Microorganisms naturally inhabit and move through the body. Some are harmless, while others cause sickness. Infections can occur when parasites make their homes in our 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 greatest 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 infection. However, in many cases of a parasite infection, these symptoms may not be present. 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, mal-absorption, rectal bleeding, mood changes (depression, irritability), and vomiting.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by: James F. Balch, M.D. & Mark Stengler,
Prescription #1 Parasite
Cleanse - LifeSource Product
Para-Cleanse is designed to rid your body of a wide range of harmful human
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.
Prescription #3 Coptis (gold thread)
Take 20 drops or 200
mg three times daily with meals. This Chinese herb has anti-parasitic
Prescription #4 Oregano Oil - LifeSource Product
Take 500 mg of the
capsule form four times daily or as directed on the container. Oregano oil
has powerful antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects.
Prescription #5 Grapefruit seed extract
Take as directed on
the container for a powerful anti-parasitic effect.
Prescription #6 Echinacea and Goldenseal - LifeSource Products - See All of our Echinacea/Goldenseal Products.
Take 450 mg daily.
Echinacea & Goldenseal helps fight infections in the digestive tract.
Prescription #7 Ginger Root - LifeSource Products
Take 500 to 1,000mg.
daily. Ginger has anti-parasitic effects and reduces intestinal bloating and
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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 digestive tract. It is thought that certain parasites become a problem only when the environment 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 restroom), waste, and the water supply.
There are many different types of parasites. Following are some of the more common 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 conditions 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 transmitted 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 parasite 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, anemia, 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. Live 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 (larvae can invade muscle tissue) can occur.
The conventional treatment focuses on anti-parasitic medications to eradicate the infection. 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 clinics are not sensitive enough to pick up all 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 the 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 one additional month after the symptoms of a parasite infection have cleared. In some cases, conventional anti-parasitic medication may also be required. Please note that natural treatment of parasitic infections should be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable 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)
Fresh garlic, ginger, and onions are excellent as prepared foods, because they have been shown to have anti-parasitic 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 anti-worm effects.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar products should be reduced or avoided to optimize the health of your immune system.
- 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 probiotics 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 laxative to help clear the intestines of a parasite. Take as directed on the container.
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