GI Problems: Parasites, Bacteria & Fungi … What to do?

Jan. 19, 2020

A good friend just forwarded the following issue(s)  … and question(s) on Facebook:

Do you have experience with parasites?
I lived in Mexico for over a year recently with no health issues. Unfortunately I had to return to the US. I have been sick ever since I came back to the USA.

Has anyone had experience with parasites in your body? What were your symptoms?

I have bad gut issues, prostate problems and a bad UTI that will not go away. Doctors have no idea what’s wrong. … Thanks for any input.”


The FB friend commented~requested:
Steve … I have seen some of your excellent comments you have made on similar (GI) problems. Trouble is the cooments and advice are difficult to locate now. How about sharing your wisdom with a column on gut health for expats? What meds should we be taking every six months? Appreciate your willingness to be so helpful to all of us expats!
= = = =
Whew … What a challenging set of issues.

GI Parasites … could be GI worms, amoebas, paramecia or even nasty-cryptosporids.

Sidelight: Since it could involve a wide range of problems, (too much to describe here) … SEE the Parasite treatment issues described at the end of this article.**

Continuing … In addition to parasites … also more broadly consider all the GI Microbes … most often E, coli … Salmonella (even becoming endemic), Shigella, Campylobacter (popular-common in the USA), rotovirus, the varieties of Clostridium (including “C. diff” ) …

General Advice on Prevention & Avoidance?:
Eat only well cooked meats …
e.g. Avoid ceviche … (the lime juice is NOT magic .. encysted worms & their encysted eggs are NOT affected by lime juice – it takes either cooking, or  a sharp knife & good eye  to eliminate them) … unless the people preparing the ceviche put thin sliced fish fillets on a light box & cut out the parasites – like what good sushi chefs do to protect their customers.

Eat foods with a peel:  Bananas … apples … pears … Oranges & pretty much all citrus fruits.

Mexican Street-Foods:  Eat what comes out of hot oil, and goes straight into a sterile piece of paper, cup, napkin etc, without being touched …   (Continued in our main article on this at

*      *      *      *

~ Notice that “Dan Fitz” (the Original FB poster~patient suffering in the USA) …  is likely in the dog-house with his GI problems, because he returned to Canada-USA without getting treated here. … US & Canadian physicians have almost NO TRAINING in how to recognize or handle these things … and they almost always don’t know the meds…  
This means:
GO TO A PHYSICIAN HERESeek COMPETENT experienced Medical advice from a Physician who knows Tropical Diseases & Tropical Parasites BEFORE you return back North.    …  Almost always … waiting to go to US physician or Canadian Doctor is NOT a good approach – because they don’t ever study it, nor do they take the time to read about this stuff.

*      *      *      *

Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read on, MacDuff…

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21 Responses to GI Problems: Parasites, Bacteria & Fungi … What to do?

  1. Eric Chaffee says:

    Pumpkin seeds (preferably organic) seem very effective. I eat them daily here in Merida. A decade ago I read about them as a very effective agent for de-worming puppies. Our pup had ring worms. I mixed ground pumpkin seed with her food. Those huge worms were gone in a week.

  2. yucalandia says:

    Notice that the advice about eating ground papaya seeds or ground “pumpkin” (calabasa) seeds every day, leads one down a curious path.

    It’s proven that these seeds contain POTENT antibiotics & POTENT anti-parasitic drugs …

    Would you take a potent antibiotic pill … Amoxycillin or Ciprofloxen … EVERY DAY … if someone said … “I feel good taking POTENT antibiotics … every day… ” ?

    Is a POTENT antibiotic or POTENT anti-parasitic drug … magically safe … and “Good to take every day” … just because it’s “natural” .

    I note this, because many very rational reasonable people ~refuse~ to take antibiotic drugs in pill form … especially every day … but they take just as potent antibiotic drugs, even daily, because they are in seeds. ??

    Is it all just about ‘packaging’ ?

    … Where the seed package, just seems safer ? 😉

    Happy Trails,

    • eric chaffee says:

      Well, Steve, I didn’t know this about pumpkin seeds. I see them as food. Do you have a source for your detail about pumpkin seeds being natural antibiotics? I’d like to reconsider my dining habits!

      • Eric Chaffee says:

        Steve, I read the link you provided, but didn’t find the quotes you cited. What I found said there was “a range” of biological and pharmacological activities associated with the cucurbitaceae family, which includes pumpkins. Nowhere in the paper did I find anything specific about pumpkin seeds — only generalized broad family attributes. I remain unconvinced that pumpkin seeds have high antibiotic potency, as clear linkage is yet lacking, although I remain open to accepting clear scientific findings. I appreciate your efforts on this topic !

  3. Angela Raber says:

    I came across numerous links regarding pumpkin seeds used as an anti parasitic. This one has lots of useful information.

  4. Bruce McGovern says:

    Several years ago, my wife developed an explosive diarrhea. The local doctor told her it was something like Menieres disease, a very rare genetic defect, and that a lot of people in our village have it. Later, I got it, too, and that genetic disease is not contagious. And, the doctor has almost certainly never seen that syndrome in my village.

    After some serious problems I still had problems in the US during a visit. we went to a doctor there, who gave us metronidazole, and the problem want away completely and very fast. I realize different parasites will produce different symptoms, but for us, we can tell that one from experience. I keep metronidazole on hand, though it seldom hits us.

    Sorry to ruin your day, but this diarrhea involved a very dark brown excrement, very much like a pudding from Heck, and lots of it. And, you can’t run fast enough to beat it when it hits.

    Yes, it would be nice to know exactly what parasite caused this infection for us, but that is probably not possible here. No, maybe it is. our village has a very modern lab, and if we get this again, I will see if they can do a culture or whatever you call it.

    I had a nearly lethal case of SIBO in 2015, and control it with strong probiotics, which I cannot find in Mexico. So, in my annual visit to the US, I buy a year’s worth of 50 billion SV probiotics, two a day, from the China Store. (WM). GNC in Tehuacan has probiotics, even strong ones, but they do not keep them refrigerated so at times they are totally worthless.

  5. Eric Chaffee says:

    Well, Steve, your response to my challenge for substantiation of your claim that pumpkin seeds equate with extremely powerful antibiotics such as Ciprofloxen has not been forthcoming. I think we know each other well enough that I won’t allow “truth by assertion” to pass the sniff test. So I’m going to disregard your observation on this one, amigo, and continue eating a small handful of this tasty healthful seeds, daily.

    NB: I went looking for research to ground your claim, but gave up . I did find this item : ” Plants have antibiotic substances serving a beneficial roll around their root systems. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. (Everything has something that wants to eat it.) Many common foods and herbs (and some not so common ones) act as antibiotics, such as honey, garlic, onions, licorice root, ginger, sage and many others.”

    • yucalandia says:

      Whether they are as powerful as ciprofloxcina or less powerful like amoxycillin, or even less powerful like neomycin … would you take any antibiotic pill every day?

      Seriously, natural product drugs are often as potent as the drugs prescribed by doctors – which leaves me questioning taking any drug every day … unless the patient has an underlying medical problem that requires treatment.

      • Eric Chaffee says:

        There’s a leap in your logic, Steve. I’ve looked online for evidence that pumpkin seeds are an antibiotic, but found none, thus far. Yes, ample evidence that they work as an anti-parasitic, but not, so far, as an anti-biotic.) The Maya have been eating them as a major food source for hundreds, if not thousands of years. If you recall where you read your detail on this topic, I’d be glad to examine it. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy them daily.

      • yucalandia says:

        No leap in logic…

        Cucurbitacin in pumpkin seeds is known to be both an antibiotic and anti-parasitic.

        Specifically: Cucurbitacins are known to disrupt actin polymerization … the consequences of which are the inhibition of the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway in cells harboring activated STAT3 and the direct inhibition of survivin in other cells.

        • Cucurbitacin B as a natural antimicrobial agent plays an important role in the development of anti-staphylococcal and antiherpetic drugs.

        • Cucurbitacin B interacts synergistically with antibiotics against S. aureus strains with (ƩFIC ranging from 0.29 to 0.43).

        • Cucurbitacin B exerted anti-HSV-1 activity compared with that of acyclovir with IC50 values of 0.94 and 1.74 μM, respectively.

      • yucalandia says:

        No leap in logic…

        “Cucurbitacin (as found in pumpkin seeds) has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity… ”

        Other studies show that cucurbitacin (as found in pumpkin seeds) showed highest antibacterial activity against E. coli PTCC 1399 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

      • Eric Chaffee says:

        Thanks. I read the article, and come away with a different slant than yours — as it speaks of a synergistic effect from these melon-derived compounds . . . from a studied plant commonly known as “squirting melon”.

        History’s shamans and witches (witch is an old English word derived from German wissen, from whence we get the word “science” : wissenschaft) have contributed greatly to botanical knowledge regarding healing foods. Perhaps this synergy issue has been eclipsed by the problem with modern antibiotics which have been compounded to be highly concentrated.

        There are many foods we eat daily which show antibiotic, antimicrobial, antiparastic effect : garlic and honey come to mind. But when concentrated anything can become dangerous. Think of coca leaves which Bolivians and Peruvians use to fortify themselves for packing heavy loads into mountainous elevations. A useful stimulant, but when concentrated, an addictive toxin.

        You’ve made an interesting point, Steve I will ponder this while enjoying a normal diet. (Maybe I was a shaman, a curadero, in a previous life?) Nah. But I believe in the power of food to nourish, and to heal! At normal concentration it seems dubious to me that pumpkin seeds will cause my gut flora to become unbalanced, as I’ve long been very regular. Thanks!

      • yucalandia says:

        I checked 6 different studies that reported on “synergistic effects” … yet all 6 ALSO described very real – very significant antibiotic properties of the cucurbitacin compounds.

        Notice that the whole class of Cucurbitacin compounds have been proven to have antibiotic ~ anti-microbial properties … including the proven ability to eliminate against E. coli (fecal coliforms) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

        The scientific literature for the past 5 years has been very clear:
        Cucurbitacin (as found in pumpkin seeds) has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity… ”

        Other studies show that cucurbitacin (as found in pumpkin seeds) showed highest antibacterial activity against E. coli PTCC 1399 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

        Highest levels of antibacterial activity … is a pretty unmistakable property…

        = = = =
        Just because it is a natural chemical in a seed, does that make it any different from daily-consuming a ~chemical drug~ in a pill form … when both have the “highest levels of antibacterial activity” ?

      • yucalandia says:

        … Plant based drugs … deserve the same respect … as pharmaceutal company drugs.

      • yucalandia says:

        Note that I am not “against” potent antibiotics & potent anti-parasitical drugs found in the natural seeds of pumpkins and papaya.

        I, instead, very profoundly respect those natural drugs …

        Many people would not take a pharmaceutal companies antibiotic & antimicrobial pills every day – as a daily treatment “in case I eat something bad” …

        In the same chemical-medical reality … taking a potent natural drug every day … with potent proven antibacterial & anti-parasitic elimination properties … seems little different than taking the drug companies potent anti-bacterial & antiparasitc drug Daxxon ( Nitazoxanida) … every day.

        The main thrust of my point is … people should be aware of what they take, especially potent medicines.

        ~ When people know the facts … and know the chemistry behind the drugs … then they can make ‘educated’ informed choices. 😉 ~

    • Eric Chaffee says:

      I did some more looking and found this, which associates potency with bitterness, which is altogether lacking in the pumpkin seeds I consume :

      Also, I did grow some Asian bitter melons, a warty looking cuke, a few years ago, out of curiosity. Dr Andrew Weil says this cucurbit is very popular in Iwo Jima, where they have one of the lowest rates of diabetes in the world, and where it is consumed continually by the local populace. Perhaps Mexico, which has one of the highest rates (along with the world’s highest per capita consumption of Coke) could use this beneficial crop here. (I’m told they are grown here, but fed to livestock.)

    • Eric Chaffee says:

      MOVED and merged, as my reply went to wrong location. (sorry) :

      Steve, I read the link you provided, but didn’t find the quotes you cited. What I found said there was “a range” of biological and pharmacological activities associated with the cucurbitaceae family, which includes pumpkins. Nowhere in the paper did I find anything specific about pumpkin seeds — only generalized broad family attributes. I remain unconvinced that pumpkin seeds have high antibiotic potency, as clear linkage is yet lacking, although I remain open to accepting clear scientific findings. I appreciate your efforts on this topic !

      • yucalandia says:

        Notice how you … a layman … approaches toxicology and pharmaceutical activity:

        ” ... although I remain open to *only* accepting clear scientific findings. I appreciate your efforts on this topic ! …

        Notice that this approach of … *only* accepting clear scientific findings… has been proven very flawed for decades, especially when dealing with medically-active, pharmaceutically-active, and biologically active toxic molecules.

        … and especially when deciding to daily eat a likely parasite-killer, that also has preliminary evidence that shows it is a microbe-killer (aka anti-biotic).

        Chemists, toxicologists, & pharmaceutical scientists realize the the KEY to understanding toxicity & medical-pharmaceutical activity is in the chemically-active biologically-active …. and toxicologically-active FUNCITIONAL GROUPS on a chemical molecule.

        Consider that rather than questioning if something is safe to eat … every day … instead, you are taking the same position as the industry-supporters of chlorinated-pesticides & chlorinated-industrial chemicals – where they insist it must somehow be safe, until specific, LARGE, detailed, decades-long longitudinal studies definitively conclusively prove the toxicity & cancer risks of each specific chemical they are trying to defend~justify as supposedly safe.

        Notice that toxicologists, pharmaceutical scientists & chemists, instead, look for the common important functional group present across a class-family of closely-related chemical molecules that explain their shared-activity … and realize that when the chemical-activity & anti-microbial activity … microbe killing properties … of one member of that family of chemicals is decisively proven to be harmful … cancer causing … or anti-microbially active (killing important microbes) … then … when even the preliminary information showing that the harmful chemical’s closely-related cousins most likely have the same activity … then we caution against eating-consuming that related-chemical’s every day .

        Saying it another way … When we proved that one chlorinated organic chemical caused cancer and killed microbes (like pentachlorophenol), then we know that pretty much ALL related chlorinated organic chemicals will VERY LIKELY cause cancer & kill microbes …. Then … when the preliminary data show that the new (other) closely-related chemical-drug appears to cause cancer & kill microbes … then we caution against it’s daily consumption.

        The same thing is chemically true with the very closely related cucurbitacin compounds … where the first preliminary trials on pumpkin seed’s cucurbitacin compound are showing BOTH parasite-killing and microbe-killing properties … just like the pumpkin seed’s close chemical cucurbitacin cousins.

        2 of the articles described preliminary information about pumpkin seeds showing antimicrobial activity… along with apparent parasite-KILLING abilities … and in those study results, (along with 4 other good studies), ALL 6 different assorted cucurbitacin compound studies found very real – very significant antibiotic (microbe-killing) properties in all every member of the family of cucurbitacin compounds they tested.

        It is NOT magic that pumpkin seeds appear to KILL parasites … and just like other parasite-killing drugs that also kill microbes … preliminary results show that the cucurbitacin in pumpkin seeds also kill important microbes.

        So … in the same way that we know that chlorinated-organic molecules almost universally cause cancer… whether it’s pentachlorophenol, or chlorinated pesticides, or chlorinated herbicides, or chlorinated industrial solvents … EVERY SINGLE member of the closely-related family of cucurbitacin compounds are showing significant anti-parasitic and anti-microbial activity when tested.

        HENCE, when reliable scientists say that the preliminary studies of pumpkin seed cucurbitacin have some levels of BOTH potent parasite-killing activity and microbe-killing activity … just like pumpkins seeds close chemical-cousins … then it really is questionable to insist that it’s somehow OK to ingest them every day.

        Does that make sense … Pumpkins seeds reported anti-parasitic activity has NOT been definitively proven … yet you believe in that…

        and … by direct extension from the other cucurbitacin compounds only-recently proven pharmaceutical activity, chemical activity, parasite-killing activity, and microbe-killing activities … It points to the preliminary information about pumpkin seeds having microbe-killing activity … being pharmaceutically equivalent to it’s chemical cousins with the same shared chemically-active group .

        Just because it’s a natural product … does not make it a good choice to consume daily…

        Because pumpkin seeds have strong indications of parasite killing abilities, just like it’s other cucurbitacin cousins, then the early reports of pumpkin seeds also showing microbe-killing properties … deserve respect … until they are proven safe for daily consumption. 😉

        … Plant based drugs … deserve the same respect … as pharmaceutical company drugs.

      • Eric says:

        Yes, I’m a laymen, and require evidence to be persuaded, not mere “association”. We can’t condemn an entire family merely because one member is a thief : “All gypsies are thieves” ? Logicians and students of the Bible recognize the futility of such an argument, in this verse from the book of Titus : “All Cretans (residents of Crete) are liars.” How do we know? Just ask one! (But how could we know whether he’s lying?)

        Steve, I’m not suggesting that you’re lying, but you’re dodging this simple observation : until you present evidence to me that pumpkin seeds contain the bitter alkaloids associated with some members of the cucurbit family (eg: squirting melon) I respectfully remain an unpersuaded layman.

        But here’s an expert recommendation : Andrew Weil MD has a degree in ethnobotany from Harvard, as well as the MD from Harvard Med School. He favors pumpkin seeds in numerous entries at his blog :

  6. Bruce McGovern says:

    Having learned a lot about SIBO in the last 4 years, amidst great agony, heh, heh, let me explain about the problems with antibiotics. I assume everyone knows about antibiotic resistant bacteria as a result of excess use of antibiotics.

    But, that is not your worst possible problem Your small intestines is where the excrement and nutrition end up. The walls of the small intestines where they connect to your blood stream are one-cell thick. Those calls somehow pick out the nutrition from the bad stuff, and shove it into your bloodstream.

    Your small intestines normally contain “good” bacteria, which protect you from bad bacteria. If you take a lot of antibiotics, it kills off the good bacteria, and lets the bad stuff come in. An infection of bad bacteria damages the cells which makes holes in the small intestine which lets all sorts of yukky stuff into the blood stream. This is called autoimmune disease. There are many types of autoimmune disease. Mine was ‘acrodermatitis continua de Hallopeau’. The only thing I could find was a paper which said a doctor cured it once in the 40’s with tetracycline, but it didn’t say what the microbe was, rats.

    The damage to the small intestines seems to be linked to several symptoms, such as irritable bowel, and leaky gut. I have access to major medical books, but none of them seem to know much about SIBO. The doctor who explained this to me told me that when you have this syndrome the bad bacteria produce vitamin K, which is a coagulant. That is, it causes blood clots of the type involved in strokes, etcetera.

    I can vouch for this. I had serious clotting for months until I controlled the SIBO with probiotics. Fortunately, I can feel blood clots before they kill me, I learned in Mexico City in 1995 when I was in a coma for 6 days with equine encephalitis, and take aspirin. In one case 4 grams a day. (Yes, I know doctors claim you should only take 2 aspirin a day, or you will bleed internally. You can’t hemorrhage when your blood is pure mud. The day it almost killed me I took 4 grams, which is why I am alive now.)

    Warning: this SIBO is dangerous stuff and can kill you. Don’t mess with it or aspirin if you don’t know what you are doing. I am alive only because the smartest US doctor I ever knew talked me though it. I am sure if I had gone to a doctor in my village I would be dead. That US doctor emphasized when you take antibiotics, eat good yogurt every single day even for a while after you stop the antibiotics.

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