Food Poisoning? Probiotics to the Rescue.

How many of you heard recently about the amazing Woodrat, who can devour a wide variety of toxic plants? That’s interesting on its own, but then consider this: if you transplant Woodrat poop to other rodents, even its unrelated brethren can suddenly eat the same toxic stuff.

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So it seems clear enough: the healthy bacteria found in Woodrat guts are the reason for this animal’s uncanny ability.

That brings to mind an analogy: all those toxic things I used to be able to gobble up — restaurant food, ancient leftovers, just about any foodtruck fare — before I was prescribed a bunch of nasty antibiotics, including Cipro and Levaquin, a class of drugs the FDA has since slapped with “black-box” warnings.

Indeed, ever since my gut flora was blasted to smithereens, I’ve had trouble eating anything but the most well-prepared food. Since it’s impossible to always be careful and cook our own meals, a helpful remedy I learned was to start shoveling down probiotics at the first sign of a problem.

VSL#3 is suitable, due to a wider range of flora. It’s also effective for ulcerative colitis. Another popular brand is a mix of soil-based organisms, Prescript Assist. A third option: Miyarisan Tablets, a Japanese probiotic that contains c. butyricum, which generates its own antifungal, anti-inflammatory butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) helpful in IBD. Given the lack of butyrate in guts of people with metaboilc issues, c. butyricum may be able to do even more for us.

Back to our restaurant experience gone-awry, or those leftovers that should have been tossed, the theory behind high dose probiotics is they can often overwhelm pathogenic microbes. True enough, I’ve had it work wonders, but in an acute situation of tainted food, it’s not uncommon for me to gulp down 5X the normal dose of VSL#3 and maybe even re-dose a few hours later.

Since it’s not clear how the body will deal with large doses of soil-based bacteria, I am sparing with Prescript Assist and only take VSL #3, or other brands such as Life Start, which is a single strain (bifido infantis) probiotic, and another multi-strain product, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care, in larger quantities. Keep in mind Renew Life is enteric coated, which means it’s designed to dissolve in the lower GI tract. Therefore, it’s best to open the capsule before dosing, if you need it to work right away.

I’ve also taken peppermint oil (which i just read is a powerful antifungal), oregano oil, and colloidal silver, when I needed quick relief. These can certainly work well against bad bacteria, but they also degrade the good bugs, so whenever possible I try to avoid herbals and antimicrobials. In the case of SIBO, some upper gut sterilization can be helpful. This is one reason peppermint is recommended for IBS.

An additional approach that may help with a toxic gut is activated charcoal. People who have overdosed on medications are often given this in hospitals, and it can work to mop up a lot of organic toxins quickly. Just be aware it will bind with everything, including whatever medicinal supplements you take with it.

So this is the strategy that’s worked for me. What about your own gut? If you find you’re getting GI issues after eating pretty often, and you never used to have that problem, think back to how many courses of antibiotics you may have had in your lifetime, or — since we get our gut flora from our mothers — how many your Mom may have had, too. You may be developing a condition called dysbiosis, which simply means damaged gut flora. Problems often arise from too few bacteria rather than too many.

What are the potential consequences? About 10 years ago I got sick from restaurant food and landed in the ER several hours later with a 104F temp. They gave me (very ironically) IV Levaquin antibiotics to stop the infection. Take that, Woodrat.

Bushytailed_Woodrat

Major problems followed, including POTS (a type of neuropathy), food intolerances, SIBO, plus major brain fog, anxiety, tinnitus and insomnia. For those unfamiliar with the term, I’d been “Floxed” by fluoroquinolones, which I later learned are actually chemotherapy agents, not just antibiotics. Anyone who pops Cipro or Levaquin for minor infections, be very careful.

Had I known of this “probiotic rescue” at the time, I could have been overwhelming the bacteria in my upper gut right away, long before I began to develop a fever. Alternatively, I could have been drinking colloidal silver and taking oregano oil, or peppermint oil. Even turmeric and raw garlic have fairly potent antibacterial qualities.

NOTE: food poisoning can be serious, so by all means seek medical attention if you feel really sick after a meal. All the measures I’ve mentioned can be tried while you’re preparing for a trip to urgent care, so I hope you’ll be waltzing out of the waiting room early, rather than spending the night. 😉

sunrise

What about longer term solutions for GI health? Probiotics are expensive, which makes sustained use impractical for many of us, and how effective are they at colonizing the gut? Results vary, but many probiotics are barely “waking up” by the time they leave our bodies. How about asking our easy-going friend with the iron-stomach to do a poop-swap? Yes, FMT, as it’s called, is the ultimate flora fix, but restrictions on its use have created quite a few hurdles.

For most of us, the best answer may be simple, age-old wisdom: eat more cultured foods. They have trillions of healthy bacteria, compared to the billions in expensive probiotics, and that flora is awake and ready to go to work the moment you consume it!

You can learn how to make your own Kefir and Sauerkraut HERE.

 

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Candida & Vitamin, Mineral Deficiencies

I’ve been doing a fairly aggressive antifungal protocol, using Lufenuron (an animal medication not approved for human use) and taking quite a few herbal antifungals. Along the way, I’ve had moments of feeling wonderful, and yet the progress is not at all linear. Recently I’ve discovered how vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be harming my body’s ability to control candida overgrowth on its own, and how I may be able to solve this with simple supplementation.

For quite some time I’ve had heavy fatigue, which came on the last time I took Levaquin, a few years ago. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics contain high amounts of fluoride, a vehicle attached to the quinolone to allow penetration deep into body tissues. Fluoride binds to magnesium, so there’s reason to think those of us who have been “floxed”, that is poisoned by these powerful antibiotics, may be able to heal ourselves by improving our magnesium status.

A complicating factor for some of us: antibiotics like Levaquin and Cipro destroy beneficial barrier bacteria that keep harmful candida albicans overgrowth from occurring, and as it overgrows, candida appears to use up magnesium stores. There’s a great deal of debate about magnesium, whether supplementing it will feed candida or help us fight it off.

This study suggests magnesium can aid hyphal growth of candida, but the presence of calcium may negate that. Dr. Carolyn Dean feels strongly that magnesium supplements should be taken, not avoided. Given the controversy, supplementing magnesium seems safest to me if done in combination with an acid, to discourage fungal overgrowth, such as Betaine HCL, so that’s how I’m taking it.

How about other essential minerals? I was given IV Levaquin for food poisoning, which likely wouldn’t have happened if earlier use of antibiotics hadn’t wiped out a lot of my beneficial flora. While in the ER with a 104F temperature, I remember the nurses insisting I take two potassium capsules. They said my blood work showed dangerously low levels of this essential mineral.

Flash forward. Last night I felt anxious, I was having trouble focusing on my work. I noticed all my muscles were tense, tinnitus was loud, and my gut was full of gas, which is typical of SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The bloating seemed to be irritating my vagal nerve, and I could tell my blood pressure was elevated. Here are the symptoms of potassium deficiency, which include bloating (due to transient neuropathy) and hypertension.

I tried sleeping, and it was impossible, so I went to the cupboard and noticed a bottle of Trisalts. It’s a blend of calcium, magnesium, and a small amount of potassium. I took a dose of this, and within 20 minutes felt the vast majority of my symptoms improving, including healthy peristalsis and no more trapped gas. This morning I woke up feeling very rested, with my nose wide open. My mood was much brighter, muscles were relaxed, and my tinnitus was barely audible.

Now a few hours later my tinnitus is totally gone. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel more grounded, present in my body and relaxed. More like my “old self”. That healthy person.

Beginning yesterday, and continuing into today, I’ve also started boosting my B vitamin intake, with a B-complex, because the last blood work I had showed my white count was in the low-normal range, and folate deficiency can worsen this. The brand I’m taking contains folate (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF), rather than folic acid, which has been shown to be unhealthy. Perhaps a low white count is simply a symptom of hyphal candida overgrowth, as is suggested in this article. In any case, I do notice a lift from B supplementation, which is consistent with candidiasis and impaired absorption of B6.

candida

Finally, I’m taking vitamin C with renewed interest, since it’s clear my whole body is in need of nutrition, but I was quite curious — how might vitamin C help with candidiasis? Buckle up for some exciting news: according to this study, ascorbic acid inhibits candida’s ability to transform from a benign yeast form to an aggressive hyphal infection. Hooray for that!

So here’s my plan for the days ahead: I think all my antifungal protocols are important, but they won’t result in lasting healing unless my body has the nutrients to fight the infection off and keep the fungal overgrowth in check. After last night’s solid results from simple mineral supplementation, and the tonic effect I’ve had from vitamins B and C, I am encouraged, and don’t think minerals (when taken properly) feed candida more than they aid in vital immune function.

To be continued. 🙂

Are you taking magnesium to heal from fluoroquinolone antibiotics? Have you noticed if this helps or hurts your body’s ability to cope with candida infection? How about vitamin C and its role in fighting fungal ovegrowth? Please join the conversation in the comments section, and let us know how you’re doing.

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The Fog of Worm — Week 7.

As luck would have it, a week ago, that glorious day of my last entry, was the high point thus far. A brief triumph for harmony, between a man and his helminths. All subsequent days have been filled with fatigue, GI discomfort, and various other aches and pains. Throughout it all I’ve been trying (and usually succeeding) to stay in motion, eat decent meals, push fluids and get plenty of rest. Tonight, sleep is elusive, as my stomach hurts too much to drift off.

But when I strip away the discomfort, I can still see glimpses of huge progress. For example, here i am celebrating at least 5 weeks of diarrhea. Why on earth is this a positive? Well, back in the olden days when I was suffering from active UC, just a few days of running to the can would have triggered a bloody mess of inflammation that ultimately would lead to hospitalization. The last time I flared up was a year ago, due to food poisoning in a restaurant. It took 3 days for me to flare, get a systemic infection, and by the time I landed in the ER I had a temperature of 104 and nearly croaked. Thanks for the Levaquin, doc! Now that I’m doing helminthic therapy, I seem capable of withstanding intestinal contortions of Olympic proportions. No bleeding, no inflammation at all. This is most impressive.

And despite fatigue that makes crawling out of bed in the morning pretty tough, I’ve got a surprising amount of endurance on the treadmill, or walking around my neighborhood. In fact, it feels like the more I move around, the more groovy worm secretions are coursing through my system, easing my non-transient aches and pains. For instance, I injured my knee in a motorcycle accident, and this has plagued me for years. During my “bounce” (week 1, post-inoculation) the pain disappeared, and after returning slightly during the peak side effects phase, it’s almost entirely gone again.

Nasal congestion is primarily resolved, too, once I wake up, and my lungs are perfectly clear — no asthma symptoms any more. Amazing, really. And the Happy Helminth mental boost is there, too, despite the daily grind of worm flu — depression and anxiety are now best identified by their absence. In moments, I even feel echoes of last Monday’s giddiness, but for shorter bursts. So I lay here feeling stoic, glad to have my new “old friends”. It’s becoming quite clear this is merely a waiting game now.