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Posted on: June 5, 2015 at 11:39 am
Last updated: October 17, 2018 at 1:41 pm

From tropical vacations to contaminated water, fruit, and undercooked meat, parasites are becoming increasingly common. Just the thought of one is enough to make you squirm.

So is the idea that our defenses against parasites are getting even weaker. Our overuse of antibiotics, and a diet that does a poor job of promoting good bacteria, are both disturbing our gut microflora, making it easier for foreign invaders to set up camp.

Common Symptoms of a Parasite Infection

A lot of people think that a parasitic infection causes extreme symptoms, like bloody or watery diarrhea, weight loss, and severe stomach cramping, but it’s also common for people to experience less obvious signs.

7 less severe symptoms can include:

  • gas, bloating
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • itchy skin or rashes
  • stomach pain or upset stomach after eating
  • insomnia
  • food poisoning-like symptoms
  • persistent anemia
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The biggest clue that you may have a parasitic infection is feeling unwell after travelling to a foreign destination, especially having a sensitive or upset stomach and problems with digestion. Often parasites are mistook for Irritable Bowel Syndrome because they have many symptoms in common.

Testing for Parasites

Getting tested is one of the most important things you can do.

A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) can be very helpful in finding parasites that can otherwise be missed by the conventional stool test done in most medical offices. You should talk to your healthcare practitioner about what testing options are available.

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5 Steps for Parasite Prevention

Luckily there are a few measures that you can take to prevent parasitic infections, and prevent the spread of them:

  1. always ensure to cook meat thoroughly
  2. wash all fruits and vegetables well
  3. when traveling to foreign places, consume only bottled water when possible
  4. always wash your hands well, especially before eating (certain parasites can be spread by a carrier by not washing their hands after using the washroom and then contaminating surfaces)
  5. take probiotics when traveling to increase your own immune defenses

Natural Treatment Options for Eliminating Parasites

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Certain foods and herbs can be helpful in aiding the elimination of parasites due to their antimicrobial properties. You can use these dietary changes to complement the treatment your naturopathic doctor or family doctor has prescribed.

9 effective foods and herbs include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Coconut oil
  • Black walnut
  • Oil of oregano
  •  Echinacea

Though even if you eat the right foods, parasites can be very stubborn, and can take a few months to clear from your body. In addition to an herbal protocol which may be helpful, it’s also important to make certain dietary changes

What Not to Eat When You Have a Parasite

A parasite cleanse diet may be effective, however, it should be noted that more clinical research is needed to verify how effective they are. Your best course of action is to visit a naturopathic doctor or natural medicine practitioner to find the best plan for you. Recommendations usually include avoiding:

  • processed foods
  • refined sugar
  • fruits
  • grains
  • seafood
  • undercooked meat
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If you think you may be suffering from parasites, talk to your health care provider to assess what treatment plan will be the safest and most effective for you.

Sources:

Murray M, Pizzorno J. Encylcopedia of Healing Foods. 2005.

Pizzorno J, Murray, M. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 2012.

Parasites. Centre for Disease Control. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/

Myers A. 10 signs you may have a Parasite. MindBodyGreen. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11321/10-signs-you-may-have-a-parasite.html

Image Source:

 http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Sugah-worms-hands.jpg

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Dr. Nadia Saleem
Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.

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