The Parasite changing human behaviour

June 20, 2017



Who do you think you are?...really. Are parasites manipulating your behaviour and your energy sources?

Lets break down the basics, science shows us that we are a mass of micro organisms working together to create life. So what is a mass? Put plainly, 90% of you is not you.


Sonya Lee addresses behaviour, and health for many reasons.

Poisons impact our neuroscience and hormones, responses and ability to adapt and comprehend new information. The toxicity that comes with being too acidic can also limit the ability to receive and respond to new ideas. And as this article shows our own unique microbial world influences our responses to our environment as well.


Changing your health means freeing your mind your vitality and can lead to amazing unexpected rewards.


In 2005  we had the major census of our microbial tenants. The studied was conducted on healthy people, meaning those with Acne, bad tooth decay and more serious ailments were excluded. After taking swabs from every area of the human body that could be accessed with a probe, the outcome was this. The sum total of viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other organisms that dwell within each of us came to  more than one hundred trillion organisms, this dwarfing the population of human cells by a factor of 10.


The amount of genetic material of microbial origin surpassed our own by 150 times… meaning, 90% of you is not you….hmmm food for thought.


So rather than an us and them attitude, I like to acknowledge the fact that we (you and I) are made up of trillions of organisms working together to provide you the life you have. You and I have the ultimate control of understanding what it takes to provide ourselves with the best quality and supportive microbes to enjoy the life we want…


So what happens when circumstances enable a ‘hurter’ (parasite) to get active in our bodies world, noting that the same species of bacteria may be a helper (symbiotic), a harmless freeloader (a commensal) or a hurter (parasite), depending on circumstances that are constantly in flux.


I think it is important to note we have some great mechanisms for keeping ourselves safe from controlling and life damaging microbes, including the skin and the more recently studied emotion of disgust and repulsion.


So lets cover you are what you eat from this prospective.. And then I’ll share some mind blowing facts about what parasites are doing to get you to do what they want to keep themselves alive!


Your Gut microbe residents share in your food from every meal and in return aid digestion, synthesizing vitamins, and disarming dangerous bacteria that you ingest. They also churn out virtually every neurotransmitter that tunes our emotions – GABA, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and noradrenaline – as well as hormones with psychoactive properties.


Scientist now know that microbes influence whether you are happy, sad, anxious or calm, energetic or sluggish. There is so much more to this gut world and story but I am going to stay with the Parasite affect!


Now let me share some fascinating facts about the power of parasites to manipulate their hosts behaviour.


During my research I came across the “Zombie Ant” and Ant infected with parasitic fungus called Ophiocordyceps. While on the ground, an ant picks up fungal spores, which send out shoots that invade its body. The fungus then instructs the insect to mount vegetation and lock onto the underside of a twig or leaf. Once the ant is frozen in place, the fungus sprouts from its head and forms fruiting structures that burst, raining spores down on ants below, and the cycle repeats – that’s one hell of a predator, that can take complete mind control of its prey.


Continued articles and examples of parasites manipulating insect and animal behaviour ensued. There are all sorts of parasites out there that get into some organism, and parasitize the organism and increase the likelihood that they , the parasite, will be fruitful and multiply.


The Rabies virus for example manipulates the host and knows how to make them rabid and want to bite someone. The saliva contains the virus particles and gets passed along.


There is a barnacle that rides on the back of some crab and is able to inject estrogenic hormones into the crab if the crab is male, and at that point the male’s behaviour becomes feminized. The male crab digs a hole in the sand for his eggs, except he has no eggs, but the barnacle sure does, and has just gotten this guy to build a nest for him.


There are wasps that parasitize caterpillars and get them to defend the wasp’s nests for them. And other wasps that perform neurosurgery on a roach and then ride on its back, pull an antennae and the roach heads straight into the wasps lair to be food for its lava.


So I looked further as the question continued to arise in me and the books I was reading, what are parasites doing to human behaviour…especially as we now know we are really a mass a micro-organisms 90% microbes in fact.


Now comes the amazing story and deeper research that has begun on understanding the “Toxo” parasite. And as studies are beginning to be researched on mammals.

This is the Cat faeces parasite that pregnant women are warned about as it,  a protozoan called Toxoplasma or “Toxo” for short. And this getting into a fetal nervous system is a disaster. Most pregnant women or those around pregnant women will get skittish around cat litter, faeces, cat bedding, or cat anything quite naturally as it could carry Toxo.


Toxo can only reproduce sexually in the gut of a cat. It comes out in the faeces and gets eaten by rodents. Toxo’s evolutionary challenge is how to get back inside the cats’ stomachs. It could have done this a number of unsubtle ways like crippling the rodent for easy cat prey, it has however done something far more sophisticated. Toxo has developed a capacity to alter the innate behaviour in rodents.


Rodents are completely hardwired to run away from the smell of cats, the cat pheromone (which they wee everywhere). But if you take a Toxo infected rodent, they are no-longer afraid of the smell. In fact they become attracted to it, and go up to it and check it out. So they are now much more likely to end up back in a cats’ stomach.


Since initially discovering this, and not knowing where the parasite just made the rat brain turn to mush, just nonspecific behavioural chaos, more research has been done to show that these are incredibly normal animals, all other senses and social behaviour and learning and memory are normal. Has Toxo destroyed the fear circuit? No, not his either. These rats remain afraid of bright lights, and big open spaces.


What was ultimately discovered is, Toxo gets into different areas of the brain, it then preferentially knows how to home in on the amygdala which is all about pathways of predator aversion. This is the area of the brain that is hyperactive in people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Then, Toxo takes the dendrites (branches and cables that neurons have to connect to one another) and disconnects them, shrivels them up. The parasite unwires the critical part of the brain for fear and anxiety.

But that’s not all, when a Toxo infected rat smells cat pheromones they are attracted to it, they are sexually aroused. In males their testicles get physically swollen. So somehow this parasite knows how to make cat urine smell sexually arousing to rats, and they go and check it out. Wow!



So what about humans. What is known is that Toxo has this one gene which allows it to plug into the whole world of mammalian reward systems. So when a human is infected, it has phases of inflammation, but eventually goes into a latent asymptomatic stage, this is when cysts form on the brain. It is this stage in rats when behaviour starts happening, and the parasite starts to make tyrosine and hydroxylase.


Studies on Toxo infected humans are relatively new. But what has been shown is with neuropsychological testing on Men is they get a little bit impulsive, women less so. Two different study groups have reported that people who are Toxo infected are three to four times more likely to be killed in a car accidents involving reckless speeding.


During these early research days it was discovered that an older surgeon from 40 yrs prior had told his students, if you get organs from a motor bike accident (as they were cover organ transplantation) check the organs for Toxo “I don’t know why, but you find a lot of toxo”.


At this point the connection to recklessness is apparent but the science of infection and impact is not. Much like the rat whose innate behaviour to avoid and run from cat pheromones is turned to attraction. The stimulus of humans, more so males is to be more reckless and perhaps do stupid things that normally their innate behaviour would tell them not to do.


There is a longstanding study and statistical link between Toxo and schizophrenia, one interesting link here is that the dopamine and the tyrosine hydroxylase gene that Toxo somehow took from mammals, allows it to make more dopamine. Dopamine levels are too high in schizophrenics. And in case you’re wondering, rats given dopamine suppressor medication go back to repulsed behaviour to cat pheromones.


One last fact I couldn’t go past. The people who know about Toxo and its affect on behaviour are in the U.S. military. They’re interested in Toxo. Not surprisingly as studying a parasite that makes mammals perhaps do things that everything in their fiber normally tells them not to , but suddenly with this parasite on board they are more likely to go ahead and do it…..


Holistic health addresses behaviour, and health for many reasons.

Poisons impact our neuroscience and hormones, responses and ability to adapt and comprehend new information. The toxicity that comes with being too acidic can also limit the ability to receive and respond to new ideas. And as this article shows our own unique microbial world influences our responses to our environment as well.


Changing your health means freeing your mind your vitality and can lead to amazing unexpected rewards.

Discover more about your body and improve your wellness

Contact Sonya Lee for an initial consultation today.




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