Blastocystis is a microscopic protozoan parasite. It is found in humans across the world. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea, skin rashes, allergies and fatigue. It has also been mis-categorised as a yeast or fungus. Many different protozoans are found in the intestines of humans; however, they may or may not cause disease.
Does Blastocystis cause gut problems?
The answer to this is “actually, we don’t really know”. Typical symptoms can include bloating after meals, blood or mucus in stools and headaches, brain fog, tiredness and food intolerances. The problem is that all of these symptoms can stem from other causes such as Leaky gut, SIBO, IBS and coeliac disease.
There are several strains of Blastocystis of which B. hominis is the most common and others may be more virulent. It also seems only to attack those people who already have a weakened gut, and/or a weakened immune system. Indeed, it rarely causes problems on its own but teams up with other problem causing infections such as Candida albicans.
Medical Treatment of Blastocystis
Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment, but the typical drug Metronidazole often simply doesn’t work. Three drug combinations are sometimes used but all antibiotics can cause more problems than they solve – for example, a greater dysbiosis in the gut leading to a worsening of symptoms but from other causes.
Herbal treatments for Blastocystis
Normally Blastocystis responds to Black walnut, cloves, garlic, wormwood, papaya, goldenseal, oregano, pumpkin seeds boldo, graviola, olive leaf extract and more. It also responds to the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. But again, sometimes symptoms persist – which again might indicate other causes. Or sometimes the parasite survives but with no symptoms and is merely found in a stool test.
Goldenseal can be particularly effective, especially in combination with its main constituent, blood sugar-lowering berberine, also found in the coptis genus (used in Traditional Chinese Medicine) and in berberis, or barberry.
A complete eradication package for Blastocystis?
Clearly, this is a difficult parasite to kill off. The issue is to make the whole gut unfriendly to the parasite, not merely attack it.
To that end, strains of Lactobacillus should be introduced into the gut, especially rhamnosus, strains of Bifidobacterium including lactis and infantis, and the prebiotic Lactulose, along with a pectin-rich diet (apples, carrots, peans, green beans, berries, peaches, pears, apricots) and an inulin-rich diet (onions, garlic, chicory, spring onions, rye, barley).
The probiotic S. boulardii should also be taken. You could also take Kefir, and Apple Cider Vinegar. The gut needs to be acid.
It is possible that the more difficult strains produce biofilms and so Nattokinase, Serrapeptase, EGCG (from green tea) should also be employed.
Testing for Blastcystis
When testing, you should always wait four to five weeks to allow the dust to settle.
If the parasite is still present a different combination of the above should be tried. If it is not present but symptoms persist, it could well be that you have SIBO – a test for that measures hydrogen sulphide levels.