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.

s_plains_woodrat_21717

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, SIBO and… Silver?

A brief bit of background: my mother took lots of antibiotics, from the 1950s onward, and was on Tetracyline when pregnant. I got my gut flora from her, as anyone would, but was born prematurely and spent 2 months in an isolette. This means I acquired the rest of my microbiome in a hospital, before heading home. I think it’s safe to say I’ve have had yeast issues for most of my life. My entire family did.

The standard medical attitude about candida continues to be “it doesn’t exist in anyone unless they are immune compromised”. My gut flora was damaged pre-birth, then I had a family doctor who prescribed antibiotics for a simple cough, or the sniffles, I’ve since been hit with Cipro and Levaquin (fluoroquinolone antibiotics) at least a dozen times, so from a modern understanding of gut-immune function, I am immune-compromised!

I got toenail fungus at an early age, developed sinus trouble (more antibiotics!) and have since read reputable sources saying most sinus issues are fungal. Candida? Maybe so, but the type of fungus is moot. Next I got asthma, seasonal allergies, then ulcerative colitis, then severe food intolerance. At no point along that path did any doctor say I needed to heal my microbiome, or go on a paleo diet, so if they didn’t understood something so basic, I can’t put much stock in their wholesale dismissal of candida overgrowth.

Here’s the good part — I’ve been getting better ever since I started paying attention to gut health. It’s simple. Lower carb is healing — sugar is bad. Probiotic foods are a “yes” — antibiotics are an emphatic “no” (unless utterly essential). It’s been a wonderful road back for me, with every single health condition.

I’ve recently discovered antibiotics very likely destroyed the fragile, butyrate-producing bacteria in my gut, and butyrate heals inflammation  — while also being anti-fungal. No wonder homemade sodium butyrate enemas have been so helpful for my ulcerative colitis flares. I believe butyrate could certainly help others with IBD, including Crohn’s disease. It may even play a role in protecting the upper gut (small intestine) from development of SIBO. Speaking of…

Early this week, a Monday, I’d just started a new job. I didn’t have time to fix my own lunch from home, so I had to fend for myself in the usual higher-carb, sugary restaurants. I found a beef roast with sides. The meat portion was tiny, covered with a sweet gravy. Roasted potatoes and green beans rounded it out, but that same sauce was all over the veggies. I was so hungry I ate every potato. Normally only eat about 3 oz of them a day. I’d been in good shape, gut-wise, for so long, I could afford to cheat, right? Wrong! By morning, I could tell I had yeast overgrowth. My gut had zero peristalsis, I had bad tinnitus, which for me is usually a sign of SIBO returning, my breathing was restricted, sinuses were inflamed, and energy was in the tank.

I’d had had such luck with yogurt, in recent weeks, I decided to eat two pints, the following day at work. Apparently the candida had done such a job slowing down my gut, the yogurt just sat there. Candida has been slowly digesting us since day one. I believe it uses “host manipulation“, which is what many successful parasites do. People with yeast overgrowth often crave sweets and alcohol. I know I have in the past, and I didn’t lose that until I started removing yeast from my body.

Hyphal Form Candida

It makes sense: if candida creates sweet tooths to feed itself, why wouldn’t it also emit chemicals to slow down gut transport, to more effectively eat our food? This may explain why so many of us are underweight, or constipated, and could be a strong hypothesis for alcoholism. Here’s a very interesting thread exploring a connection between SIBO and candida. Normally benign, its invasive (hyphal) form is thought to just be a symptom of dysbiosis. A healthy array of commensal bacteria should curb overgrowth. However, for those who’ve had hyphal form for decades, we need to deal with it.

I am hosting hookworm right now, for food intolerance, asthma, IBD, so I can’t take oregano oil, olive leaf, berberine, even peppermint, without killing them. Colloidal silver is an antibiotic, but it will just stun them for a few days.  Numerous articles discuss a rare condition called agyria, where people who consumed massive amounts of silver turned their skin a bluish tint. I have taken only 3 courses, a few weeks at a time, in the last 4 years. I’m not worried about changing color!

So back to the problem at hand, by the end of day 2 my entire back was sore, where it was nearly impossible to walk. I have a specific pull-pattern where one rib gets dislocated, and it happens most often when my gut is unhealthy. Lipopolysaccharide, a bacterial endotoxin, may be the root of this inflammation. That night, I simply couldn’t find any position to lie in, and insomnia made everything worse. I spiked a fever from the SIBO, which is rare for me, and my lungs felt like bronchitis was developing.

Most people would have gone to the doctor at this point, and been prescribed antibiotics, but I don’t tolerate most of them, and would rather use an antimicrobial that kills both bacteria and yeast.

The morning of day 3, I still had a fever, and started with 1 ounce of 500 ppm (parts per million) colloidal silver in a pint of distilled water, which makes it about 33 ppm. This is a safe level, in my opinion, especially since I take it very rarely. It has had a long history as an antibiotic before the modern pharma-industry developed conventional antibiotics. Here’s a study showing silver’s effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant strains. I’ve read other sources claiming it “smothers” both good and bad bugs. Its effect on candida is confirmed by several studies.

To deal with my lungs I used 30 ppm silver in a miniature glass spray bottle. 5 puffs every two hours. So how did it all go? Interestingly, the oral silver seemed to get my gut moving, and my stools were soft but formed. I’m thinking this relates to a lower yeast population in the gut. A few hours after starting inhalation, my lungs were clear, the fever broke, and I’m still feeling pretty good. I’ve read articles where doctors used CS in a nebulizer to treat people with AIDS-related lung infections, so this seems like a solid approach. It protects weak patients like me (who are immune compromised) from gut-damaging systemic antibiotics.

What’s my takeaway? Buying silver is expensive, and I normally make my own, using a cheap generator, that tests out about 17 ppm. The cost of home-brewed is pennies per pint. I plan to use the silver orally and as a spray mist only if needed, for the next few days, then I’ll go back to cultured foods like homemade kefir, raw sauerkraut. Silver is best used sparingly. I prefer adding healthy flora to my gut, not killing friend and foe alike. I also take Prescript Assist, VSL #3, and LifeStart powder now, as probiotics, plus an occasional butyrate enema. This is what works, and I’ll keep it up, but perhaps the moral to this story is, the next time I’m late for work, I’ll stop and cook my own, sugar-free, lower-carb lunch!

PS: for those interested in learning more about colloidal silver, here’s a great group on Facebook: Colloidal Silver, Pro & Con, where all points of view are appreciated. And keep in mind all the usual caveats apply: ask your doctor before trying any new therapy.