For the Snow Birds

It’s almost that time of year up here in Canada where those of us who are able to get the heck out of dodge before the winter hits start making our way south.

Whether your getaway is short or long, if you’re planning on spending the winter months basking on sun-filled beaches, the biggest impediment to an enjoyable time away is the dreaded traveller’s diarrhea.

While viruses and parasites are sometimes the culprit, the most commonly identified bacterial cause is from ETEC (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli).   ETEC secretes toxins that can wreak havoc on your intestines.  Who’s at risk for developing traveller’s diarrhea?  If you are immunosuppressed, have an inflammatory bowel disease, or diabetes, you’re a little more at risk.  Also, if you’re taking an acid blocking medication, you will also be at higher risk.  The harsh acidic environment of our stomach kills most bugs before they reach our intestines.  It’s our intestines main line of defense.

So what can you do other than the standard “don’t drink the water” type recommendations?  I suggest you put together a travel arsenal and take it with you.  I like to refer to the strategy as a “weed and feed” approach.  In a ziploc bag, I suggest you bring the following:

1.  “Weeding” agent number 1: Oil of Oregano.  The idea here is to have a regular flow of naturally occurring, safe, and effective agents that will nuke the bugs that you are likely to encounter.  A 2005 study looked at 324 different strains of disease causing bacterial strains from Mexico and tested them against 11 common essential oils.  Origanum vulgare (oregano), Cinnannomum verum (cinnamom), and Thymus vulgaris (thyme) exhibited the highest and broadest antibacterial activity against the tested bacteria including E. coli.  If you have any of these already, take what you’ve got.  If not, here’s what I recommend.

This stuff is potent, I recommend putting a few drops in a bit of juice rather than taking it on it’s own.  Tomato juice, in my experience, cuts the taste the most.  Warning: you may smell like pizza for a few minutes.

2.  Weeding agent number 2:  Allisyn.  Allisyn is a potent extract of garlic and cinnamon that covers for other parasites (like Giardia) and the bacteria that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae).

2.  The Feeding agent.  Some high grade probiotics.  I recommend HMF Forte by Genestra.   This is something you take prophylactically.  You want the healthy bacteria there to crowd out the harmful ones.

With the three agents listed above, I recommend taking the probiotics in morning, and the oil of oregano and Allisyn in the evening rather than together.

If you’re planning a trip, and you’d like us to put this kit together for you, give us a ring (250-494-9496) or send us an email ( and we’ll send it out to you ASAP.  If you have any further questions about health concerns related to travel or prescriptions you may want to have on hand when you go, come see us in Summerland before you leave.


Dr. Bentham

For more information and some nerdy science, see the link below.