Well everyone, it’s time for the third part of my series on weight loss and cravings. I’ve really enjoyed your feedback, and I hope that this series has served as an initiator to help release the guilt and shame that is carried by some related to an inability to “control” cravings and release excess weight. I wish to re-iterate from past issues, that if diet, exercise routines, and emotional support aren’t working, then the following physiological issues should be considered with the help of an integrative practitioner:
1. Yeast overgrowth
2. Low serotonin or neurotransmitter imbalance
3. Mal-absorption (Leaky Gut) & nutritional deficiencies
4. Food allergies
6. Hormonal imbalances
The first four issues were addressed in part I and part II, which can be found in this feedback category on my website as well. A link to Part II can be found: here. In this issue, I will discuss parasites and how they influence cravings and weight imbalances. Next week, I’ll cover my favorite topic and my specialty-hormonal imbalances, so be sure to check back in!
Most people think of parasites as a third world issue, or as a condition that affects those who have traveled to foreign countries with infected water supplies. However, as our food supply becomes more and more contaminated (from our animals being fed un-natural by-products), and foreign produce is made more available, the potential for a parasitic infection is increasing in the United States.
According to the Merck manual, “Parasites that infect humans include protozoa (such as amebas), which consist of only one cell, and worms (helminths, such as the hookworms and tapeworms), which are larger and consist of many cells and have internal organs. Protozoa, which reproduce by cell division, can reproduce inside people. Helminths, in contrast, produce eggs or larvae that develop in the environment before they become capable of infecting people. Development in the environment may involve another animal (an intermediate host). Some protozoa (such as those that cause malaria) and some helminths (such as those that cause river blindness) have complex life cycles and are transmitted by insect vectors.”
Parasites enter the body through the mouth via contaminated food or the skin via an insect vector, walking barefoot, or swimming in low sanitation areas. If a parasite is swallowed; it will set up temporary residence in the intestine, and eventually travel back up the intestinal tract into the blood stream to infect other organ systems. For example, when it travels to the lungs, symptoms of shortness of breath or regurgitation can occur. A parasitic infection can be diagnosed through lab tests such as stool, sputum, or blood samples (presence of an antigen to the parasite), an organ biopsy, MRI or CT scan of infected organs.
Although parasites can cause weight loss, the chronic inflammation, mal-absorption, and nutrient deficiencies they cause can result in increased appetite, food cravings, and weight gain. This is due to inability to properly assimilate food. Improper absorption will affect the hunger feedback mechanism of the gut to the brain through leptin and insulin release. (Please see part II for more information on mal-absorption and weight gain).
Beside weight fluctuations, other symptoms of parasites include: muscle and mental fatigue, brain fog, and a variety of other gastrointestinal issues. In fact, symptoms of parasitic infections can mimic the IBS symptoms of bloating, cramping, gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Marcelle Pick, OBGYN NP, states that 40% of her patients with IBS have been found to have parasites when they were proper tested.
Just recently, I referred a client to the ER with lab test suggestions in order rule out serious causes of the following persisting symptoms: nausea & vomiting, regurgitation, abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. The results indicated another underlying diagnosis, but also suggested gastrointestinal distress from infection of a parasite. The guilty host: uncooked, infected pork. The good news: the client is doing much better on anti-parasitic support.
There are many effective anti-parasitic medications that can be prescribed by a medical doctor, MD. However, these medications have a high liver toxicity, and liver enzymes must be monitored. An integrated practitioner can provide herbal and nutritional support to the liver and gut if prescription medications are needed. Herbal and essential oils with anti-parasitic action can also be used in less severe infections. In my experience, parasites are very tricky to get rid of, and one needs to be vigilant. Proper diagnosis and follow up with labs and a practitioner are essential.
For my clients, I recommend at least a three month cleansing program. During this time, we provide support for all the body’s systems, especially the immune system. Inflammation and gut support should also be provided with this protcol. Once the critter is gone, the gut will heal, absorption will become more effective, and one will find that cravings disappear. This makes weight loss and healthy food choices much easier!
Adrenal Fatigue symptoms and its effect on fatigue: Link here