Parasites and Pathogens

IN THIS SECTION
 

 Parasites. For many, the word conjures up images of third-world living conditions.

The risk of contracting parasites within the United States is mistakenly assumed to be low.

After all, just look at all of the government regulations intended to create a safe, hygienic environment.

“Parasitic infections increase the demand for cortisol, leading to Pregnenolone Steal and the downward spiral of chronic stress.”

Contrary to appearances, the United States is hardly free of infectious “bugs.” In fact, many gastroenterologists specializing in gastric infections declare that this country is experiencing an epidemic of parasitic infections.

These microscopic critters are indeed a problem, and when you experience chronic stress, you are particularly vulnerable to your body—especially the digestive tract—being invaded. Parasitic infections increase the demand for the stress hormone cortisol, leading to Pregnenolone Steal and the downward spiral of Chronic Stress.

A parasite is defined as an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.

It stands to reason that organisms foreign to our bodies should be evicted if they take up residence there. However, certain bugs are so common in lab findings that many doctors assume that they are a “normal” part of body ecology and therefore ignore measures to remove them. In the absence of symptoms, most doctors assume there is no existing or pending health concern. In the case of parasites, this is a dangerous assumption.

In 2004, the chief of the National Institutes of Health’s Laboratory for Parasitic Diseases stated that you are more likely to contract a parasitic infection in the United States than in Africa. We believe that intestinal parasites are reaching epidemic status, regardless of one’s social status or hometown. Factors such as increased international travel, immigration, and imported foods, cause parasites of every variety to thrive here. For example, you no longer have to travel to the 3rd World to contract Entamoeba histolytica, commonly referred to as Montezuma’s Revenge. It is abundant worldwide.

Surveying the Damage
Symptoms of exposure to the various parasites and bacteria range from relatively mild digestive problems, such as diarrhea and heartburn, to severe muscle and tissue damage. In some cases, they can be fatal. One of the most troubling aspects of a parasitic infection is that you may not know you have it. You may experience symptoms only initially or perhaps never; meanwhile parasites continue to rob your body of vital nutrients and destroy cells and even organs.

Long-term infections increasingly weaken your first-line immune defense and create a domino effect, further compromising the body’s defenses and allowing even more opportunistic organisms to colonize in tissues.

“One of the most troubling aspects of a parasitic infection is that you may not know you have it.”

Dysbiosis is a common consequence of parasitic infections. It is a condition in which the hundreds of types of bacteria living in the intestines are out of balance. Although dysbiosis may be caused by factors other than parasites—such as poor diet, antibiotic usage, and stress—the damage done by intestinal infections creates rapid and drastic imbalances.

The most well-known imbalance involves the overgrowth of Candida albicans, a normal yeast organism often associated with chronic fatigue and depression. Candida overgrowth should be interpreted as a symptom of an underlying disorder and not the cause of the disorder. Candida yeasts are symbiotic organisms. Yeasts overgrow when conditions are right for them, and they can be a nuisance. You cannot—and would not wish to—get rid of all yeast. You want an ecological balance, with yeast growing at a controlled rate, below the symptom-producing level.

Autoimmunity is another concern. If you host parasites over a long period, your body may not be able to differentiate between them and the healthy tissue in which they reside. This triggers an autoimmune response in which the body attacks itself as if its own tissues are an offending pathogen (an organism that causes disease in another organism). In essence, the antibody process gets confused. Autoimmune responses are often associated with rampant tissue damage, such as in multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.