The Million Dollar Question!
This is the most common question that I get asked – it’s very probably why you chose to read this blog! But it is THE most difficult question to answer. Because there just isn’t an easy, succinct answer. It wasn’t simple, nor was it quick and it was bloody hard work.
This post is as factual as possible, further blogs will go into more detail of what happened
during some hospital visits (MRI day was a ‘hoot’…) my back story, how it went with the GI consultant who was a ‘specialist in diarrheal disease’ but, if you want the bare bones, here it is.
You may want to make a cuppa and get comfy on the sofa, this is a BIG BLOG! Approx. 2000 words coming up.. soz!
So you have a diagnosis of blastocystis? GREAT!
I know that sounds mad but, now
you know what you are working with!
If you have not had any testing – do it. You can waste £100’s trying a myriad of different treatments, all, potentially, to no avail. You cannot possibly win a war unless you know who/what you are fighting!
Know what you are dealing with, or, quite frankly, you will waste pot loads of money and heaps of time.
Get a full GI health test done privately.
It is worth its weight in gold.
I cannot stress the following points strongly enough:
Point 1. It is highly likely that there are several imbalances within your gut, not just blasto.
Point 2. It is not possible to just, ‘annihilate’ blasto and all will be well again. The human body is too complex, and the gut is the Goddamn epitome of complex!
(There is a reason it is referred to as the ‘2nd brain’)
Point 3. Because of point 2 – there is no ‘quick fix’. Sorry
Point 4. Because of all the above, unless you are a qualified nutritionist and/or a medically qualified gut specialist who knows about blasto – and I’m assuming that you are not, seeing as you’re reading this – you are going to need professional help.
For UK readers, I do not mean professional help from the NHS.
Record. Record. Record!
Record everything, that you eat, when you eat and what happens after you eat.
How you feel/felt, what your bowels do/don’t do, and your levels of pain.
Record what supplements you are taking, when you take them – before, during, after food,
and how you feel whilst taking them.
Feel confident with your support network!
As well as your gut specialist, I would also recommend having a talking therapist. It is well documented that having a compromised gut biome can also lead to a compromised state of mental well-being.
I experienced many lows, feeling scared and alone, with no idea how long the hell was going to last for.
Having an experienced, professional, and kind therapist definitely makes a huge difference.
“So how DID you get better?”
Armed with my positive test results for blasto from Genova Diagnostics, I was referred to Dr. Econs at The Burghwood Clinic, Surrey, England https://www.burghwoodclinic.co.uk/68/Amoebic-Parasites-Blastocystis-Hominis-Dientamoeba-Fragilis-Entamoeba-Histolytica by my Medical Herbalist and the Nutritionist. I had a remote consultation with Dr. Econs.
We agreed to embark on First Line Treatment Protocol for Resistant Blastocystis Hominus Infection (Triple Medication)
Treatment for Blastocystis Hominis and Dietamoeba Fragilis
A number of common antibiotics available in the UK are used for the treatment of BH, including Flagyl (metronidazole), Erythromycin or Doxycycline but these single drugs have a high failure rate. Some patients have also tried combinations of herbal remedies, including oil of oregano, black walnut, wormwood and so on, which are known to have significant effects on harmful micro-organisms. However, in our experience, the most successful treatment is the one developed by Professor Tom Borody at the Centre of Digestive Disorders (CDD) in Sydney, Australia. This is a combination of three or four medications. We also advise on how to safeguard a healthy gut, while taking the medication and after the treatment and how to deal with any side effects.
(Excerpt from the Burghwood website)
I receive the Triple Antibiotic Protocol; Iodoquinol, Paromomycin, Nitazoxanide. Imported from Italy, Guernsey and Australia, by the Burghwood Clinic. Cost of meds £300.
(Thank you mum & dad!)
These meds are STRONG.
I would highly recommend that you take a week off work for the duration of the course – 10 days.
Re Point 2 and 3 from above.
The Clinic does say, that “the treatment doesn’t work for everybody and some patients do experience a return of symptoms after having had the tablets.”
In my opinion, and remember this is my personal, humble opinion…
we live in a culture of ‘quick fixes’.
As discussed with both my herbalist and nutritionist,
many patients will expect that, after taking the tablets, life will go back to normal,
and they can go back to eating
whatever they damn well please!
If you have had blastocystis, and/or if you have had a gut imbalance, for a long time, it makes sense that it will take some time to re-balance everything in there.
Plus, your guts have just been destroyed by the triple antibiotic programme.
Your guts have been through hell, give them a chance to recover, to heal and learn how to work ‘properly’ again.
If I had gone straight back to eating dairy, gluten and raw foods
such as salad, and fruits, a week after taking the triple anti-bs,
the diarrhoea would have come right back.
My guts would not have been healthy enough,
would not have had the required ‘good stuff’ in there,
to digest all those complex food stuffs.
Thankfully, I had Clare McQuade, my Medical Herbalist, who was able to guide me on my gut-health recovery programme.
It took me nearly a year to get back to some semblance of normality.
Tiny, slow, baby steps. Occasionally crawling, sometimes 1 step forwards, 2 steps back, but
we did it!
My Blastocystis Hominis Recovery timeline – go get a notepad, pen and another cuppa!
1 WEEK after treatment finishes:
• L-glutamine supplement.
• Probiotics – 2 types to balance lacto and bifido strains (I was on Solgar lactobacillus plantarum and Biocare lab 10 billion strength)
• Good multivitamin to include Vit B6 greater than 25mg & Zinc 15mg
1 MONTH after treatment
Re-test – negative result (*patients have to stop all probiotics before taking the test) Reintroducing food again – yeah! But….wait.. don’t get carried away!?
Since November 2014, my diet had consisted of:
• no raw foods e.g. fruit or salad (raw was too difficult for my knackered guts to deal with)
• no sugars or starches e.g., potatoes, rice, vegetables (blasto loves sugars both simple and complex)
• only protein e.g., grilled chicken and eggs.
• only soluble oat drink.
Suffice it to say, we were starting from a pretty basic level….
foods had to be reintroduced v-e-r-y slowly…
3 MONTHS after treatment (July – August 2015)
• continued on the 2 types of probiotics, glutamine and multi vitamin as above
• Bitters – to stimulate production of digestive juices
• Herbal tea 4x per day – anti-inflammatory – mostly Dill & Fennel herbs.
Began introducing foods, starting with green beans and sweet potato! Woop woop!
OK, so they had to be boiled to a pulp then blended (like baby food) but the taste!! Awesome!
5 MONTHS after treatment (Sept/October 2015)
• Progressed probiotic programme. Stopped the above 2 and began Quest Mega 8.
• Started on digestive enzymes. As I was bringing in a wider variety of foods, the bitters were not enough, so we brought in more ‘help’, more foot soldiers!
This was one of the many times that having a professional who knows their stuff, really came in to play.
As I reintroduced foods, still mostly blended, the diarrhoea was returning. My guts couldn’t cope. Hence the use of digestive enzymes. And the diarrhoea stopped.
Then, a month or so later, as my guts continued to heal, taking the enzymes PLUS the bitters, made the diarrhoea return.
That 2nd time, I was so anxious, “Oh God, it’s back, it’s back, Noooooo!”
Clare calmly explained that actually, it’s a good sign!
“Your guts are now able to produce their own digestive juices, so we can stop adding in the little helpers; the digestive enzymes and the bitters.”
Continually having to re-assess my programme of herbs and supplements as the goal posts kept moving, was a bit of a faff and, if I am totally honest, it really did feel like my entire life was centred on and consumed by, keeping my tummy happy, relaxed and calm.
Stopping the digestive enzymes and bitters, re-starting one at a lower dose, bringing the other back in slowly, all took time and perseverance.
And a LOT of determination and resilience. (Remember I suggested a talking therapist?)
But one of things that kept me going throughout this very tricky stage was
the reason the goal-posts kept moving.
The goalposts were moving because my guts were healing.
As time went on, and I did as I was told (!) my gut health improved. Slowly, but surely they were managing to work on their own and managing to digest new food stuffs. How exciting was that!
9 MONTHS after treatment (Jan – Feb 2016)
A New Year! A New Tummy!
• Able to digest, fruits, veggies, even very small portions of salad!
• Off the digestive enzymes and bitters
• Still on the anti-inflammatory tea. (to be honest, I really liked it!)
• Still no gluten or dairy. (those are right bad buggers!)
• Still on Quest Mega 8 probiotic.
• Slowly coming off L-Glutamine.
1 YEAR after treatment (March- April 2016)
I went out to a restaurant for an Indian meal, and it was AMAZING!!!
Indian restaurants can accommodate gluten and dairy free, super easily, as can Thai restaurants.
Italian eateries? …. don’t even try!
Everything was so good in relation to my guts! My diet was good – let’s not downplay that, it was AMAZING! I had gone from eating a piece of grilled chicken and a few oatcakes each day, to eating out in a restaurant! Yes, I was still avoiding dairy and gluten but WOW, I could eat!
A new problem had arisen…. something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.
I was experiencing overwhelming clinical depression. The worst I have ever experienced, and it took me as close to the ‘edge’ as I ever want to live through again.
Remember I previously mentioned the relationship between a healthy gut and healthy mind?
In future blogs I will delve in to how I recovered from the ‘Diarrhoeal-Disaster Years’ and how I continue to manage my digestive and mental health through the ebb and flow of life.
That damn ‘ebb and flow of life’ threw me a curveball in March 2021 – A new challenge that neither I, nor my guts were prepared for in any way, shape or form.
In the shape of 2 SCAD heart attacks.
I know! Random!
By now, you know I am not a doctor, nutritionist, qualified gut specialist, nor cardiologist!
By staying on this website the reader fully accepts that this content cannot be used to replace qualified medical advice.
I can offer advice sessions on how to Be Your Best Advocate in a healthcare setting
I am a fully qualified & insured physical therapist and can offer musculoskeletal advice. For information on this subject see –http://www.jillmclagganmassage.com
I currently do not receive any commission from any therapist, clinic or company mentioned in this blog.
Should this change, the arrangement will highlighted.
This blog is a personal blog, written and edited by me, Jill McLaggan. All content is to inform and entertain. All opinions are my own.