101 Ciguatera Poisoning
This is an audio interview with Levi ‘Turbo’ Brown about his experience with ciguatera poisoning after eating some affected fish from North Queensland. Turbo developed symptoms shortly after arriving home and eating a Parrot fish over 2 nights. He joined me after spending 3 weeks off work, sick at home and spending his time doing extensive research into Ciguatera poisoning. In this interview he shares a fair bit about what he has learned from his experience and research. We talk about avoiding contracting the illness, treating and dealing with symptoms along with further information about where to find out more and join others dealing with ciguatera poisoning.
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101: Ciguatera Poisoning Interview Times Quick-Guide
2:00 What is ciguatera poisoning?
Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a form of food poisoning caused by the consumption of fish that have accumulated a type of sodium channel activator toxin called ciguatoxins (CTXs). CTX are produced by dinoflagellates of the genus Gambierdiscus in warm tropical waters. These dinoflagellates are found on algae and coral and are consumed by herbivorous fish species. As these species are preyed upon by larger predatory species the toxin can accumulate in them to the point where they are toxic to humans. This process is called biomagnification. CFP (ciguatera food poisoning) affects more than 50 000 people each year and as yet there is no known cure and treatment is usually for symptom relief.
4:00 In what parts of the world do people come into contact with ciguatera?
6:50 What are the symptoms?
8:30 Turbos personal experience with cig. From how he contracted it to whimpering with me in the studio about the rough symptoms.
14:40 How long does ciguatera poisoning last?
16:00 Is ciguatera often misdiagnosed? the story of a guy eating an 80lb grouper in the U.S
19:00 What are the potential treatments?
Activated charcoal for the digestive system immediately after symptoms appear.
Home Remedies include; Octopus Bush which is high in Rosmeric Acid. Rosemary and Basil are both seen as potentially curative. Lots of water to give your body every chance to flush the toxin from your system is also advised.
No Go Foods/Drinks include; Alcohol, all seafood, nuts, coffee and other stimulants.
26:00 Prevention is the best cure.
University of Florida has some good information on how to avoid it but the main points are;
- Avoid eating tropical reef fish in areas known to contain the toxin (easier said than done)
- Eat small portions. Take the fish home and slice yourself of a piece between 50-100 grams to eat. If no symptoms are experienced in the 24 hours following ingesting you know the fish has a better chance of containing none to relatively small amounts of the toxin.
- Eat smaller fish (although this is not fool-proof)
- Avoid the Roe and Viscera of the fish (contains higher amounts of the toxin)
- Avoid taking fish from areas that have undergone significant habitat disturbance
- Avoid fish from the wind ward side of oceanic islands
- Avoid moray eels (some people eat them in parts of the world) and other large predatory fish in at risk areas
- If hunting in a new area ask the locals what they avoid.
31:45 Can you avoid the worst of it by leaving 3-4 mm of flesh closest to the skin? This comes anecdotally from a spearfishing trip with mates (I can’t remember who said it)
36:00 Shout Outs – Thanks for reaching out to us! Feedback is always welcome
Dane Stevens in Timor
We got interviewed on the Half Hour Intern about all things spearfishing, you can check it out here
Jesse Hall a truck driving NovaCastrian
Grant Laidlaw from Scotland
Latest subscribers to the Noob Spearo Newsletter; Pj Kotzé from South Africa, Julian Blair & Corey Lowrey from Arkansas.
38:00 Potential Help’s for people dealing with Ciguatera Poisoning
Ketogenic (Paleo style) Diet. Turbo believes that this has helped significantly ease the discomfort and perhaps accelerate the recovery process. After listening to this interview about the Ketogenic diet you might want to give it a try. For an overview of the Keto Diet check this post out | this book presents a practical plan for giving Keto a trial
Octopus Bush. Turbo has discovered further evidence that it works and he shares about how people in Australia can find some for themselves. Please take caution with identification. Here is the link for known Australian occurrences of the Octopus Bush Locations
Facebook Support Group for Ciguatera Sufferers. People on here discuss their experiences and the latest in helpful advice about all things Ciguatera. Group Here
Drugs that may help to ease symptoms
Keep a log book for tracking symptoms, food and everything else. Check out this one, custom made for people dealing with ciguatera
Turbos Advice after research and 3-4 weeks experiencing a fairly severe case of ciguatera poisoning.
“Dont dwell to much on it because there are some horror stories and more often than not your experience will not be as dramatic”
If you have an experience or some advice with ciguatera we would love to hear about it. Please share your story in the comments
Other tips that have been passed on;
- Touch uncooked flesh to your tongue. If it goes tangy and numb (foul taste) then its no good. Tip from a spearo on Northern Freediver via commercial fisherman.