Today we are going to explore the topic of parasites, a common infection that causes low to severe levels of chronic stress in the body and destroy our cells. We are going to examine what parasites are, where they come from, health concerns related to infection, symptoms, and an overview of a parasite cleansing diet and detox.
We may not like to think about parasites taking up residence in our bodies, but it’s an important topic to consider and learn about, especially if we have “tried everything” and still haven’t reached our best state of health.
What Are Parasites?
Parasites are a broad category for living organisms that infect another living being (human or animal), and begin to live off the resources of the host to survive. These parasites grow, some reproduce, and ultimately begin to invade the host, which can make their hosts very sick. Some parasites cause no visible symptoms in the host, while others can cause serious illness.1
There are hundreds of thousands of different species of parasites, but common infections in the United States are:2
What is a Parasitic Infection?
It is estimated that 85% of Americans are infected with some manner of parasites. These parasites range from microscopic to large worms that can reach several feet in length.
Although some parasites generate more noticeable symptoms than others, all parasites are problematic because at the very least they are taxing your immune system and using your body’s energy and resources to survive.
This means your body is more susceptible to illness, absorb less nutrients from your food, not to mention long-term health complications from certain species (including death).
It’s important to distinguish between good and bad microorganisms inside the body, because indeed the body contains plenty of beneficial bacteria too. Our guts contain microorganisms that work symbiotically with our body’s to generate health! A parasite infection occurs when an organism that does not benefit our health takes residency.
Unlike the good guys that can help us digest food, the harmful parasites destroy our tissues, and create toxic waste products that cause varying degrees of health problems in their host.
Where Do Parasites Come From?
Although parasites are often attributed to subtropical and tropical regions (and indeed, there are many in these areas), there are actually parasites present across the globe. Parasites can be found in nature or in industrialized areas, and those most susceptible to infection are people with a compromised immune system or chronic illness (especially young children or the elderly), as well as those with leaky gut.
Common sources of parasite infections are:
- Tropical and subtropical (living in or taking vacations to)
- Bodies of freshwater, including creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes
- The soil (dirt, garden beds, forest)
- Consuming infected meat (especially present in pork and fish)
What Health Problems Can Parasites Lead To
Since many parasite infections cause minor symptoms, people can live for years with these infections without recognizing that their health ailments may be rooted in their longstanding parasites.
Since parasites rely on their host to survive, it is common that hosts may become nutritionally deficient or anemic, despite following a healthy diet- since the parasites are depleting their resources. Infections have also been connected to increased ailments like colitis and have even been known to cause stunted growth in developing children. In extreme cases, fatalities can even occur (common in malaria cases).
Common health problems that parasites can lead to include:
Parasites can also contain co-infections that only manifest symptoms years down the line. An example is the Lyme bacteria that can hide inside of parasitic worms and eventually lead to the debilitating Lyme disease without ever getting bitten by an infected tick.
Symptoms of Parasite Infections
Unfortunately, diagnosing parasite infections is incredibly difficult. There are so many different kinds; the way they hide and burrow in the body and their cyclical life cycles makes it very hard to properly diagnose.
An experienced healthcare practitioner can use blood tests, fecal examinations, colonoscopies, and even X-rays to facilitate the search. Still, since many parasite infections exhibit no symptoms- many people don’t even know to start looking.
Because it is estimated that 85% of all Americans have parasites living inside of them, odds are it’s something worth investigating. The most common area where parasites take up residency is in the gut.
Although not all infections cause symptoms, common symptoms include:
- Stomach pain3
- Weight loss5
- Swollen lymph nodes6
- Aching muscles6
- Abdominal pain5
- General discomfort
Parasite Cleanse Diet Steps
A parasite cleanse is a dietary and supplement regimen that simultaneously detoxifies the body and removes parasites. Detox is an important component of this mission because it enables the immune system to focus its energy on clearing out the parasites instead of toxins.
A strong immune system is the key to eliminating parasites. If your immune system is impaired because you have heavy metal toxicity or chronic active Epstein-Barr or other viruses, it will be extremely difficult to overcome the other health issues that you may have.
Step 1: Detox
Opening the detox pathways is one of the first steps to getting rid of parasites. If the body cannot eliminate toxins naturally, it will be extremely difficult to remove the parasites and keep them away.
The idea is to create an environment where parasites cannot easily thrive. The parasites have found a home and want to stay, but we must make their living conditions inhospitable. Once done, removing them will be much easier.
Parasite Detox Supplements
Some practitioners prefer to use herbs to treat parasites. The decision is often made on a case-by-case basis: for some, it can take six months or longer to treat a tapeworm with an herb while medication can be much more potent. Treatment options depend on a person’s flora and the condition of the gut as well. An important point about parasites is they can be located anywhere in the body, like a hidden infection from a root canal or cavitation.
You must use a binder to help move out toxins from the body. Binders support the body’s detoxification process by eliminating unhealthy waste. The toxins attach to the binders and are eliminated from the body. My preference is BIND from Systemic Formulas.
I also recommend Systemic Formulas’ VRM 1, 2, 3, and 4. With these formulas, always start with VRM 1, especially when dealing with tapeworms.
These products go from large organisms to small organisms to microscopic (all the way down to cellular organisms). I recommend going ‘low and slow’ with parasite formulas to ensure your body isn’t overwhelmed with detox symptoms.
A key for parasite treatment is to strengthen and support the liver, kidneys, and lymph nodes because toxins will be pulled from all body parts and flow to these organs so they can be removed from the body.
Therefore, start slowly with binders because the body can experience adverse reactions initially as the body adjusts. Side effects can include headaches, fatigue, or rashes.
Step 2: Get on a Parasite Cleanse Diet
A parasite-cleansing diet will focus on whole foods that can nourish your body and provide it the strength it needs to fight off the infection without providing it with harmful processed foods that cause inflammation and actually promote (feed or contain) parasites.10
The diet is a key part of this puzzle because if you fail to address your diet, you will indeed feed the bad guys and kill off the good guys. We want to re-establish balance in the body and ensure your inner ecosystem is not inviting to pathogens and parasites.
A large aspect of this diet is addressing the quality of food, especially when it comes to animal products. All meat and animal-made products (like dairy and eggs) should be organic and pasture-raised. You are not only what you eat but also what your animal eats! Parasites are more common in low-quality animal products that have been raised in factory farms or unhealthy environments. Pork and fish are especially susceptible to parasites.
The diet is a low-sugar, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. You want to keep up your good fats and completely eliminate the bad fats (like canola, soy, and cottonseed oils). Carbohydrates (sugar) should be kept low on any healing diet, especially on a parasite cleanse, because sugars feed bad bacteria.
Keeping sugars low removes their food source and weakens their ability to feed your body. Protein should always be high quality and kept at a moderate amount. Too much protein can be converted into glucose in the body, defeating the purpose!
Avoid These Foods
- Refined sugar (store-bought candy, chocolate, and juices)
- Refined grains and flour (store-bought pastries, muffins, pasta)
- Processed foods in general (store-bought crackers, chips, microwavable meals)
- Inflammatory oils (hydrogenated, vegetable, highly processed, rancid, GMO)
- Fish and Pork
Have These Foods
- Pumpkin Seeds7
- Papaya Seeds8
- Healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, pasture-raised animal fats)
- Black Seed Oil
- High-quality organic, pasture-raised animal protein and fat
- Organic vegetables (especially low sugar like greens)
- Low-sugar organic fruits (like berries)
After addressing food, the last aspect of a parasite-healing diet involved intermittent fasting and prolonged water fasting. Intermittent fasting is the period you go without eating, from your last meal of the day before bed until your first bite the following morning. Start out with a 12-hour fasting window, and increase it to 16-18 hours of daily fasting. With time, you should include 24-hour fasts (ideally once a week) and incorporate longer block fasts (5+ days) at least once a year.
Step 3: Address Your Gut Health
No healthy lifestyle plan is complete without addressing gut health, and this is especially important in a parasite protocol because most parasites take up residency in the gut.
To fix the gut, we must cleanse the parasites out and restore both the stomach and intestinal environment. It is imperative to heal, seal the lining, and support the healing process.
Like bacteria, parasites love to generate toxins that create an environment where they can thrive.
It’s important to clarify that environment of toxins because a person could have a buildup of mucus over time, making it difficult to digest foods properly and can cause the gut to hold heavy metals, bad bacteria, toxic flora, yeast, and fungus.
It is important to focus on healing the gut and removing toxins and bacteria first. Once the leaky gut is fixed, a person can get a fresh start and are generally also healed from food allergies. When I encounter someone who has a lot of food allergies, I can tell that they have inflammation, which is perhaps parasite driven.9
Many people have chronic gut issues and aren’t sure how to fix them. We don’t talk about parasites enough, but they’re affecting a lot of people, albeit unknowingly.
As a society, we’re conditioned to think antibiotics are the answer to health issues, but that’s often not the case, especially when dealing with chronic conditions. Antibiotics won’t affect parasites; if we don’t attack the bacteria directly with a multi-therapeutic approach (diet, supplements, and detox), they will keep coming back!
Parasites can be found globally and are organisms that take residency in a foreign host (in this case, your body). Parasite infections can cause mild to severe symptoms and even death in some cases.11
No matter the degree of severity, parasites rob your body of nutrients and energy, making you more susceptible to illness and exposure to co-infection. Common areas humans pick up parasite infections are bodies of infected water, the soil, and by consuming infected pork and fish.
Although parasites are everywhere, the best thing you can do to prevent infection is to have a strong immune system and follow a low-inflammatory diet that feeds the good bacteria, not the bad bacteria, in your body.
A parasite cleanse will follow a detox protocol to restore your immune system and contain parasite-fighting supplements. Finally, it is important to address gut health since the gut is the most common area for infection.