The topic is quite lively. You can find hundreds of conspiracy theories that almost all diseases are caused by parasitic infections – if you search carefully, even cancer is explained by fungi or some worms. On the other hand you can meet with opinions that it’s all bullshit and nobody in civilized country has any bugs. But what is it really like?
As it turns out, there is a whole lot of strange little worms, which parasitize in our body and we don’t know about it. Some live in the large intestine, others can – for example – in the brain. And who can forbid them?
Of course, it’s not that each of us has dozens of tenants (actually, we have such a small zoo, but it’s mainly viruses and bacteria). On the other hand, it is true that many people have unexplained health problems for which these miniature creatures are responsible. In this post I will focus on the smaller ones, namely protozoa.
Despite appearances, protozoan diseases are very common and extremely dangerous – fortunately not in western countries. But just a little further south you can encounter malaria. Recently the whole world held its breath in horror, when an epidemic of Ebola developed – a virus that is not so dangerous, very little contagious and killing only every 10th person with normal immunity, the rest recover completely. What I had… ah, about malaria. This disease mutates very quickly. There are already strains that transmit much more easily, on top of not responding to any known drug. Their mortality rate for brain infections is comparable to the Ebola virus. The disease already kills about half a million people each year – and we are very assiduously selecting for it so that drug-resistant and easily transmissible strains survive. Soon, protozoan diseases could become a major threat even in our climate zone.
First up is something that everyone is probably familiar with. Toxoplasmosis. It is commonly – yet incorrectly – considered a cat-borne disease, while in fact most infections are caused by eating meat. It is estimated that 25-30% of the world’s population is infected. In the Netherlands, the infection is detected in more than 18% of women, while in France it was 44%. Of course, in the vast majority of cases, this is either a carrier disease or a past infection, but these figures give an indication of the scale of the problem.
The main problem with toxoplasmosis is the specificity of the infection – this protozoan settles in the brain, affecting behavior (infected mouse is not afraid of the cat, the disease literally forces the carrier to let him be eaten). In one study, antibodies were detected in 30.7% of severely mentally ill patients, but only 17.85% of healthy patients. In another, they were detected in 61.7% – 50.3% of patients and 46.7% – 33% in healthy people. Some refer to the condition as “cat disease” – suggesting that the strange behavior of “cat moms” is the result of the infection. Some studies suggest that carriers are actually much more fond of cats….
Another interesting microorganism is dientamoeba fragilis. This nice creature lives in our digestive tract, keeping us company during long winter evenings. You don’t have to take it for a walk or feed it – it eats the leftovers from our stool… er… table. How often can you meet them and what problems can they cause?
A study was conducted in Denmark. It concerned people with “irritable bowel syndrome”. As it turns out, 35% of them were infected with our hero. Of this group, 1/3 were cured with anti-parasite therapy, in practice this means that every 10th person suffering from IBS is actually being bitten by the tenants.
In the same study, it turned out that 8 of the 148 people studied also had blastocystosis – that is, they were infected with another protozoan, blastocystis hominis. In the United States, one study found that as many as 23% of the population were carriers. This creature can cause serious intestinal problems – in countries with high incidence, patients with “irritable bowel syndrome” are carriers 6-7 times more often than healthy people.
Diagnosis of this type of disease is a major problem. In most countries, we will do tests for pinworms or lamblia, similarly we will examine toxoplasmosis antibodies – but the rest? Theoretically, during an infection, the level of eosinophils should rise, but this does not always happen.
Usually, treatment with metronidazole derivatives and tetracyclines is used, but since these drugs can only be prescribed by a doctor, I will not discuss them. Instead, I will give some “natural” methods – yes, there are such and they work.
To begin with, toxoplasmosis. An interesting study was conducted on mice, which were given a protozoan, and then different types of spices. All of them had a very strong inhibitory effect on the development of infection, in some cases – achieved complete eradication of the parasite. Although the herbs were injected rather than eaten, it is worth noting that they were usually much more effective than spiramycin. The most effective spices are turmeric, black pepper
It can be argued whether artemisia annua extract is still a natural method or not – it produces a prescription drug, on the other hand – it is a widely available herb. It has very high efficacy against toxoplasmosis.
Blastocystis only reacted to garlic. For that it was a very strong and pronounced reaction, the effectiveness of therapy with this herb was almost equal to metronidazole. You can buy an extract of garlic, or allicin – this allows you to get an effect equivalent to eating several bulbs a day, without much risk of liver complications and without an unpleasant smell, but it is not known whether this will not affect the effectiveness. In its raw state, this herb contains about 3 mg (3000 mcg) of allicin in 1 gram.
Finally, probably the most important thing – natural immunity. Our white blood cells can destroy the spore forms of toxoplasmosis – something that the latest drugs will not accomplish. Virtually all other parasitic infections can be held in check or completely annihilated by the immune response, which is why all the diseases mentioned above are a threat primarily to AIDS patients, children, or people devastated by chemotherapy. Adequate levels of zinc, vitamin D3 and cysteine in the body are usually sufficient protection.