Did you shudder a bit when you read the word “parasites” in the title? It’s not a pleasant topic! However, intestinal parasites are more common than many people realize.
Parasites are living organisms that live off of their human hosts. There are a number of possible types of parasites, and many can have a negative impact on your health. Although parasites are a bigger problem in developing countries, parasitic infections occur surprisingly often in North America. Consider these stats:
Some parasites can cause a number of serious health problems, including blindness, pregnancy complications, and even death. Others cause symptoms that you may attribute to something else entirely. This is why it’s incredibly important to work with a healthcare practitioner as soon as you suspect something is off with your health to get to the root cause of any imbalance.
Parasites can live within you without showing any symptoms for many years – awful, right? However, many will give signs you shouldn’t ignore. Some general things to watch for include
● Digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or gas
● Skin disorders like eczema, hives, or unexplained chronic itching
● Fatigue, even after a good night’s sleep
● Nutrient deficiencies, especially anemia
● Anxiety (possibly due to nutrient deficiencies)
● Muscle or joint pain
● Itching around your rectum
Because of the broad range of symptoms, many of which could be associated with other conditions, it can be tricky to identify parasites. A common first step is a stool test to check for the presence of parasites.
In conventional medicine, antiparasitic drugs, such as praziquantel and mebendazole, are the first line of defense.
In integrative medicine, many practitioners will use a combination of antiparasitic herbs plus nutritional protocols to make the gut an inhabitable environment for the parasites.
Some of the herbs used to treat intestinal parasites can interfere with prescription medications, therefore it’s important to work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.
Following a parasitic cleanse can help rid your body of parasites but it can be harsh on your system so incorporating these methods must only be done under supervision from a healthcare provider (not the random employee of your local health food store!) and after confirmation of a parasitic infection. During the cleanse, you’ll combine nutritional strategies with herbal remedies, with the aim of expelling parasites from your body and creating an inhospitable environment for further growth.
During the cleanse, it’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet to maintain good health, and focus on natural, unprocessed foods. Eating a lot of fibre can contribute to regular bowel movements to flush out parasites and contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. Avoiding sugar is also a good strategy to maintain a healthy gut.
The exact approach will be determined by your health practitioner after testing. A parasite cleanse could include the following in your diet:
● Foods with antiparasitic properties like onions, garlic, and honey.
● Foods high in zinc, such as seafood, whole grains, and legumes.
And of course, it goes without saying that you must avoid undercooked meat or seafood during the cleanse.
Supplements with anti-parasitic properties that could be incorporated include:
● Probiotics to maintain a healthy level of beneficial bacteria. Again, be sure to work with a practitioner to determine the best type of probiotic for you.
● Berberine, which is an antimicrobial compound found in many plants.
● Research shows papaya seeds may play a role in eliminating parasites and supporting digestion.
● Pumpkin seeds are another commonly used parasite remedy.
● Wormwood has been used to get rid of parasites, perhaps contributing to its name.
Prevention is the best way to protect yourself from parasites! Here are some simple everyday practices to keep in mind:
● Wash your hands frequently – and always after touching raw food, using the bathroom, changing cat litter or dealing with animal feces. If you are pregnant, avoid changing cat litter altogether.
● Drink clean water. Don’t drink from lakes, ponds, or creeks, even if they look clean.
● Cook food to the correct temperature.
● Approach raw fish sushi with caution. A recent study found a 283% increase in the prevalence of parasitic worms in sushi since the 1970s. It’s worth cutting a piece of sushi in half before eating to check.
● Some studies suggest a diet rich in vitamin A and the minerals selenium and zinc may improve your body’s natural defense against parasite infection.
● Always wear a condom if you aren’t fully confident a sexual partner is free of STIs.
Don’t be embarrassed to talk about parasites if you have any concerns at all! The important thing is to start a smart treatment plan to get rid of them for good, so please don’t hesitate to make an appointment. Give us a call!
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