Herbs, Foods, and Supplements to Get Rid of Parasites

There are a variety of parasites that can infect our intestinal tract. With more frequent international travel, parasite infections have become more common over the last couple of years. Fatigue, diarrhea, gas, vomiting, chills, bloating, heartburn, constipation, stomach pain, or loss of appetite are all parasite infection and infestation symptoms.

Some parasites enter the body by way of contaminated food or water and some live on the skin and the hair. Some can be passed through sexual contact. Some parasites are spread by insects that act as a vector, or carrier, of the disease. 

 If you suspect you might suffer from a parasite infection or infestation, don’t panic because there are natural ways to treat the infection or infestation depending on where the parasites come from. 

What are Parasites?

A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its food at the expense of its host. People who suffer from an imbalanced gut flora or a weakened immune system are more susceptible to it. House pets are also parasitic carriers because most of them lick their fur, where parasites and their eggs can be found. So, it is recommendable to wash your hands after you’re done petting pets especially if they do not live with you. Other risk factors are living or visiting an area known to have parasites, poor hygiene or sanitation, and exposure to institutional or child care centers. 

Parasites can cause disease in humans, through loss of nutrition due to the infection, damage to the tissues of the host caused by parasites, loss of protein used to repair the gastrointestinal tract and other tissues, and reduction in absorption of nutrients. [1]

All of these make the host more vulnerable to disease. The best thing is to get rid of them quickly. 

There are a few ways to determine whether you have a parasitic infection:

  1. A stool parasite test (O&P). This is the best test especially when at least three stool samples are collected from separate days are examined. This test looks for eggs and the parasites themselves.
  2. Endoscopy/Colonoscopy is used when stool exams do not reveal the cause of ongoing diarrhea.
  3. Blood tests- Some parasitic infections can be detected in the  blood. These are inconclusive since they only detect some parasite infections. 
  • Blood serology testing looks for antibodies to parasites or for parasite antigens in the blood.
  • Blood smear testing is used for parasites found in the blood. This test is done by placing a drop of blood on a microscope slide that is examined under a microscope.

If you have tested positive in one of these tests or have diarrhea and cramping or digestive pain for no evident cause and helicobacter pylori infection and other disease states have been ruled out, then you want to change your diet and support your health with supplements that have the potential to reduce parasite infections. 

Lifestyle Changes That Reduce Parasite Infections

Diet

It was found that parasite infections in humans might be determined by the diet quality and quantity.

Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates in the persons diet support parasite growth and development. Reduced food intake, plant based proteins instead of animal based proteins, and reduced diary consumption reduce parasite growth and development. [2]

Parasites suffer when the diet of their host is of better quality, because when the host diet is of high quality, there is increased host immune system activity against the parasites (3, 4).

Herbs and Dietary Supplements for Treating Parasitic Infection

Although there is a lack of clinical studies and trials which test the effects of natural remedies, preliminary research suggests that some herbs and dietary supplements may have the potential for treating parasitic infections. Here are some recommended supplements and herbs:

1. Berberine

Found in barberries, this extract may help protect you against tapeworm infection. It is one of the most effective natural supplements available. Aside from barberry, berberine can be found in herbs like goldthread and goldenseal. [5]

2. Pumpkin Seeds

One of the more promising natural remedies is pumpkin seeds. When eaten fresh, or toasted, they are high in zinc which strengthens the immune system, and are rich in protein and fatty acids as well as the compounds cucurbitine, palatine, and berberine that have been found to be beneficial against parasites. [6] 

3. Papaya Seeds

Papaya and its seeds eaten fresh have proven anti-amoebic and worm destroying activities and may play a significant role in killing off other intestinal parasites. [7]  In one study, researchers found that a mixture of pure honey and papaya seeds cleared stools of parasites in 23 out of 30 subjects.

4. Wormwood

Wormwood is known for its anti-parasitic properties, but it’s especially effective in killing off tapeworms. [8] Wormwood contains compounds (called sesquiterpene lactones), which weaken parasite membranes. 

Other supplements worthy of mentioning include anise, black walnut, curled mint, clove oil, goldthread, grapefruit seed extract, propolis, Oregon grape, and oregano oil.

5. Foods

Aside from pumpkin seeds, papaya and honeycomb, there are other foods that have been shown to be of particular benefit against parasites. These foods include: raw garlic, pomegranates, beets, and carrots, all of which have been used traditionally to kill parasites. Also keep yourself well hydrated with water. 

Parasite Cleanse Diet

During a parasite cleanse diet it is vital to stay away from refined sugars, meat, dairy products and all processed foods for 6 weeks. Fiber is especially important since it keeps your bowel movement regular while you cleanse. While the parasites are flushed out of your body, you should eat a nutrient-dense diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seeds to strengthen your immune system. This, along with probiotics and digestive enzymes is the best combination for killing the parasites and protecting your body against another infection. 

During the cleansing period, also eat honeycomb, a lot of garlic, pumpkin, and papaya and their seeds during the cleanse. Also avoid eating seafood, drinking coffee and alcohol. 

Daily consume foods rich in beta-carotene such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes.

Doing a natural parasite cleanse can be effective, but before you start, talk to your doctor and do the proper testing. Not all supplements are safe for everyone. Some can interact with your medication or may be unsuitable during pregnancy or breastfeeding mothers or for young children. Some herbs can worsen some chronic health conditions and negatively affect anemic people.

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References:

  • [1] Hall A. Nutritional aspects of parasitic infection. Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1985;9(3-4):227-56. PMID: 3914654.
  • [2] Nesheim MC. Some experimental approaches to the study of nutrition and parasitic infection. Fed Proc. 1984 Feb;43(2):235-8. PMID: 6692943.
  • [3]Wiehn J, Korpimäki E. Resource levels, reproduction and resistance to haematozoan infections. Proc. Biol. Sci. 1998;265:1197–1201. 
  • [4] Lochmiller RL, Deerenberg C. Trade-offs in evolutionary immunology: just what is the cost of immunity? Oikos. 2000;88:87–98. 
  • [5] Mohsen Imenshahidi, Hossein Hosseinzadeh. Berberine and barberry (Berberis vulgaris): A clinical review. Phytother Res. 2019 Mar;33(3):504-523. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6252. Epub 2019 Jan 13.
  • [6] Maciej Grzybek,Wirginia Kukula-Koch, OrcID,Aneta Strachecka, OrcID, Aleksandra Jaworska, Andrew M. Phiri,Jerzy Paleolog and Krzysztof Tomczuk. Evaluation of Anthelmintic Activity and Composition of Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) Seed Extracts—In Vitro and in Vivo Studies. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(9), 1456; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms17091456.
  • [7] John A.O. Okeniyi, Tinuade A. Ogunlesi, Oyeku A. Oyelami, and Lateef A. Adeyemi. Effectiveness of Dried Carica papaya Seeds Against Human Intestinal Parasitosis: A Pilot Study. Published Online:1 May 2007. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2005.065.
  • [8] Albert P. Ekanem and Ebiamadon Andi Brisibe . Effects of ethanol extract of Artemisia annua L. against monogenean parasites of Heterobranchus longifilis. Published: 18 February 2010, Parasitology Research volume 106, pages 1135–1139(2010).

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