How to do a Parasite Cleanse without the Side Effects
Most people think parasites are something that only exist in poor and developing countries or are something they can only pick up when traveling on an overseas trip. The reality is, however, parasites are everywhere, and they affect millions of people in the United States.
What Are Parasites?
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. In humans, parasites that live inside us use up our vitamins, proteins and other nutrients, depriving us of optimal nutrition. Not only do they steal nutrients from our body, they also eliminate waste inside us, releasing their toxic bacteria and viruses. Parasites are most commonly found in the colon, however, any part of the body is vulnerable to infestation: the lungs, liver, brain, blood, muscles, joints, skin, etc.
Even if you eat a healthy diet, these unwanted visitors may prevent you from getting all the nutrients from the food you eat, and they may cause a wide range of health issues, with symptoms reaching from mild rashes or headaches to serious illnesses.
Types of Parasites
While some parasites are easily identified, such as tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms, most parasites that people suffer from are actually microscopic bugs such as amoebas or flukes. Though the list of parasites that effect humans is extensive, there are three main types of parasites. These are:
Protozoa: Examples include the single-celled organism known as Plasmodium. A protozoa can only multiply, or divide, within the host.
Helminths: These are worm parasites, such as roundworm, pinworm, trichina spiralis, tapeworm, and fluke.
Ectoparasites: These live on, rather than in their hosts. They include lice and fleas.
Common Ways Parasites Are Transmitted
There are many ways that people can be infected with parasites, from food and drinking water, to touching handrails and walking barefoot on contaminated soil. These are the most common ways parasitic transmission occurs:
Zoonotic Infections: Pets are one common way that people are exposed to parasites, as pets can easily carry parasites and pass them on to people. Diseases spread from animals to people are known as zoonotic diseases, and they can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. For zoonotic diseases caused by parasites, the types of symptoms and signs can be different depending on the parasite and the person. Sometimes people with zoonotic infections can be very sick but some people have no symptoms and do not ever get sick. Other people may have symptoms such as diarrhea, muscle aches, and fever.
Blood: Some parasites can be bloodborne. This means the parasite can be found in the bloodstream of infected people, or the parasite might be spread to other people through exposure to an infected person’s blood (for example, by blood transfusion or by sharing needles or syringes contaminated with blood). Examples of parasitic diseases that can be bloodborne include African trypanosomiasis, babesiosis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, malaria, and toxoplasmosis. In nature, many bloodborne parasites are spread by insects (vectors), so they are also referred to as vector-borne diseases.
Food: Numerous parasites can be transmitted by food including many protozoa and helminths. In the United States, the most common foodborne parasites are protozoa such as Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia intestinalis, Cyclospora cayetanensis, and Toxoplasma gondii; roundworms such as Trichinella spp. and Anisakis spp.; and tapeworms such as Diphyllobothrium spp. and Taenia spp.
Many of these organisms can also be transmitted by water, soil, or person-to-person contact. Occasionally in the U.S., but often in developing countries, a wide variety of helminthic roundworms, tapeworms, and flukes are transmitted in foods such as
- undercooked fish, crabs, and mollusks;
- undercooked meat;
- raw aquatic plants, such as watercress; and
- raw vegetables that have been contaminated by human or animal feces.
Some foods are also contaminated by food service workers who practice poor hygiene or who work in unsanitary facilities.
Insects: An insect that transmits a disease is known as a vector, and the disease is referred to as a vector-borne disease. Insects can act as mechanical vectors, meaning that the insect can carry an organism but the insect is not essential to the organism’s life cycle, such as when house flies carry organisms on the outside of their bodies that cause diarrhea in people. Insects can also serve as obligatory hosts where the disease-causing organism must undergo development before being transmitted (as in the case with malaria parasites).
Water: Parasites can live in natural water sources. When outdoors, treat your water before drinking it to avoid getting sick. Water is an essential resource for life. When water becomes contaminated by parasites, however, it can cause a variety of illnesses. Globally, contaminated water is a serious problem that can cause severe pain, disability and even death. Common global water-related diseases caused by parasites include Guinea worm, schistosomiasis, amebiasis, cryptosporidiosis (Crypto), and giardiasis. People become infected with these diseases when they swallow or have contact with water that has been contaminated by certain parasites.
Symptoms of Parasitic Infection
Parasites can pass on a wide variety of conditions, so symptoms are hard to predict. Oftentimes there are also no symptoms, or symptoms that appear long after infection, but the parasite can still be transmitted to another person, who may also develop symptoms.
There are many types of parasite, and symptoms can vary widely. Sometimes these may resemble the symptoms of other conditions, such as a hormone deficiency, pneumonia, or food poisoning.
Common symptoms that might occur include:
- Skin bumps or rashes
- Weight loss, increased appetite, or both
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sleeping problems
- Aches and pains
- Weakness and general feeling unwell
- Gas or bloating
- Dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus)
- Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Feeling tired/fatigued
- Passing a worm in your stool
Getting Rid of Parasites
Eliminating parasitic infections is not always easy to do, and it depends on what type of parasite one is infected with, as well as how severe the infection is. That being said, there are effective ways to eliminate a wide range of parasites, and some methods for doing so are time-tested and have been used traditionally for thousands of years.
One traditional method of detoxing parasites from the body, and one that has had much modern scientific research to back it, is the use of a well-crafted wormwood complex. Wormwood complex is the name given to a formula for killing parasites that contains three essential herbs: wormwood, clove, and green black walnut hulls. Together, these anti-parasitic herbs kill the larvae, egg, and adult stages of parasites, and when used alongside a parasite detox protocol and a healthy diet, can help to kill the entire life cycle of a parasite, ensuring that one effectively kills the organism(s) and prevents reinfection.
Parasite Die-Off Symptoms
During a parasite detox cleanse, it is extremely common that one may experience parasite die-off symptoms. As parasites die, they give off noxious fumes that could cause you to feel horrible. Sometimes our bodies can't deal with the toxic overload of all these harmful substances being released in such a short span of time. When this happens, we typically experience die-off symptoms, which may include any of the following:
- Aches and pains
- Skin rashes
- Brain fog
- Food cravings
- Emotional and neurological disorders
- Anxiety and fatigue
- Phlegm or stuffy nose
- Upset stomach
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills
- Skin breakouts
Managing Die-Off Symptoms
Though experiencing die-off symptoms may make you feel like you're getting worse, die-off symptoms are actually a natural effect of detoxification and a positive sign of healing. Thankfully, there are ways to better manage these symptoms as they occur.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water helps the body get rid of all kinds of toxins, whether they are created due to bodily reactions, obtained from outside sources or ones that occur because of parasitic infections or die-off. Drinking adequate amounts of water is important for health, but it is especially important for cleansing to help ensure that you are flushing out parasites and the toxins they release.
Get Good Quality Sleep Every Night
Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. A good night’s rest is important for health, but it is especially important when undergoing a cleanse of any kind. Cleansing can be taxing to your body, and in order for your body to recuperate from the demands of detoxification, getting enough sleep is essential.
Eat A Well-Balanced & Nutritious Diet
Hippocrates, a Greek Physician known as “The Father of Modern Medicine,” knew very well the importance of food for health, and he expressed this understanding in the common saying, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food.” Food contains essential nutrients that the body needs to function, build and repair. When undergoing a cleanse, be sure to focus on eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet to support your body in cleansing and regenerating during your detox. A whole-foods diet that focuses on organic produce is recommended, and it is also recommended to avoid all processed foods, junk foods, or foods filled with high amounts of sugar or chemical additives. Read our blog "Parasite Detox Diet" for specific guidelines on what to eat during a parasite cleanse.
Schedule Regular Massages During Your Cleanse
If possible, it can be very supportive to schedule regular massages during a cleanse. Massages are very supportive for detoxification because they increase the circulation of blood and lymph. This helps the body flush out the toxic chemicals that may be released during a detox, and can help to reduce the effect of parasite die-off symptoms.
Spend Time Outside & Breathe Fresh Air
One of the major organs of detoxification are the lungs. Fresh air helps the airways of your lungs to dilate more fully and improves the cleansing action of your lungs. When you exhale and breathe out through your lungs, you release airborne toxins from your body. To support the detoxification process, and to reduce the symptoms of parasite die-off spend some time outdoors.
How to Reduce the Effects of Specific Die-Off Symptoms
It is important to take a holistic approach to managing your die-off symptoms, such as getting adequate rest, drinking plenty of water, eating a nutritious diet, etc. However, there are also ways to reduce the effects of specific die-off symptoms when they arise.
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of any kind of detox, and they can also arise as a result of your parasite detox cleanse. During a cleanse, one often changes their diet to support the detoxification process. This alone may cause the body to have a reaction, but the activity of parasite die-off may also cause this. To manage headaches during a cleanse, make sure you are well-hydrated and getting plenty of rest, and also try rubbing an essential oil on your forehead and temples. Lavender and frankincense oils have long been used for headaches.
Fatigue is also a very common detox reaction. Of course, the most important way to reduce fatigue is to get plenty of sleep. During a cleanse, aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep, if possible. It may also be helpful to do less physically demanding exercises and to focus more on gentle forms of exercise like yoga and stretching. There are also nutrients and herbs that can help improve energy such as B-Vitamins, Green Tea, and adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaghanda.
Most parasites live in the intestinal tract, so it is common to experience stomach upset when doing a parasite cleanse. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive issues. To manage these, include more easily digestible foods in the diet like oatmeal, kitchari, rice, soup, and steamed vegetables. It is also very helpful to include herbs and herbal teas like ginger, peppermint and chamomile that are known for their stomach-soothing properties.
Skin is the largest organ of the body and it is also a common organ of elimination. The body eliminates toxins through the skin, and so, during a cleanse you might experience rashes, skin sores, flare-ups of eczema or psoriasis, dry skin, or a number of other rash-like symptoms. Thankfully, these do not tend to last long if they are caused by die-off symptoms. You can support the detoxification process by dry skin brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system and remove some of the dead toxin-containing skin. Rubbing a soothing oil like coconut or jojoba oil on your skin can also help.
During any detox, sleep is incredibly important. However, a common detox symptom that many experience is insomnia, preventing that good night’s sleep that is so essential. To help overcome insomnia, there are many steps you can take. A warm Epsom salt bath before bed can help the body eliminate some of the toxins it is processing, and you can also help your body ease into a more restful state by sleeping in a dark room, turning off all blue-light sources (phones, TV, computer) at least two hours before bed, and drinking a soothing night time tea such as chamomile or valerian root. Additionally, practices such as meditation or deep breathing can help calm the mind, which is often a big contributor to the insomnia.
Food cravings are very common on many different kinds of cleanses. This can be caused by a variety of reasons. There may have been a food that the parasites were also feeding on, and by cutting out the food, we cause those parasites to lose their food source. As they die, they release chemicals that may make us crave those same foods. Food is also an emotional comfort for most of us, and a parasite cleanse can be an uncomfortable experience at times. It takes some discipline to deny our cravings, and it helps to remember why we are cleansing in the first place, and to keep our motivation strong. We can also include some herbal tea in our diet to help fight your sugar cravings—peppermint is especially good for this. Adding healthy fats to our diet, like avocado or coconut oil, can also help the body feel more satiated, and therefore reduce cravings.
Aches and Pains
Aches and pains are another uncommon and uncomfortable symptom that may arise as a result of your body eliminating toxic waste while parasites die. To reduce aches and pains ensure you are getting plenty of rest, and try taking a warm Epsom salt bath each day. You can also incorporate anti-inflammatory herbs into your diet such as turmeric with black pepper or chili peppers.
Anxiety and Depression
Certain parasites, such as Taenia solium, may actually influence our neurotransmitter pathways, affecting serotonin, GABA, and dopamine levels. This can be an underlying cause to anxiety and depression. To help boost your mood, get out in the sun and soak up some Vitamin D. If you live in a climate or season that does not get much sun, you can invest in a light therapy lamp that may also do the trick. Supplements like L-Theanine found in Green Tea can also help to boost mood. If anxiety is an issue, one of the most effective things you can do is take up a meditation practice and practice breathing exercises. The exercise of 6-3-9 (which involves breathing in for 6 seconds, holding the breath for 3 seconds, and exhaling for 9 seconds) actually helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with restoration, and can be a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.
Parasites are organisms that lives on or in a host organism and get their food from or at the expense of their host. In humans, parasites that live inside us use up our vitamins, proteins and other nutrients, depriving us of optimal nutrition.
Parasitic infection is much more common than most people think, and it is not limited to poor and developing countries. In the United States, millions of people suffer from parasites and do not even know it. Symptoms of parasites are diverse, and can make it hard to diagnose them.
In order to eliminate parasites from the body, many choose to undergo a parasite detox cleanse. This is often an effective way to kill parasites, however, parasite cleanses typically bring with them uncomfortable parasite die-off symptoms. It is important to be aware of die-off symptoms and to acknowledge them for what they are so as not to be discouraged from continuing your cleanse. They are actually a positive sign of healing. If there is any concern, however, it is recommended to seek guidance from a health care professional.
To mitigate these symptoms, a holistic approach is important. Getting plenty of rest, eating well, drinking adequate water, and getting regular massages are helpful and supportive ways of managing die-off symptoms. There are also more symptom-specific remedies that can be utilized.
If you’re choosing to intentionally rid your body of parasite infestation, make sure you’re also giving it the detoxification, nutritional, and emotional support it needs to process the toxins. Parasites are a common health issue, but they can be eliminated, and oftentimes, one notices a significant improvement in health and mood after ridding the body of these unwanted and uninvited creatures.