There are all kinds of microscopic critters living inside us and on top of our skin. While this may be creepy or off-putting to some, we actually could not survive without these essential microorganisms, as they help protect us from pathogens, support our immune system health, and participate in so many other functions that are necessary for our survival.
As we become more aware of the world of microorganisms within us, we start to learn about the great variety of creatures that we are exposed to. While microorganisms are vital to our health, they may also cause us serious illness. Not all microorganisms are beneficial, and some are so toxic that they can even kill us.
Among the harmful organisms that we face, some of the top ones that we hear about and need to look out for are parasites and pathogenic bacteria. For many, the difference between these two is unclear, so we have created this article to further explore the differences in these two types of microscopic creatures.
Understanding the Gut Microbiome
Before we go into the differences of parasites and pathogenic bacteria, it’s important for us to first establish a good understanding of the gut microbiome. More and more researchers are learning every day of the importance of gut health for our overall health and wellness. One of the greatest new discoveries, and also one of the greatest factors in determining our health or illness, is our gut microbiome.
Within your gut there are trillions of microorganisms that collectively make up what is known as your “gut microbiome.” These small creatures perform many important tasks, such as helping us break down and digest food, supporting the health of our immune system, assisting in the production of important hormones, and even influencing our mood and feelings of happiness.
Ideally, we have a ratio of about 90% “good” bacteria and 10% “bad” bacteria in the gut. This balance is critical for our gut health and for carrying out the necessary roles of the gut microbiome. Unfortunately, however, the average person is closer to the inverse of this ratio, and has about 10% “good” bacteria and 90% “bad” bacteria.
A gut overrun with harmful bacteria and other microorganisms such as parasites, Candida, or harmful gut pathogens, can lead to some serious health issues such as leaky gut syndrome, gut inflammation, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and much more. These health issues are often at the root of many other chronic conditions, and if we don’t bring our gut back into balance, we are bound to suffer ill health.
Gut health lies at the root of our health, and if your gut is out of balance, it can quickly lead to many other more serious health concerns. A major part of taking care of your gut, and of your health overall, is taking care of your gut microbiome. This is done by supporting the colonization of beneficial bacteria, while removing pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
What are Parasites?
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. In humans, parasites that live inside us use up our vitamins, proteins and other nutrients, depriving us of optimal nutrition. Not only do they steal nutrients from our body, they also eliminate waste inside us, releasing their toxic bacteria and viruses. Parasites are most commonly found in the colon, however, any part of the body is vulnerable to infestation: the lungs, liver, brain, blood, muscles, joints, skin, etc.
Even if you eat a healthy diet, these unwanted visitors may prevent you from getting all the nutrients from the food you eat, and they may cause a wide range of health issues, with symptoms reaching from mild rashes or headaches to serious illnesses.
While some parasites are easily identified, such as tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms, most parasites that people suffer from are actually microscopic bugs such as amoebas or flukes. Though the list of parasites that effect humans is extensive, there are three main types of parasites.
Protozoa: Examples include the single-celled organism known as Plasmodium. A protozoa can only multiply, or divide, within the host.
Helminths: These are worm parasites, such as roundworm, pinworm, trichina spiralis, tapeworm, and fluke.
Ectoparasites: These live on, rather than in their hosts. They include lice and fleas.
What is Pathogenic Bacteria?
Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that can cause disease. Most species of bacteria are harmless and are often beneficial but others can cause infectious diseases. The number of these pathogenic species in humans is estimated to be fewer than a hundred. By contrast, several thousand species of bacteria are part of the gut flora present in the digestive tract.
The body is continually exposed to many species of bacteria, including beneficial commensals, which grow on the skin and mucous membranes, and saprophytes, which grow mainly in the soil and in decaying matter. The nutrients inside our blood and tissue fluids are sufficient to sustain the growth of many different types of bacteria.
Many of the bacteria that live inside us are neither beneficial or harmful, but are simply neutral in their effect on us. What determines whether a bacterium is pathogenic is whether it inflicts us harm. Pathogenic bacteria can inflict damage on their hosts by secreting toxins that act on host cell membranes or translocate across the cell membrane and take over normal cellular functions.
The body has defense mechanisms that enable it to resist microbial invasion of its tissues and give it a natural immunity or innate resistance against many microorganisms. Pathogenic bacteria, however, are specially adapted and endowed with mechanisms for overcoming the normal body defenses, and can invade parts of the body, such as the blood, where bacteria are not normally found.
Some pathogens invade only the surface of the skin, but many travel more deeply, spreading through the tissues and disseminating by the lymphatic and blood streams. In some rare cases a pathogenic microbe can infect an entirely healthy person, but infection usually occurs only if the body's defense mechanisms are weakened.
It is important to distinguish between pathogenic bacteria infection and pathogenic bacteria colonization. Our gut microbiome can be colonized by bad bacteria—and in small amounts (about 10% of the total gut microbiome) this is actually a good thing. In larger amounts, however, it can lead to digestive issues, and a range of consequent health problems.
A pathogenic bacterial infection, however, means that the bacteria make you sick, which results in signs and symptoms such as fever, pus from a wound, a high white blood cell count, diarrhea, or pneumonia. Bacterial infections need to be treated right away, while colonization means the bacteria are in or on your body but do not make you sick, and likely show no signs or symptoms at all.
Additionally, even after a pathogenic bacteria infection, some of these pathogenic bacteria can remain in the gut microbiome, even though they are not causing your body enough distress to show signs and symptoms such as fever or high white blood cell count. Pathogenic bacteria may exist in the gut without causing immediate symptoms, but they can still lead to symptoms over time as they may disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome.
Common Ways That Parasites & Pathogenic Bacteria Are Transmitted
There are many ways that people can be infected with both parasites and pathogenic bacteria. The most common ways are from contaminated food and drinking water, touching handrails or other objects that may have become contaminated, and walking barefoot on contaminated soil.
It is also possible to get them from the air (even microscopic parasite eggs can be inhaled), as well as from pets, coming in contact with infected blood or feces, from insects or other hosts, and even transmitted from person to person.
How to Get Rid of Parasites & Pathogenic Bacteria
Parasites and pathogenic bacteria are different species altogether. As such, there needs to be a different approach in how we get rid of these harmful creatures. While some remedies may be similar, there are key distinctions to the protocols for removing parasites and pathogenic bacteria.
Getting Rid of Parasites
Eliminating parasites is not always easy to do, and it depends on what type of parasite one is infected with, as well as how severe the infection is. That being said, there are effective ways to eliminate a wide range of parasites, and some methods for doing so are time-tested and have been used traditionally for thousands of years.
One traditional method of detoxing parasites from the body, and one that has had much modern scientific research to back it, is the use of a well-crafted wormwood complex. Wormwood complex is the name given to a formula for killing parasites that contains three essential herbs: wormwood, clove, and green black walnut hulls. Together, these anti-parasitic herbs kill the larvae, egg, and adult stages of parasites, and when used alongside a parasite detox protocol and a healthy diet, can help to kill the entire life cycle of a parasite, ensuring that one effectively kills the organism(s) and prevents reinfection.
For more information on getting rid of parasites, check out our parasite cleanse protocol.
Getting Rid of Pathogenic Bacteria
Some pathogenic infections will simply clear up on their own over time, but it can be an uncomfortable process. There are ways to kill these bacteria and speed up the healing process. Additionally, pathogenic bacteria may remain in the gut after an infection, and some may colonize in the gut without showing symptoms.
People often think they are better once their symptoms subside, but in reality, pathogenic bacteria can linger in the gut and take over the gut microbiome. This can lead to serious digestive issues like bacterial overgrowth and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
To get rid of these harmful critters, it is recommended to do a GI pathogen detox. This is done using powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial herbs, such as those we have formulated in our GI Pathogen Detox Tonic.
Our GI Pathogen Detox formula uses a therapeutic extraction process that is able to concentrate the active ingredients into a therapeutic liquid extract that is significantly more potent than regular tea powders or capsules. The unique combination of these clinically-studied ingredients may help to kill off many different types of pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses, gastroenteritis, parasitic infection and other gut infections.
Supplementing with Probiotics
Whether you suffer from parasites or pathogenic bacteria, it is typically recommended to supplement with a high quality multi-strain probiotic—especially if you are doing a parasite or pathogenic bacteria cleanse. When cleansing harmful organisms in your gut, you may incidentally get rid of some of the good bacteria as well. Supplementing with a Multi-Strain Probiotic Complex can help you replenish your gut bacteria and keep your microbiome in balance. It is incredibly important for gut health to restore the optimal balance of bacteria in the gut, and a multi-strain probiotic is one of the best ways to do this.
Parasites and pathogenic bacteria are two different types of organisms that can both be harmful to our health. To take proper care of our health, we need to make sure we get rid of parasitic or bacterial infections in our gut microbiome.
Your gut microbiome is the community of trillions of microorganisms that live inside your gut. These small creatures perform many important tasks, such as helping us break down and digest food, supporting the health of our immune system, assisting in the production of important hormones, and even influencing our mood and feelings of happiness.
A gut overrun with harmful bacteria and other microorganisms such as parasites, Candida, or harmful gut pathogens, can lead to some serious health issues such as leaky gut syndrome, gut inflammation, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and much more.
To get rid of these harmful organisms, we can follow a specific protocol that utilizes natural herbs and compounds that help us detox and remove them from our systems. It is important to follow a specific protocol for each, as they are different organisms, and require different approaches in detoxing.