Gut Bugs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Most Common Digestive Infections
As I was explaining in my article titled ‘What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?’, one of the major causes of IBS is the presence of something in the digestive system that should not be there, such as unwanted invaders or overgrowths in our system like certain bacteria, parasites and yeast or fungi. I personally experienced the effects of having these unwanted invaders in my gut, and felt the effects throughout my body (read my story).
Over the years I have completed a large number of stool tests and helped clients overcome many ailments caused from digestive/lifestyle imbalances.
Below are the three most common digestive infections/overgrowths that I see in testing. These are often the route cause of many health issues such as, poor skin, low energy, IBS, fat gain, muscle loss, nutrient insufficiencies and mood disorders.
Most common IBS causing parasite – Blastocystis Hominis
Dr. Omar Amin, at the Parasitology Center Inc in Arizona, says that Blastocystis is the infection that he finds most often in his patients. He also has first hand experience of severe infections that have caused serious symptoms in people. My experiences match Dr. Amin’s – Blasto is the parasite I find most frequently on client tests.
Blasto can be acquired through eating or drinking contaminated food and water. Any food or water that has been in contact with feces is a potential risk for transmission. Recently I started working with a client that had been helping a friend out over the winter whose house had flooded, yet unfortunately sewage water was present in the house. After testing we discovered a significant blasto overgrowth.
Blasto has been associated with all the common symptoms labeled under the ‘IBS’ banner. I have seen many of these symptoms go away when my clients have found Blasto and taken anti-parasitic herbs, or antibiotics prescribed by a doctor, however it should be noted that blasto either through antibiotics or botanicals is one of the most resilient bugs:
Typical Blasto symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain, usually an ache rather than acute cramping, but cramping can occur in severe cases.
- Gurgling tummy
- Arthritis – Blasto has been located in synovial fluid in joints and may cause swelling and inflammation It has been noted that some people can have large numbers of Blastocystis organisms in stool samples and have no symptoms, whereas others can have small amounts yet develop significant symptoms.
Blastocystis May Eat Good Bacteria!
Some research has uncovered something very interesting about Blastocystis. Studies suggest that it actually feeds on the friendly bacteria in the digestive system (probiotics). Because it is such a widespread infection, I feel that ad hoc use of probiotic supplements in people who have IBS-like symptoms is unwise because this could unwittingly feed the very bugs that are causing the problems in the first place, hence the importance of proper testing first.
Most common IBS causing bacterial infection – Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori)
This spiral shaped bacterium causes a huge amount of discomfort in an array of individuals including myself. H Pylori was one of the bugs I had when I was suffering with C Diff.
H Pylori infects the stomach and the small intestine, and research indicates that it may also migrate to the gallbladder.
The Nobel Prize in Science and Medicine in 2005 was awarded to Drs Barry Marshall and Robin Warren. They proved that by infecting themselves with H. Pylori that it is a cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers.
It has been suggested that over 50% of the world’s population carries H Pylori, that is billions of people unknowingly walking around with H Pylori, some with obvious symptoms but many without obvious symptoms or are just asymptomatic carriers. Although many of those with H Pylori are from developing countries where sanitation and general living conditions are less favorable, it has still been predicted that around 1 in 3 people in the UK and United States carry the infection.
How is H.Pylori transmitted?
More worryingly H Pylori can be easily transmitted from individual to individual. Here are some simple ways it can be transferred.
- Sharing kitchen utensils and glasses
- Contaminated food and water
H. pylori Symptoms
The most common symptoms people experience when infected with H.Pylori include:
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Heartburn & acid reflux
- Chest pain
- Belching after meals
Many people experience severe chest pains commonly mistaken for pains similar to having a heart attack when they first acquire H.Pylori. Following acquiring H Pylori it is not uncommon to have chest pains at night that can disturb sleep.
As with my C diff and H Pylori infections, the symptoms I experienced were not directly related to my digestive symptom. The inflammatory nature of these bugs and especially H Pylori may also have an effect on leaving you feeling exhausted, signs of nutrient deficiencies and so forth. H. Pylori has also been linked to the development of stomach cancer, autoimmune conditions and heart disease.
Below is a list of the most common chronic symptoms:
- Stomach Pain
- Yeast and fungal overgrowth
- Low Energy
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Urticara & Hives
- Hormonal Problems
H Pylori is rarely a lone ranger
A common digestive infection blastocystis hominis will often be seen with H Pylori and the majority of tests we see will show other infections along-side the H Pylori infection if a comprehensive enough stool test is completed. For me I experienced both C Diff and H Pylori infections together.
The importance of running appropriate testing to assess whether you are suffering from any other infections is of the upmost importance. In some cases you may rid yourself of one infection but because you were unaware of another infection your symptoms prevailed.
I am grateful to have been mentored by one of the leading experts in H.Pylori (Dave Hompes) and he helped me overcome my infection naturally and went on to teach me his many methods of addressing digestive imbalances.You can check out Dave’s website on H.Pylori by clicking here.
Most common IBS causing yeast infection – Candida Albans
Candida is a type of fungi that belongs to the yeast family. It is found in almost everybody and in small amounts it can live without causing any issues to our health.
It is probably the most common overgrowth I see when using appropriate stool testing, but even though it can cause a whole host of issues it is rarely tested for and even if there is evidence of a candida overgrowth it is rarely treated.
I have recently been working with a client, who had a major yeast infection. Before determining that she had a yeast infection she was suffering with severe arthritic pains, recurrent urinary tract infections and a complete inability to hold onto fluids. She was suffering with extreme fatigue and brain fog, all very common signs of a candida overgrowth, yet she had been diagnosed by her doctor with a number of aliments including two autoimmune conditions and they were considering operating on her for her bladder issue.
By addressing her diet, some lifestyle factors and making use of natural anti fungal botanicals, she has completely reversed nearly all of her symptoms, which for a early twenty year old female has been a life changer.
Major Causes of Candida Overgrowth
There are many causes that can lead to a candida overgrowth, but most commonly it is attributed to:
- Antibiotic use
- High sugar or processed carbohydrate diet
- Poor levels of good bacteria
- Birth control or steroid medication
What are the main symptoms?
- Abdominal bloating
- Brain fog
- Food sensitivities
- Irregular blood sugar (low blood sugar symptoms, dizziness and irritability between meals)
- Mood swings
- Chemical sensitivities
- Recurrent vaginal and bladder infections
The trouble with candida is that it acts in a way similar to a bully in school as it pushes its way around the digestive system into the intestinal lining, destroying cell brush boarders that lead to issues such as intestinal hyperpermiability (Leaky Gut Syndrome). Given the opportunity it can take hold and cause havoc.
This is a very valid point about all bugs and the effect they might have on our health. Ultimately it is the health of the host (us) that will determine if these bugs can take hold. This is why one of the most common triggers to a digestive infection is a major stress event, such as a family bereavement, separation an accident etc. This can create an environment where the bug can take hold, whether it is a bug that has been waiting for this opportunity or the exposure to a bug when your system is compromised, either way this can be the beginning of your symptoms.