Intestinal Parasites: An Overview

Hi, I'm Dr. Marie Starling.

At The Healing Center, we help people like you reach their full potential.

I specialize in adjunctive care for internal disorders, autoimmune conditions, IBS, thyroid symptoms, diabetes, and other complex health issues.

 

BY MARY BETH GUDEWICZ, CNTP, MNT

When one hears the word “parasites”, the thought of horror films comes to mind.  Yes, by definition, parasites are “an organism that lives on or in host and gets its food from or at the expense of the host”[1]  Although some parasites have evolved alongside of us and don’t cause harm, some parasites our body wants to eliminate because they can cause harm by manipulating our immune system response in a negative way.

References in literature point to parasites being one of the primary causes of allergies because parasites damage the gut lining allowing large molecules to cross through the gut wall and entering the bloodstream, causing an immediate immune response.  Let’s explore the types, symptoms, and treatments for a parasite invasion.

TYPES:

There are two general types of parasites:

  • Helminths: Also known as worms.  They can often be seen in your stool.  Examples are tapeworms, pinworms, flukes, roundworms
  • Protozoa: Are single-celled microbes that can multiply inside the human body leading to serious infection.  Examples are amoebas, leishmania, giardia, plamodium and cryptosporidium.[2]

HOW YOU CAN BE EXPOSED:

Certain opportunities can arise that increase your risk for getting a parasite.  They include the following:

  • Living or visiting an area known to have parasites
  • International travel
  • Poor sanitation through both food and water
  • Poor hygiene
  • Age – children and the elderly are more likely to get infected[3]
  • Exposure to daycare and institutional care centers
  • A weakened immune system
  • HIV or AIDS

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

Parasites can live in your intestines for years without producing any noticeable symptoms.  However, some parasites have a life cycle.   What this means is that you may feel completely fine at certain times of the month but around the same day(s) of the month, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, headaches, etc.

When symptoms do appear, they can be similar to any other digestive problem.  An example of a common digestive problem that is associated with parasites is diarrhea.  Other possible symptoms you may experience are any one or a combination of the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Gas or bloating
  • Loose stools containing blood and mucus
  • Constipation
  • Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Passing a worm in your stool
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Never satisfied or full after meals
  • Cough
  • Eggs or worms in stool
  • Anal or vaginal itching
  • Appendicitis

ADDITIONAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Signs and symptoms of a parasite can also appear unrelated and unexplained.  Aside from the obvious GI symptoms, parasites can release toxins that manifest in other ways.  These toxins can interact with your neurotransmitters or blood cells leading to the following:

  • Grinding your teeth in your sleep
  • Painful or aching muscles and joints
  • Skin irritations such as unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema
  • Feeling lethargic or having no motivation to do anything
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Being diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia
  • Anxiety

Intestinal parasites have a life cycle that allows them to rotate between being alive and dormant. Some can remain dormant for several years without any signs or symptoms.

STEPS TO TAKE TO AVOID BEING A HOST

Some preventative measures to take that will minimize your risk of becoming a host include:

  • Don’t eat foods that come into contact with human waste
  • Don’t eat raw meat or fish
  • Wash, peel or cook all raw vegetables and fruits before eating
  • Avoid eating food or drinking where there is no safe and sanitary disposal of human waste
  • Wear gloves if working with soil that has been contaminated with human waste
  • Keep kids from putting things and fingers in their mouths – I know easier said than done.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before eating, after using the bathroom, and after changing and disposing a diaper
  • Keep your child’s fingernails short and clean
  • Don’t share washcloths or towels
  • When traveling: Wash all vegetables and fruits, drink bottled or purified water, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, choose restaurants with good sanitation practices

TESTING OPTIONS:

At The Healing Center we utilize a number of tests to determine if you have a parasite(s).  If you test positive, then we will treat through high frequency treatments, clearings, detoxification and/or herbs to eliminate the parasite(s).

NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTATION:

In addition to the above treatment, nutrition and supplementation play a key role in treatment.  Foods, such a sugar, will feed the parasites, so avoiding all sugars will be important.  Keep in mind, your body will probably crave those sugars because the parasites thrive on it.  Sticking to the following guidelines will help eliminate the parasites faster.

  • Avoid all refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice.
  • Avoid all sugars – sugar feeds the parasites
  • Avoid fruits and fruit juices
  • Avoid all dairy products
  • Eat more fiber such a vegetables because this helps keep your bowels moving which helps move the parasites out of your body
  • Foods that help eliminate parasites are pumpkin seeds, raw garlic, pomegranates, beets and carrots
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily
  • Take a probiotic daily.  This helps keep the good bacteria in the gut to fight off the parasites
  • Digestive enzymes with a meal help to restore your intestinal track making it less likely that a parasite will want to continue inhabiting
  • Vitamin C and zinc help support the immune system

If you suspect you may have parasites, contact The Healing Center today to schedule an appointment.  303-721-9800

 

  • 1] “Parasites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 June 2014. Web. 05 July 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/>.
  • [2] Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease through Healthy Digestion. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.
  • [3] Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. “Intestinal Parasites.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 07 July 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fumm.edu%2Fhealth%2Fmedical%2Faltmed%2Fcondition%2Fintestinal-parasites>.

Sources:

Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease through Healthy Digestion. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.

“Parasites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 June 2014. Web. 05 July 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/>.

“The Ins and Outs of Intestinal Worms.” The Dr. Oz Show. N.p., 02 Feb. 2010. Web. 07 July 2014. <http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/ins-and-outs-intestinal-worms?page=3>.

Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. “Intestinal Parasites.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 07 July 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fumm.edu%2Fhealth%2Fmedical%2Faltmed%2Fcondition%2Fintestinal-parasites>.

Myers, Amy. “10 Signs You May Have A Parasite.” MindBodyGreen. MindBodyGreen, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11321/10-signs-you-may-have-a-parasite.html>.

 

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