Do you have random symptoms that seem to have no obvious cause? Do these symptoms seem to come and go, there for a few days, clear out, only to return a week or two later?
If you have pain or discomfort in your belly with irregular bowel movements, especially explosive diarrheoa, restlessness at night leading to poor sleep, you grind your teeth, food sensitivities or allergies that seem worse, intolerance of strong smells like perfume or cigarette smoke, trouble gaining weight or losing weight, you might have a problem with parasites.
Parasites are small organisms in the case of helminths (worms), or microscopic ones in the case of protozoa that live inside a human host. It is estimated that 80% of us have some parasites, but you don’t know about it until these parasites start to grow in number and cause symptoms.
Parasites usually enter the body as eggs or in cyst form on our food, or from contact with soil, dirty water, pets, or from touching contaminated surfaces (think public toilets, movie theatres, shopping trolleys etc). They need a host to survive, so once in the gut they hatch out and a new cycle begins. Interestingly parasites are at their most active 4 days before and 4 days after a full moon.
If your kids are complaining of itchy bottoms, tummy pains, problems on the toilet, abnormal appetite, they are particularly skinny and can’t seem to put on weight, are irritable and restless, but happy at other times, then the poor little tackers might have an unfriendly gate-crasher on board.
We have our fair share of parasites in Australia. Pin worm (threadworm) is the most common one kids seem to pick up, and can be treated quite easily with a product like Combantrim (remember to repeat the treatment one week later to get all the eggs, a bit like treating head lice), but there are many other worms, flukes, spirochetes and protozoa that could be responsible for symptoms.
Giardia, Cryptosporidium and Blastocystis are the most common water borne protozoa that can make people quite sick. If you use antibiotics like Flagyl to treat these make sure you follow up with a good quality high dose probiotic for at least 1-3 months afterwards to help re-balance the gut and restore immune system strength.
Your problems might be from candida albicans an opportunistic yeast that can become pathogenic (disease causing) if it has any opportunity to overgrow. This might happen after illness when immunity is lowered, after antibiotic use, due to stress or food intolerance. Candida and other parasites can be very resistant, and also hard to detect. When symptoms come and go without explanation I suspect parasites.
Left un-checked you or your child might have bouts of feeling uncomfortable or miserable, but also these parasites are causing inflammation and damage in the gut, which can increase intestinal permeability and lead to a whole host of problems from asthma, skin conditions, migraines, and auto-immune diseases.
Symptoms of protozoa – intermittent nausea, diarrheoa (especially explosive), bloating, cramps, constipation, fatigue, joint pain, sinusitis, intestinal bleeding, rectal itching or itching elsewhere in the body and even ADD/ADHD type symptoms have been known to reduce once parasites are treated. Headache or migraine may be caused by Toxoplasma gondii from cats. Mysterious body aches, a fever that comes and goes, pain in the face and fatigue are other signs.
Symptoms of worms – wheezing and coughing, followed by nausea and pain, chronic cough at night, asthma, food sensitivity and allergy type symptoms. Seizures can occur from Trichinella tapeworm found in pork products like bacon.
Symptoms of candida overgrowth – bloating, wind, pain, brain fog, confusion, poor memory, fatigue, sinusitis, strong sugar cravings, reoccuring thrush, fungal infections in nails/skin
The parasites rob your body of nutrients which overtime can lead to diseases of deficiency such as anemia.
There are no definitive tests to detect many parasites. A stool test conducted within the first few days of infection may pick up the culprit in the case of protozoa, but more often than not stool tests come back negative for worms. This is because only a small sample of the stool is tested and because at most stages of the parasites life cycle it is happily living in the gut wall, (or in other parts of the body including the lungs, brain and eyes), and not getting anywhere near your poo!
There are many natural herbal and dietary protocols for cleansing the body of parasites. Some will work in 3-4 weeks for mild cases, other times these protocols need to be repeated or changed up. Different things work for worms than for protozoa. Quite often there will be a few different nasties complicating the picture and in need of treatment. If parasites are a problem you should start to feel better within days of commencing treatment. But to break the life cycle and also clean up all the eggs that are hiding away, you need to be thorough and consistent. Successful treatment requires making the environment (the gut) inhospitable, and this means you need to be consistent with your efforts for several weeks. If a protocol lasts for 3 weeks to 3 months, it is that long for a reason.
Black walnut hull is a good broad spectrum herb that will clear up most parasites. Other herbs that can be used depending on the parasite are wormwood, and clove oil for the eggs. I like a product called PPC herbs Triplex which contains all three of these herbs.
For candida a rotation of Pau D’arco, oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf is a good addition to a low sugar/starch anti-candida diet, and makes it work faster. Undecylenic acid is anti-fungal and is 6 times stronger than the caprylic acid found in coconut oil. I like Thorne formula SF722. Diatamaceous earth (food grade) can also help to break up worms and penetrate the candida so that the botanicals can work.
Parasites love sugar, so avoiding extra sugar makes sense during a treatment program. Other useful anti-parasitic foods are garlic (raw is best), pumpkin seeds, cranberry juice, fennel, cayenne, thyme and sage. Peppermint, orange skin, marshmallow root and aloe vera are also good to help repair the gut mucosa, as is a supplement called Sacchromyces Boulardii.
When treating for parasites hold off on probiotics and multi-vitamins as these feed the parasites. Save these for re-building the gut once the infection is gone.
Note that filtering your water is not enough to get rid of water borne parasites, boiling is the only thing that works. So if you are travelling, or drinking from natural waterways keep this in mind.
If you suspect any member of your family has picked up a parasite, in some cases you might need to treat other family members too. Be extra diligent with hand washing (soap and water is sufficient, anti-bacterial soaps are not recommended – but that’s a story for another time), and sanitizing bench tops, bathrooms and bedding. If you have pets make sure to worm them regularly to keep them healthy too.
Where there is unexplained tummy complaints, on-going low immunity or even unexplained headaches or brain fog, it is worth checking for and eliminating parasites. A cleanse once or twice a year for some people is a great idea.
I hope you have found this information helpful. Please pass on to others if you think parasites might be making an unwelcome appearance in their lives.
Parasites 101, Anne Louise Gittleman, April 13, 2016, available at: http://annlouise.com/2016/04/13/parasites-101/
Eliminating the parasites you almost certainly have, Thomas Corriher, available at: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/eliminating-the-parasites-that-you-almost-certainly-have.html?t=JERF
Parasites and how to eliminate them naturally, Dr Lawrence Wilson, March 2015, available at: http://drlwilson.com/Articles/PARASITES.HTM
Pathogens and Parasites- their role and effect in the body, Becky Plotner ND, available at: http://nourishingplot.com/2016/02/10/pathogens-and-parasites-their-role-and-effect-in-the-body/
Simple ways to control parasites, Kasey Wilson, March 16th, 2016, available at http://www.myhealthmyhappiness.com.au/controlparasites/