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Parasites are an extremely common cause of digestive complaints, they are also capable of causing a wider range of health problems than you could ever imagine. Many people mistakenly think you have to have travelled to an exotic location to become infected by a parasite.It is possible to become infected in Australia and a compromised hormonal and immune system is often to blame. In the digestive tract parasites are often worms although other types of parasites exist such as lice and fleas.

Common warning signs that you could be suffering with a parasitic infection;

  • Constipation, diarrhoea, or alternating
  • Gas and bloating
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Anaemia
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Leaky gut (intestinal hyper-permeability)
  • Eczema or psoriasis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Insomnia
  • Often no GI symptoms at all


  • Giardia intestinalis: This is the second most common water-borne parasitic infection after cryptosporidium. It is highly infectious and is transmitted in cysts via faeces, dogs and cats. It can adversely affect the bacteria of your microbiome resulting in malabsorption, mal-digestion and damage the villi (lining) of the gut. Water or food can be contaminated with giardia.

In a group of 200 patients diagnosed with IBS and displaying diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating, approximately half of them demonstrated Giardi infection (Dr Leo Galland)

Within another group of 96 patients with chronic fatigue, Giardia infection was present in 46%

A John Hopkins study showed 20% of patients had antibodies against Giardia in randomly chosen hospital blood samples showing previous exposure to the parasite.

  • Cryptosporidium: Highly infectious intracellular parasite transmitted through tainted drinking water. It’s extremely invasive and will destroy the mucosal lining of the gut, potentially inhabiting the entire GI tract including the small intestine and large bowel. It can cause intermittent diarrhoea or loose stools.

A massive cryptosporidiosis outbreak occurred throughout NSW in 1998 with 1000 confirmed cases. However, only a very small proportion of people are ever diagnosed as stool testing with parasitology and PCR technology is required.

  • Dientamoeba fragilis: Lives in the large intestine and infection is extremely common worldwide. Many people who carry this parasite have absolutely no symptoms. If this parasite is causing symptoms, people commonly suffer with diarrhoea, stomach pain, weight loss, nausea and fatigue. Contaminated water or food can often be the means of infection. Living or traveling in countries with poor sanitary conditions is a risk factor for infection, as is a weakened immune system
  • Entamoeba histolytica: This parasite is responsible for causing dysentery, it is transmitted in cyst form through faecal contaminated water or insects. It is the most commonly undetected parasite and has the ability to travel from the upper to lower GI tract and into the lymph nodes and liver where it stops shedding and becomes undetectable. Symptoms can include upper right quadrant (abdominal) pain, cramps and occasional loose stools.

50 million people are infected worldwide, predominately those who live in or have visited tropical countries which have poor sanitation. Around 10-20% of all infections will develop into amoebiasis which causes 70,000 deaths per year.

  • Blastocystis: This parasite lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals (dogs, cats, pigs, horses, cattle). It is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with the faeces from infected humans or animals.

You may become infected through coming into contact with contaminated bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diapers or toys. Contaminated water used for drinking or swimming, eating uncooked foods or traveling to countries with poor sanitation or all risk factors.

Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, fatigue, skin rashes and joint pain are all symptoms that can be experienced with this parasitic infection.

Digestive health is central to your overall health. Inflammation and infections in the digestive tract are a known cause of adrenal stress and HPA axis dysfunction. Through the gut – brain axis, disturbances in gut function can also lead to depression and anxiety. When the gut lining becomes damaged due to parasitic infection, toxins can leak into the blood stream, causing an array of autoimmune disorders. Gut health doesn’t just effect your digestion it can affect all parts of your health. The only sure way to check for parasitic infections is via a stool test with parasitology and PCR technology.

Contact the clinic today to organise a CDSA test.

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