We’ve all heard the horror stories about a steely-eyed, sharp-toothed “Creature From the Black Lagoon” staring back at you from the toilet bowl. Some of this is exaggerated hype, but we inadvertently share our body space with many other creatures, some tiny and some relatively large, whether we want to think about it or not. It’s a creepy feeling to know they’re inside of us. But beyond the emotional repulsion — what harm can they cause, and are there ways to prevent them from trespassing or evicting them if they have already taken up residence? This article will give you the answers to these questions and more as you read Parasite Primer – The Basics.
Parasite Primer – What Are Parasites?
Parasites are freeloaders who live inside us and other animal hosts and feed, grow and reproduce within our bodies. There are over 100 different types of human parasites. The word comes from the Greek for “para” (food) and “sitos” (foo ). They do not provide any of their own sustenance, eating our food and, in some cases devouring our body tissues and organs. To make matters worse, they also excrete waste products that are toxic to our systems. Their presence can make us sick due to stolen nutrients, the physical effects of them taking up space in our bodies, and the toxic waste they give off.
Parasitic infections are most common in areas where sanitation and food preparation techniques are poor. Still, even in “civilized” countries, such as the United States, parasitic infections exist in large numbers. While some studies have estimated that up to 90% of Americans have some form of parasite infection, the situation is worse in other parts of the world. Parasitic infections are responsible for killing or disabling millions of people worldwide every year. These unwanted varmints are especially dangerous to folks with compromised immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS patients.
Experts estimate 80% of Americans are infected with parasites including Candida overgrowth and mold. Up to 50% of the USA water supply is contaminated with Giardia — one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the United States
Loretta Lanphier, NP, BCTN, CCH, CCH, HHP
What Kinds of Parasites Can Infect Us?
Two types of parasites can infect people and, in some cases, animals as well. They go by the very technical terms large and small.
- Large parasites primarily consist of the worm variety. The three most common types are roundworms, flukes, and tapeworms. Some can be quite large, up to three feet or longer, while others are only a millimeter or less. They typically find a home in your digestive tract where they attach themselves to the intestinal walls where they feed and multiply. Most remain in the intestines, where they rob us of nutrients and can cause intestinal discomfort. Others will burrow through the gut walls and enter the bloodstream, whereby they can travel to other parts of the body and cause even more mischief. They are often associated with malnutrition and anemia.
- Tiny parasites are microscopic creatures, some composed of only a single cell. The most common are amoeba and protozoa. They also remain in the intestinal tract, but they can be more dangerous and destructive when they do travel than their larger worm cousins. Due to their small size, they sometimes infect major organs of the body such as the brain, heart, lungs, and liver, causing substantial damage.
Since there are so many different parasites, let’s take a look at some of the most common ones here in the United States:
- Roundworm infections are among the most common intestinal parasites in the United States. There are many different varieties of roundworm infections. One of the most common is the pinworm.
- Pinworms are pretty common among children and can be passed from person to person through infected bedding, toys, or by touching with hands that have the microscopic eggs of the pinworm on them. They migrate from the intestinal tract to the anus, where the female adults lay their eggs. Patients will often have very itchy anal areas, and when they itch, they often will get the eggs on their hands or under their fingernails. If they touch food, utensils, or food preparation areas, they can spread the pinworms, infect others, or reinfect themselves. An easy way to test for the presence of pinworms is to place a piece of clear cellophane tape over the anus before bedtime and then remove it first thing in the morning before bathing or having a bowel movement. The tape can be taken to your health care provider to examine for evidence of pinworms or their eggs under the microscope.
- Threadworms are another common form of roundworm infection. This parasite can live in the soil for up to 40 years or more and is usually introduced to humans by walking in infected soil with bare feet. The worm enters the foot through the skin of the sole, and then this aggressive critter quickly enters the lymphatic tissues, the blood, and eventually ends up in the lungs. They migrate upward into the upper respiratory tract and are swallowed and introduced into the intestinal tract. Not as common here in the U.S. as they once were, you can still find them in foreign travelers and immigrants. Threadworms can cause significant damage to the lungs (difficulty breathing, coughing up blood or pus) and the intestines (diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting, and blood in the stool). Threadworms can even cause a sometimes fatal complication called hyperinfection syndrome, whereby the infection becomes systemic and can cause heart disease, meningitis, blood poisoning, and other life-threatening conditions.
- Tapeworm infections are another common type of large parasitic infection common to the U. S. The two most often found are both contracted by eating infected meats. Taenia solium is a tapeworm you can get by consuming undercooked pork. Taenia saginata is transmitted via raw or undercooked be f. These tapeworms are certainly not small, with some being discovered over 20 feet long! Imagine the damage that can do to your intestines. They can easily rob you of most of your nutrients, especially if the infestation is lar e. Anemia and malnutrition are common symptoms from both tapeworm varieties, but the pork-derived ones can be the more dangerous. If the eggs are allowed to reach other organs through the bloodstream, they can cause severe infections in the eyes, muscles, and especially the brain. Infection of the brain is called cysticercosis and can result in cysts in the brain that can trigger epileptic seizures.
- Protozoa infections can be passed through food but are most often water-bor e. They are not too common in the States anymore; they are among the most often-found parasitic infections worldwide, usually where water treatment facilities are inadequate or lacking. Typically, infections will manifest as cramping and diarrhea. Still, more severe cases can affect the heart, lungs, liver, brain, and other critical organs of the body. These are particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems. Remember the traveler’s mantra: Don’t drink anything that does not come in a sealed bottle.
- Toxoplasmosis is another parasitic disease that is relatively common in the States. It is usually transmitted through the feces of cats and can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies. This parasite attacks the central nervous system and can result in miscarriages, stillborn babies, and various birth defects. Pregnant women should never change cat litter or go near the litter box.
- Parasitic Fungi are known to cause diseases in humans and animals. In humans, parasitic fungi most commonly enter the body through a wound in the epidermis (ski ). Such wounds may be insect punctures or accidentally inflicted scratches, cuts, or bruises. Human diseases caused by fungi include athlete’s foot, ringworm, aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, and coccidioidomycosis. The yeast Candida albicans, a normal inhabitant of the human mouth, throat, colon, and reproductive organs does not cause disease when it is in ecological balance with other digestive system microbes. Disease, age, and hormonal changes can cause C. Albicans to grow so that the body’s defense systems cannot control it, resulting in candidiasis (called thrush when affecting the mouth). (R)
Other Diseases Linked to Fungus
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Sinus Issues
- Lyme Disease
If you suffer from a disease or illness that is not responding to treatment – think fungus – and ask your healthcare practitioner to test for fungus.
RELATED: – 11 Foods Highest In Mycotoxins
Parasite Primer – Symptoms of Parasites
Some general symptoms accompany most parasitic infections, but the concern is that they are seldom definitive and are often mistaken for other conditions. Some of the most common include:
- Itching, particularly in the anal area and near the nose and ears.
- Significant unexplained weight loss
- Sudden changes in bowel conditions (i.e., from constipation to diarrhea, or vice-versa)
- Diarrhea accompanied by foul-smelling stools that worsen near the end of the day.
- Nasal Congestion
- Chest pain
- Rumbling and gurgling in the abdomen, not accompanied by hunger pangs
- Constantly feeling hungry, often accompanied by weight loss.
More severe infestations can result in additional symptoms:
- Impacted bowel
- Chronic fatigue
- Bloody stools
- Muscle aches and pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Teeth grinding (especially at night)
- Cognitive issues (such as disorientation or memory loss)
Diagnostic techniques that may help pin down parasitic infections include:
- Ova and Parasite (O & P) test: A series of three to six stool samples collected every couple of days and then examined for evidence of parasites or their eggs.
- Blood tests can also be helpful. They can indicate general evidence of infection due to increased white blood cell counts, but sometimes antibodies that are present can be associated with specific typed of parasites.
How Can Parasitic Infections Be Treated or Prevented?
Many drugs are available to treat parasites, but as with most medications, they are pretty potent and have dangerous side effects, especially for children and pregnant women.
The good news is that you can avoid most parasitic infections by using common sense lifestyle and dietary guidelines:
- Never eat raw or undercooked meat or fish, especially pork and beef. Be especially careful if you are traveling outside of the country. Food sources are often not well regulated, and preparation techniques and cleanliness of facilities may be less than desirable.
- Be careful about drinking from public water systems. That goes for here in the U.S. as well as abroad. Distilled water is best.
- Limit dairy, fat, and sug r. Parasites thrive on these kinds of foods.
- Oxygen-based colon cleanse. Perform a high-quality, oxygen-based colon cleanse to rid your gut of accumulated fecal matter and parasites embedded in it. They have been getting a free lunch long enough. The oxygen components will destroy the anaerobic parasites and feed the good bacteria that you want present in your intestines.
- Follow the colon cleanse with a parasite and harmful organism cleanse. Choose one that is natural and effective against all intestinal parasites. A parasite cleanse should be performed at least four times yearly.
- Start taking a probiotic supplement to help replenish the good bacteria (flora) in your intestines.
Health Benefits of Parasite Cleansing
Effective parasite cleansing promotes healthy detoxification and freedom from most parasite side effects. It also helps to turn your body into an environment hostile to harmful organisms. Performing two to three-yearly parasite cleanses can rejuvenate your energy levels and help you feel better. Below are the main health benefits of parasite cleansing:
Many parasites make their home in your liver, bile duct, and intestines. Once you eliminate these parasites, you will notice improved digestion. The liver produces bile, which pushes through biliary tubes to reach the bile duct. Your gallbladder stores the bile, releasing it when you eat to help to emulsify fats. When your digestive organs are full of parasites, they won’t work optimally, which results in digestion difficulties and causes other health issues, like allergies or pain. During your parasite cleanse, you may want to focus on castor oil packs and coffee enemas to work on your liver and gallbladder health.
Heightened Mental Clarity
Have you ever struggled with brain fog? Do you experience difficulty remembering something, even though it feels right on the tip of your tongue? You find yourself re-reading the same sentence repeatedly, but you are unable to process it as you used to? Brain fog has many probable causes, with neurotoxins released by parasites could be one of them. After cleansing, you will definitely notice your mental acuity becomes sharper, and your thinking becomes clearer.
Increased Energy Levels
You can imagine that having hundreds and thousands of parasites stealing all your nutrients and minerals can cause some severe fatigue. Often, doctors are unable to pinpoint the cause of the fatigue and may diagnose you with fibromyalgia or irritable bowel, but the root cause could be parasites. Specific pathogens, like hookworms and babesia, can cause anemia because they affect your blood. Battling these overgrowths will surely restore your energy and vitality without extra cups of coffee. Being able to absorb the nutrients you intake rather than having them stolen will help you get back to normal energy levels.
Vanishing Rashes and Skin Issues
The skin is one of your organs of detoxification and elimination. Toxins, parasites, and even eggs exit your body through your skin and can cause itchy rashes or sores. Some herbal parasite cleanse products ingredients are broad-spectrum herbs that target parasites and viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, toxins, and Candi a. This means that performing a parasite cleanse is cleansing more than just parasites. It’s also tackling pathogens that might be causing your skin rashes too. Either way, you may find a big difference in your skin after parasite cleansing.
Natural health and wellness experts understand that parasites wreak havoc with more than your digestion. If you feel an increase in irritability, anxiety, depression, or other mood concerns, parasites can be the culprit. Rest assured, you are not alone. For example, with infections such as Lyme, the brain’s chemistry is affected, as well as neurotransmitters — as neurotoxins build up and severely alter your mood. You might experience a flare-up of mood-related symptoms while performing a parasite cleanse but then enjoy a much more stable mood afterward.
Parasites get much of their energy from sugar, so it’s not surprising that they can cause you to crave such things as ice cream, crackers, and bread. When performing a parasite cleanse, it’s crucial to eliminate sugar and grains so you’re not feeding the pathogens. Most people will notice their cravings beginning to disappear as parasites are eliminated.
Improved Joint Function
Parasites release toxins that can cause systemic inflammation and can cause joint and muscle pain. Some experts believe parasites can seek out your old injuries to settle into, making soreness in those areas even worse. When cleansing, using an infrared heating pad or infrared sauna can help with the pain. Epsom salts baths are effective in relieving joint pain.
Stronger Respiratory Health
Certain parasites, like lung flukes, live in the lungs and directly affect your respiratory heal h. Other parasites release toxins that may affect your respiratory system causing shortness of breath, air hunger, burning lungs, or other symptoms. You may want to try a Himalayan salt inhaler to naturally and temporarily calm irritated airways while you cleanse out the critters. In fact, a parasite cleanse might be the “breath of fresh air” you’ve been wanting.
Do you ever get unexplained migraines that are so debilitating that you are nauseous for 24-hours and can’t handle the slightest light or quietest sou d? Or just frequent dull headaches that don’t go away no matter how much water you drink? If you have neurological Lyme or parasites with an affinity for the brain, you may experience severe headaches due to the infection.
Don’t be discouraged if you experience some headaches during your cleanse. As with many of the above benefits, you may experience a slight worsening of current symptoms before you experience an improvement. Peppermint or lavender essential oils might provide you with temporary pain relief.
Improved Immune system
Parasites are intelligent creatures who can trick the immune system into thinking they belong in the body. This survival tactic ensures their survival but causes your immune system to weaken over time. Now safe from being attacked, these parasites feast on all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs for optimal health. When parasites weaken your immune system, it opens you up to other infections as well.
Enhanced Nutrient Absorption
You’ll notice better health when you no longer have pathogens gobbling up your nutrients. And for many, this is something they haven’t felt for years. You will see clearer skin, stronger nails, hair that grows thicker, and restful sleep. When the parasites are gone, you’re getting back all the nutrition from your food and supplements, and you will begin to feel the benefits of well-being.
Less Intestinal Concerns
Once you get deep into a parasite cleanse, you should notice less gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other stomach and digestive tract issues. That doesn’t mean the cleansing process will be free of those symptoms — they could likely flare up as you eliminate pathogens. Lyme expert Dr. Jay Davidson eliminated two 20-inch worms during his parasite cleanse and noticed improvements in his digestive system afterward. Coffee enemas can help support your liver and clear the bugs out faster.
Understanding Herxheimer Reaction
For some very sick individuals, including people with chronic fatigue syndrome or hefty loads of viruses or bacteria in their bodies, cleansing from parasites and harmful organisms generates detoxification symptoms — known as the “die-off effect” — that may be unpleasant.
The “die-off effect,” or Herxheimer Reaction as it is medically called, refers to symptoms generated by a detoxification process. If you are already sick, you should be aware of the possibility. For this reason, it may be advisable to consult first with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner before doing a cleanse.
Die-off symptoms may include extreme fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, muscle/joint achiness, or flu-like symptoms. The severity usually differs from person to pers n. Keep in mind that such symptoms are positive signs. Nevertheless, they can be unpleasant and inconvenient. Some people may not want to continue because of this inconvenience. Others handle it better. Others experience no such effect.
What you can do in case of substantial detoxification symptoms using supplements/herbs: Drink at least 4-6 cups of distilled water between each dose. Reduce the number of capsules, or even stop them altogether for a while. You may need a day or two, or even a week, to allow your body to process the “die-off.” You can resume the supplement at a lower dose and increase it slowly when you feel better. Vitamin C to bowel tolerance is also recommended for “die-off” symptoms.
It is a full-time job to make sure you and your family eat well and get the proper nutrition you need to stay well. Get rid of the parasites that work against your efforts and make a difficult job even harder by performing adequate parasite cleansing. Your body will thank you with renewed energy and a bit more pep in your step.
References and Research
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