Parasites and amoebas are pervasive in our society. A parasite is defined as a creature living in or on another organism at the host organism’s expense. A parasite cannot survive in a free state without a host. There are generally two classifications of parasites; one is referred to as ‘facultative,’ meaning it is one that exists in a free-living state as well as in relationship to a host. The second is called ‘temporary,’ meaning the parasite is obligated in one or more stages of development but free-living in one or more stages. Parasites may lack necessary enzymes, which the host supplies. They may lack a means of locomotion, so they develop specialized organs for attachment to the host such as hooks or suckers. They also have specialized methods of evading the host’s immune system.
Parasitic manifestations are often misdiagnosed by physicians, most likely because they are only schooled about common parasitic conditions (like Giardia), but have minimal knowledge on many others.
Worldwide, an estimated 500 million people are infected with intestinal parasites, and these microorganisms contribute to thousands of deaths each year. Common parasites like Giardia have become endemic in North American wildlife. Parasites may infect one in six Americans. Twenty or more years ago it was safe to drink the water from streams in the Western wilderness, but not any more. Most people who contract Giardia get it from swimming in lakes and streams, or from contaminated well water. Sometimes called Traveler’s diarrhea or Montezuma’s Revenge, it infects the intestines and causes pain, cramps, diarrhea, weight loss and depression. Giardiasis can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. The drug of choice for Giardia is still Metronidazole (Flagyl). It is generally safe and effective, but can cause serious side effects if taken with alcohol. Long term use can cause nerve damage and neuropathy.
Certain diseases like cancer and HIV-AIDS, besides being caused by parasites, may predispose a patient to increased parasite infections. Anything that weakens the immune system makes it easier for parasitic invaders to access the body. Parasites are also associated with many diseases, such as depression, schizophrenia, migraines, deafness, loss of sight, arthritis, asthma, lupus, fibromyalgia, heart disease, retarded growth, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, skin rashes, bedwetting, teeth grinding, rectal itching, hypo and hyperthyroidism, and bone loss. Physicians often do not check for parasites and worm infestations.
THE MAIN TYPES OF PARASITES
- Roundworms. The most common parasitic worms, sometimes called nematodes. They are elongated, cylindrical worms with well-developed digestive tracts. Most species are free living but many other species parasitize humans, animals and plants. In humans, there are both intestinal and tissue-inhabiting species. Common examples are pin worms, hookworms, dog heart worms, and threadworms. Roundworms can be contagious intestinal parasites. Pinworms are white thread-like worms about one-third inch long, and by far the most common infestation in young children. They can cause rectal itching (especially at night when they migrate outside the anus to lay their eggs), insomnia, and restlessness. Hookworms can cause itching on the soles of the feet, and may cause bloody stools, fever, rash and loss of appetite. Threadworms can cause coughing and bronchitis.
- Tapeworms. They have elongated ribbon-like bodies (that can vary in length from an inch to thirty feet) with specialized attachment organs on their anterior end. They have no digestive tract and thus the adults attach themselves to the inside of the small intestines and absorb nutrients directly into their bodies. They can cause loss of weight and appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Flukes. They are leaf-shaped thin worms with a bilaterally symmetrical body with hooked suckers. Some examples are human intestinal flukes, blood flukes, liver flukes, lung flukes, and pancreatic flukes. Adult flukes can inhabit all the tubes and cavities of the body, especially in the presence of toxins. They can form malignant tumors.
- Bacteria. These germs are microscopic creatures that are smaller than protozoa and larger than viruses. They cause many diseases including internal and external infections. There are many types including Salmonella, frequently present in pasteurized milk, raw eggs, meat and poultry. They cause food poisoning. Escherichia coli is a normal inhabitant of the colon and may cause infection if they multiply too quickly. Staphylococcus is a topical bacteria that causes boils, skin infections and sinus abscesses, and is difficult to kill. Antibiotics must be administered. Streptococcus pneumoniae often causes ear, sinus, throat and bronchial infections. Coliform bacteria is from animal and human fecal matter. Borellia burgdorferi causes Lyme’s disease.
- Viruses. Are very small infective parasites that cannot live and reproduce themselves without invading a living cell. Viruses can cause the common cold and respiratory problems. Influenza virus cause the flu. Warts are also colonies of a species of viruses.
- Yeast and Candida. Yeasts are microscopic plants that multiply by budding. Candida albacans is a species of yeast that infects humans. The human intestinal tract is full of yeast and most pose no problems. The use of antibiotic drugs is a frequent cause of yeast overgrowth which can lead to dysbiosis (irregular bowel).
- Fungi. These are simple, multi-cellular non-green plants that draw sustenance from living or dead plants and animals. In humans, fungi can live on the skin, under the toe or fingernails, or inside tumors.
- Protozoa. These are single-celled microscopic animals. Protozoa have very complex life cycles. The most common types of protozoa are amoeba, Giardia, Cryptosporidum, and Taxoplasma. Giardia is the leading waterborne protozoa.
WAYS TO PREVENT PARASITIC INFECTIONS
- Avoid eating raw meats and cold cuts, unless they are thoroughly cooked.
- Drink water that is deemed safe (either bottled or purified), especially if you travel to other countries.
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly (especially if imported from another country.)
- Be careful of consuming dairy products, meat, fish and pork that have not been properly refrigerated, and be wary of restaurant food.
- Keep all pets wormed (each Spring and Fall of the year) and be careful of children playing with animals without thoroughly washing their hands afterwards.
Worm and parasite infestations can range from mild to severe, even life threatening, particularly in children. Poor nutrition, therefore, can possible lead to deficiency-related disorders such as anemia and growth problems. Malabsorption resulting from parasitic infection makes one more susceptible to many disease because of diminished immune function.
Try to eat a high fiber diet consisting primarily of raw vegetables and whole grains. It is suggested to eat pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and figs. Drink plenty of filtered water. Eliminate refined sugar and simple carbohydrates, pork and pork products. Eat pineapples–the bromelain contained in this fruit destroys tapeworms. Papaya juice is also an excellent choice. Sushi has been found to be contaminated with a wormlike parasite.
Finally, thoroughly wash all utensils and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat, pork or fish with antibacterial soap.
This tangy root is remarkably effective against some of the world’s most dangerous parasites. In many countries, pickled ginger is consumed with raw fish dishes to immobilize any worms or larvae that may be hidden inside. Dosage: As directed by a qualified practitioner
This fruit contains both antiseptic and anti-parasitic compounds. It is effective used in Africa against some forms of malaria, and Dr. James Duke has used it for amebiasis. The Aztec descendents still use papaya seeds today to prevent intestinal parasites. Dosage: papaya seeds can be dried and powdered in a coffee grinder. Mix a tablespoon in half cup of water once a day for 10 days. Or add papaya seed powder to salad dressing.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) has long been recognized as a de-wormer, especially in the tropics. Wormseed can be used to treat intestinal worms in children and pets. Dosage: As directed on package, or under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Wormwood may be used in combination with other herbs including CASCARA, CAMOMILE TEA, GENTIAN ROOT, ECHINACEA, MULLEIN OIL, SLIPPERY ELM, THYME, MYRRH, VALERIAN, and PAU D’ ARCO.
- BERBERINE (BARBERRY, GOLDENSEAL, OREGON GRAPE)
The compound berberine, a proven anebicide, occurs in five herbs that have yellow roots. The most notable are barberry, Oregon grape and goldenseal. Berberine extracts have demonstrated growth inhibition of Giardia, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Leishmania donovani, in adults in children. Studies show berberine markedly decreased parasitic load and rapidly improves hematologic parameters in infected animals. Goldenseal is contraindicated in pregnant women. Dosage: As directed by a qualified practitioner.
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