Brenda Watson, ND, CT
Parasites are more prevalent than we think. Affecting travellers and non-travellers alike, they can rob us of energy and damage our digestive function. Learn about the signs and symptoms of these unwanted guests and how a herbal cleanse program can get them out of your system.
Parasites occur not only in developing countries or in those who have travelled extensively. Eighty-five percent of North Americans have at least one form of parasite. Some authorities believe that the true figure may be as high as 95 percent. This means no one is completely immune from parasitic infestation. What exactly is a parasite? A parasite is defined as any organism that lives on, or in, the body of another organism. In humans, parasites will feed on our cells, the food we eat, and even on the supplements we take. They range in size from microscopic single-celled organisms to tapeworms that can be up to 12 metres in length. Regardless of the size of the parasite, all can cause damage to the human body.
Parasites often mimic other disorders or produce no noticeable symptoms at all. When they do cause symptoms, a wide range can be displayed. The most common symptoms include:
Parasites can affect tissue anywhere in the body. Many disorders have been associated with them, including arthritis, appendicitis, weight problems, cancer, and epilepsy. Parasites can enter the bloodstream, so they are able to travel to any organ in the body. This can cause problems that are often unrecognized as parasite-related and can result in an incorrect diagnosis. Parasites cause damage not only when they feed on our cells, but also when they excrete their waste in our bodies. This waste poisons the body, overworking the organs of elimination and weakening the immune system.
Parasites can enter the body through the mouth, the nose, or be absorbed through the skin. They can also be transmitted via insect carriers.
Because exposure to these carriers can also cause a condition known as candida (an overgrowth of yeast in the intestinal tract), candida and parasites tend to appear together.
Parasites survive best in an unhealthy internal environment. In order for our intestinal tract and colon to be healthy, there must be a balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria. Once the ideal ratio (80:20) is disrupted, the intestinal environment becomes conducive to parasite infestation. Factors that contribute to this imbalance range from drugs such as antibiotics, immune-suppressants, and steroids to a diet too high in refined carbohydrates.
What is the best way to get rid of parasites? First, look to your diet. As candida and parasites tend to coexist, it is wise to treat both simultaneously. This will require strict adherence to an anti-candida/parasite diet emphasizing organic vegetables and excluding refined carbohydrates, sugar in all forms, and fermented foods.
Before taking an antiparasitic supplement, make sure the bowels are working efficiently. If you are not having regular bowel movements (at least one and ideally two to three per day), you may end up reabsorbing toxins back into your system. Therefore, it is important to start with a detox program that focuses on the colon but also does some cleansing of the liver and other channels of elimination (i.e. kidneys, skin, lungs, etc.). An herbal cleanse with magnesium hydroxide, which brings water to the bowels, is most effective. This will prepare the body for the cleanse, and it will also help in reducing the die-off reaction once you start the parasite cleanse program.
Look for an antimicrobial and antifungal cleanse kit at your local health food store that has been formulated to address parasites as well as candida. A cleanse which includes a mixture of the following herbs is best:
This herbal formulation should be taken daily for 15 days, then take a five-day break before continuing with the cleanse for another 15 days. It is important to take a break in order to kill the parasites in all stages of development
Along with a herbal formula, there are two other necessary supplements to take when removing parasites: enzymes with hydrochloric acid and fibre. Most people with parasites have low levels of digestive enzymes and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid). These two items are the body’s natural defence against parasites contained in food and water. As parasites cannot thrive when normal levels of enzymes and hydrochloric acid are present, taking a plant-based enzyme formula with hydrochloric acid works not only to optimize digestion, but to reduce your risk for another infestation of parasites.
Taking extra fibre while on an antiparasite cleanse is important as the fibre helps to absorb and sweep out dead parasitic material and toxins. Parasite cleansing may cause a “cleansing crisis,” which can consist of headaches, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. By supplementing with fibre, you not only reduce the amount of toxins in your body but greatly reduce the unpleasant side effects. A flax-based fibre provides the recommended ratio of 50 percent soluble fibre and 50 percent insoluble fibre. This ratio allows for a good cleansing action in the colon and will not dehydrate the colon, causing constipation, as psyllium-based fibres often do.
Once you have finished the herbal cleanse, you may wish to consider some maintenance products to help heal the damage to the intestines caused by parasites. A therapeutic strength L-glutamine (at least 5,000 mg daily) can help to heal the intestinal tract lining. Taking probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus will bring back a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. Finally, taking an enzyme with hydrochloric acid (follow the instructions on the label) will ensure that your intestinal environment is not conducive to future parasite and candida infestation. [END]