Don’t be a human hotel. OK…. what I’m talking about is parasites, but I was afraid you wouldn’t read this if I said the word. Parasites? ParaWHAT??? No way not me—I don’t live in a 3rd world country! It may surprise you then, to learn that it has been estimated that millions of Americans are infected with some manner of parasite(1). YIKES!
It’s time to bring this out in the open. Burying our head in the sand will not make it go away. Today I will address a few important things about parasites.
What exactly are parasites?
Parasites are organisms that derive (steal) nourishment from other living organisms (us). They may be single-celled organisms or very long worms. Infection is transmitted through contaminated food, water, insect bites, and from contact with an infected human or animal.(2) The prevalence of parasitic infection was found to be 32% of people tested in a study done in 2000, and many were considered asymptomatic.(3) I think the prevalence is MUCH higher than that.
How to tell if you have a parasite
It may not be as simple as you would think. According to the director of Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Parasitology Laboratory, “they don’t cause symptoms, or they cause very minimal symptoms, so they’re not likely to come to medical attention.”(4) HMMM…. could it be that they don’t cause RECOGNIZABLE symptoms, that one would EXPECT? I think this is far more likely. The issue is that many symptoms are vague and attributed to other causes, or thought due to “normal aging.” (I hope you know by now how I feel about THAT term!) Here are some of the more common symptoms:
Diarrhea and abdominal cramping are the symptoms that we most likely think of with parasitic infections, but constipation is also common. Liver flukes gain access to the bile ducts through the small intestine and then ascend into the liver where they block bile flow (5). This can cause constipation and interfere with detoxification, thereby causing a myriad of other symptoms.
Brain inflammation from the toxins can lead to memory difficulties and trouble concentrating.(6)
Aches and pains
Joint and muscle pain may be from direct space-occupying parasites damaging organs, or it may be from the toxins they secrete. The feeling may be described as sore all over as if you worked out really hard, even though you didn’t work out at all.
A severe no-matter-how-many-B-vitamins-you-take fatigue may be a sign of parasites. Two explanations are that they steal energy and nutrients directly from us, and the toxin issue again.
Symptoms here range from vast swings in emotion to unrelenting anxiety or depression.(7)
Skin rashes and breakouts
This could be directly from the toxins, or indirectly from our immune system activation in response to the parasites.(8)
Sleep disturbances may be from the activated immune system or toxins.(9) Think of parasites especially if your insomnia is worse around the full moon, as this is when parasites are the most active.
This one seems weird, but all I can tell you is that many consider bruxism (teeth grinding) a tell-tale sign of parasites.(10)
Difficulty recovering from other infections and toxins
Parasites can act as reservoirs for microbial infections like Lyme disease and its co-infections. They also store and release heavy metals. If you have chronic infections or toxicity it may be difficult to recover until these reservoirs are eliminated.
Grossed out yet? Don’t worry, treatment is available. There are both prescription medications and herbal remedies to help you rid these life-sucking zombies. I personally prefer to start with herbal remedies as they are a little more gentle.
Numerous prescription medications are available. They are often used in a rotational protocol.
- Pyrantel pamoate
Herbals with antiparasitic properties
- Clove—contains the most powerful germicidal agent in the herbal kingdom, eugenol (11)
- Garlic—must be raw and crushed or chopped as only this form has allicin, the chemical to kill parasites
- Mimosa Pudica Seed—becomes gelatinous and very sticky in the intestines, covering and smothering the parasites
- Papaya—consider a 4 day cleanse; soak flesh in apple cider vinegar for one day then consume fruit and drink brine over the next 4 days
- Pumpkin Seeds—contain a natural fat that is toxic to parasite eggs
A simple regimen that I’m using in my clinic is a combination of mimosa pudica seed (Para1) and a mixed product containing bioactive carbon, clove, neem, triphala and vidanga (Para2). Most people start at 2 capsules of each, twice daily. If nothing is seen after 2 weeks the dose of each is gradually increased up to a maximum of 5 capsules twice daily. They are best taken before a meal with a full glass of water. Results can be seen in as early as 1 week.
Length of treatment
This is tricky. These critters want to stay put, hiding in biofilms where they are shielded from medications and herbs. Not only that, they reproduce rapidly and have many life stages, and treatment has to target all of them. I recommend at least 3 months. Once full treatment is achieved a consideration is several more months of a shorter regimen around the full moon, as this is the time when parasites are most active.
What to expect during treatment
Now don’t freak out, but you may actually see them in your stool. They will likely be disguised as “stringy poop” since they entered from the small intestine and now are mixed in with “everything else”—sorry, it’s gross, I know. But if they are in you, they are there whether or not you acknowledge them. Every parasite you pass is no longer inside you and that’s a reason to celebrate!
At the beginning of treatment it is possible to feel worse, as the symptoms mentioned earlier flare. In this case it is the parasites releasing a flood of chemicals with their last dying breaths. Using a binder like GI Detox or Ultra Binder to bind the toxins, staying hydrated with plenty of water, and possibly coffee enemas once or twice a week will help you get through this phase.
If you do the treatment and find “results” you may want to treat your family members, since it is likely they are also infected.
Should you be tested to confirm the diagnosis?
If only it were that easy. Actually, one of the reasons I’ve delayed talking about this for so long is that I kept searching for a great test to diagnose parasites. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is one. Stool tests through regular labs are not very accurate. You have to pick through a lot of poop to make the diagnosis. The only ones that are in the stool are dead—if they are thriving in your small intestine you won’t see them in your stool! Other companies offer 3-day testing looking for parasites and eggs, but even those are not 100% accurate.
A CBC with differential is an inexpensive test that can offer a clue. A disproportionate amount of eosinophils (a particular kind of white blood cell) is often seen in those harboring parasites. The appropriate proportion of eosinophils is 1%. If I find greater than 2% (that is at least double the ideal) my suspicion for parasites is raised. Of course, food sensitivities and allergies can also cause eosinophilia, so this is not specific, but if it is combined with other symptoms I am suspicious.
After much research and discussion with doctors doing this longer than me I now offer 1-2 months of herbal treatment to those in whom I have suspicion. If they have “results” then they stay on the protocol for at least 2 months past the last “sighting”. Then I recommend a few more months of the full moon protocol—7 days surrounding the full moon. A reasonable long term plan is a once-a-year parasite cleanse, using a month-long protocol. This way they don’t have a chance to take root and grow to such extreme. Of course, if sneaky symptoms resurface re-treatment is a good idea. If multiple herbal treatments don’t give lasting results, first consider treating family members (if you haven’t already) and then consider using prescription medications.
It’s time to take back our intestines and stop being human hotels for creatures from the black lagoon. Are you in? If you need help contact me or another knowledgeable provider. If you do it on your own and are brave enough, leave me a comment—I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get this done!