Microorganisms naturally inhabit and move through the body. Some are harmless, while others cause sickness. Infections can occur when parasites make their homes in your skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, liver, and other organs. Parasites require a host (e.g., human cells) to live and thrive.
Parasitic infections were once thought of as a problem that existed mainly in under- developed countries. After all, diarrheal disease (from parasites and bacteria) is the great- est worldwide cause of death. Global travel has been a major contributor to the spread of parasitic infections in North America. Contaminated water and food are also major contributors. In addition, better diagnostic techniques have provided a more accurate identiﬁcation of parasites and have led researchers to conclude that parasitic infections are much more common than previously thought. One laboratory that specializes in stool analysis states “almost 30 percent of specimens examined are positive for a parasite.” Diarrhea and abdominal pain are the most common symptoms of a parasitic infec- tion. However, in many cases of a parasite infection, these symptoms may not be pres- ent. A whole list of symptoms and conditions could be related to a parasitic infection. Examples include loss of appetite, fatigue, constipation, depressed immunity, food allergy, fever, chills, heartburn, stomach pain, inﬂammatory bowel disease, lower back pain, itchy anus, rash and skin itching, hives, weight loss, arthritis, bloody stools, mucus in the stool, colitis, Crohn’s disease, ﬂatulence, foul-smelling stools, malabsorption,rectal bleeding, mood changes (depression, irritability), and vomiting.
Parasites interfere with the normal activities of the cells they infect, which may lead to symptoms and disease. The secretions released by a parasite can trigger a bodily response in which the immune system attacks its own tissues. This is known as an autoimmune reaction. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Not all parasites are necessarily harmful. Some parasites live symbiotically in the diges- tive tract. It is thought that certain parasites become a problem only when the environ- ment of the body changes. For example, dysbiosis—the imbalance between friendly and potentially harmful bacteria in the digestive tract—can lead to certain parasites becoming pathogenic (disease causing). The nutritional status of a person, as well as a compromised immune system, dictates whether a parasite can become a problem.
Parasites are commonly transmitted through food that is contaminated with fecal matter (e.g., from food preparers who do not wash their hands after going to the rest- room), waste, and the water supply.
There are many different types of parasites. Following are some of the more com- mon ones in North America.
Blastocystis hominis. This parasite is detected in a high number of stool tests.
Researchers are unclear whether it is a pathogen, because many people carry it but do not have symptoms. However, it can cause various digestive symptoms, such as cramps, nausea, weight loss, bloating, and others. It is also associated with con- ditions like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, and arthritis.
Dientamoeba fragilis. Symptoms of this parasite, which resides in the large intestine, include diarrhea and abdominal pain.
E. histolytica. This amoeba is linked to diarrhea and a variety of digestive symptoms. Giardia. This is one of the most common parasites found in humans. It is transmit-
ted through water, in food, between children in day-care centers, via a fecal-oral
route, or through sexual intercourse. Epidemics from contaminated streams and community water systems occur every year in the United States.
Cryptosporidium. This is transmitted through contaminated food and water and from person-to-person contact. Explosive diarrhea is a common symptom. This par- asite is of particular concern for children who are HIV-positive, as their immune systems may not be able to ﬁght off the parasite, making it a life-threatening condition.
Ascaris lumbroides. This parasite causes the most common human worm infection in the world. Infection is common in the southeastern United States. In children, it can cause abdominal cramps and malnutrition. Fecal-oral transmission often occurs via uncooked or unwashed vegetables.
Hookworm. Hookworm is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world, yet cases do occur. It usually causes no symptoms, although a skin itch may be present. Acute symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, ane- mia, and many others. These worms can live up to ten years. They are transmitted via direct contact with soil containing the eggs of hookworms.
Strongyloides. The eggs of these worms can penetrate the skin and migrate to the lungs and the intestines. Most infections occur via the fecal-oral route. Infected people may be asymptomatic or may have various digestive problems. Liver and nervous system infection can also be serious problems.
Trichinosis. Infection occurs from eating undercooked or processed meat. There may be no symptoms, or else nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, and muscle pain (lar- vae can invade muscle tissue) can occur.
The conventional treatment focuses on antiparasitic medications to eradicate the infec- tion. Toxicity and side effects vary for each medication.
The ﬁrst step in treating a parasitic infection is to get a proper diagnosis. This is mainly dependent on a stool analysis. We highly recommend using a laboratory that specializes in comprehensive parasitology testing. Many of the stool tests done by clin- ics are not sensitive enough to pick up all of the different forms of parasites. Certain blood tests by your doctor can also help to pinpoint a diagnosis. In some cases, we treat patients for a parasite infection when they have the symptoms and the history that match a parasite infection, even though lab testing does not show a positive result. Some parasitic infections are hard to detect, but when diagnosis is uncertain, they should be treated. Natural therapies work well and should be used for a minimum of two months. One standard that many natural health practitioners follow is to treat for
Surprising Fact: Approximately 25 percent of the world’s population is infected with hookworms.
Surprising Fact: It is estimated that more than 1 billion people are infected with ascariasis world- wide, of whom 20,000 die each year.
one additional month after the symptoms of a parasite infection have cleared. In some cases, conventional antiparasitic medication may also be required. Please note that nat- ural treatment of parasitic infections should be done under the guidance of a knowl- edgeable health-care practitioner or doctor. Pregnant women should not follow the parasitic protocol in this section.
• Loss of appetite
• Depressed immunity
• Food allergy
• Stomach pain
• Inﬂammatory bowel disease
• Lower back pain
• Itchy anus
• Rash and skin itching
• Weight loss
• Bloody stools
• Mucus in stool
• Crohn’s disease
• Foul-smelling stools
• Rectal bleeding
• Mood changes (depression,irritability)
• Contaminated food or water
• A weakened immune system
• Dysbiosis (imbalanced gut ﬂora)
The following tests help assess a parasite infection: Immune system imbalance or disease—blood Parasite testing—stool analysis and blood work
Make sure that all fruits and vegetables are washed and cleaned properly. Meat and seafood products need to be thoroughly cooked. Avoid giving raw seafood to children.
Fresh garlic, ginger, and onions are excellent as prepared foods, because they have been shown to have antiparasitic effects.
Raw pumpkin seeds kill worms and parasites. They can be ground up if desired. Consume 1⁄4 cup to 1⁄2 cup daily with 8 oz of water.
Papaya juice has antiworm effects.
Food to Avoid
Sugar products should be reduced or avoided to optimize the health of your immune system.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Parasites
Super Prescription #1 Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Adults should take 30 drops or 250 mg three times daily. This herb has a long his- tory of use by herbalists and naturopathic doctors for the treatment of parasites.
Super Prescription #2 Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Take 20 drops or 200 mg three times daily with meals. Wormwood is a common herbal therapy for parasites and is generally used in a combination formula.
Super Prescription #3 Coptis (gold thread)
Take 20 drops or 200 mg three times daily with meals. This Chinese herb has antiparasitic effects.
Super Prescription #4 Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare)
Take 500 mg of the capsule form four times daily or as directed on the container. Oregano oil has powerful antibacterial and antiparasitic effects.
Super Prescription #5 Grapefruit seed extract
Take as directed on the container for a powerful antiparasitic effect.
Super Prescription #6 Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Take 30 drops or 300 mg four times daily. Goldenseal helps ﬁght infections in the digestive tract.
Super Prescription #7 Ginger (Zingiber ofﬁcinale) root
Take 500 mg, 20 drops of the tincture, or 1 cup of fresh tea four times daily. Gin- ger has antiparasitic effects and reduces intestinal bloating and cramping.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been shown to be effective against some parasites. Take 2 ml or drink a fresh cup of tea four times daily.
Take a probiotic containing at least 4 billion active organisms twice daily, thirty minutes after meals. It supplies friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and biﬁdus.
A combination parasitic homeopathic remedy helps stimulate the immune system to ﬁght off an infection. Take as directed on the container.
Propolis has been shown to ﬁght certain parasitic infections, such as giardia. Take
500 mg or 30 drops four times daily.
Rhubarb (Rheum ofﬁcinale) is often used in parasite formulas as a stimulating lax- ative to help clear the intestines of a parasite. Take as directed on the container.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute parasitic infections, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic infection, take a 6x, 12x,
6C, 12C, or 30C twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consul- tation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Cina is a speciﬁc remedy for pinworm or threadworm infections. The child is very irritable, does not want to be touched, and picks at the nose and the rectum. The child’s appetite is very great. There may be pale, dark circles under the eyes. The child grinds his or her teeth at night.
Filix Mas is a speciﬁc remedy for tapeworms. The person has swollen glands, an itchy nose, and dark circles around the eyes and feels irritable and anxious.
Natrum Phosphoricum is a remedy that can be used for all types of worms. The person has signs of overacidity, such as belching and heartburn. There is often a yel- low, creamy coating on the tongue.
Sabadilla is for a person with pinworms or tapeworms, characterized by itching of the rectum that alternates with itching of the nose or the ears.
Spigelia is a homeopathic remedy for worms. The person has an itchy rectum and pain around the navel. Bad breath is common.
Teucrium is a good remedy for pinworms, threadworms, and round worms. The child has itching and a crawling sensation in the nose and the rectum and feels very irritable and nervous.
Chinese herbal therapy and moxibustion treatments from a qualiﬁed practitioner can be helpful in the treatment of parasites.