything down, may have killed off communal bacteria that needs to be present for a balanced environment in her gut. We've given her SuperShield probiotics when we feel it would be helpful, but have lately strayed away from all additional supplements, relying instead on diet and exercise. (Our daughter is very active.) Another interesting comment you mentioned was, "Some ideas for maintaining nutrition include Sprirulina tablets (made from a kind of algae), which are really high in nutrients and iron". Two thoughts come to mind here: 1. When we first researched Blastocystis the CDC wrote me to tell me that it was considered a type of brown algae or water mold, and 2. Iron feeds organisms. We have found that Samantha consistently runs low on Ferritin. We believe this is keeping her as healthy as she has been. Yersinia for instance, the plague, thrives on iron. Europeans who survived in the 1300s did so if they bled (menstual cycles, wounds, etc.). Iron deficiency may be linked to the absense of Blastocystis in children once infected by it. I think the rectal bleeding is our daughter's body's way of protecting itself. The good news is she just completed another round of three O&P stool tests. They still cannot find Blastocystis in her stools and have not done so since Fall of 2007. The bad news is she still has many WBCs in her stools. This could indicate infection or inflammation. We think she's dealing now with constipation and have altered her diet to try to relieve it. I also am entertaining the bacteria infection or overgrowth theory. I believe she could either be colonized with Strep, Staph (MRSA), Yersinia, etc. in a place such as her appendix. These bacterium or the toxins they create could be instigating an immune response. I've also considered that her bacterial flora is just still out of whack. I'm also thinking she could be infecting herself with normal flora from her urinary or vaginal track creeping into her rectum and ascending up her colon where it doesn't belong. Thank you for your post. I want this to be a free forum full of ideas from people who are experience what our family is experiencing. Please keep us posted as to the status of your Blastocystis and what continues to be effective for you.

Nic said...

Thankyou all for your responses, I have had blasto for 4 months now and been on a diet of no sugar or wheat high protein meat chicken eggs. I am now trialing 3 antibiotics and hoping this will clear it but with everyones latest information seems like its going to be ongoing. I am active love cycling so increasing oxygen levels seems like a great idea. Was taking a product called Cell Food which increases the oxygen in the body and seemed to work only having trouble keeping stictly to diet. My girlfriend and her daughter both have blasto again after antibiotic treatment and found its due to another bacteria strep B that is lowering there imune system and so keep contracting blasto. So it seems rather being one solution its an holistic individual diet that works best.

Anonymous said...

Has your daughter taken an allergy intolerance test as eliminating everything in her diet that she has an allergy to or intolerant to will help her a lot

MJ said...

Dear Eoin C,

My daughter has been to three different allergy specialists in our area since October of 2007. Although she always had high eosinophils in her blood (we haven't tested her blood in a few years though), she's not allergic to anything for which allergists test. They have done the scratch tests on her twice and blood tests on her as well. She did have a high blood result for Aspergillus Fumingatos in 2010. We have not checked her for that since.

She now sees a chiropractor who adjusts her, suggests vitamins, natural supplements, and whole foods. She's taking Metamucil, the plain kind with just the psyllium seed which has no artificial flavors, and drinking a yogurt. I have a great article from the manufacturer of the yogurt that explains the theory behind whey and beta casein in yogurt stimulating the mucous response that protests the intestinal wall. It's in a pdf which he emailed directly to me. I could not find a link to it since it's so new. I don't know how to upload the pdf.

I met Brian at a Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America symposium in South San Francisco three or so years back. This past month, Brian attended the symposium as a vendor of this new yogurt product. Here's a link to the yogurt that my daughter has been drinking the past few weeks:

I'm not a doctor and cannot make any recommendations for others, but this is what we are having her do now.
I also read an article about a child with high eosinophils as a result of natural gas leaks in his home. We switched out our gas dryer for an electric one, capped off our gas fireplace, and will change our gas stove to electric when it needs to be replaced. I figure any little bit helps.

MJ said...

Dear Nic,

I agree with you that it's an individual system that works best for each person.

Common themes, however, that I've noticed are: Low ferritin levels in the blood are favorable. (Blasto feeds on the iron.) Check out blood letting and the Bubonic plague in the 1300s. Those who bled (i.e., Soldiers, women on their menstrual cycle, etc. survived.

Low Vitamin D seems to be related somehow to inflammation (My daughter has colitis, so her colon gets inflamed.) She has low Vitamin D when they test it. I don't know if the low Vitamin D is a cause or an effect or just coincidental.

I think emptying waste daily, defacating, is important. I think waste feeds the bad bacteria. Metamucil (the plain kind, not the kind with artificial flavors) is beneficial. Adults can drink coffee as a laxative if they prefer, so as not to store so much waste. I make my coffee with bottled spring water because of the chloramine in our drinking water where I live.

Exercise is great! There's something about staying active that helps. My daughter is very active during the school week. She lays on the cough on weekends. When she's laying around her symptoms bring her down.

When my daughter had her barium enema in 2010, I believe the procedure itself was therapeutic because she was great for awhile afterwards. I do not know if it was because the preparation for the procedure cleaned her out, so nothing was fermenting inside, or it was because they blow oxygen into the rectum during the procedure. Maybe the oxygen killed some of the Blastocystis since it is anaerobic. I just know that her symptoms improved after this procedure.

I also believe it helps that my daughter is a very spiritual person. Attitude goes a long way in reversing or contributing to disease.

I'm now very cautious about antibiotics. They seem to be broad-spectrum, killing everything, even bacteria that you don't want to kill.

Between the Blastocystis and the treatment of it by Septra, Alinia, Flagyl, Flagyl, Septra again and then Cipro for my daughter's urinary tract infection, I believe that the balance of bacteria in her intestinal track got out of whack. Her body then started overreacting by putting her body's immune system into overdrive, attacking herself, thus her colitis.

Right now, my daughter is 13 years old. She's been dealing with this for 6 years. She is going to a chiropractor who adjusts her, prays with her, and recommends vitamins, natural supplements, and whole foods. She has also been drinking a yogurt from NuBiome. A link to their website is
We have reduced the natural gas appliances in our home. She drinks Arrowhead natural spring water. You have to be careful taking away tap water however because with it goes all of the minerals you get with it. If you do choose to get rid of the tap water, as did we with our daughter, please talk to someone about supplementing the beneficial minerals in it. I'm not a doctor and cannot give any medical advice. I feel for you, your girlfriend, and her daughter. My cell phone is 408-386-5761. Anyone who wishes to may call me at anytime.

Anonymous said...

I have Blastocystis too. The worst part for me is the cloudy mushy head full of brains but can't think.

My naturopath has me on:
N Acetyl Cysteine
Clove pau d'arco horopito herb oil mix
Korolex oil
Vitamin C

All these are taken in a certain order with/without food. I'm allergic to all the drugs in triple therapy so I can only do this the natural way.

I would say if I'd stick with fresh lightly stir fried veggies plus the herbs etc for 2-3 weeks I'd be cured. And I feel 100% better when I do just eat home cooked stir fry. But I love wine and I travel mostly and eat out 95% of the time.

When I was taking my horopito kava kawa mix (tastes like horrid tar) with raw egg but told to stop.

Not allowed:
Fruit, tomatoes
Alcohol (but I adore wine, my failure)

Feel best when:
- Not eating at all. Prior to diagnosis and treatment plan I ate one meal a day and knew I'd be useless after it. I hated eating because I couldn't think at all afterwards. I'd plan my day around a late lunch so I could be productive until 3pm (then lunch) and maybe again after 8pm.
- just had blood test. The more blood out the better. Feels like all the toxins are out! I don't feel drowsy I feel great.
- eating fresh veggies
- drinking heaps of water
- not driving/in pollution
- eating sashimi not sushi
- just after I take my herbs and just after I take the vit c mix