What are parasites?
A parasite is an organism on or in a host that gets its food from/at the expense of the host. While these are generally thought of as ticks or fleas on animals, humans can also have parasites that can cause serious disease. They can reside in the skin, intestines, and other various organs. These can be spread through insect bites, eating raw meat and fish or uncleaned fruits and vegetables, drinking contaminated water, or bathing in untreated water, especially when travelling internationally. Common parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, flatworms, hookworms, giardia, fleas, ticks, lice, and bedbugs.
So, how do you know you have a parasite?
Common parasitic symptoms may be rashes, appetite change (either increase or decrease), abdominal pain, sudden development of allergies, feeling generally unwell or tired (“drained”), sleeping issues, and unexplained constipation, diarrhea, or gas and bloating. These are not the only symptoms that can manifest, but they are the most common symptoms. These issues do not mean you have a parasite as they may point to other serious conditions that should be seen by a medical professional. A doctor may run blood tests, fecal tests, or perform an endoscopy/colonoscopy to determine whether you have parasites. These tests may come up inconclusive.
How do you get rid of the parasites?
There are a few ways to get rid of parasites. Most treatments are not thoroughly researched and evidence is anecdotal. Doctors may prescribe drug therapies or herbal remedies to match the drugs. Herbal remedies have long been used to rid the gut of parasites. Common herbs used are black walnut, wormwood, clove oil, holy basil, mug wort, sage, tansy, pau d’arco, and mullein leaf. Each herb can be used to treat a different disease so it is important to research how each herb will affect you and the parasite.
Another way is to eat a healthy diet including fiber, beets, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, honey, psyllium, garlic, and papaya seeds. These foods will all flush out the intestinal system, hopefully ridding you of any parasites residing in the digestive tract. Also, increase consumption of foods high in beta-carotene like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, which aides in rejecting parasites. A healthy diet would also include a probiotic to keep the gut healthy (how to choose a probiotic).
*Cleanses may worsen autoimmune diseases. Do not try a cleanse if already constipated.