Friday, September 5, 2014

Parasites in your bum howling at the moon? Tidbits on melatonin and immune modulation of parasites

Everyone has heard that parasites become more active with the full moon. A quick google search brings up plenty of articles and discussions on this phenomenon, but no clear answers. Some people have theorized that gravitational changes are the cause, but this doesn't make a lot of sense in regards to parasitic behavioral changes. So, what's causing the bugs to go out for a romp when the moon is hanging in the sky? Is this a myth? Psychosomatic?

I was browsing available medical literature on human sleep during lunar cycles when something caught my eye. Researchers observed human sleeping patterns during full moon activity and discovered that melatonin rates drop during the full moon. (Read about the study here.)

This immediately piqued my interest because a frequent talking point in the natural community is that children with gut issues...damaged guts, leaky guts, food intolerances, allergies, and the resulting behavioral labels that come with this situation such as autism, ADHD, SPD, etc have very hyper sleep patterns and are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Parents desperately turn to melatonin supplements in these cases.

Then I remembered something from my college days. Parasitology 101: melatonin in the host can influence the parasitic-host relationship. See, melatonin might be known as the sleep hormone, but it has immune system functions, too. It makes sense that if children are exhibiting immune system issues, they might also have low melatonin. (And it's chicken or the egg: could low melatonin be causing the immune system issues? And what caused low melatonin in that case?) At any rate, the wheels started turning.

I quickly typed in, "Melatonin parasites" and began reviewing the current medical literature on the topic. Sure enough, I found several references to the influence of this indolamine on parasitic infections. Melatonin mediates immune responses to parasites, controlling their reproductive cycles, their population levels, and host "fighting reaction" to infection. (See the studies here and here for examples.)

So, if you notice a change in your health during the full moon, especially regarding parasitic infestation and gut issues such as flatulence, constipation, and bloating, or mood changes such as irritability, insomnia, and brain fog, consider supporting your neurochemical balance in the brain, along with healing your gut. Research healthy foods that support serotonin and melatonin. Brush up on amino acids needed for neurochemical health. If you suspect parasites, touch base with a health care provider for testing. Depending on the type of parasite, things such as minced garlic, diatomaceous earth and various essential oils can help.

And the next time your kids are jumping off the ceiling, refusing to sleep, and running around like crazed zombies during the full moon, you might have an interesting answer for onlookers. "It's the parasites! The melatonin hormone has dropped and those parasites are howling at the moon!"

And you thought it was just the red hair!

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