My GI Pathogen Screen Results
I got my results back from the GI Pathogen Screen that I took last month. In previous posts I’ve shared the results of my Adrenal Stress/Hormone Saliva Panel and my Digestion, Oxidation and Liver Function test as well. I recently became a Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P) and am able to run these labs on client’s to help them uncover malfunctions within the different body systems.
The GI Pathogen Screen is a stool test through BioHealth Labs called the BH401H. I wish I had run this lab back when I first started the FDN program, but I held off for financial reasons. Also because I’d taken a different stool test, in April of 2014, through my Functional Medicine Doctor and it had come back fine. It was called the GI Effects Comprehensive Profile through Genova Labs, but I’ve since learned that BioHealth’s GI Pathogen Screen is a better test.
As an FDN-P we test for pathogens, which includes parasites, bacteria and fungus, as they are an internal stressor that contributes to HPA Axis Dysfunction (Adrenal Dysfunction).
Pathogens can wreak havoc on the mucosal barrier contributing to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and a blunted brush border (damaged microvilli). The mucosal barrier is lined with cells that form tight junctions. When these cells are bombarded with toxins from packaged and processed foods, food sensitivities, pathogens, medication, mental and emotional stress the tight junctions loosen. Normally the intestinal lining works to prevent foreign particles from entering into general circulation that shouldn’t be and allows nutrition in. When there is increased intestinal permeability this allows antigens and toxins to enter general circulation and can lead to a humoral immune response, which is linked to inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
Finger like projections that line the intestines are called villi and they are covered with even smaller finger like projections called microvilli (brush border). These increase surface area for absorption so much, that if the gut was stretched out it would cover the size of a tennis court! Picture that! This is how important our digestive system is. These microvilli also produce enzymes to help break down sugars and micelizing factors that help absorb fats. Damage to the mucosal barrier leads to maldigestion, malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies.
Digestive health is also a huge part of the immune system, as 80% of the immune system is actually located in the gut.
Pathogens release excretions that overload the liver and increase oxidation in our bodies. Knowing these things we can look back at my Adrenal Stress/Hormone Saliva Panel and see that I have elevated nighttime cortisol. This is a clue, as pathogens are more active in the evening when cortisol drops and this invokes immune activity raising cortisol again. My low melatonin is another clue towards pathogens as 80% is created in the gut.
The results of my Digestion, Oxidation and Liver Function didn’t give me too many clues but would be another place to look. We can get clues as to dysbiosis, excess oxidation and liver toxicity. My Urinary Bile Acids were low in range, which could point to an overloaded liver and pathogens. This is why we don’t “treat” test results and always get client correlation. I knew my digestion could improve and that something was up. Often I just chalked it up to maybe not eating the best diet, but in reality I eat a nourishing real foods diet so it really shouldn’t be that hard to have awesome digestion……unless there’s an undetected pathogen.
As you see in the picture above Enterobacter species was isolated in abundance. This is a fungal overgrowth. Yes, there are more types of fungus than just candida! The thing about fungus is that it’s an opportunistic organism and generally proliferates when conditions allow. When we see a fungal overgrowth we know there has to be another underlying infection, whether that’s parasitic or bacterial. If we look at the rest of my results we can see that no parasites were detected but H. pylori was. H. pylori is a bacterial infection that infects 50% of the population. It is strongly associated with peptic ulcers, chronic gastritis, duodenitis and stomach cancer.
H. pylori can thrive in an acidic environment because it releases an enzyme called urease that raises pH in the stomach so that’s it’s not so acidic. Basically the sneaky bugger lowers your stomach acid! You do not want to supplement with HCl when you have H. pylori because it stimulates H. pylori to produce more urease and multiply further. This is why I never recommend HCl supplementation with my client’s unless we’ve ruled out H. pylori.
H. pylori can enter the body through uncooked foods but can also be passed through saliva, vaginal and prostate fluids. This means I’m getting the boyfriend tested too! There’s no point in me trying to eradicate H. pylori if he can just pass it back to me before I’ve repaired my mucosal barrier. Once he runs the test and we get his results, I’ll set him up with a protocol to follow and we will do them together at the same time. Luckily he understands how important health is to me and that I truly value it, so he’s on board. His digestion is definitely worse than mine, so I’m interested to see what his results are and to work with him so I can keep him healthy for a long time!
I was actually really excited when I got my results back with H. pylori and a fungal overgrowth because this is an internal stressor that’s been contributing to HPA Axis Dysfunction. I’ve been struggling with various phases of HPA Axis for a numbers of years now and there’s no way I can completely overcome it with this underlying gut dysfunction. Part of the stall on my recovery also has to do with exercise and stress management, but that’s a post for another time!
For the protocol I’ll just mention a few important things. First of all we treat parasites first, then bacteria and lastly fungus because it’s opportunistic. If we don’t get rid of the parasites and bacteria first, we likely won’t ever get rid of the fungal overgrowth. The other thing we need to do is break up the biofilm before taking anti-parasitics, natural anti-bacterial herbs and anti-microbials.
Pathogens are smart little buggers and create this shield of mucous around themselves to protect them. If we just take supplements to kill them without getting rid of their shield first, we’ll never fully eradicate them. This is why so many people who take anti-microbials to get rid of candida might feel good for a bit, as they kill off the ones that are hanging out outside of the biofilm. This can temporarily improve some symptoms but does nothing long term. We also have to remember that a healthy host shouldn’t ever end up struggling with a pathogen infection. We are always looking for the root cause and dysfunction that contributes to HPA Axis Dysfunction. My GI Pathogen Screen Test Results are definitely a contributor in my case.