Parasites!

One of my new favorite TV shows I discovered last year when I was home sick one day is called The Monsters Inside Me. This show is definitely not recommended for my hypochondriacs. You will learn first-hand about rare cases of parasite infestations that many times result in neurological disorders and even death. Many of the victims contracted parasites from their travels where they literally found themselves eating shit, stepping in shit and getting the shits.

While I wouldn’t consider myself an avid traveler, I’ve definitely spent sufficient time in the jungle of Costa Rica and in the coastal deserts of Peru and Mexico (suspect areas according to the show). I will never forget my debilitating shitstorm on my first trip to Peru. All night, I was repeating a delicious mango I had eaten but not washed beforehand because it was so ripe the skin had torn. I just peeled it and ate it when I should have tossed it because consequently, I ate some parasites. My last visit to Peru involved some strange stomach aches as well and every night I would contemplate a parasite cleanse upon my return. Ultimately, I never went through with a parasite cleanse and I am glad for that.

According to Dr. Robynne Chutkan (a NY Times best-selling author and gastroenterologist) in her book, Gutbliss,

If you think you have a parasite, it’s always better to get diagnosed and figure out if you really do, and, if so, which specific one. The treatments can differ dramatically, from single-dose over-the-counter cures to weeks of prescription medication. There are lots of natural remedies, too, including things that may already be in your kitchen, like garlic, black walnuts, papaya seeds, and cloves. Wormwood tea is effective against many parasites and can be brewed at home, but it’s not without potential side effects, including sleep disturbances and possible organ damage.

In the absence of a diagnosis, beware of signing up for Internet cures that may or may not work and could have unpleasant side effects you hadn’t bargained on. you may ultimately need to see an infectious disease specialist or someone with expertise in parasitology. Be sure to ask when you make the appointment if they’re familiar with diagnosing and treating parasites.

Additionally, the thought of having dead parasites floating around in my body doesn’t sound appealing nor any healthier than having live parasites. Here are Dr. Chutkan’s “Gutbliss Solutions for Parasites” as listed in her best-selling book, Gutbliss:

If you’re exposed to a parasite, the likelihood of whether it will set up shop in your digestive tract and cause symptoms is, like other types of infections, related in part to how healthy your immune system is.

  • A nourishing diet, lots of rest and exercise, and avoiding chemicals and other toxins are part of creating a healthy immune system and preventing parasites from taking hold.
  • As is the case for bacteria, parasites have a sweet tooth, so limiting starchy, sugary foods can be an important part of preventing or treating a parasitic infection.
  • Maintaining healthy levels of good bacteria in your gut by avoiding unnecessary antibiotics an drugs that change the pH will also help to discourage growth of parasites.
  • Eating a high-fiber diet and taking a daily tablespoon of ground psyllium husk powder cleans out the intestines and can help to remove parasite eggs that may be attempting to make a home.
  • Eating foods rich in vitamin A precursors, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, can help prevent parasitic larvae from penetrating, and raw garlic also has antiparasitic qualities.
  • Parasites can be transmitted from dogs and other pets, so make sure yours are regularly checked for worms and that their feces are properly disposed of. You also need to be on the lookout for whether your pet might be eating the infected stool of other animals, a practice that’s not uncommon among puppies.
  • To avoid coming into contact with infected stool, don’t walk barefoot where animals have been.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and make sure you’re not watering vegetables with a contaminated water supply from a septic tank.
  • Strict hand washing, careful washing of fruits and vegetables, filtering your drinking water, and avoiding raw and undercooked meat are also important preventive tactics. I’ve seen parasites in people doing a juice cleanse who weren’t washing the produce well before juicing it.
  • As much as I love them, salad bars can also be opportunities for contamination of food. One University of California study secretly observed a salad bar and found that over half the diners were in serious violation of the rules, using their fingers to sample the food and committing other hygiene transgressions.
  • Poor sanitation in public or community spaces, especially in places such as nursing homes and day care centers, contributes to the spread of parasites.

Resources: Monsters Inside Me, Gutbliss by Robynne Chutkan, M.D., FASGE

 

Published by Doody Free Girl

New Jersey Gravity Colonics Therapist and Blogger, Jen (The Doody Free Girl) is starting a Bowel Movement to erase the stigma surrounding women's bowel insecurities and ultimately, alleviate both physical and emotional constipation.