Cryptosporidium Parasite Infections and Water Filtration | Podcast #245
There are countless of bacteria found everywhere we go, but a big percentage of it can be found in water. Cryptosporidium is a prominent parasite with a waterborne infection transmission route. Low levels of this parasite were also detected in drinking water.
Join us in this podcast at Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan talk about Cryptosporidium parasite species, how it can be acquired and how it can be prevented through water filtration systems.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
01:35 Different Cryptosporidium species
10:14 Bacterias in swimming pools, public places
17:13 Importance of water filtration system in houses
27:15 Lab testing
39:33 Cryptosporidium is everywhere
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey there it’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani. Welcome back to the podcast. We have Evan here today as usual, today we’re going to be chatting about cryptosporidium specifically which is a parasite, parasites we see in our practice all the time. But today we’re going to be putting a laser on cryptosporidium as we see it quite frequently in patients. Evan sees it in a lot of his patients as well so we’re going to dive into the nitty gritty with crypto talk about the symptoms. Talk about kind of what we do to address it how we how we assess it and common common vectors of getting it. So Evan let’s dive in. How are we doing today.
Evan Brand: I’m doing pretty good. I started I started the idea of this conversation because every year I look at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website and I just want to see what the hot topics with them. And this summer they had posted. It was like three or four different Masters in Public Health who authored this study and they said During 2009 which wasn’t that long ago to 2017 there’s an increase of crypto outbreaks 13 percent per year. And you and I were kind of chatting off here and I thought wow that’s crazy. So just ten short years ago people were not getting crypto as much and now 13 percent increase every single year what the heck’s going on. And so we could talk about a lot of immune system issues and things that are leading to this but maybe we should just lay the groundwork a little bit like what crypto is. How tiny is it. Where does it come from. What are the symptoms it causes. Let’s dive into that.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Sure. So there’s a couple different species that affect humans. Again the most common one is gonna be cryptosporidium Parvum with a P.. We also have Hominis. We have M uris. We have Canas. We have Filis. Filis is the one that primarily is infected and cats but there’s different variations in it. The major one we see is gonna be cryptosporidium parvum. That’s the big one in crypto. I mean it is affected by temperature so boiling water can actually help kill it. Freezing can actually help kill it. But the major vector that you’re gonna get exposed to regarding crypto is going to be water primarily number one. I mean you’re also going to see it in daycares, daycares or significant vector as well. You’re going to see it hiking drinking any unfiltered water. People that are on farms that are petting animals cows petting cows are a big one infected cattle and to be a big one you’ll see it with some cats. Anyone that is exposed to human feces because this infection is gonna be primarily spread fecal oral meaning stool to mouth. So either a human not washing their hands or some level of intimacy or with animals that you know they’re not going to be the most cleanliness. Most clean right they’re probably licking themselves and they’re spreading maybe fecal debris on their body. You pet them and then that gets in your mouth. You can have an infection that way. And then of course the low hanging fruit. Me being an avid water skier an avid boater maybe lakes and ponds. Those are the big vectors and of course daycare. So you send your kid to daycare who knows what’s happening there because kids harmoniously have issues with their bowels and changing diapers and all that. So there may be some level of fecal debris that’s contaminated. And then the water. Those are gonna be the big vectors that you have the highest risk of getting infected.
Evan Brand: It’s incredible how small this is. I really don’t even understand how small this is I can tell you that. They, they call it the usist. Yeah. 4-6 Micrometers. I mean that is tiny I can’t even comprehend how tiny that is. Obviously you cannot see that unless you’re using a very high powered microscope. So when people say like oh it’s in my drinking water it’s in my tap water. No you’re not going to see it. You’re not going to have a clue it’s there until you start to pick up the symptoms. And I had cryptosporidium one of the very first stool test I did showed cryptosporidium and giardia which is another common waterborne parasite. And I had lots of issues diarrhea, skin issues, mood issues, gut pain. Some of the official symptoms may be different than what we actually see clinically though we may have people have crazy different issues where it could be insomnia and bloating and joint pain and we find that they have crypto. But like nausea vomiting diarrhea those are kind of the official CDC symptoms and they do say that if you’re especially young or old or have a compromised immune system you are at increased risk of life threatening malnutrition. So you we’re kind of talking off air. What would actually kill somebody. How would you actually die from this. Mainly just you lose all your minerals and as you mentioned maybe your heart gets messed up from the mineral loss due to the diarrhea and then you just die.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly and then of course like the big risk factors extremely young compromised immune system. Also if you have AIDS or HIV right that’s going to be an A acquired immune deficiency syndrome so your immune system is going to be weaker. Right I think official AIDS diagnosis when yourT cells drop below 400. So you have to have a weakened immune system to even be classified with AIDS. So then that’s going to compromise your immune system and then you’re open to getting crypto and it being life threatening also even with people that have AIDS fungus and Candida is a big deal. So those are like huge risk factors so we’ve got to keep your immune system strong. Those are going to be the biggest things that are going to help you fall prey is a weakened immune system. Now I find gluten in diet and food allergens are a huge component cause the more you kind of keep your gut kind of inflamed and you make it harder to make enough stomach acid and enzymes. You’re creating an environment in your gut that’s making it easier for these kind of infections to hang out. Right. Hydrochloric acid is important for one, activating your digestive enzymes to start breaking food down in protein down in the stomach. But think of hydrochloric acid as almost like that your body’s internal bleach to keep that area clean. Right, high should say increase acid levels make it higher for back harder for bacteria and parasites to multiply and grow. Think of it as your naturals your body’s natural bleach so to speak to keep things clean. So the more stressed you are the more inflamed your gut is the more you’re eating inflamed foods the more gut permeability you have from other stressors. It’s going to make it harder for you to fight off these critters. So when you have a low stomach acid environment we’re also going to have low Secretory IGA and Secretory IGA isn’t immune mucosal barrier it lines that intestinal track and it’s that first line of immune defense against invaders. And the more stressed your gut is the more inflamed your gut is that IGA levels have to be lower and you’re going to have less internal immune defenses to go after these things.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So if we think of my store use me as an example here’s a guinea pig. It would make sense if I had H pylori first. You know I had had that for probably years based on my symptoms I did test positive for H pylori. So as you mentioned stomach acid is important to neutralize this. If you get exposed to it I was in a hypochondria state and then I went swimming. You know I was going over to Lake Austen I did a little bit swimming there and I did often and I did swimming in Barton Springs and bath and bringing as a spring you know it’s fresh water. So I think that’s probably where I picked it up. So not that it matters but for our purposes I think we could classify crypto as maybe like a secondary infection meaning that you could have a primary H pylori infection that lowered the stomach acid in the mucosal barrier and created enough inflammation for crypto to thrive. What would you say.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes I think there’s three likely scenarios. OK. Scenario number one is you have a compromised immune system from dietary stress emotional stress any number of emotional physical or chemical stressors and then you get exposed to something and then that kind of gains a foothold in your body whether it’s H pylori or crypto. And then that starts to make your immunes get even worse than your food allergies get worse than your motility gets worse. We know according to the literature people that have crypto have a higher likelihood of zinc deficiency. We know how important zinc is for your immune system. We know how important zinc is for your sex hormones especially if you’re a guy right. Really important for testosterone production so you can see. All right. Now we start to have these nutrient deficiencies come into play and these deficiencies are gonna make it harder for you to have a healthy immune response. Have healthy hormones. That starts to create more symptoms energy fatigue lack of muscle mass inability to recover and heal. And so then you can see how everything starts to go downward so you start to have a little bit of a compromised immune system. Right. Physical chemical and emotional stress. Buckets getting filled. You get exposed to something and then that makes more stress and more symptoms occur. And then over time it escalates maybe more infections stack on. That’s number one. Number two is you just get exposed to a lot of crypto like a ton. Maybe you drink a whole bunch of water and there’s a large bolus of crypto in that water and that just overwhelmed your immune system in general even if you were healthy right because I have stories of patients who are super healthy and they just get exposed to it. A lot of an infectious debris material whether in water or food and they just boom they were down for the count. Or number three like we’re talking about you just gradually get exposed to multiple infections over time and then you kind of have this trophy collection in your gut kind of like you did right. You had H Pylori. I think you’re a crypto. I think giardia. Right. I think at one point right. We nicknamed you our nickname your your critters the three amigos right because you had us all right. And I think a lot of people that we see they’re very focused on one infection that I think I have this. And today we’re talking about just one infection but the bigger picture is a lot of people have more than one infection and you have the right to have more than one infection and most people do. So don’t be myopically focused on one we are today but you may have this and other things and we have to clear out everything together. And typically we have to set the foundation before it because people that have inflamed guts it’s hard to go after infections right away. It can be tough.
Evan Brand: Yeah. That’s so that’s part of the education piece in the testing piece for people as they may come to us with this idea of I’ve got blasto or giardia, h.pylori, probably around crypto we’ve got to make sure we do good diagnostic workup and make sure we get everything that’s there because if we just give you herbs for crypto yes by accident we may start to kill other infections off but in the case of H Pylori either herbs or use for crypto would be different than H Pylori. So we may not get to the root we may like get one of the root causes but not the primary one. Let me read a little bit more from the CDC real quick. So they talked about how the parasite can swim or it can survive in the water for days and days and days like we don’t even know fully how long it can it can survive. So that’s why people say oh if you’ve had diarrhea don’t swim in the pool and people still do it. And so even trace amounts of infected fecal matter on hands or swimsuits can contaminate the swimming pools for example and then it also talks about the resistance where now the cryptos become resistant to chlorine and it says some other chemicals. So it doesn’t say exactly what other chemicals I’m guessing maybe bromine other things related to chlorine that’s used to treat water. So if you go to the pool and it reeks like chlorine. First of all chlorine is terrible. Please swim in saltwater if you have the option but don’t take that as a sense of security. Hey. The pool reeks like chlorine. I’m assuming it’s safe. I don’t want to create fear but you know you don’t want to be drinking chlorine water anyway and you don’t really want to swim in it. If you have another option like saltwater.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah just an option to have a saltwater pool and you will have natural chlorine that form with saltwater pool. So there is chlorine that forms but typically I have someone that helps maintain the pool for me. And I basically instruct that person to use the lowest amount of salt which will naturally form chlorine to keep the pool clean without algae forming. So I’m able to keep my pool at like maybe a 20 percent chlorine percentage. I will tell you most people like my eyes start to get irritated and red and I can smell it around 40. So I keep mine at around 20 just enough to keep the algae from blooming and it’s enough where I can open my water open my eyes under the water and I can you know smell my clothes afterwards I don’t smell the chlorine and my eyes aren’t irritated. So you can kind of find that happy medium where it’s just enough to kill the algae and keep your pool water clean but just enough where you’re not having any irritation with your eyes and you shouldn’t be able to smell it afterwards so if you have a pool try to find that happy medium.
Evan Brand: Perfect. That’s good advice. You know I swam in a neighborhood pool that was completely you know chemical or I guess you would say like manmade chlorine it wasn’t like salt water that converts to chlorine and I felt super bad. I just I reeked I smelled I had a headache afterwards and then when I went over to a friends who had a saltwater pool and I swam there I didn’t have any issues. So I don’t know if there’s any different chemical composition or chlorine chlorine but I do feel better and don’t get headaches and saltwater pools versus just straight dumping and chlorine.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Same thing when the salt water just naturally feels better. Skin and the number two I’m going to be looking at adding a potential laser light to my pool for the main reason of just being able to lower the chlorine content.
Evan Brand: Cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And again the more humid the environment is the more you need actual chlorine there because of the mold growth right. Mold or algae is kind of like mold. It needs that higher humidity environment. So as we enter the fall and it gets less humid you can kind of tamping down the chlorine so little side little tangent here about people you know are getting exposed to a lot of toxins in their pool. And on that note water filtration is gonna be really important if you have a crypto exposure we know in Milwaukee about twenty five years ago 1994, 1993, there was a huge outbreak five hundred thousand people got exposed because the public water system was not filtering out crypto. So moral the story there is everyone should have a really good water filtration system because that’s our insurance policy against the public municipality not filtering out things appropriately and who knows how many other infections are missed. And if you’re more immuno compromised and your guts inflamed who knows other infections you may be falling prey to like H pylori or other things maybe giardia. So it’s always good to have a either a whole house filtration system or at least have an under the counter reverse osmosis system because that’s going to be strong enough. We should say that filters will be specific enough to filter all that debris out and keep your water nice and clean.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Not that I want to create fear about eating out at restaurants but people take their health for granted in the sense that if you go to a restaurant for example and you eat rice that was cooked using tap water that was contaminated with crypto or giardia or you could very well just go to a nice restaurant and do your fancy sushi and go home with crypto or giardia and then same thing with tap water you know I would not. You could pay me to drink tap water you know you go to a restaurant and everybody looks at me weird because I bring my own filtered water. Oh you don’t need a water sir. No I’ve got water right here. I’m good to go. To me it’s not worth the risk. I’ve suffered too much when I had gut bugs. Yeah. So. So the number you were talking about crazy I was looking at it here, the four hundred thousand people infected was the the low number it could have been up to an estimated 1.6 million people in the Milwaukee area.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And then there was another I think a handful of people actually died from that outbreak too.
Evan Brand: I saw a number I want to say it was like 50 or 60 people. Yeah yeah I think it’s pretty big. But so it’s just funny people you know listening in Chicago and Los Angeles and New York and Seattle and you know even small towns like all these people that are using tap water. Let’s say you’re gonna go, you’re gonna go make some rice and you throw your water in there. Let’s just say you didn’t get up to a temperature where it’s going to kill it off. I don’t even know what temperature would kill crypto I don’t know if you could prove that. But let’s say you’re cooking your rice and it’s just at a simmer. Right. And then you’re listening to our podcast and now you’re about to eat that rice that you just cooked. Maybe that has crypto in it. So. Yeah I think the whole house filters great and then I know you do and I do too. We add extra filtration onto the water that we’re actually going to drink. So downstairs in my office I’m using the clearly filter which is this little pitcher. It basically uses the same technology kind of similar to a Berkey but it’s just so convenient because I just put it under the sink which is already filtered put it into this clearly filtered and it’s kind of a drip filter. But I do have the Berkey and then I do have the pure effects went upstairs which is the one that you convince me you’re like Man you’re gonna get sick of filling up the Berkey. And I did. So then we got the one that’s under the sink. So now you just turn on the little spicket and then it goes through the three stage system.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah I have one under the sink because of the reverse osmosis. It’s going to be a little bit stronger to filter out because my whole philosophy is I have a whole house water filtration system. I use Aqua Sana if you guys interested I only recommend products that I officially use. That’s how my that’s my M.O. to be authentic. So justinhealth.com/water then you may have a link as well. We’ll put it down below for any of your listeners and I use that as a whole house and that guy’s a really good job. It’s primarily carbon based. So we’ll get a good chunk of fluoride. Not all of it and we’ll get a lot of chlorine a lot of pharmaceuticals out. And then I do the reverse osmosis because a whole house reverse osmosis is really expensive. It’s much cheaper to do a whole house carbon based filter that’s more like bone char and then just do a specific reverse osmosis in the kitchen where most of my water is going to be consumed or cookware so that I have that extra layer of protection and then I use filters that have a post mineral system. So it adds minerals after they’ve been added back and then we put a little bit of electrolyte support on the counter whether it’s trace minerals or Redmond’s real salt so we can always pinch a little bit back in to add that water. So that way I have a more specific filtration for my drinking and then I have a good global filtration for the whole house and I could still drink out of any faucet on my house and I would still be really good and taste really good and really clean but for that extra level of security we do the. And then I typically just stock my work fridge with topachicos I love topachicos so I’ll do some level of sparkling filter mineral water and then if I go out I typically do Pellegrino ask for a Pellegrino bottle like you said Evan just to make sure that water is extra clean.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So also you didn’t mention but that the whole house carbon based systems those are also gonna help filter out pesticides and herbicides as well. Yes so there are some really cool research on that it’s not a hundred percent once again but it is a very very very important thing especially if you live in an area where you’ve got farm runoff that ends up into your municipal supply fertilizers and other herbicides will end up in there. You did mention the pharmaceuticals you know people don’t realize that when you when you turn on your tap. Unfortunately yes this is happening in a first world country like the US you’re getting blood pressure medications trace amounts of antidepressants anti anxiety drugs benzodiazepines heart medications that is all in tap water. So no you’re not being crazy no you’re not being able to need this level of filtration This is the modern world this is what’s happened. Think about the urine people pee. Where does that urine go you flush it down the toilet it goes back to the municipal company they do some level of filtration just so it doesn’t kill you and then they pump it back to your tap. So we are not being met. I guess we are compared to the average person but we’re not really being above and beyond this should be the standard level of care for everyone’s water in their home for their family especially if you’re in the shower and I’m going to brush my teeth in the shower and swallow some tap water through your shower with the whole house. Now you’ve got a shower filter that’s included. You don’t have to put a shower filter on the whole house is already filtered so.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And I actually have to go change my filters right. I have to this is a good reminder for me. So by kind of my my standard workout for a patient that’s looking to improve their water to one avoid crypto parasites as well as pesticides and drugs and chemicals is go with the under the counter reverse osmosis. It’s about three to four hundred bucks but once you factor in if you have bottled water already you’re going to pay for itself in six months and then you’re going to have the convenience of the undercounted unit is always having that gallon or gown and a half tank full. The problem with the Berkey or the Aleks appear those are the ones that I have as well. I still have them for like hey power’s out. You know hurricane hurricane comes through and you lose water you can at least put it outside collect some rain or just run you know general water and the environment through clean it. So I like it as an emergency kind of thing but I too many days where I forgot to run water through it the night before and I was like Crap I have no water for my shake or my morning drink and I had to go without. So that’s why I like something it’s always working in the background so that’s why the under the counter is great. And if you’re going to be in a house long term and you want to make that investment go with a good whole house. About a thousand bucks maybe two hundred bucks to install but then you have it in all your guest rooms if you want to wake up in the middle of the night and you want to drink some water out of your let’s say your bathroom sink. You can still do it right. It’s still going to be clean enough to do it. I wouldn’t recommend it being your staple but you could still do it fine. No problem.
Evan Brand: Yeah. And when we were living in a hotel for a while my daughter was getting a rash because we were getting exposed to very high amounts of chlorine from giving her a bath when we were at the hotel so luckily we had brought some of the stuff from home with us. And I brought our Berkey shower filter and I just filled up the bathtub using the shower filter and that removed like ninety nine percent of the chlorine and it was amazing because you couldn’t smell it anymore. The the the one I have for the under the counter. It’s a little different than the reverse osmosis you have it’s the pure. So the link is evanbrand.com/pure. The reason I liked it is because it had a non aluminum based fluoride reduction filter in there which was pretty cool and then it was a carbon block so it still tastes really good and it still has quite a bit of minerals and and you can taste it. And then the little clearly filtered one that one. Full disclosure they gave that one to me for free. So that clearly filtered the picture filter is great but it’s only like 50 or 60 bucks and the link is evanbrand.com/clearwater. And that one is the little handheld like hey you’re at the office setting and you run to the bathroom at your office and you keep this water pitcher on your desk for 60 bucks and it’s gonna be pretty dang clean.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. And we put all the links down below in the description guys and we’re only recommending products that we actually use. I’ve been using a reverse osmosis by Aquasana and Pelican and they’ve worked great. I’ve used them for about four or five years and I’ve had my whole house system for five years so I feel really good about it. Just be very mindful if you do have hard water in your area you may get if you’re doing a whole house you may need to do some kind of a system that softens the water as well because hard water can kind of clog the filters a little bit faster. So just look if you’re gonna be looking at that make sure you assess if you have hard water or not most people know because you kind of see the mineral residue on a lot of things after the fact. If you do make sure you factor that in if you’re getting a whole house.
Evan Brand: All right I got one more thing to say about water and then let’s move on and talk about lab testing and then maybe a couple of herbs we use to crypto. OK so the Britta the pure like the p-u-r brand anything you can commercially buy at Target Wal-Mart etc. Those things give you a false sense of security they are garbage. Yes a Britta and a pure and some of these other zero water yes they can filter out some heavy metals lead mercury cadmium arsenic etc. But in comparisons to the ones we’re talking about you know we’re talking about the little geo metro little Ford Pinto piece of garbage can get you on the highway but barely versus like the Lexus of water filtration there’s a huge difference in quality so I don’t want people listening to say Oh I use my fridge filter you know I asked that question on my intake form for every new client how do you filter your water if at all. So many people say I use the filter on my fridge first of all that thing is garbage it’s barely going to filter out tiny bit of chlorine and maybe some LED. Secondly most people don’t ever change those things on a regular basis. So in a pinch if I need to like get a tincture I’ll go to my fridge filter and I’ll get a tiny water out of my fridge to take a shot of some herbs. But even then the whole house filters already run it before the fridge filter.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah for the most part those filters I call them cosmetic filters because they’re just designed to make the water taste and smell just a little bit cleaner. That’s it. Yeah well I’m talking about more on a microscopic level and it may not fully affect the taste and the flavor. So we want to do both. We want to have the purity and this is really important because Cryptosporidium is the topic of today and that’s going to be the main vector for that from most peoples to be water. So make sure your house is good. If you’re someone that’s going in a lake or streams or hiking a lot and drinking out of ponds and such. Make sure you get a really good kind of one of those Berkey travel water bottles that you can run through that’s gonna be super helpful. Ideally bring something with you just to make sure it is super clean. And then I would say if you are getting exposed to water you should be getting a gut test on at least once a year to evaluate your gut to make sure inflammation is good. Make sure there’s no infections including crypto and maybe other infections too. And if there are then we have to create protocols to knock it out but I’m always I’m treating my gut probably twice a year. Proactively, I only test once a year. I’ll test more frequently if I have symptoms. So the most common gut symptom of crypto is going to be diarrhea. The major mechanism of how someone passes from an infection like crypto is they just have too much diarrhea and then they tend to lose their electrolytes and then when their electrolytes are gone and their nervous system is not going to work and their heart’s not going to work. So if you have diarrhea first thing and best thing you can do is get to an E.R. or at least get stabilized with a I.V. so you can have your electrolytes stabilized and then you got to get the diarrhea under control. First thing we can do to help with that is gonna be activated charcoal that will these slow things down and then depending on what the infection is we’re going to use specific herbs and we have had great success with herbs in the Berberine family higher dose oil of oregano. There’s a great product that I’ve used for a long time called AP mag that has some Oriental herbs that have been great with crypto. The problem of crypto is it’s in the crypts in the crypts of Lieberman’s which is in the small intestine so it’s burrowed down deeper into the gut lining. So we have to use specific magnesium to help open up those crypts so these natural herbal antibiotics can get in there and knock the infection down.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So just say it in a different way so it gets into people’s heads. Yep. So what Justin’s talking about is if you were to zoom in on the intestinal track you can see these little dips and these little valleys in the valleys at the bottom of the valleys where the crypt hangs out. That’s how it got the name probably is hiding in the crib and it’s hard to get to. It’s hard to access that. So this is why many people have come to us and they say well I already went to a narrow path or I already went to this other guy and he did a protocol with me and we test them and they still test positive for it is probably just because they didn’t get that deep layer that they needed to access. They just got surface layers so maybe they threw in like caprylic acid know maybe some coconut extracts or maybe they just did some oregano oil maybe enough but maybe not. So that’s why we try to have a pretty big tool box and we don’t use anti parasitic. You know that’s one common thing that said in the Internet world is that well you know parasites you can’t get rid of them unless you use anti parasitic medications like blastocystis hominis and giardia and crypto. People say oh well you have to use anti parasitic drugs. And I will say I’m firsthand experience that’s not true. And we have lost count of how many infections we’ve gotten rid of using herbs without prescriptions. I’m not saying it’s never needed but in many many many many countless 99.9 percent of the cases we’ve been able to resolve it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And here’s something interesting. So number one we know that the fecal oral components are really big. Right. And guess what. Your typical sanitizer right your gel sanitizer is not going to kill crypto. So you really have to wash your hands you have to do a good job doing. You can’t rely on some gel to do it because it’s not going to be able to do it. Number two is your symptoms can actually be resolved when you have crypto during treatment and you could still be spreading or contagious with crypto in your stool for weeks after your symptoms have ended. So this is really important and I would postulate having seen many many patients dozens if not hundreds with crypto there are a lot of people that have this subclinical type of in-between where they’re not like full on diarrhea and acute which then would need extra electrolytes maybe an I.V. maybe they would be on an antibiotic right away because of the severity of their diarrhea and the typical antibiotic for use will be nitrous oxide or Linea which is a good antibiotic has a lot of side effects. So I would like to jump on the rebels if we can’t first. But you could be contagious for weeks or months afterwards. You have to be very careful and you have to make sure you’re looking at other infections that could be layered in with the crypto like in Evan’s case. We talked about the three amigos. He had crypto blasto and H Pylori. Oh I’m sorry crypto blasto and giardia which is that’s common seeing a layer of infections which could be keeping your immune system more compromised for sure.
Evan Brand: I never had blast o, I just had crypto, giardia, H Pylori. Those are my entry.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So Alinea or night is oxidize the big one. The typical protocols a three day protocol. But I’ll tell you with Alinea most people are doing it at least two weeks with that you’re doing about a thousand milligrams twice a day. And again you’re not going to be able to use that in children. You’ll have to see your gastro doc for a recommendation for children. But we typically use verbals and there’s a bunch of different herbs that we layer on. So I mentioned the AP Mag I mentioned some of the broad spectrum herbs in my line I’m using G I clear for frequently with parasites as a base because it’s very high and goldenseal it’s very high in black walnut. Also I always like adding a little bit of limp support in my herbal so I’ll do a lot of burdock and or Ginger because those are going to really help the lymphatic system and the lymph tends to get really congested a whole bunch of stuff being killed in your body right the limp is that interplay transport between the blood and the tissue. We want to make sure that’s moving appropriately so if you have to get treated acutely fine go to your M.D. or your gastro if it’s kind of a chronic long term thing then you want to work with someone like Evan or I and get a good herbal protocol dialed in and get all the foundational stuff worked in before it goes to the six hours and move the bad foods or place the enzymes acids repair the gut lining calm down the inflammation were typically getting people on some level of adrenal support or hormone support depending on what kind of imbalances are present and then in the fourth hour we come in and work on removing the infection. So fifth our RE population re inoculation is, sixth are retest to ensure it’s gone because it is so infectious. And if you have crypto you definitely want to get your least your significant other spouse assessed because of how easy it is to spread and if you’re someone that’s cooking a lot of food in the house you more than likely want to get any kids looked at especially if they’re symptomatic for sure.
Evan Brand: Yeah we’ve seen whole families with similar bugs. It’s kind of interesting. I really enjoy looking at the kids and looking at Mom or Dad vice versa and seeing how often the bugs are shared we would say about 90 percent of the time the bugs are shared between people. Now the question then becomes OK well he just mentioned birdbrain and blah blah blah. Well can I just have my husband or wife or kids do those herbs. The answer is maybe maybe. Do you really want to guess. And then you give them the Arabs and then they have a reaction or something doesn’t go as planned and now they’ve got headaches and a skin rash popped up and that and maybe you’re killing too much off and the liver is not supportive to the lymphatic system as you mentioned is not supported. So it’s really better to create a synergistic protocol. You know sometimes we’ll have people ask us Hey well can you just prioritize this protocol. You know whether it’s an issue with they don’t want to take pills or you know it’s a budgetary issue the like Hey I just want to take one thing and then we have to go back to them and say there is no one thing you can’t just do one silver magic bullet for this you really have to support lymphatic adrenal as you talked about the hormonal support in the beginning with the zinc and all that you’ve got to have everything on board you can’t just kill kill kill because you’re gonna feel like crap and then guess what happens you’re not compliant so you only handled four days of trying to kill something and that wasn’t enough to get rid of the infection and then you still feel that. So it’s really better to just have a full protocol made for you based on your results you don’t want to assume I just have crypto so I’m going to go take Berberine because Justin said Berberines’ helpful. You really want to get the data.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And my general recommendation is if the spouse or significant other has great health may not be as necessary to test. That’s always our top goal. If they have great health we still would treat with generalized verbal protocol anyway. But if there’s any lingering symptoms at all then testing is good and there’s always a chance of a false positive or false negative I should say. Meaning you came back negative but you’re really positive. So that’s why I always treat no matter what just because you know I don’t want to spread anything back and forth right. You know someone’s going to do fine on an herbal protocol. They’re not going to actually get worse at their health pretty good and I’m more worried about the primary patient coming in and getting reinfected because they came back false negatives. We always keep that in the back of our head as an option.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So my daughter for example we did our first stool test when she was 2. I don’t have it right in front of me but I know she showed up with some parasite. I think she had either cyclospora which could also be waterborne or blasto can’t recall exactly but we used a protocol for that. We retested her then she showed up with H. Pylori and a handful of airlines factors four or five virulence factors. Wow. Well so then we got rid of that and then we retested again and then she had a bunch of bacterial overgrowth and Candida. So then we worked on that and now all of her symptoms were gone. I didn’t do another retest. I probably could have just to say hey look we’ve knocked the bacteria down but we looked at skin we looked at stool we looked at sleep and everything is good. So we stopped testing but in some cases it takes two three four tests to really make sure that you can actually get rid of this thing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally makes sense. So I think we had all the big things. So testing I’m typically running a G.I. map and or 41H to assess this. That’s the big one with all the diet stuff we’re cutting all the inflammation down. We’re working through the six hours like I mentioned we’re cleaning up water. We’re looking at the environment. You mentioned I think you mentioned earlier maybe you didn’t mention that we talked about it in the preshow is the Lincoln Memorial pond I think.
Evan Brand: Oh yeah we should talk about this.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So you’re going there to drain that whole entire Lincoln Monument pond in D.C. because I think 80 geese or ducks died of cryptosporidium. So this is a serious guy a serious issues we want to make sure we’re on top of it and we’re always testing it and assessing and our patients.
Evan Brand: Yeah it’s it was weird. A lot of the articles just referred to parasites and I don’t even if they know exactly what it was there was one mention. They thought it could have been this parasite that comes from snails but I don’t know if they ever even proved it. There was some type of a snail borne parasite. It was a weird name like Billy’s areas and it was like a blood fluke some type of trema toad. But it’s tough. It’s tough to prove and I would say in most cases contaminated water is never gonna have just one bad guy. So it was probably a bunch of stuff but yeah. Here you go thinking Oh look at this beautiful water you don’t know what’s in there so don’t go swimming in the Lincoln Memorial.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Or any other public type of fountains or monuments those kind of things. You’re much better off if you’re gonna do it swim swim in a public lake or ocean. There’s still a risk factor there. But hey you know I do that frequently and I just get tested and I make sure I’m on certain protocols every now and then to help keep it under wraps.
Evan Brand: And you keep a lot of herbs on hand. I mean you and I talked about we did a show on Food Poisoning not too long ago where you had gotten sick and luckily you had some herbs available so boom you jump right on them and you were back in action pretty quickly.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Who knows what I got. I think my son may have even gotten crypto as well he just had massively loose stools but I was able to get him on a protocol within two or three days. He so he solidified everything we had him on activated charcoal to slow down the diarrhea but most importantly people that start having this really insane diarrhea you have to get on extra mineral support you can’t you need an I.V. but ideally you’re given some kind of trace mineral support in the water. I don’t recommend doing the Pedialyte there’s too much crap in there and the high fructose corn syrup and colors and dyes you can just get a really good trace mineral support for you with all the extra sugar or even use a little bit of coconut water too that’s fine and that’s gonna be a great way to get some extra electrolytes. Nature’s natural Gatorade so to speak.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said and so if you are out with your kids and they’re swimming in a little kiddie pool and some other kids got a big diaper full of poop you want to get your kid out of that kiddie pool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep exactly. Yep. One hundred percent man. And that’s the problem when you go to these pools they have to have the chlorine off so bloody high to compensate for all this stuff. That way you get the chlorine is like 70 or 80 percent. Your eyes come out stinging and you smell like chlorine for two days after what’s coming out in your sweat. So none of those situations for sure about you know much rather choose a public lake or anything over that but so I think we went over some pretty good options risk factors. We talked about ways to prevent ways to treat. We talked about you know assessing over guessing we really want to make sure we assess it and you really want to make sure you’re seeing a good comprehensive functional medicine doctor that can walk you through it so if you guys need help or you want to assess and make sure that crypto isn’t a part of your life. Head over to JustInHealth.com, get a schedule of myself. You can also head over to EvanBrand.com and schedule with Evan. We see patients all over the world. Anything else Evan you want to add today.
Evan Brand: I would just say crypto doesn’t discriminate. So if you hear this you’re like driving your nice car in L.A. and you’re looking at Palm trees you’re like Oh I’m fine there’s no crypto here yes there is. This affects people around the world. You didn’t have to go to Costa Rica or Mexico or Bali or Indonesia or anywhere to get exposure of this stuff. You know I have not been out of the US at the time of this recording and I had tons of gut bugs. So this stuff is right here. And the good ole United States of America. So I don’t think that because where you live. You’re immune. It’s just not true.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s far the biggest myth that conventional medicine puts out there.
Evan Brand: Yeah that’s right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So to speak as they kind of make it seem like you have to go to all these crazy places you have to go to Indonesia or Bali or or India to get some of these infections. And yeah you’re at a much higher risk going there especially there’s different food and natural bacteria and things in there so your immune system is more likely to be compromised or be sensitive but you can get it here too. So I hope today’s podcast you know elucidated some of the major mechanisms and how we can get there. Big thing is you collect multiple critters over time your immune compromised number two as you get exposed to a lot of the infectious debris at once or number three. You have a lot of other inflammation and stressors in your gut and then a small amount is enough to kind of gain a foothold and create a problem. I hope that makes sense. And if anyone has an issue with crypto or gut issues put your comments down below we’d love to know what your experience was what you did what happened and if you enjoyed this podcast give us a share a thumbs up. We really appreciate it sharing is caring. Evan. Anything else?
Evan Brand: Yeah. One last thing we talk about OK. Why does everybody in the US how can they still get exposed to this because the food supply is now international. I just bought some organic blueberries from whole foods and they were from Peru and a previous time I bought them they were from Chile. And you know previous times they’re from other countries so the whole food supplies international now. So another reason to try to go local go to your farmers markets and buy food there because you may live in your perfect house and everything’s cool in your city but all of your fruit and produce and meat for example could be coming from Brazil and other places. So not so. So you’re not immune. And if you have issues please reach out. We’re here so just to give you the Web sites. I’ll give it to you again. Just make sure you’re clear JustInHealth.com and EvanBrand.com. And we’ll talk with you all again real soon.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan today was great man you’ve an awesome day.
Evan Brand: You too. Take care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care. Bye bye.
Comparing Conventional vs Functional Labs For Parasite Infections
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Today, we will be comparing conventional lab work, looking for infections versus our specialty test that can help pick up and detect infections. So I had a patient come in to me last month and she presented with some symptoms: gas pain, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, headaches, some mood issues, and even some tingling, stinging sensation in her leg area. Of course, one of the first places I always look at is I look at the gut because so many infections can create a major sequelae of symptoms such as mood and all the things I listed off. So we always want to look at the gut.
Conventional Lab Work
We have here my patient’s conventional lab work and I’m going to put it right on screen. You’ll see in the background. And what you’re going to see here is we got some blood work and on that blood work, it’s showing inflammation. So off the bat, you can see that the white blood cells are going to be on the lower side. I’m going to use my monitor here and my mouse to circle that. You can see white blood cells are on the lower side. So we’re thinking maybe a chronic infection. We go down here below. We see our monocytes, our eosinophils and basophils on the higher side, which makes me think a more of an acute infection.
Now when I see eosinophils, I always think parasites potentially. It can be allergies, but mainly parasites. I see monocytes, I think gut inflammation and basophils that can be just there from inflammation as well. Now when we go up a bit, we’re going to see neutrophils being low. When I see low neutrophils, I’m thinking chronic bacterial infection.
So you can see everything for me goes back to the gut. So I’m thinking maybe an H. pylori infection, maybe a parasitic infection, of course, all of this inflammation and damage is going to create leaky gut as well.
Diet & Lifestyle Changes
With this patient, we did a couple of things off the bat. We did an autoimmune diet and we saw significant improvement in some of the symptoms: some of the mood, not quite with the energy, some of the mood and the anxiety, and just overall improvements in digestion. She significantly got better going on an autoimmune and low FODMAP eating plan.
So that’s kind of the foundation. We don’t just use the labs and used supplement programs and fancy things like that to promote healing. We start with simple diet and lifestyle modalities to help get inflammation down, and then from there we can use specific lab tests.
Functional Lab Analysis
So off the bat, here is the conventional blood work as you can see; but one of the biggest things that irk me is this patient told me their conventional doctor said nothing was wrong. Well, as you can see, a functional medicine doctor is going to look at this and be pulling their hair out, like of course something’s wrong. We see the white blood cells low. Also, we see the eosinophils, basophils, and monocytes elevated. We’re thinking an infection and then we see the low neutrophils, which makes me think chronic bacterial infection. So we start off that and kind of putting my hypotheses out, kind of week 1 and then 3 or 4 weeks later, after we get some stool testing back, here’s our specialty stool test. You can see off the bat, we had an H. pylori infection came back positive. You can see down the road here, we had elevations in fecal fat. That means we’re not digesting our fat optimally.
Now if we know Physiology 101 on digestion, we need a nice low pH to activate our proteolytic enzymes, pepsin, that helps kick off protein digestion. That nice low pH triggers our gallbladder and pancreas to produce lipase and enzymes to break down fat and emulsify fat via the gallbladder. So if we don’t have the right digestion in the stomach, that’s going to screw up digestion downstream and instead of that first and second domino knocking over. If the first two don’t fall, the third and fourth won’t fall either; hence, we see elevations in fecal fat. It’s automatically low hydrochloric acid levels and low digestive enzyme levels naturally.
Down the list, look what came back here. We see two parasitic infections: Blasto and Giardia. And I’ve done videos on these just recently, one of my co-host Evan Brand came back with Giardia and Crypto. We just had a podcast on that this week. So go see BeyondWellnessRadio.com for that podcast but he came back with Giardia and Crypto. This patient came back with Giardia and Blasto.
Parasitic Infections: The Three Amigos
So I’ve actually coined this term, The Three Amigos, because I’ve seen it a handful of times this year. You got H. pylori on one side. H. pylori is known to decrease stomach acid via the enzyme urease, which takes urea from protein metabolism, breaks it down into CO2 and ammonia. CO2 triggers the breath test for the H. pylori. That’s what makes a breath test positive. It’s the elevation of CO2 and the ammonia has a pH of 11. So that raises the pH away from the acidic zone which then decreases the ability to activate those proteolytic enzymes. So H. Pylori, that messes up digestion.
This literally blasts open—it eats our food and blasts open creating pain and inflammation in its various four stages. That’s another one and this patient had symptoms of digestive pain which makes sense with the Blasto. And then Giardia can also affect the fat digestion, too. It’s known to live or inhabit the bile ducts as well and can create inflammation and make it harder to break down fat. And this patient had all of these symptoms: the acid reflux, the pain, the constipation, diarrhea; so it totally makes sense here.
One last thing we see is the IgA and IgA2 is very high. Now IgA is an immune marker. It’s what lines the mucosal membranes in our mouths, our sinuses, digestive tract, urinary tract, vaginal canal, you name it, and it’s our first line defense.
And I always tell my patients, it’s like the Star Trek. The Star Trek ship, it’s got the force fields up so when the Klingons attack, the laser beams literally bounce off the ship, and this is what happens with IgA. It’s that force field, so when invaders come in, it protects us.
Now IgA will go really high off the bat when invaders are coming in, and you can see IgA2 is really off the charts here, but what’s interesting is look at IgA1. It’s in the very, very bottom part of the range, barely even registering at 0.44, so technically that’s in the bottom—I want to say bottom 1%, bottom 0.1% of the range. So you can see IgA 1 low immune stress, IgA 2 hyper immune stress, definitely an infection, definitely inflammation, and our mucosal membrane barrier is weakened on one side but heightened on the other side because we have two different subtypes here.
What’s the take home message? Well, number one, if you go to the conventional doctor and you’re told you’re okay, you have got to go see a functional medicine doctor. If this patient didn’t come and see me, I’m confident in the next few months working together, we’re going to be able to get this person significantly better. But if they did not come to see me off the bat, they would think it’s all in their head. They would probably be put on an acid blocking medication, may be an antidepressant, and told to go home which is really sad because there are three major infections here and we know it. And this isn’t just something that’s in her head. This is something that’s real and there is physiological roots at the underlying level. And not to mention that, we know the food, just making the food changes with the FODMAPs and the AIP, the autoimmune plan, made a massive difference.
See a Functional Medicine Doctor
So this patient is one out of millions that you know will be helped, but there are millions more that are being told it’s all in your head and just being sent home. And I want people just to go back here, look at the conventional tests. Now this, you can just see all of the markers that are off here, she was told she’s fine. Now I have patients that come in with tests that don’t even look like this, barely anything’s even flagged. No L’s or no H’s, but things may be slightly out of range and we’ll still do tests and we’ll see tests that still come back with infections like this.
So if you’re feeling sick and you know something’s not right and your doctors told you your lab tests are normal even though something’s wrong, you got to dig in. This person did and I’m very happy she digs, we’re going to be able to significantly help her health get to a higher level and you can, too. So click on screen, make sure you subscribe, get access to more videos and great information like this and help, kind of really helped all my patients get their health back in their hands.
How to Treat Gut Infections: Antibiotics or Natural Herbs?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Gut infections are common, and they can prohibit healing and cause a leaky gut. They must be treated to keep the body healthy, but are antibiotics the right choice for you? For some serious infections, antibiotics might be a good choice, but there are deleterious side effects.
Let’s explore why antibiotics have side effects; why antimicrobial, or natural, medicines may be a better choice. And also, what the benefits are of natural medicines.
Antibiotics Pros & Cons
Antibiotics are one of the true miracles of the twentieth century. The invention of penicillin and other antibiotics over the last 50-75 years have saved thousands if not millions of lives!
We live in a world today where antibiotics are handed out like candy, and as a result our gut biome and our health are finally paying for it. Most conventionally trained physicians are still not recommending a round of probiotics after an antibiotic treatment. In my professional opinion, this is an absolute must if antibiotics are ever to be used.
There is a phenomenon known as antibiotics resistance where we are creating superbugs from excessive antibiotic use. I saw a patient just last week who over a 10-year period was given over 100 prescriptions!
This excess antibiotic use causes rebound overgrowth in the digestive tract, essentially causing the bad or sometimes pathogenic bacteria to proliferate. As a result, it will take up most of the space in our GI tract.
If you use the garden analogy for our gut bacteria, everyone knows it takes virtually no effort for weeds to grow, yet, it takes good eating habits, stress reduction, and sometimes supplements to keep the good bacteria predominating. In the garden analogy, the healthy plants or vegetables growing.
When to take Antibiotics?
The bad bacteria in our gut can produce toxins and make it harder for us to absorb nutrients from food. In acute serious infections, antibiotics may be the right choice. With these chronic everyday situations, herbal medicines have a longer and safer track record and tend to be more selective to the bad bugs without causing as many side effects.
I was in a serious situation this last summer with a hand infection from a cat scratch and I was very close to using an antibiotic to treat the infection. I actually had the prescription in my possession, yet after 3 days of natural herbs, the infection resolved. If the infection hadn’t started resolving so soon, I would have had no hesitation to use the prescribed antibiotic.
What Are Efflux Pumps?
Bacteria or infections have a phenomenon known as efflux pumps. The antibiotic enters the cell, where it is metabolized. The efflux pumps then force the antibiotic out of the cell and into the extracellular space or back into the gut.
Imagine you’re in a canoe on a river, and the canoe has a hole in it. The canoe starts taking in water. Your natural response would be to grab a bucket and start bailing water from the canoe.
Efflux pumps are very similar to the bucket. The bucket takes the water that shouldn’t be in the canoe and bails it back into the river.
The same thing happens with the bacteria. That bacteria wants to thrive, and it knows the antibiotic isn’t good for it, so it takes the antibiotic. Just like you’d bail water from your canoe, the bacterial will shoot it’s way back into the intestinal track where it thinks it belongs.
Our goal, however, is to kill the bacteria, so we must inhibit the efflux pumps. If we inhibit the efflux pumps, the bacteria will retain the drug or the antimicrobial, which will procure its demise. If the canoe is analogous to the bacteria, we want the canoe to take on water faster. So knocking out the person with the bucket (the analogous efflux pump) is the goal.
How Can We Block the Efflux Pump?
When we create protocols to knock out these infections, how to block the efflux pump is the question that is first and foremost in mind. There is a family of herbs called berberines, and it includes the following:
• Oregon grape
These herbs have efflux-inhibiting properties. They have been used in cancer medications, infection-treatment plans, and other treatments. They actually block the function of the efflux pumps.
If you’re going to use an antibiotic, at least use it with a gram of goldenseal to block the efflux pump. This will prevent the bacteria from shooting the antibiotic back out into the extracellular space or the gut.
However, a better choice, which may give a far superior result, could be to take a combination of berberines and other herbs. This is especially effective if you are in relatively good health and making good dietary changes. This healthier lifestyle will boost the immune system, giving you a better chance of responding to the herbs.
What Are Natural Ways to Address Gut Infections?
- Local killer: Goldenseal is one local killer that will target the area of the infection.
- Systemic killer: Artemisia or wormwood are systemic killers that will get in the blood and target the whole system.
- Infection-specific killer: Herbal cocktails are created specifically to fight a certain infection. If you have a virus, we may use silver; If you have a Lyme disease coinfection, we may use neem or noni; And if you have a gut-bacteria issue, we may use oil of oregano.
There is an excellent synergistic effect when combining local and systemic killers—wormwood and Artemisia combined with goldenseal. The goldenseal makes the Artemisia stronger.
The Viscous Cycle of Infections:
Most people with a chronic unaddressed infection are kept trapped in a viscous cycle of a weakened immune system, nutrient malabsorption, and a leaky gut.
Our body needs nutrients to run its energy systems, and we derive those nutrients primarily from food. With a chronic leaky gut due to infections, we are assured to develop food allergens to even so-called healthy foods, like broccoli and beef. Thus, our diet becomes more restrictive as the root cause to many of these gut issues gets commonly missed.
With the additional stress to our digestive system, we also lose the ability to make adequate levels of enzymes and HCL. These compounds help break our food down, but they also help kill potential foreign invaders in our food, like bacteria and parasites.
As you can see, it’s common for people, over the years, to collect their gut infections like souvenirs on their mantle. The more gut bugs or infections you have, typically the longer it takes to recover.
Efflux pumps are the real problem, and that’s why a lot of antibiotics have side effects. The protocol for most antibiotics is only about 10–14 days. With a natural antimicrobial program, the protocol can be 60–90 days, allowing us to slowly break down the whole efflux pump system.
Natural programs include using specific herbs, like the goldenseal, and utilizing the synergistic effect of stacking local, systemic, and infection-specific herbs.
Use Mother Nature’s natural herbs first and foremost. Antibiotics can be beneficial when used in combination with the appropriate natural herbs, but antibiotics should be the last-resort approach.
If you have a gut infection, tough-to-remove parasite, H.pylori infection, or viral infection, these are common blocks that keep you from healing and cause a leaky gut. If you need more help to eliminate these gut infections, click here.
What Causes H. Pylori Infection…The Most Insidious Infection Around?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
What causes H. pylori infection? Did you know that over 50% of the population has an H. pylori infection (1)? Dr. Marshall, the scientist who discovered H. pylori, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2005 for his discovery. His initial research was done on himself, as he infected himself to prove the bacteria’s causal connection with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach).
H. pylori is an opportunistic infection that spreads more rapidly in people that have a compromised immune system. This is why there are higher rates of all parasite infections in Third World countries. In the United States, we are seeing an increase in chronic stress and poor eating habits, which compromises our immune function and makes us open for an attack.
How Do You Get an H. pylori Infection?
H. pylori, unlike other parasitic infections, can be spread very easily via saliva and doesn’t require sexual intimacy per se. This is why it’s very common to see an entire family test positive for an H. pylori infection. Things like sharing a drink or silverware can be enough to spread the infection in a compromised individual.
What does H. pylori do to our body?
One of the biggest problems with H. pylori is its production of a specific enzyme called urease, which essentially neutralizes hydrochloric acid due to its increased production of ammonia. Hydrochloric acid is needed to help digest protein, ionize minerals, and create an acidic environment in the guts to stimulate bile release from the gallbladder, which aids in fat digestion in the small intestine.
If we can’t ionize our minerals properly, this will lead to a whole host of issues, including osteoporosis, immune problems, thyroid problems, and anemia. Lack of hydrochloric acid will also lead to indigestion, malabsorption, gas, bloating, and a catabolic physiology (your body breaking down faster than it can build up).
A large percentage of H. pylori infected patients will not present with any symptoms, so it’s possible you could be feeling great and still have an infection. This is also why my recommendation for anyone with an H. pylori infection is to supplement with hydrochloric acid and enzymes to ensure optimal digestion, even if no digestive symptoms are present.
It’s important to note that the enzymes and hydrochloric acid by themselves will not be enough to eradicate the infection. A proper assessment should be made by your functional-medicine doctor regarding your primary physical, chemical, and emotional stressors to ensure long-term eradication of the infection.
H. pylori also irritates the stomach lining, hence its connections with gastric ulcers. This essentially creates silent inflammation, and now your adrenal glands have to come to the rescue to put out the smoldering fire in your gut. Your body uses cortisol from the adrenal glands to help put out the fire. But as your adrenals become more fatigued, cortisol will lose its capability of keeping the fire under control. This is the point where you will start to see the exacerbation of your symptoms. Many people can have this infection for a long period of time and not necessarily have any symptoms until their adrenals drop into stage III adrenal fatigue.
What Makes H. pylori Different?
H. pylori is a gram-negative bacteria. What this means is that H. pylori has two cell walls while most bacteria (gram positive) only have one cell wall (see picture below). When there are two cell walls, it makes it harder for antimicrobial medicines and herbs to eradicate the infection. This is analogous to a castle with stone walls for protection also being surrounded by a moat, which makes it more difficult for any intruders to invade.
Efflux Pumps and Antibiotics
In between the first and second cell wall, there is something known as efflux pumps. These pumps have the ability to disperse the antibiotic medicines that were given to the patient back outside into the gastrointestinal tract. These efflux pumps are believed to significantly contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is so prolific today (2).
When the antibiotics are pumped back into the gastrointestinal tract, patients can experience more die-off reactions. These reactions can include fatigue, nausea, bloating, flu-like symptoms, and diarrhea. H. pylori has obviously adapted in a way that has made it more resistant to antibiotics. This is one of the main reasons why I’m such a fan of herbal medicines, as they can be used for longer periods of time and don’t seem to have the same side effects as antibiotics.
The other major issue with gram-negative bacteria is that the outside of the bacteria is toxic. This toxin is known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or endotoxin, which is actually toxic to the liver. The more H. pylori becomes eradicated from your body, the more your detoxification pathways become stressed from the toxic debris! This is why I find removing the infection over a longer period of time and using additional herbs to help with drainage and detoxification can be beneficial in reducing those die-off reactions.
The most common or conventional symptoms of H. pylori infection:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and fullness
- Dyspepsia or indigestion
- Feeling very hungry one to three hours after eating
- Mild nausea (may be relieved by vomiting)
Less common symptoms of H. pylori infection:
- Neurological pain
- Anemia (B12 or iron)
- Leaky gut (gastrointestinal permeability)
- Depression and anxiety: All of the neurotransmitters in our body are made from proteins and amino acids.
- Constipation and diarrhea: Inflammation can disrupt motility in the GI tract.
- Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, or any other digestive disorder
- Explainable weight gain.
- Fatigue or thyroid disorder: H. pylori is linked to autoimmune thyroid disease (6).
- Blood tests: These tests are indirect and assess the specific immune responses to the H. pylori infection. The immune responses that are measured are H. pylori and IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies. If you test positive for IgA or IgM, you can be confident that you have an active H. pylori infection. Research has shown that test results in patients that are positive for IgG antibodies tend to drop within six months of H. pylori removal (5).
- H. pylori breath test: This test measures increased levels of CO2, which is the by-product of urease and nitrogen. H. pylori breath tests tend to only show acute infections.
- Stool test: H. pylori stool tests are the gold standard and are the only tests that look for the actual particles of the H. pylori bacteria.
- Endoscopy: This test is the most invasive and tends to be the least reliable, especially if you have no overt symptoms. This test can be good at assessing cancer as well as damage to the stomach, duodenum, and esophagus. For most individuals this test is unnecessary and is only recommended for high-risk patients.
Conventional Treatment Options and the Prevpac
Patients who have H. pylori and also have an ulcer are most likely to benefit from being treated. The treatment does not work in all patients.
Treatment must be taken for 10 to 14 days. Medications may include the Prevpac, which is a combination of three antibiotics.
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- Amoxicillin, tetracycline, or metronidazole (Flagyl)
- Proton-pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), or esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Optional: Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), in some cases
Natural Treatment Options
- Mastica (3)
- Burberines (4)
- Oil of oregano
- Olive leaf
- Black walnut hulls
- Probiotics (4)
- Vitamin C (4)
It’s very important the right combination of herbs as well as the right dosage of herbs are used. I strongly recommend a customized program by a functional-medicine doctor specific to your needs. This will give you the best chance of removing the infection the first time without terrible die-off reactions. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, click here to schedule a complimentary consult.