The thought of parasites tends to make most of us queasy. However, they are one of the most commonly overlooked causes of health problems today.
Parasites are actually very common in nature and more common in humans than we would like to think. Approximately one half of the population of the world carries at least one form of parasite.
Having good hygiene does not exempt us from parasites. In fact, our diet of refined foods tends to weaken our immune systems and make us more susceptible to parasitic infection.
Parasites are not just found in our intestinal tracts. They can infest any body part such as the lungs, the liver, the muscles and joints, the brain, the blood, the skin and even the eyes.
It is very easy to come into contact with parasites. Contaminated water, undercooked meats, improperly washed fruits and vegetables are just some of the common sources of parasitic infections. Transmission from pets, insect or spider bites, or other people is also common.
Symptoms of parasitic infection can include chronic digestive problems, gas, constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, stomach pains, and or fatigue. Parasitic infections may contribute to a variety of major diseases including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Parasites can be very difficult to detect in conventional laboratory analysis. Of over 1000 species of parasites that could infect humans, only 40 to 50 have tests available to detect them. Medical testing procedures for parasites are not always accurate due to poor laboratory technique, not enough different stool samples, use of the wrong test, or not catching the parasite in a phase that is easily detected.
There are many good herbal products available that rid the body of parasites. Different formulas are used depending on the type of parasitic infection. Common herbs used include black walnut, artemisia or wormwood, cloves, garlic, oregano, grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf. Parasites are not affected by these herbs during certain stages of their life cycle, so it is helpful to repeat dosage after a 10 to 14 day break.
In my grandmother’s time, herbal formulas of this nature, or “spring tonics” were taken at regular intervals. These “tonics” typically included herbs to rid the body of parasites or worms.
Anti-parasitic tonics fell out of fashion when our hygiene and sanitation improved significantly; however, nature did not change and parasites still find good homes in humans. Many people with pets and livestock routinely treat their animals for parasites but do not think about treating themselves.
Remember that parasites are part of nature and they can infect any living creature not just animals.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.