They’re the kind of symptoms nobody ever wants to talk about; gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea and rectal itching. Embarrassment keeps a lot of people from ever going to see their doctor about them. And far too many folks that do build up the courage to make an appointment get handed the catch-all waste-basket diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for their troubles.
If this sounds like you – and you’ve battled for years to get your stomach problems under control – the real cause of your troubles may shock you. Because, believe it or not, many so-called IBS patients are actually infected with hidden parasites.
And even if you’re NOT suffering from any gastrointestinal woes, don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. Although intestinal parasites can be behind just about any type of tummy trouble you can think of, their reign of terror could extend far beyond the GI tract leading to joint pain, headaches, fatigue, skin issues and even emotional and psychiatric symptoms.
Have you been exposed?!
When most people hear the word parasite they think of South America or Africa. But the truth is you don’t have to travel anywhere exotic to be exposed to many of these ugly bugs. Parasites are far more prevalent than most people think, and it’s quite common to pick them up at home.
The list of common potential parasite culprits may even shock you…
- Pets – ‘kissing’ your beloved dog or cat
- Raw seafood – eating sushi and raw crustaceans
- Uncooked meat – meats served rare or medium rare bring a higher risk
- Water – drinking unfiltered water
- Hygiene – poor toilet habits
- Vegetables – eating certain unwashed vegetables
Once you’re infected it’s relatively easy to infect other people, which can put your entire family at risk. Some parasites lay hundreds – possibly thousands – of eggs a day when they’re active, meaning that if left untreated your entire system could eventually be infested with these bugs. And an infestation that lasts for months or even years can become increasingly difficult to fully resolve.
Four common testing flaws
We’re led to believe that if you’re infected with a parasite you have to look as if you’re wasting away and literally have – and please pardon the visual – worms coming out of your rectum. The reality is that’s FAR from the truth. But to make matters worse the so-called professionals often don’t have a much better grasp on diagnosing parasites than the public does, which is why so many patients are misdiagnosed (usually with IBS) and miserable.
There are four major flaws to the testing methods that conventional doctors typically use that have led to a lot of frustrated and miserable patients:#
Flaw #1: Parasites live in life cycles and if you’re not collecting a stool sample at the time of the month that the parasites are ‘active’ then the testing is really a waste of time. The trouble is it’s hard to predict when the parasites will hatch. This leads to patients who are actually infected being cleared for parasites.
Flaw #2: Parasite eggs will perish when they’re exposed to air for more than a few hours. Yet there are no preservatives used in the stool specimen containers that most laboratories use. By the time a pathologist is able to review a specimen it’s often long past that short window of time; meaning that the parasites will be missed by the test.
Flaw #3: Many doctors believe that they will be able to see a parasite with a colonoscopy. In my almost 35 years on the job I have NEVER seen a colonoscopy reveal a parasite. And there are several good reasons for that. First, the clean-out process for the colonoscopy is very thorough (if you’ve had one you know what I mean) and it wipes out any obvious parasites. Even more important, is the fact that parasites actually live INSIDE the colonic wall which will not be seen with the camera.
‘Sesame seed’ stool
But the most obvious reason colonoscopies don’t work is that many of these parasites live in the small intestine not the large intestine that’s viewed in a colonoscopy. The small intestine, which makes up about 20 feet of the gastrointestinal system, is basically unchartered territory where these critters can hide.
Flaw #4: There are many different species of parasites and our current testing simply isn’t designed to search for all of them… or even most of them for that matter. Parasites can range from microscopic amoeba to large tapeworms. And some don’t even live in the intestinal tract – such as flukes that set up shop in your liver instead.
It’s NOT all inside your head
These flaws leave doctors with the false impression that parasitic infections are rare. Even worse, unless a patient has been to a Third World country, or is rapidly losing weight, many doctors simply don’t order tests for parasites any more.
They’ll just diagnose you with IBS – and if you keep insisting you may have parasites, they may call you crazy. There’s even a medical term for it – delusional parasitosis.
But I’ve had countless patients who had been told they’re ‘crazy’, but had their gastrointestinal symptoms clear right up when I treated them for parasites. And I’ve also treated patients who were told that their gastrointestinal problems were from IBS or stress, who then went on to pass handfuls of worms during my treatment for their parasites!
If you’re suffering with mysterious symptoms and not getting anywhere with traditional mainstream medicine, you could very well be suffering from a hidden parasite infection. A holistic doctor should be able to help, or you can try tackling them on your own at home first.
Knock out parasites
If you suspect you have parasites, I’ve got good news. You don’t just have to live with them and you don’t have to resort to heavy duty drugs to kick them. There are some safe, natural, and proven methods for ridding your body of these bugs.
Food: Let’s start with diet. Certain foods could help you rid yourself of these ugly bugs. Raw garlic, carrots, beetroot, coconut, honey, pumpkin seeds, papaya seeds, cloves and pomegranate have all been traditionally used to kill parasites.
In one study, published in the Journal of Medical Food, researchers found that a mixture of papaya seeds and honey was a remarkably effective method for killing off parasites. Sixty children with confirmed intestinal parasites were given either a papaya seed and honey mixture or honey alone for seven days and then follow-up stool samples were taken.
The samples from 23 of 30 of the children who received the mixture instead of just honey alone were found to be anywhere from 71.4 per cent to 100 per cent clear of all parasites! Though less effective, the honey alone did manage to clear five of the 30 children of parasites as well. And, of course, there weren’t any significant side effects from either treatment.
You can try blending fresh papaya, including about a tablespoon of the seeds, into a parasite-killing smoothie. (There are also papaya powders on the market if you find that the seeds are a bit too bitter.) Raw pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, coconut water and a dash of coconut oil and honey all make good parasite-fighting additions. Throw in a little fresh pineapple while you’re at it and you’ll also get a dosage of healthy digestive enzymes.
Also be sure to eat plenty of fibre-rich foods and drink plenty of filtered water, both of which can help flush parasites from your system.
Supplements: Try a good probiotic from a maker you trust to help keep your digestive tract healthy and in top working order. Vitamin C and zinc are both excellent for overall immune system support.
Herbs: There are a number of herbs that have been traditionally used to tackle parasites including black walnut, garlic, goldenseal, barberry, anise, and wormwood.
Don’t forget to check with your doctor to make sure that none of these supplements or herbs will interfere with any medication you’re currently taking.
Tips to avoid parasites
- Cook meats completely and avoid eating raw fish, beef or pork
- Wash all fruits and veggies carefully (even those so-called ‘pre-washed’ ones!)
- Avoid too many simple carbs like those found in processed and refined foods
- Drink only properly filtered water
- Wash your hands frequently and leave your shoes at the front door
- Keep your home mould and bug free (call in experts if you need too)
- Deworm your pets regularly, keep them off the furniture and glove and mask to clean up after them
- Take a quality probiotic from a maker you trust
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 9, Issue 11, November 2015