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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.

Symptoms

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:

o   gas, bloating

o   constipation or diarrhea

o   itchy skin or rashes

o   stomach pain or upset stomach after eating

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o   insomnia

o   food poisoning-like symptoms

o   persistent anemia

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

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

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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.

Prevention

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

– always ensure to cook meat thoroughly

– wash all fruits and vegetables well

– when travelling to foreign places, consume only bottled water when possible

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– 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)

– take probiotics when travelling to increase your own immune defenses

Treatment

Certain foods and herbs can be helpful in aiding the elimination of parasites due to their antimicrobial properties.

9 effective foods and herbs include:

o   Pumpkin seeds

o   Garlic

o   Onions

o   Sunflower seeds

o   Sesame seeds

o   Coconut oil

o   Black walnut

o   Oil of oregano

o   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, such as eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates, as parasites are fueled by simple sugars.

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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Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.
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