What is Entamoeba Histolytica?
Entamoeba histolytica is one member of the microflora community of the gut which is known, dependent on the strain, to have the ability to cause problems within the digestive tract. This particular organism is what is known as a protozoa or single celled pathogen and was first described in the early 1900s. It is usually limited to the digestive tract of humans and other primates and in some can cause disease but in others no symptoms manifest.
Signs and Symptomsof Entamoeba Histolytica
Dysentery is one of the major features caused by this particular pathogen. Although dysentery can also be caused, and more commonly so in Western countries, by the bacteria shigella, in other countries it is entamoeba histolytica which is the main culprit. Signs of dysentery are severe stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Specific symptoms indicating problems are caused by this parasite are:
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
- Stomach ache and/or cramps
Obviously if you have recently taken a trip abroad then it is essential to inform your clinician as this may assist with the diagnosis.
The parasite can also cause several other conditions which are often associated with it either burrowing into the cells of the body or emitting toxins. However these are relative rare incidences but once a diagnosis of a parasitic infestation is made your clinician may investigate this possibility depending on symptoms which extend beyond those of the main digestive issues.
Causes of Entamoeba Histolytica
The actual organism secretes what are known as cysts. These cysts are then excreted from the body and can live on whatever surface they come into contact with. However the life-cycle of the cyst outside of the body is limited and they also die when exposed to both heat and cold which may account for the relatively low number of infestations. When cysts are transferred to the mouth, then of course they can be ingested so it is particularly important for people suffering from this particular parasite to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting and be extra vigilant when handling food. It is also possible to contract the cysts via anal or anal-oral sex.
Tests and diagnosis for Entamoeba Histolytica
Usually a diagnosis is achieved either by blood or stool tests. Blood tests are looking for antigens to the parasite which often occurs when someone has become infected. Otherwise stool samples are needed and these will be examined for the cysts which are released by the internal parasite. Often several stool samples are needed to confirm a diagnosis because cysts are not released consistently. One problem which arises with the antigen test is that often it can detect a previous infestation and so may reveal a false positive result. Because of this reason the test is not suitable to assess if treatment has eradicated the pathogen and if you are still suffering symptoms after treatment then your clinician may want to perform a stool analysis.
Risk factors and prevention
The main problems relating to contracting this parasite concern transfer through fecal material, which means that people should take extra care when traveling to countries where sanitation facilities are not of the highest standard.
Because heat kills this particular parasite it is recommended that hot food, which has been thoroughly cooked, should be selected over cold and raw foods. Of course this is particularly relevant if you are aware that you have the disease or you are someone traveling overseas and have no knowledge of who is preparing meals.
Good all round hygiene practices vastly reduce the risk of contracting this parasite and is a very wise move if you are in a situation where there may be contamination. Although the bug is killed easily with both cold and heat it is also very easily passed from person to person and, once it has been ingested and produces symptoms, then the illness has to run its course. There is also the possibility that the person who contracted the disease will then become a carrier for the cysts.
Dysentery, although unpleasant, is of relatively short duration usually lasting around 1 week. However as history lessons show this illness can produce extreme dehydration and in past wars many lives were lost to the condition by soldiers in battle. The tendency for this parasite to be quickly transmitted between groups of people is still reflected today when groups of people such as families or classes of children are affected shortly after one person contracts the organism.
Of course many of the rules apply when visiting a foreign country as will apply when you are aware you are in contact with an infected individual:
- Don’t use ice cubes prepared with untreated water
- Don’t eat raw food and make sure all cooked foods have been both hygienically prepared and cooked thoroughly.
- Only drink bottle water
- Use bottled water to clean teeth
- Do not share toothbrushes, face cloths, towels or sponges
- Don’t eat fruit unless it is a variety which requires peeling before eating
- Always wash hands after using lavatory facilities
Natural and Conventional Treatments for Entamoeba Histolytica
There are three options available to patients. These are: no treatment whatsoever and allowing the illness to run its course; conventional treatment which usually includes a course of the ‘zole’ prescription drugs; natural treatments which support the immune system, build healthy bacteria in the body to assist in overwhelming the pathogens and providing treatments which are noted for eliminating pathogens in the digestive tract in the most natural way possible.
No matter which treatment option you go for there is no doubt that one factor must remain consistent throughout and that is the re-hydration of the patient. Such are the nature of the symptoms the body loses a lot of fluids and this can, if they get too low, put the internal organs under pressure. This is particularly relevant in cases where a child is the patient. The patient should be given plenty of water to drink however often this is still inadequate and they should also be provided with electrolyte fluids which include replacement minerals which the body also loses with fluids. These can be bought over the counter or provided through your clinician.
Often although prescribed medications are extremely effective in disrupting the life-cycle of the parasite they also do the same to other gut bugs which are actually beneficial and essential to the effective functioning of the digestive system. It is for this reason that many patients elect to go for natural treatments in addition to re-hydration.
Two of the most recommended natural remedies include guava fruit and papaya seeds. The first increases the acidity of the digestive tract and makes it more inhospitable to the bacteria and the second is said to prevent cysts spreading. Because the treatment involves ridding the body of bacteria it is also essential to provide quality organic probiotics when treating this condition to support any beneficial organisms which might be lost. This also helps reinforce the defenses of the healthy bacteria against the pathogens.
A clove of crushed, fresh garlic per day is also another excellent remedy for clearing the digestive tract of parasites. Garlic in addition to its sulfuric enzymes has many antifungal properties which remove toxins from the digestive tract.
Canxida Remove is a good supplement containing a variety of natural elements including grapefruit extract which is known for its ability to clear pathogenic organisms. The supplement contains many other ingredients, including a garlic extract which can be used in exchange for the fresh garlic if preferred. It also contains betaine hydrochloride which, like the guava fruit, increases the acidity of the stomach acid.
Best Diet for Entamoeba Histolytica
Increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly those high in potassium are thought to not only clear the digestive tract of the pathogen but also to increase the removal of it. For the duration of the infection also make sure you eliminate all sugars, including those contained in junk foods and manufactured products. Taking a good probiotic is helpful, Probacto makes an excellent one. Dairy too is best removed from the menu for this period with the exception of a probiotic like kefir or yogurt.