Parasite. Now there’s a word that conjures up an uncomfortable images. But we Americans tend to frame those images in faraway landscapes- mostly the tropics. We don’t like to think that parasites can get to us right here in the U.S. of A. But they do.
- Types of Parasites
- How to Avoid Parasitic Infections
- How to Eliminate Parasites Naturally
- Recommended Supplements
Types of Parasites
The three basic types of parasites are:
- Protozoa–single celled organisms that live inside the body
- Helminths— multi-celled organisms that live inside the body (worms–flatworms, ringworms, roundworms, tapeworms)
- Ectoparasites–parasites that live off of or in our skin (mosquitoes, bedbugs, ticks, fleas, mites, lice, botflies, etc.)
Common Protozoa Parasites
Protozoa, the single cell parasites, are responsible for malaria, sleeping sickness and a variety of other illnesses found in other countries. Those most familiar to Americans are giardia (which tends to sweep through daycare centers) and toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, a disease usually transmitted through cat feces. (Some estimates state 30% of the worldwide population is infected with this parasite).
Giardia intestinali, also called giaradia, is a protozoa that can be spread very easily, especially among young children in a school or daycare setting. Cysts are shed through feces that can live on surfaces for weeks and in cold water for months. Infections are spread through fecal contact, through infected food, water, and soil, and via oral/anal sex. Groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams can become contaminated through agricultural runoff. Water contamination can include municipal water, pools, water parks, and well water.
Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, stomach cramps, fatigue, and nausea. Infections may resolve without treatment after 4-6 weeks or an infected person may become asymptomatic and continue to be a carrier, infecting others through poor hygiene. Severe infections result in destruction of the villi in the small intestine, the tiny hair-like structures needed for nutrient absorption.
Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite believed to infect up to one third of the global population. It may cause no symptoms in a healthy adult, but in infants and those with weakened immune systems, such as HIV/AiDS patients, it may develop into toxoplasmosis, a serious and sometimes fatal disease.
Infection is spread through contaminated dirt and water, fruits and vegetables, undercooked meat, organ transplant, blood transfusions, and cat feces.
Once ingested, this parasite enters the bloodstream. A healthy immune systems prevents further infection, but dormant cysts remain in skeletal and heart muscle as well as in the brain and eyes. But if a pregnant women becomes infected, the parasite crosses the placenta and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or health problems for the infant including blindness and encephalitis. Encephalitis can also occur in persons with a weakened immune system. A strong immune system is the best defense against this parasite along with good hygienic practices, especially in regards to dealing with cat feces.
Common Helminth Parasites
Helmiths, the worms, infect our bodies internally. Though many of these organisms are generally found in tropical areas, many infect Americans as well. Generally, we think of these critters living in our intestines, but not all take up residence there. Some do; they merely eat our food. Some attach themselves to the intestine wall and suck blood. Others burrow through the wall of the intestine and travel to the lungs or the liver. One burrows in the stomach lining. Another in the blood and lymph. Or the parasite may go straight through the skin into the bloodstream.
Anisakis is a roundworm found in fish and eels. Although this parasite cannot survive more than a few weeks in the human body, it can cause stomach pain and nausea during that time. To avoid this parasite, gut fish immediately after catching, freeze at -40 F for a few days or cook well.
Ascaris lumbricoides, the giant roundword, is estimated to infect 25% of the world’s population, though more in the tropics than other countries. Infection is passed from one human to another through food, water, or dirty hands that have become contaminated with feces from an infected person. Eggs hatch into larvae that penetrate the intestinal wall to enter the bloodstream. They stop in the lungs (pulmonary arteries) for a few weeks then break through the alveoli (the small spaces in the lungs) and travel up to the throat to be swallowed again. Good sanitation and hand washing help prevent this infection.
Enterobius vermicularis, commonly known as the pinworm, is the most prevalent worm infection in the United States. Infection causes anal itching. These worms live inside the intestines, eating our food, and generally travel outside of the body when the person is sleeping to lay eggs in the skin around the anus.
Pinworms are highly contagious. Generally the whole family should be treated at once, and if small children are in the household the school or daycare should be notified since chances are others are infected. Good sanitation and clean bedding are essential to eliminate the problem.
Ancylostoma duodenale (ancylostomiasis) is the hookworm. The hookworm enters the body through skin (usually the feet) and is common among barefoot fieldworkers. Hookworms travel through tissue until they reach blood or lymph, then they travel to the lungs where they are coughed up and swallowed. They take up residence in the gut and suck blood. Sometimes larvae migrate to muscle tissue and lie dormant. Pregnancy “awakens” the larvae then travel to the mammary glands and infections are passed through mother’s milk to babies. Good sanitation helps prevent this infection.
Fasciola hepatica, also known as the liver fluke, is prevalent where cattle and sheep are raised. Infection is caused by drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated water vegetation (such as watercress), or eating raw or undercooked liver from a contaminated animal. This parasite travels through the intestinal wall into the body cavity before finding its way the liver where it eats liver tissue. Eventually the mature worms block the bile duct causing liver inflammation.
Diphyllobothrium Latum, the fish tapeworm, is ingested through raw fish. Infection is usually asymptomatic, but symptoms may include stomach pain, weight loss, diarrhea, or constipation, bowel obstruction, vomiting, fatigue, inflammation of the bile duct or gall bladder. This parasite is also associated with B12 deficiency, as it absorbs most of the body’s B12 intake and can cause pernicious anemia.
Hymenolepis nana, the dwarf tapeworm, is the most common human tapeworm; it is found worldwide in temperate climates. Eggs are ingested through dirty hands, food or water containing eggs. Food and water can be contaminated with eggs through infected rodent droppings, and infection can also pass to humans if they accidently ingest infected insects, (beetles or fleas.) Eggs develop into adult tapeworms in the intestines. Tapeworms eat a human’s food and cause inflammation of the intestines. Other symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, changes in appetite and weight loss, vomiting, weakness, headache, muscle spasms, seizures and more. Prevention includes washing all fruits and vegetables, washing hands, and avoiding putting fingers in the mouth and nose.
The cattle tapeworm, the pork tapeworm, and the fish tapeworm are not common in the U.S., but be aware that undercooked meat could cause infection.
We are all, of course, familiar with ectoparasites. Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, lice, bedbugs, and scabies bite us and suck our blood. Lice and mites (such as scabies) move in and make themselves at home on our bodies. Lice live in our hair. Mites, such as scabies, live in tunnels burrowed in our skin.
Bedbugs are certainly making a comeback. In the last few years, news of infestations in hotels and homes have become commonplace, but recently there was news of an infestation in a movie theatre. The best treatment for bedbugs is high heat or extreme cold. Starvation doesn’t work. They can live for years without feeding and are difficult to kill. In many cases, carpets, furniture, and fabrics all need to be replaced. Prevention is the key with these bugs; be careful with traveling and used furniture.
These are mites that live in and on the skin. The females burrow tunnels just under the skin, laying their eggs along the way. The result is a rash with intense itching. Once a scabies infection is fully underway, the typical parasite supplement and diet protocol is standard, but the immune system must be rebuilt. Unlike internal parasites, you can treat scabies topically with undecenoic acid, clove oil, neem oil, oil of oregano, peppermint oil, lavender, cayenne, garlic, and any antiparasitic oil. This works well, but these tenacious parasites will bounce right back no matter what you do topically in someone who has a weak thyroid, gluten reactions, serious Candida, or anything else that will cause a compromised immune system. These mites can live up to three days without contact with a host and the dryer kills them too.
There are many essential oils to choose from to repel mosquitos. A healthy diet with lots of raw garlic tends to do the trick, too.
How to Prevent Parasite Infections Naturally
For any protozoa and helminth parasites such as ringworms, malaria, and giardia, the most important thing you can do is stay healthy and keep your immune system as close to bulletproof as possible. With a diet full of tons of fresh, raw, organic, nutrient dense produce, lots of garlic, and next to no refined, processed crap food, the body makes a poor host for parasites. Simple, processed foods like white sugar feeds them well. Parasites also like to feed off of damaged and decaying cells. Their mere presence, in large enough numbers, will cause cells to malfunction and die. Keep your cells healthy and your body full of food that doesn’t feed the bad microorganisms.
If you eat meat, only eat meat from a farm that treats the animals well. Factory farming promotes pathogens.
Good plumbing and other obvious sanitization make a huge difference in a population’s ability to defend against parasitic infections. Areas that have poor conditions where their drinking and cooking water comes in contact with their wastewater contaminated with fecal matter have the highest incidences of parasitic infection.
On the other hand, anyone in any country, no matter how developed their environment, no matter how clean they strive to be, is likely to have internal parasites at some point in their lives. Keeping the immune system strong so as not to succumb to the parasites is paramount. If they are going to try and make a home inside of us, a healthy body will not give them what they need to multiply and flourish. If your diet is decent, detox once or twice a year. Even better, always be detoxifying by eating right (see the two articles below) and keep your body healthy so you’re not easy prey, and be very cautious with uncooked meat (sushi is a common way to get a parasite).
How to Kill Parasites Naturally
Parasites hate gentian root, ginger, blackberries, raw cabbage, coconut oil, aloe, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, and papaya. Be sure to have some or all of these in your diet.
The most powerful antiparasitic herbal ingredients I know of are wormwood, berberine, oil of oregano, clove, and black walnut, and they can be taken together. MicroDefense has most of these in one capsule. I recommend getting black walnut and oil of oregano separately, along with extra berberine which has too many health benefits to list here. Also, consider diatomaceous earth.
Natural Remedies for Protozoa and Helminth Parasites
Doc Shillington’s blood detox and MicroDefense by Pure Encapsulations are two of the most potent combinations to kill parasites. For a bad infection, adjusting the diet, cleaning the colon, and fixing the entire immune system may be required (and should be done regardless). In most cases, a parasitical infection, or even just the suspicion of one, signifies it’s time to detox and fix the body.
Natural Remedies for Ectoparasites
Keeping the body healthy is paramount for external parasitic defense as well. Follow the same advice from the section above for protozoa and helminth parasites. The difference is you also have a ton of essential oils at your arsenal with ectoparasites (tea tree is my favorite, see recommended supplements). If you or anyone in your family is suffering from a parasitic infestation, replacing the furniture may be in order. All of the potentially contaminated laundry should be done to kill these bugs, and the dryer should run for extra time. Clean the home with essential oils like peppermint, clove, lavender, etc. and vacuum as many times a day as possible (bags should be tossed immediately, or the vacuum put somewhere so the bugs don’t simply climb back out to re-infest).
The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Eliminate Parasites
Heal the gut! If parasites are making a home in your body your gut is not healthy. If you suffer from any chronic disease you almost certainly have gut issues along with an abundance of Candida. Candida makes it easy for almost anything to pass from the gut into the bloodstream. An unhealthy gut is an open door for other infections. Killing parasites repeatedly won’t do much good in the long run with an unhealthy gut. See How To Heal Your Gut for more on that.
A healthy immune system fights parasitic infections. And a truly healthy diet aids the immune system in two ways: the body receives the nutrients it needs to fight a parasitic infection, to repair cells, and build new tissue and it provides the fiber from a diet consisting of 80% raw, organic, produce to help eliminate parasites in the small intestine and colon. Anytime someone suffers from a parasitic infection, it’s a good time for a full body detox and a long look at adopting a healthier diet.
Parasite Killing Supplement Stack:
- MicroDefense – Pure Encapsulations (specifically designed to kill parasites and Candida)
- Berberine – Thorne Research
- Shillington’s Blood Detox (will help rid the whole body of parasites and other toxins)
- Shillington’s Intestinal Cleanse (for those with slow bowel movements, this is a powerful intestinal cleanse that kills parasites)
- Tea Tree Oil (only for topical)
- SF722 – Thorne (the very best we know of for Candida)
- Diatomaceous Earth • Food Grade DE
- Mother Earth Organic Root Cider – Barrier Island Organics
- Oil of Oregano – Gaia Herbs
- Best Supplements To Kill Candida and Everything Else You Ever Wanted To Know About Fungal Infections
- Best Supplements To Kill Lyme and Everything Else You Ever Wanted To Know About Lyme Disease
- How To Eliminate Morgellons
- Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones
- Saadatnia, Geita; Golkar, Majid. A Review on Human Toxoplasmosis. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases. Nov2012, Vol. 44 Issue 11, p805-814. 10p. DOI: 10.3109/00365548.2012.693197.
- Parasites in Humans
- Mayo Clinic