Gut issues caused by intestinal parasites can strike when least expected. In our latest post, learn about natural remedies that can help fight off intestinal parasites like giardia and restore your gut health. Keep reading to learn more.
Parasites like giardia spread easily during the warm summer months. One reason for this is the increased likelihood of being in or around water. In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of giardia to be aware of and the top natural treatments available.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
What is Giardia?
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes giardiasis infection in the small intestine. The parasite typically lives in an animal’s intestine and is passed via the stool (bowel movements). Giardia can survive for weeks or even months outside of the body: The parasite forms a hard shell called cysts that it lives in until it encounters a new host. When outside of the body, giardia is still dangerous, contaminating anything it comes in contact with. Once inside a new host, the cysts dissolve, and the parasites are released.
It usually takes 1-2 weeks before a person starts to exhibit symptoms of giardiasis, with their effects lasting anywhere from 2-6 weeks. However, people with compromised immune systems could see their symptoms last longer. (A small percentage of people have no symptoms at all).
Long-term effects from giardia can include weight loss and the inability to absorb lactose, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and other nutrients. This malabsorption may lead to stunted growth in children because their bodies aren’t getting the nutrients to grow.
Common Giardia Symptoms
One of the first signs of giardia is having 2 to 5 loose stools per day, followed by feelings of fatigue. Other less common symptoms include swollen eyes and joints, itchy skin, hives, and fever. Other signs to look for include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Stools that float
- Upset stomach
- Foul-smelling gas
Causes of Giardia
The microscopic parasite that causes giardiasis can be found worldwide and is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the United States. It is widespread in areas with unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. The top causes of giardia include the following:
- Eating contaminated food. Contaminated food can come from food preparers with a giardia infection who don’t wash their hands thoroughly. Other sources include raw produce rinsed in unsanitary water. (Cooking kills giardia).
- Person-to-person contact. Top sources of person-to-person contact include parents changing diapers, childcare centers, and sexual contact.
- Drinking contaminated water. The most common method of infection occurs when people accidentally consume contaminated water when swimming. These water supplies can include ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, swimming pools, water parks, and spas.
How to Treat Giardia Naturally
Although there is a lack of scientific evidence, some research suggests some natural remedies can help treat giardia. Here are some of the most popular natural treatments for giardiasis.
The edible seeds of pumpkins can cleanse both the gut and intestines. This cleansing from the seeds helps the body remove the microscopic parasites. Pumpkin seeds also contain cucurbitacin, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties.1 See an assortment of pumpkin seed products from Revelation Health HERE.
Papaya is a tropical fruit that contains papain, an enzyme believed to help kill intestinal worms in the body. Studies indicate papaya has anthelmintic and anti-amoebic activities, effective at treating human intestinal parasites without significant side effects.2 Click HERE to see all-natural health products containing papaya.
Oregano is a popular herb used in many Mexican and Mediterranean dishes. Oregano has been found to kill giardia in vitro and was more potent than tinidazole, a common anti-giardiasis drug.3 For an assortment of oregano products, click HERE.
Coconut and coconut oil both contain lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid that fights bacterial infections and giardiasis in dogs, cats, and humans. When compared to metronidazole, the drug of choice in treating giardiasis, lauric acid may be comparable to the medication in both its antimicrobial and anti-parasitic properties.4
Garlic has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health issues. Ancient Egyptians fed garlic to Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece to increase stamina. A recent study on garlic found it to be anti-giardia, removing symptoms from all test subjects within 24 hours and all indications of giardiasis from the stool within 72 hours.5
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes infections in the small intestine. It is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the United States but can be transmitted via contaminated food and person-to-person contact. Symptoms of giardiasis include diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, and other intestinal issues. If you believe you’re suffering from giardia, give one of these natural remedies a try. However, if your symptoms persist, consult with a doctor for further evaluation.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD, for the accuracy of the information provided. Still, we encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
- Jing Qiao 1, Li-hui Xu, Jian He, Dong-yun Ouyang, (etc). Cucurbitacin E Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Effect In RAW 264.7 Cells Via Suppression Of NF-Κb Nuclear Translocation. 2013 May;62(5):461-9. doi: 10.1007/s00011-013-0598-z. Epub 2013 Jan 30. [PMID: 23360962].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23360962/
- John A O Okeniyi 1, Tinuade A Ogunlesi, Oyeku A Oyelami, (et al).Effectiveness Of Dried Carica Papaya Seeds Against Human Intestinal Parasitosis: A Pilot Study. 2007 Mar;10(1):194-6. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2005.065. [PMID: 17472487]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17472487/
- Martha Ponce-Macotela, Yadira Rufino-González, Angélica González-Maciel, (et al). Oregano (Lippia Spp.) Kills Giardia Intestinalis Trophozoites In Vitro: Antigiardiasic Activity And Ultrastructural Damage. 2006 May;98(6):557-60. doi: 10.1007/s00436-005-0082-y. Epub 2006 Jan 20. [PMID: 16425064].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16425064/
- Paran Rayan 1, Deborah Stenzel, Pauline Ann McDonnell. The Effects Of Saturated Fatty Acids On Giardia Duodenalis Trophozoites In Vitro. 2005 Oct;97(3):191-200. doi: 10.1007/s00436-005-1432-5. Epub 2005 Jul 1. [PMID: 15991042].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15991042/
- Leyla Bayan, Peir Hossain Koulivand, and Ali Gorji. Garlic: A Review Of Potential Therapeutic Effects. Avicenna J Phytomedv.4(1); Jan-Feb 2014PMC4103721. PMCID: PMC4103721. [PMID: 25050296]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/