You haven’t been feeling yourself lately. Your stomach hurts and you feel tired all the time. Could a microscopic enemy be at the cause?
Parasites are organisms that need another living organism to survive. Parasites often harm the other organism, or host. Did you know? More than 1,000 types of parasites can exist within or on human hosts.1
Though many people think of parasitic infestations as only happening in third world countries, they are common in all parts of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, parasites are responsible for five common diseases in the United States, including toxoplasmosis, Chagas disease, toxocariasis, neurocysticercosis, and trichomonas.2 These diseases affect millions of people each year, with devastating health effects.
Intestinal parasites, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, are also common. They can live for years in the human intestinal tract without any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause.
Symptoms of Parasites
Parasites can cause a wide variety of symptoms in their human hosts. Some of the most common symptoms include stomach problems, such as gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.3 Additional symptoms may include problems sleeping, aches and pains, allergies, and anxiety. Some types of parasites may cause an increase or decrease in appetite.
If you’re showing signs of a parasites, a cleanse can help your body get rid of these unwelcome visitors.
DIY Parasite Cleanse
Here are some foods that help your body cleanse itself from harmful parasites:
Pumpkin seeds are a simple and delicious method of ridding your body of parasites. A 2012 study done in China showed that eating pumpkin seeds can rid the body of tapeworms.4 Unlike the two main medicines used for treating tapeworms, pumpkin seeds are well-tolerated and readily available.
To use pumpkin seeds for a cleanse, eat about one cup per day. You can eat ½ cup in the morning and ½ cup at night. Pumpkin seeds are great in trail mix, on top of salads or even blended into smoothies.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy. It can also effectively kill certain parasites. Several studies have proven garlic’s effects on giardia and many other types of parasites.5 Garlic is also anti-bacterial and antimicrobial.
For parasites, fresh, raw garlic is best. Crush some raw garlic into your salad dressing or mix it with butter on toast. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, you may prefer to take a supplement. Garlic can interact with some medications, such as blood thinners, antiplatelet medicines, and protease inhibitors.6 Consult your doctor about taking garlic if you are taking these medicines.
Your body is not only a host to parasites, which can harm you, but also to beneficial bacteria and yeast that help your digestion and many other aspects of your health. These helpful microorganisms make up your gut microbiota. Probiotics are either the same or very similar to the helpful microorganisms that already exist in your gut microbiota.
The health benefits of taking probiotics for stomach problems and yeast infections are well-documented.7 There is also some evidence that probiotics can help fight a parasite infestation. A case study of a 12-year-old girl published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal showed that probiotics can treat the parasite cryptosporidium.8
Probiotics are available as supplements. They are also present in many healthy foods, such as plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Eating these foods regularly can help you live healthier and parasite-free.
Oregano oil is essential oil made from the oregano herb. It is commonly available as a supplement. In a 2000 study, researchers gave oregano oil supplements to 14 people who had tested positive for three types of intestinal parasites. After six weeks, a majority of the patients no longer tested positive for the parasites, and most had improved stomach conditions.9
Taking 200 mg of oregano oil as a supplement three times daily for six weeks may help to kill parasites.10 You could also opt to take a few drops of oregano oil each day mixed with water or juice. If you have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before taking oregano.
A 2007 study of 60 Nigerian children found that an elixir of dried papaya seeds and honey successfully got rid of a majority of the kids’ intestinal parasites.11 This method also did not lead to negative side effects. You can purchase dried papaya seeds from large grocery stores or online. You could also eat fresh papaya seeds alone or in a smoothie. Aim to consume about one tablespoon per day.
A Healthy Diet Wards Off Bugs
Make your body less attractive to parasites by eating a healthy diet. Cut out processed simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar and white flour. Replacing these foods with healthier complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can make your body a less hospitable place for parasites12 Complex carbohydrates also contain dietary fiber, which is necessary for proper digestion.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience severe symptoms, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can diagnose parasites by blood test, fecal test, endoscopy, colonoscopy, or x-ray.13
Parasites can infiltrate your body and negatively affect your overall health, so if you suspect you’ve been infected, take action as quickly as possible. Try these natural cleanses to clear these unwelcome invaders from your system.
For more tips on digestive health, keep reading: