How to cleanse your body of parasites
Travellers to second and third world countries often develop parasitic infections of varying intensity, from a mild case of diarrhoea to intense fever wherein death seems the preferred option. It’s not necessary to adventure abroad to pick up these damaging free loaders, though. One protozoa, Blastocystis hominis, commonly infects through polluted water in Australia. Pinworms can be found in most primary school kids. Clearing parasites from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is a priority during detox.
A parasite extracts nutrition from its host, generally at the host’s expense. They use the incoming food as nourishment or can use the host itself for its food. Major parasitic taxonomy includes amoebae, protozoa and worms but can include mites and viruses. Using the holistic paradigm, one could extend the definition of a parasite to include relationships, occupations and addictive tendencies that feed on and deplete the host.
Parasites can call their hosts home for years without evidence. When they do manifest, symptoms aren’t confined to the gut. They can affect the entire body-mind complex. Symptoms manifesting will depend on the type of parasite, the severity of infestation and the health of the host. Gut symptoms include abdominal discomfort (pain, bloating, nausea, tenderness), diarrhoea, vomiting and gas and other systemic, hazy symptoms, including weight loss, fatigue, skin rash or being very itchy down below.
Our best defence against parasites is being optimally healthy. In general, this involves a number of simultaneous actions such as avoiding parasites, using anti-parasitic herbs and foods and optimising the health of the GIT and immune systems.
The first avoidance tactic is good hygiene. Parasites can live in water and on the surface of or inside foods, so ensure you carbon filter water and wash your raw food. Simply washing your hands before preparing and eating foods and after visiting the toilet can prevent infestations.
Healthy probiotic colonies crowd out parasitic invaders. Eat fermented soybean tempeh, fermented milks such as yoghurt and kefir, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut (unpasteurised) and kimchi and fermented drinks such as rejuvelac and kombucha. All these foods will replenish the gut with beneficial bacteria on a regular basis.
“The healthiest gut is an acidic one,” says Dr Jason Hawrelak from Goulds Naturopathica in Hobart. An acidic GIT is achieved through eating a diet rich in vegetal fibres and prebiotic foods. These feed beneficial bacteria and enable them to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which alters pH to evict parasites. Prevention is always better than cure, so taking pro- and prebiotics before travelling abroad has proven successful in avoiding infestations. Many new studies are showing specific bacterial strains to be the most effective in prevention, particularly Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Saccharomyces boulardii and bifidobacteria.
Moderating stress is also important. The first line of defence in the GIT is balanced secretory IgA levels. IgA is an immune protein that defends the mucous membranes. IgA partly confers protection by stopping parasites latching onto the GIT walls. A low emotional mood has been shown to correlate with low levels of IgA and high mood with higher levels. This indicates that both psychological and physical stress can affect the levels of immune defences in the GIT. In this way, practising relaxation and positive attitudes helps prevent parasitic infestation.
Some gut-cleansing programs promote a “weed, seed and feed” strategy. Treatment starts with herbs to weed out the specific parasite. The best practice is to identify which parasites are present and employ a targeted rather than scatter-gun approach. There are many antimicrobials in the herbal apothecary. Due to their powerful nature, some can create more harm if the gut wall is already damaged. Others can kill off beneficial flora. In terms of gut “weeding”, one size doesn’t fit all.
Traditional medicine practices identify foods for killing parasites such as raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, beetroots and carrots. Honey and papaya seeds also play a role as traditional vermifuges, possibly due to their digestive enzymatic support. These are good, everyday “weeders”.
“Seeding” the GIT with beneficial bacteria then “feeding” them with prebiotic foods and the gut wall with healing nutrients is the next step. In people who’ve had parasitic infections for an extended period, it may be best to feed and seed before using a strong weeding arsenal.
Colonic hydrotherapy can play a role in a parasitic cleanse. Most parasites tend to attach to the bowel wall and withstand water therapy, however a hydrotherapy flush can help clear out waste matter that has been compacted there and acts as a ghetto for parasites.
The “zapper” promoted by Dr Royal Raymond Rife and later Dr Hulda Clarke is an interesting device. It claims to run frequencies through the body that kill specific parasites (everything from HIV to worms). The skeptics at Quackwatch have a field day with this one! To my knowledge, no orthodox science study has been undertaken to prove its efficacy. Nonetheless, I don’t dismiss it entirely. The possibility of approaching parasite cleansing using frequency-based medicine seems feasible to me.
There are many ways to ensure your body environment is not a hospitable place for parasites to make merry, thus allowing you to travel independently and healthily wherever you desire.
Sally Mathrick is a practising naturopath. She runs Sparkle Wellness & Detox courses online, providing effective, holistic, individual approaches to wellness. For more information, visit sparklewell.com.au.
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