052: Christa Orecchio on Overcoming Gut Infections: SIBO, Protozoa, & Candida

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Overcoming Gut Infections - SIBO, Protozoa, & Candida
Wellness Mama » Episode » 052: Christa Orecchio on Overcoming Gut Infections: SIBO, Protozoa, & Candida
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052: Christa Orecchio on Overcoming Gut Infections: SIBO, Protozoa, & Candida

What if your health problems were caused by a gut infection? How would you know? And how would you begin to heal yourself? Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Protozoa, and Candida are common infections that can wreak havoc on the immune system.

In this episode, I’m joined once again by clinical nutritionist Christa Orecchio to discuss these infections and how you can journey toward gut health.

Christa, who herself has overcome candida, is the founder of TheWholeJourney.com and the Gut Thrive in 5 program. She’s a TEDX speaker, author and TV show host who has helped thousands of people reclaim their health.

The Most Common Gut Infections

People with gut problems tend to lean in 1 of 3 directions:

  1. Bacterial overgrowth such as H. Pylori
  2. Parasites such as Protozoa
  3. Fungal/Yeast infection such as Candida

Treating these infections is not simply a matter of chasing the bug away. We have to give our gut a new “operating system” by creating balance in the genetic material of all the organisms within the gut that are affecting the microbiome. In this process, it’s important to use natural supplements gently so as not to cause damage to your gut’s lining or to your immune system.

Quorum Sensing

Quorum sensing is the term used to describe how bacteria communicate. It’s actually a very sophisticated process. Christa describes this as if you called a friend on a cell phone, only when they saw that you were calling, they instantly knew everything you wanted to tell them without even answering the phone. This is how bacteria can share their genetic code instantly and proliferate so quickly. We can interrupt this communication and peacefully “break up the party” using herbs and botanicals, including:

Christa’s 5 Step Process for Healing Sibo & Other Gut Infections

  • Slashing inflammation
  • Purging pathogens
  • Reseeding the gut with good bacteria
  • Healing leaky gut and optimizing hydrochloric acid
  • Terraforming (create sustainable life in the gut)

In this episode, we mention:

Christa’s video series on gut health

Get Christa’s eBook!

If you struggle with infertility or gut health issues, check out Christa’s “How to Conceive Naturally” eBook on Amazon.

Don’t Forget Bone Broth

When I’m short on time, my favorite source for ready made bone broth is Kettle & Fire. Check them out if you want the benefits of real bone broth, fast.

[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
Katie: Christa, welcome back. I’m so excited to have you back for yet another
episode and especially this one. I think it’s really going to help a lot of people
deep diving into gut infections, whether it be SIBO, which is small intestinal
bacterial overgrowth or Candida or … The whole lot that people may have
never heard of. We left off in the last episode with a general overview of the
microbiome. We were talking about step 2 in your whole 5 step process which
is dealing with the pathogens in the gut. I think this is an awesome place to
start now because we’re really going to talk more in depth about these
different types of pathogens and how maybe there is a different type of plan
for different types of pathogens. To start off, can you circle back and talk
about your own story a little bit and how you got so involved in gut health?

Christa: Yes, absolutely. I’m a Candida girl, that’s how I got into this whole health thing
in general. I had raging Candida and I wasn’t breast fed, I was a cesarean
baby, my dad would give us antibiotics instead of a tissue every time we
sneezed. Bless his heart, he thought he was helping but I was pretty much
immune to a lot of different basic antibiotics by the age of 6 and really lost my
high school years and my early 20s to adrenal fatigue and low thyroid. By all
traditional medical purposes, I was “healthy” and I knew I was only operating
at maybe 50%. I went on this quest to be able to heal myself of Candida and
that opened a gateway. We developed a process and a model to really
understand the bug, understand the opportunistic infection.

That gave way throughout my practice over the last 10 years of working with
people with gut infections to say, “Hey, we can’t just chase the bug, we have
to chase the combined genetic material of all the organisms within the gut and
that’s addressing the microbiome. We have to turn over the genetic code so
that it’s balanced and it’s healthy and locking it in in a way that the immune
system is now re-educated and can operate.” Almost like getting a brand new
operating system, it just operates so much more efficiently and effectively
going forward in the future.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a common story. So many of us have gotten to
where we are in health and understanding our own health because of a
problem. I love that in your case, you were able to turn your own struggle and
what you learned into a process that can now help so many other people
hopefully avoid some of those same problems. Let’s talk about in depth, more
about those problems, about what are some of the common gut infections that
you see? We were talking about your whole 5 step process. How do those fit
into the process of getting rid of the pathogens and is there a different
process for different kinds of infections and how you address those?

Christa: Yes, so within in the 5 steps, the first step we talked about slashing
inflammation and the second step is purging pathogens. I found that
everybody either leans basically 1 of 3 ways. They either lean towards bacteria
where they would have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, they have H.
Pylori or they lean towards protozoa or parasites has been a major issue for
them or problem or yeast and fungus and Candida. What we do in our gut
thrive program is we have our people fill out a customized assessment that’s
algorithm based that we’ve run for 2 years and before and after lab work to
make sure that it’s accurate. That determines the heaviest pathogenic burden
on someone’s system. Then that will determine, okay, if it’s bacterial, if it’s
protozoa, if it’s Candida then their diet changes to support creating balance
for that.

Their supplements are then directed to that and their self care and cleansing
techniques are also directed towards that. Because we are talking about the
microbiome, I think all programs address everything.

Just because it is a heavier … You’re leaning more towards bacterial, you still
have to address the yeast, you still have to address the Protozoa. You have to
do it systematically. We have a major issue with small intestinal bacterial
overgrowth. That’s where people are now constantly bloated, they have
mental fog and they’re constipated, we call it inveterate constipation. They
have just lost the ability for peristalsis and so much of it I would say is because
of different super bugs. We know how smart bacteria is and we know we can’t
just hammer it with antibiotics. It’s going to get smarter, we know good bugs
can turn bad, bad bugs can turn good. All of these things are really important.
We are also having a problem with the valve that is the gateway or the
checkpoint Charlie between the small intestine and the large intestine which is
the colon.

When you have SIBO, you have way too much of the bacteria that’s in the
colon coming up into the small intestine. When bacteria doesn’t belong, it
causes a ton of problems. This is also a major issue, we know about the gut
brain connection and that when our gut isn’t functioning well, we can’t quite
think straight. It is so important with SIBO or small intestinal bacteria
overgrowth to address the brain gut connection as well. You want to wake up
the brain and re-engage it in that autonomic function to get to the root of the
constipation. You have to do that figure 8; gut, brain, brain, gut. When you’re
talking about SIBO, that’s where a lot of the neuro activation techniques come
into play. I’m sure you’re familiar with work, where he talks
a lot about the vagus nerve and gargling and singing and different things that
can stimulate the vagus nerve.

Then other things that we can do for SIBO are close that ileocecal valve, get
that gateway nice and strong by closing that ileocecal valve and also keeping
the bacteria moving down. That’s why in our gut thrive program, we call them
plan S’ers that can get put into this plan. They’re doing salt flushes because it
forces that bacteria to consistently move down throughout the healing
process. It’s move the bacteria down, close the gateway and then you
reestablish order and those people, we’re going to be very careful as to when
and if we add in probiotics.

They can’t handle them like other programs can. Then you go towards people
who have had nasty protozoan infections, whether that be trovartia from
traveling or blastocystus homonus, which is really shown in clinical studies to
be a root cause of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We talk about all disease begins in
the gut and so we start to work with different types of protozoa, parasites and
this is where you would change your diet. For example, pomegranate seeds,
you add more of those and I’m all about food is medicine. Pumpkin seeds,
they’re very powerful purgatives but the also the plan is going to be heavier in
the things that can work like black walnut and wormwood.

Again, not in amounts that are too high because we want to give the power
and directive to the body which is infinitely wise to gently get rid of these guys
instead of wage an attack. When you wage an attack with botanicals, the
same way as you could with antibiotics, it’s the same thing as war and you end
up killing innocent civilians, which would be your symbiotic good bacteria. You
also end up destroying the land, which is the equivalent of leaky gut. We don’t
want to cause damage in order to do healing. Then we move into Candida or
the fungal track for people, a lot of people with chronic eczema and psoriasis,
they fall here. A lot of people with Lyme Disease fall here and so this is where
you’re going to really make sure to use your anti-pathogenic herbs.
Let’s say, we’re using E. Coli in the SIBO plan because it’s proven as effective
as antibiotics at getting rid of E. Coli. We’re going to be using things like
oregano oil and we’re going to be using cilantro and things that cleanse the
body of heavy metals at the same time that they’re cleansing them from
Candida. It’s really important to understand your health history and where you
fall so that you can address these gut infections. Like we talked about in the
last podcast, we can do it gently by interrupting quorum sensing. When we do
that, we interrupt the way that they communicate and this means less die off,
less metabolic waste, less damage to the gut lining and less damage to the
immune system.

Katie, I have to say you wrote one of the best blogs I’ve ever read on the
MTHFR genetic mutation, which now 30% of the population has and they have
trouble detoxifying. That’s why a lot of cleanses and detoxes make people feel
worse. The new model for cellular healing is as gentle as possible, in my

Katie: I absolutely agree, I mentioned that my husband is doing this process right
now. He’s actually, we think, dealing with SIBO based on … He had his
appendix removed when he was much younger. They didn’t get to it in time, it
had partially ruptured. He had his appendix removed and then came home
from the hospital and then a few days later had to go back to the hospital
because he had a secondary infection from that. He has C.Diff and then a
flesh eating bacteria. He was on really high dose IV antibiotics for 10 days and
then he was on oral antibiotics like multi-strain broad spectrum antibiotics for I
think for a month after that.

He had a huge … As you said, a war on his gut at that point. Even though he
eats really healthy and does all the right things in that aspect, he had this
imbalance in his gut bacteria that at that point, which I think now has become
full blown SIBO. Even though he does eat real food and he does make sure to
get sleep and he does a lot these things correctly, he still had this secondary
infection. We’re like you said, working on this gentle approach now to help
bring that back into balance for him.

Can you explain … I know you talked about quorum sensing just now and also
in the last episode. Can you delve into it a little bit more because I think it is so
fascinating and it’s something that I haven’t really heard from very many
sources other than you. I would love if you could give people a little bit more
of a deep explanation.

Christa: Of quorum sensing, yeah. Back in I would say the late 90s, early 2000,
scientists started to discover, microbiologists how bacteria communicate. We
used to think that they didn’t have the ability to form colonies and that they
were isolated, which is why we thought, “Okay, antibiotics, we’ll just knock
them out.” Now we realize they do have the ability, they are very communal to
form colonies and live together and build homes and that they don’t live in an
isolated way.

They have a much more sophisticated way to communicate than we do. I call it
a cell phone technology, which is quorum sensing, which is basically like Katie,
if you called me on my cell phone, I wouldn’t have to answer the phone, I
would just see that you’re calling and I know everything you want to tell me
and everything you feel about what you want to tell me. It’s literally like a USB
from your head to mine.

Their form of communication is super sophisticated, more than ours. They can
get a whole lot done. They can share their genetic code instantly, they can
proliferate quickly and life wants to live. That’s just the basic survival mentality
of every organism in this world. If you create a hospitable environment for the
pathogens to live, they’re going to enjoy that and they’re going to set up camp
and they’re going to stay there and then take over your neighborhood. That’s
why, what we have to do is we now know that we can use different types of
herbs in the right amounts and botanicals to interrupt the way that they
communicate, we change the intestinal terrain and it’s a lot more graceful.
It’s instead of having the cops come to a party and drag people out kicking
and screaming, which is going to leave a mess, this is like, “Hey, we’re going
to turn off the music and take away the refreshments.” We’re going to hope
they get the hint. It’s a much more graceful way to go about it. We’ll use things
like for example, a low dose of oregano oil, which is going to be working on
fungus and bacteria. We’ll use adaptogens like schisandra, lion’s mane which
is a mushroom that also helps with the nervous systems and leaky gut
throughout the process.

[Inaudible 00:13:16] which is an herb that’s a very powerful anti-viral,
goldenseal, Echinacea, we use things called the black wild carrot. Things like
clove and black walnut and wintergreen, really in their
right amounts so that it’s not too much of any one thing. Those antipathogenics
that we call them for each plan have a heavier bend towards
which plan that you’ve fallen to. Then they can do the work to interrupt
quorum sensing and to knock out some of these pathogens and usher them
out of the body. At the same time, you have to use things that break apart

If we’re going to kick them out of the house, we have to basically dismantle
their house first. I use something called diatomaceous earth and I mix that with
a very clean, powerful bentonite clay. Diatomaceous earth is going to
dismantle the biofilms, the clay is going to catch the toxins and the heavy
metals and then we’re going to usher these guys out of the body. That’s the
strategy there, in step number 2.

Katie: Yeah, I love it. As my husband is finding out right now, too, there is a different
diet during this process as well. Even though, like I mentioned, he eats a pretty
healthy diet normally. Just some things that he is focusing on, especially right
now as a part of your program. Can you talk about the diet and then also how
the supplements and diet might change through the different 5 steps of the

Christa: Right, the diet and supplements change through every step of the process.
When you’re getting into your step 2, you’re going to be using more things
that work to get rid of whatever it is you’re dealing with. You come to more
anti-pathogenics. For example, we’ve got most people, which maybe you guys
so you’re making this already Katie is with the cleansing pesto where we use
oregano and cilantro to have your food as medicine. We’re using parsley to
strengthen the kidneys and dill and really things that work towards antipathogenics.

For parasites and protozoa, that plan has as I mentioned
pomegranate seeds and they’re snacking on pumpkin seeds, raw papitas and
they can have pineapple and a little bit of papaya.

Everything is going to be low glycemic outside of that in terms of fruit. Our
Candida folks, they’re shifting to having more yeast eating foods, protozoa,
parasite people, I mentioned them. Then with what your husband is on right
now and the plan S and working on the SIBO, that is the most restrictive diet
plan because we really just don’t want to feed these bugs anymore. We’re
doing a 4 day… If I can say that he’s on now, 4 day bone broth fast so what
that does is that gives a super jump start to starve the bacteria. Especially with
SIBO when you’re doing that 16 day fast, you get to do a system reset. You
want to get to the point where you get that gurgling in your stomach and that’s
going to start the autonomic function happening again.

It varies, we want to make it very customizable for people who can’t fast.
There is an amended food program or for vegans or vegetarians there’s
different broths like a baler’s broth, a green broth and a vegetarian broth.
Some people, they have a histamine intolerance or they have a glutamine
intolerance and they can’t handle broth. While their diet changes, it’s also
highly customizable based upon how your body is reacting. You’re going to
be anchored, if you consume meat, you’re going to be anchored by
pasteurized high quality protein. You’re going to be using a lot of coconut
products because they’re such powerful anti-viral and anti-fungal and antibacterial.
You really want to make sure that they’re having coconut oil at least
once if not twice throughout the day and try to get as much nutrition as
possible in smoothies and really keeping the starches super low.

That’s going to be important for plans but especially plan S because we want
to get rid of … We want to be able to have … You feel good and feed your
thyroid and adrenals without feeding the bugs. That’s where resistant starch
comes into play because it works really well so a half a green banana in your
smoothie or the unmodified raw potato flour, we like to use cassava, making
tortillas out of cassava or we have a gut thrive [pancake 00:18:07] or butternut
squash pancake. Using the right types of starches are going to be really
important throughout the whole process.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I love how it’s just minor changes, it’s not … For most people,
if they’re already eating a pretty real food diet, it’s not going to be a drastic
change, it’s a lot about timing and adding in certain herbs and you’re really
good about tying all of that together. You’ve talked about all the different
steps of your gut thrive program but to review, can you walk us through a
broad overview of step 1, is this step 2, is this so that people can tie it all
together in their head?

Christa: Absolutely. Step 1 is slashing inflammation so the diet shifts, step 2 is purging
pathogens, step 3 is receding the gut with good bacteria. I am anti-probiotics
until we get to this point, that’s going to be really important. Step 4 is healing
leaky gut and optimizing hydrochloric acid, that is a very important step that I
missed in my early practice years. If you want long-term healing, it’s very
important to optimize HCl so you don’t leave yourself susceptible for
recurrence of things. Then step 5 is going to be your 80-20 balance and that’s
really how do you live and go forward from this process. Within step 4 and all
the way through step 5, we do something called terror forming.

This term came from Star Trek and it just means to take a formerly inhabitable
land and create sustainable, habitable life. You’re going to be doing this with
… Basically it’s like a garden, once you do the weeding then you plant the
seeds, it doesn’t mean you have perfect gut health after that, you have to feed
and water and nurture those seeds for a few months afterwards and that’s
terror forming. We start to feed these seeds with fiber and the right types of
probiotics and eventually work people off of supplements so you create this
self-sustaining Eco System within the gut.

Now you’re manufacturing a lot of your own vitamins, relying on supplements
this much and it’s as close as you can get in my opinion to being superhuman.

Katie: That’s awesome, I love and especially because … Going through it with my
husband right now and seeing his progress, just realizing that each of these
different steps has a finite amount of time which I think is so helpful because
for those who struggle with different gut issues, it can seem like it’s never
going to get better or that it’s going to take forever to finally heal your gut.
Most people just try to address it with probiotics especially if they’re just trying
to understand gut health for the first time. I love that you have it broken down
into such clear cut steps that make it easy to follow and also the person knows
there’s an end time. I think in any kind of health change, just knowing when
the next thing is going to happen or when there’s going to be an end to what
you’re currently doing helps stick with it so much more.

Can you also talk about, I know you’ve had some amazing results with people
that you’ve worked with on this. Since the gut’s tied into all aspects of health,
can you talk a little bit about some of the amazing things you’ve seen in
people’s own health changes with this kind of a program?

Christa: Yeah, I could, absolutely. In the last 15 months, we’ve taken about 4000
people through this gut thrive in 5 process. We’ve seen dramatic reduction if
not complete reversal of thyroid anti-bodies. We’ve seen people who have
been weight loss resistant for decades start to lose inflammation like 30
pounds on gut thrive program when nothing they’ve done for decades before
has helped because it releases that cellular inflammation and it turns over the
genetic code. The same way as having your gut bacteria work for you instead
of against you, if you’re the type of person that can smell the donut down the
street and gain 5 pounds then it’s not your fault if you’re eating healthy and
you’re not able to lose weight, it’s the gut bacteria that’s working against you.
That goes for metabolic syndrome, diabetes and then we have a major
problem with autoimmunity where people have Alopecia and Celiac and they
have Hashimoto’s and they have Fibromyalgia and they have all of these
things. One autoimmune disease opens the confusion gateway and it begets a
2nd and a 3rd. We’ve got a lot of gut fibers that have come to us where
nothing else has worked and they go through this process, they re-educate
their immune system, now their body can turn off that switch and they’re
having a reduction in everything. Now they’re not coming back when their labs
are being run, they’re not coming back with these inflammatory markers, it’s
probably the biggest thing, the immune pseudo kinds have
tremendously dropped down and this is a sign you’re reversing autoimmune

I’ve had one friend who went through the program who had huge bald
patches all over his head from Alopecia and the doctors told him it might take
2 years or more to get rid of which is hard to tolerate. It’s hard to get out into
the world when you feel like that and within 8 weeks, his hair was 100%
restored. We hear that with Eczema and Cyanosis so lots of things. I just think
it helps people get their lives back where they otherwise couldn’t heal from
adrenal fatigue because their gut infection is sabotaging all the work on their
adrenals or migraines are gone, insomnia is gone and people who have had
chronic colitis or Crones.

We’ve heard a lot of stories coming in of, “On my 20 mile drive to work, I knew
every bathroom on the free way because I had to stop five times. I went from
going to the bathroom 17 to 20 times a day to just 1 or 2 or 3 bowel
movements that are normal and formed.” That is life changing and it translates
to, “Now I can play with my kids, now I can show up for my relationships, now I
can really see what I want to do creatively in the world and I have the energy
to execute it.” We share this with our team all the time and because it’s why
we do what we do.

Katie: Yeah, I love hearing stories like that, it’s awesome and I love that you
mentioned autoimmunity as well because that’s going to be the topic of the
next episode, it’s really deep diving into that. I know this is becoming an
increasingly big issue across all types of auto immune disease and a lot of
people listening probably struggle with that maybe in some form or another. A
lot of them may be Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune issues so thank you for
your time in this episode. I would encourage everybody listening to join us
again in the next episode to really learn more about the autoimmune and
leaky gut connection and the additional factors that can help support the
autoimmune factor there. Thanks Christa for being here and I’ll talk to you
again in the next episode.

Thanks for Listening

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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


5 responses to “052: Christa Orecchio on Overcoming Gut Infections: SIBO, Protozoa, & Candida”

  1. Sun Avatar

    Really enjoyed this podcast! Is her recipe book still available? Couldn’t find it on your site…

  2. Pamela Sierzan Avatar
    Pamela Sierzan

    I’d like to find out more information on the customized assessment that you do.
    Thank you for your time,

  3. Becky Avatar

    It’s too bad her program is not more personal. I have a very serious infection throughout my body but would not do a program unless it is one on one.

  4. Rebecca M. Williams-Slocum Avatar
    Rebecca M. Williams-Slocum

    I am 10 weeks pregnant and have been AIP for 4 months. I found out I was positive for H Pylori the day before I found out I was pregnant. I am curious to know if and how it is possible to remove pathogens and continue on this journey while pregnant and also nursing.

    Thank you again for your support.

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