Parasites could be making you sick - how to know if you have them, and what to do if you do!
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Bugs and creepy crawlies are everywhere in our world, including inside our own digestive system. There are a ton of possible symptoms - some that seem so crazy that you would never even consider that parasites could be why...There are tests that can be done to confirm their presence, but even then they can be hard to eradicate.
If the rest of this article makes sense to you, then maybe it's time to explore the inner working of your gut, and begin a detox plan to purge yourself of the creepy crawlies within!
So you have tried everything. Clean diet. No sugar. No coffee (No fun). The doctors can't figure it out, and you are left feeling confused and wondering what to do next.
This is so incredibly common, and yet the correct diagnosis and treatment seem to elude so many. You are not alone, and there are many treatments available - it can take time, patience and vigilance, but it is possible to eradicate these nasties from your system.
There will be plenty of intestinal parasites that you have heard of before, like tapeworm Giardia and hookworm, but I imagine there are several that you have never heard of such as Dientamoeba fragilis (D.fragilis), Cryptosporidiium parvum, and Enterobius vermicularis. Some of these parasites cause symptoms that aren't too bad, or even noticed for decades sometimes, while others can be rapidly destructive and cause severe health concerns. There is plenty of information out there, here is just one example.
So what are some common symptoms of intestinal parasites?
- Unexplained constipation, diarrhoea, gas, or other IBS-like symptoms
- Upset digestive system that never returned to normal after a bout of "food poisoning"
- You have trouble falling asleep, or you wake frequently in the night
- Skin irritations, unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
- You grind your teeth in your sleep (I know - who knew!!)
- You experience fatigue or exhaustions despite adequate sleep
- You experience depression, anxiety or feelings of apathy
- You never feel satisfied or full after your meals
- You have been diagnosed with Iron-deficiency anaemia
- You have travelled overseas and experienced travellers diarrhoea or stomach upset as a result
How do you find out whether you have parasites?
There are a variety of ways testing can be done. Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) for example can be identified in a simple and painless breath test! H.pylori is the cause of over 15% of peptic ulcer-like symptoms in Australia. Others require a stool sample or blood test, and they can all be obtained through your GP. Once you have identified that you have parasites, this is where it can be tricky. Many western treatments include anti-biotics, and in some cases when the infestation is severe, this may be your only option.
From a Naturopathic perspective, we have a variety of herbs that are anti-microbial or anthelmintic, and depending on what bugs you have we can work out what type of herbs you need. Some herbs will just kill the parasites and allow your body to purge them, others may be needed to repair the damage they have done, and others still to protect from them recolonising in your system.
Usually we need to do some digestive system repair once we have satisfactorily removed the parasites from your poor intestines, stomach and liver, and this could include probiotics, mucosal lining repair formulas and many other things.
There are many protocols and magical products online that claim they can fix your parasite problems with ease, but please be wary here as many of them are also destructive to the delicate gut microbiome, and can cause other issues for you - or even similar symptoms but a different cause. Drinking turpentine is one such magical internet protocol that is out there, and while this may eradicate the parasites, it is also eradicating other things like the mucosal lining of your digestive system, the good bacteria that live there and have a hugely important job to do, so think carefully before engaging in such a treatment plan. It is always best to speak to someone (such as myself!) and tailor a reasonable action plan, rather than trying whatever you can get your hands on or what someone on youtube tells you.
Identifying the source of the parasitic invasion is also really important, to reduce the likelihood it could happen again.
If you acquired this issue overseas, or somewhere you are unlikely to return to, then thats fairly easily dealt with, but other invasions could have come from your pets, a regular food or water source, or even your home or garden. It is often necessary to test and treat the rest of the family, and do a thorough clean or the bed linens, towels and bathroom areas, as well as practice impeccable hand hygiene in the future.
There is much that can be done to solve your problems and correct the damage they may have done, so get in touch and we can get started!
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