Blastocystis is a common microscopic parasitic organism found throughout the world. Infection with Blastocystis hominis is called blastocystosis (BLASS-toe-SIS-toe-sis.). Watery or loose stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anal itching, weight loss, and excess gas have all been reported in persons with Blastocystis infection. However, many people have no symptoms at all.
For many years, scientists believed one species of Blastocystis infected humans, while different species of Blastocystis infected other animals. So they called Blastocystis from humans Blastocystis hominis and gave different species names to Blastocystis from other animals, for example Blastocystis ratti from rats. Various genetic analysis showed Blastocystis hominis as a unique entity does not really exist. There is no single species of Blastocystis that infects humans. In fact, 9 distinct species of Blastocystis (as defined by genetic differences) can infect humans, including those previously called Blastocystis ratti. Because of this, in 2007 scientists proposed discontinuing the use of the term Blastocystis hominis. Their proposal is to refer to Blastocystis from humans and animals as Blastocystis nn, where nn is a number from 1 to 9 assigned to each species group, according to the genetic identify of the Blastocystis organism, rather than the host that was infected by it. A tenth group was reported in China in 2007.
Blastocystis is a protozoan microorganism which may or may not cause disease in people. In a study published in 1988, 11 people with this organism in their stools who had diarrhea type symptoms were studied. In each of them another explanation for their symptoms was found and there was no relationship between the patient's symptoms, treatment for Blastocystis, and the clearing of the organism from the stool samples. Those authors reviewed other reports and concluded there was no convincing proof that this organism caused disease in humans. Whether this is true in individuals who have some type of immunodeficiency is less clear.
Some patients with this organism in their stools who have symptoms improve with no treatment at all. Conventional doctors may recommend Flagyl, although resistance has been encountered. Symptoms may be caused by infection with other parasitic organisms, bacteria, or viruses. Often, Blastocystis is found along with other such organisms that are more likely to be the cause of symptoms.
Many people have Blastocystis without ever having symptoms, and Blastocystis can remain in the intestines for weeks, months, or years. How Blastocystis is transmitted is unknown, although the number of people infected seems to increase in areas where sanitation and personal hygiene is inadequate. The oral-fecal route is suspected, and it has been called 'the hippie disease', because it is more likely to occur in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
Some doctors believe that Blastocystis on its own, in the average healthy person, may produce no symptoms at all. However, in a person with weakened digestion or weakened immune response, Blastocystis can produce a host of symptoms which appear to come and go and are very unpredictable. This is the key thing about blastocystis hominis: anyone who has gastro-intestinal, allergic, skin or immune problems which seem to come and go, on and off, without making much sense, should suspect that he may have blastocystis hominis. The reason for this is blastocystis hominis attacks the body and creates trouble when you're under stress or weakened. The moment your body picks up a little, it may not be able to affect you.
Blastocystis is difficult to eradicate. It hides in the intestinal mucus, sticks and hold on very hard to your intestinal membranes, making elimination very difficult. Several approaches are necessary in order to eliminate Blastocystis. These treatments can be used in combination, but may need to be rotated, as one agent taken for a prolonged period may cause resistance to develop. Try introducing a new agent at least every week. In this way, the Blastocystis will be less likely tot build up an immunity to any of the selected items.