If you are grossed out by the thought of having parasites living inside you, you’re not alone! But unfortunately, parasite infections are actually more common than you might think. In fact, it’s estimated that 3.5 billion people around the world have a parasite infection, including 2.5 million people who are suspected to have liver flukes worldwide. About 12% of Americans carry Toxoplasma gondii, a microscopic parasite you can get from your feline friend (aka your cat!).
Another fun fact? About 50 percent of kids in school get pinworms from other kids through germ sharing and poor sanitation.
In this article we’re going to detail how to know if you have a parasitic infection, the various testing options and some tips to help you get rid of parasites.
Oh and! If you haven’t already, be sure to take my FREE hidden parasite quiz to uncover if you might have some unwanted critters hanging out inside your body!
Parasites are defined as “an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host.” There are three main classes of parasites that can cause disease in humans: protozoa (single-cell organisms), helminths (worms), and ectoparasites (fleas or ticks).
Most people associate parasites infections with the gut, but there are many different kinds of parasites that can live anywhere in the body, including in your blood, heart, lungs, skin, liver/gallbladder, muscles, brain, lymph, etc.
Parasites can also range in size. Some, like protozoa, are microscopic single-cell organisms that you can’t see, while others, especially worms are visible to the naked eye. For example, a tapeworm, which is what post people think of when they hear the word “parasite” can grow to be as long as 49 feet! Yuck!
So if parasites are so common, why are they largely going untreated? Well for starters, the conventional medical system doesn’t believe in parasites as a real illness. Aside from large worms like the tapeworm, they refuse to believe that people in developed countries like the U.S. can play host to these freeloaders. Any many will tell you that it’s “all in your head” and refer you to a psych specialist.
And secondly, parasites are incredibly smart and evasive, and can use certain tactics to manipulate your immune system so they can fly under the radar.
One of those mechanisms involves surrounding themselves in a biofilm, a protective layer, or tent-like structure, that protects them from the rest of your body. In fact, parasites can create a toxic microbial party inside a biofilm, where more than one kind can cohabitate in an environment that is suitable to them by bringing in things like minerals and toxic metals and chemicals that allow them to thrive.
Parasites are leeches. They literally steal nutrients from the host (YOU) in order to survive. They can also lead to a wide variety of chronic health issues that we’ll get to below. They keep their host sick, but the goal is not to kill us, because if they do that, then they won’t be able to survive.
Whew okay, so this is a loaded question because there are SO MANY different kinds of parasites — hundreds!
But let’s cover some of the most basic parasite infections.
Protozoa are the single-cell parasites that we mentioned above, and although they can’t be seen by humans, they are quite destructible to us!
Some of the most common types of protozoa include:
Helminths are essentially parasitic worms that can be seen by the naked eye and this represents an umbrella term for many different kinds, including two main types: roundworms and flatworms.
Roundworms (or nematodes) can be broken down into two sub categories: hookworms and pinworms that usually affect the skin, lungs, liver, intestines and muscles. Hookworms have hooks at the end, hence the name, and pinworms get their name from the females’ pin-like tails.
Pinworms are fairly common, especially in children, and can cause itching around the anus. These are pretty small worms, usually about ½ inch in length. Hookworms can be a bit bigger (a few inches).
Some of the most common types of roundworms include:
Flatworms are another category of helminth worms that can be broken down into two sub categories: liver flukes & tapeworms.
Liver flukes (trematodes) have a flat leaf-like shape and look like rolled up tomato skins in your stool. They typically invade the intestines, liver and bile ducts, blood and sometimes the lungs.
Tapeworms are long and ribbon-like in structure and affect mainly the intestines. These are the ones you hear about most often and that some people have used for “weight loss,” which is NOT advised!
Common flatworms include:
Ectoparasites are the third classification of parasites and these typically live outside of the body. They include things like fleas, ticks, mites, bed bugs, lice, and mosquitoes that feed on your blood or skin tissue and can cause itching and rashes. Some even burrow into the skin.
What’s important to note about ectoparasites is that they are very common, and they often carry other pathogens and diseases with them that they can transmit to us. This includes things like West Nile virus from mosquitoes and Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which can cause the co-infection Lyme disease.
We can get parasite infections in a variety of different ways, and some parasites are easily transmitted to others through saliva, blood, feces and contaminated objects.
Here are the most common ways you can pick up some unwanted critters:
Symptoms of infection can vary greatly based on the type of parasite and how many different ones you might have in your body at one time.
For instance, I’ve had liver and blood flukes, protozoa and small worms, likely strongyloides although I never actually confirmed the type of worms or protozoa via testing, only by analyzing what came out in my stool. But all of those can affect the body differently. I’ve had GI symptoms, adrenal dysfunction and mood disorders for years, and most recently I developed eczema and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is likely a symptom of chronic parasite infections.
Pathogenic infections, such as bacterial viral or parasitic infections are oftentimes the underlying root cause of many GI issues like IBS or IBD. Most times, this goes unnoticed, leaving people to suffer in silence for years. This definitely happened to me when I was caught in the conventional medicine loop and before I found holistic medicine.
You can read about my personal parasite journey here.
Some of the most common symptoms of parasites include:
Not everyone that has parasite infections experiences noticeable symptoms, which is why they can go uncovered for years, or even an entire lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t draining your resources or affecting your cellular functioning and mitochondria.
Because parasites are more active during the night and during the full moon, you may notice an uptick in symptoms during those times. One of the reasons parasites become more active during the full moon has to do with the energy fields shifting and the changes in hormones in our body. For instance, serotonin is higher during a full moon whereas melatonin (our sleep hormone) is lower because of the light emitted. Parasites like serotonin because it is excitatory and stimulating, so they really like to reproduce or migrate during this time of our circadian cycle.
But here’s the thing: parasites are dirty, vile creatures and they can harbor other pathogens like Lyme bacteria, viruses, and mold spores as well as toxic heavy metals. So even if you don’t have any debilitating symptoms, you do not want these freeloaders hanging around unwanted in your body.
Like any kind of complex illness, it’s a process! You can’t just dive into a parasite detox protocol and expect all of your health issues to go away. Trust me, I speak from personal experience. I tried a LOT of antiparasitic herbs and protocols that didn’t work because they weren’t strong enough and they weren’t disrupting the biofilms that some of the parasite had protected themselves in.
That’s why I am a HUGE advocate of working with a trained practitioner like myself to help guide you through the process. There are various testing options, but none of them are very accurate and may not be worth the money.
For instance, stool testing is quite unpredictable and isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of what is inside you. As I covered earlier, parasites are evasive and chances of them being identified in a stool sample is pretty low. The GI Map stool test is one of the best on the market, but even that is limited in what kinds of parasites it tests for, meaning it might not test for the kind of parasite you have. You want to do a repeat stool test at least 3 times to increase odds of detection and that can be quite pricey! Parawellness Research stool testing is one of the most respectable tests, but it’s not something I use in my own practice.
Antibody blood tests and endoscopies are two of the conventional ways doctors test for parasites but they are wildly inaccurate and an x-ray is really only effective at catching big worms like tapeworms.
I prefer to rely on symptomatology using several different questionnaires and then treat for parasites and see what comes out, because we can assume that most of us have some sort of parasitic infection!
Step 1: Open drainage and detox pathways
Before you can even begin eradicating anything, you have to make sure you get things moving in the body, especially your bowels and lymph. If you are constipated, that means that the parasites and the endotoxins they release when they are killed off, will continue to circus in the body, making you sick. Not to mention you will then re-absorb those toxins and heavy metals, which creates a vicious cycle.
Herbs like fennel seed and rhubarb root, aloe leaf, milk thistle, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), beetroot juice, taurine and TUDCA can all be helpful for opening drainage pathways that include the liver and bile ducts, skin and white blood cells.
Coffee enemas, dry brushing, and regular exercise and infrared sauna use to promote sweating can also all help open up the bowels and lymphatic system to prep the body to eliminate parasites.
You’ll also want to make some dietary changes to remove sugar and processed foods/carbs, which can feed the parasites and encourage reproduction.
Step 2: Use anti-parasitic herbs to eradicate
Once your system is stabilized, then you can begin to bring in an herbal antiparasitic protocol that will kill off/paralyze the parasites and break up any biofilms they may be hiding in.
Some of my go-to herbs are: Mimosa pudica seed, triphala, neem, wormwood, black walnut seed, berberine and goldenseal, garlic, clove, sage, yarrow and humic and fulvic acids.
I absolutely love the parasite products from CellCore Biosciences and use their Full Moon Parasite Cleanse Kit in my practice.
You can also choose to use a biofilm buster like Interfase Plus from Klaire Labs or Biocidin, which is an herbal product that has herbs that are naturally biofilm busting. Both of these are available in my online supplement store, and it’s entirely free to sign up and create an account.
I have a solid parasite protocol that I’ve used on myself and my clients and it’s the only one that’s been able to get rid of my intestinal worms after two years of trying! These are pharmaceutical grade supplements and they WORK!
Step 3: Bind to toxins and parasites
The third and final step is to use broad spectrum binders to bind to the endotoxins, heavy metals, etc. that are released when the parasites die.
Things like activated charcoal, silica, chlorophyll, pectin, humic and fulvic acids and zeolite clay are all safe and effective binders used to mop up a variety of toxins.
If you suspect you have a hidden parasite infection or want help uncovering if you do, I am here to help! I specialize in gut health and parasites for a reason: I’ve personally suffered from them for at least 4 years of my life, perhaps maybe even longer! It took me a very long time to put the pieces of my parasite puzzle together, but they were at the root of ALL my chronic health issues.
And this is fairly common. Most chronic illness stems from 4 root causes: hidden infections, including parasites, heavy and radioactive metals, environmental toxins and stress/emotional trauma.
I don’t recommend going through a parasite detox alone because it can have some pretty nasty side effects that you might not be physically or emotionally prepared to handle by yourself without the guidance and support of a professional!
It’s time to say sayonara to your pesky parasites and get your life back!