Gut, Brain, Bugs and Parasites

Notes from the Healthy Gut Summit
This is not a transcript but cliff notes I took from the interviews. The speakers are doctors, nutritionists and specialists in their field of health that practice functional medicine. They are not your normal health and diet tips but the medical reasons you may be experiencing health problems and how to fix it. For additional information see links below.

Leo Gallard MD Board Certified Internist

Intestinal parasites play an important roll in symptoms for chronic illness found in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. All have been found to have a gut problem. Testing is difficult, standard testing examines stool samples and even the best labs miss them. Worms can be even harder to find than the protozoan one celled parasites, that’s a significant part of misdiagnosis. Some doctors believe if you don’t have chronic diarrhea you don’t have a parasite but that’s not what the literature shows. You can have constipation just as much as diarrhea with chronic Giardia infections. Fatigue may be the major presentation and you can get numerous extra intestinal symptoms such as arthritis, hives and skin rashes are most common signs of a parasite. Giardia usually infects the small intestine and can create symptoms of acute diarrhea, bloating, pain, food allergies, food intolerance, chronic fatigue and immune system disturbances. Treating the giardia infection dramatically improves food allergies. Because it infects the small intestine it increases the chance of intestinal permeability which is leaky gut that causes the food allergies. Amoebas parasites that will reside in the large intestine will create similar problems found in a giardia infection. The protozoan Blastocystis Hominis is another common one that tends to be missed or ignored also giving you the same range of problems. Conditions that may have been bothering you even for ten or twenty years clear up when you treat these infections. They have found these to be a common problem in autistic children.

Specialization of doctors interferes with the patients ability to get answers. People most often are going to the wrong doctors based on their symptoms. Example: a patient had gone to a neurologist and epidemiologist because her main symptom was dizziness but what she needed was a gastroenterologist because a parasite was the cause which the first two doctors would never look for. Problems inside the gut cause problems outside the gut. He has seen lot’s of patients where their problem was mainly GI that have been to other doctors that ran stool tests but missed the parasite so the diagnosis was never made and the were never appropriately treated.

An herbal protocol to kill the parasites he uses includes berberine combined with artemisia and grapefruit seed extract. It’s not that uncommon for multiple people in a family to have parasite infections but only one person have symptoms, you need to test and treat the whole family. If you are a family with an autistic child and cannot afford to test the whole family go ahead and treat the whole family. If you have all the symptoms and tests are negative he advises treating anyway because of the difficulty in testing. Before treating with the herbal protocol he reviews the health history of each person and if they are on any medications that may interact with the herbs.

Some worms and parasites are beneficial in maintaining the balance in the intestinal tract for health and immunity. Some may cause illness and others prevent illness, an infection may get some people sick but others may have a stronger immune system. The hygienic changes over the last hundred years has definitely altered what’s living in our guts, dietary changes, antibiotics and other drugs which have produced huge changes. Just the changes in hygiene what we eat, how it’s prepared, what it’s sources are, washing and chlorination of drinking water. These have been astronomical changes in the way we live and a lot has been beneficial but at a cost to the balance of our immune system. These are probably responsible for the increase of allergies in particular that we are seeing.

The healthiest babies are still the ones that are exposed to a variety of bacteria for strengthening the immune system. It’s also very important what was growing in your mom’s gut when she was pregnant with you. There is a conditioning of the immune system that starts before birth and there are immunological issues that can be passed down. Women should use probiotics and prebiotics to insure a healthier microbiome for the baby and avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics and instead the appropriate use of antimicrobial herbs. There’s a lot that can be done with diet to reverse the effects of what we call the hygiene hypothesis. In general women tend to be more susceptible to the negative effects of parasites that may be because they have a relationship with hormones. The menstrual cycles is much more painful in women who have a gut problem, that they may not know they have.

The main thing with the parasites is their impact on the immune system take giardia as an example, almost all the damage that is caused by it is actually the result of the cytokines produced by the cells in your small intestine in response to the presence of giardia. If your immune system is not reacting to giardia it just lives it’s not going to make you sick, with a reaction it causes inflammation and the inflammation is what makes you ill. People who are immune suppressed will get sicker because they are more susceptible to inflammatory disorders.

If you take IBS for example all the conventional treatments for this are based on put the fire out and suppress the immune system for the most part including crohns and ulcerative colitis are not primarily due to an overactive immune system. The overactive immune system is a response to something else, with UC it’s a response to free radical damage that occurs in the colon, in crohns it’s in most cases due to a suppression of the innate immune system that does not adequately eliminate foreign proteins. There’s a type of immune deficiency that leads to the overactive immune response that causes the damage. You have to deal with these problems not put out the fire or further suppress the immune system.

Bacterial Dysbiosis is a microbial imbalance in the gut that can also lead to systemic conditions such as, acne, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis, eye disorders like uveitis and iritis.

The Hadza Study done on people who are still true hunter gatherers were found not to have any bifidobacteria in their stool which was very surprising so he checked studies on non human primates and found they also did not have it. His theory is we developed after the start of agriculture, and are beneficial to a post agricultural diet but they were not important for hunter gatherers. Your diet determines the population of bacteria in your gut.

Bifidobacteria break down the peptides in gluten to make them less likely to provoke celiac disease, they have peptidase enzymes that break down the gliadin peptides that are the triggers for celiac disease. This epidemic of celiac disease we have been seeing over the past 50 years may be due to the disappearance of bifidobacteria from our guts. Autistic children seem to lack bifidobacteria and tend to be carbohydrate intolerant. When we had plenty of the bifido in our system we had a different reaction to the grains. When our levels began to go down we started to become sensitive to the grains. Except for a small percentage of people celiac is not a genetic disorder, it has increased three fold in the past 50 years and that never happens with a genetic disorder. The environmental factors contributing to celiac is the disappearance of bifido from our gut because of antibiotics in the food, the new western diet that doesn’t support the bifido. Candida Albicans is another one because it binds to the same receptor in the small intestine that gliadin peptides do this is called molecular mimicry so candida can trigger celiac disease. Candida is the most pathogenic yeast we deal with. This is from a German study done twenty years ago.

People who say they are better but not totally well the first thing he suspects is a condition called fructose malabsorption a common condition causing wheat intolerance. Not a gluten intolerance it’s the starch in wheat. Human beings have a limited ability to absorb fructose, fruit sugar, and this varies a lot from person to person. If the amount of fructose you are consuming exceeds the ability of your small intestine to absorb it it will pass into your large intestine where it meets a hundred trillion bacteria that love to eat it and digest it and produce gases and irritating substances. One of the factors that is contributing to the unmasking of the epidemic of fructose intolerance is the wide spread use of high fructose corn syrup. If you are eating a typical American diet your getting loads of fructose in the form of HFCS as a food additive and that may be what’s overwhelming your bodies ability to absorb fructose. The starch in wheat is primarily composed of polymers of fructose which are called fructans, when you start to digest this you produce fructose in your gut. Wheat starch is not well digested by humans, even healthy people.

There was a study thirty years ago where they fed wheat to healthy people with no GI symptoms and there was an increase in the hydrogen levels in their breath indicating they could not digest the wheat starch properly. It was going down to the large intestine where the bacteria were fermenting it and producing hydrogen. They did not have the same problem with rice. Humans don’t have the ability to produce hydrogen only bacteria do. If you find that going off wheat improves your GI symptoms but doesn’t totally cure them then you need to look into the possibility of fructose malabsorption as the reason for your wheat intolerance. Then if you cut down the high fructose foods your consuming and you should be able to get total control of your GI symptoms.

The problem with paleo diets is there is so many paleo diets which one is the right one for you. Your gut bacteria is determined by your food and your environment so a paleo for someone living in a totally different area of the world needs a different paleo. Even someone living in the north compared to the tropics is completely different. All our food is different now also the apples and pears we eat today are not the same as they were. Real paleo diets certainly didn’t contain any processed food.

Dr. Leo Galland web page 
On his page he has a directory of interactions between prescriptions and supplements and over the counter.



Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher


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