Human parasites are everywhere in our environment, so it is easy to become infected. These are just some of the ways it can happen:Insect bites
Handling raw meat and fish
Having contact with animal or human faeces
Eating raw or undercooked pork, beef or fish
Walking barefoot outside/indoors
Having contact with an infected person through kissing, touching/shaking hands, sexual contact.
Drinking contaminated water
Eating contaminated raw fruits and vegetables
Emptying soiled litter pans especially cats
Not washing hands when you have used the toilet
Eating food that infected people have prepared
Inhaling contaminated dust, especially parasitic eggs or cysts
All human parasites consist of tiny protozoa and amoebae, which are seen under a microscope, not by the naked eye. This also includes parasitic worms and flukes, which are larger. Parasitic worms are mostly ingested when you eat contaminated meat. The tiny protozoa and amoebae are spread to people by water, air, food, animals, human contact and insects. They are most troublesome and cause major health problems if not eliminated. They can travel from the intestines to the bloodstream, muscles and vital organs, where they create damage to the host. Some of these tiny parasites will actually attack the organs, including the heart.
These parasites are very light and float in the air where they are inhaled. When in their resting or cyst stage, they are very infectious. They have been linked with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel, cardiovascular problems and many other health disorders. One young girl I met who had experienced four cardiac arrests and was also diagnosed with possible fibromyalgia (pain throughout all her muscles and tissues), had been infected by consuming liquids while travelling overseas. The living organism was literally attacking her vital organs including her heart!
Blood tests need to be taken to determine what types of parasites and bacteria are present. Live Blood Analysis (LBA) can also be performed by specialised technicians to ascertain the condition of the blood.
A few of the more commonly known parasites are:
This is found in dogs and cats, but rarely in humans. If you are infected with this parasite you may have swallowed fleas that were already infected with tapeworm larvae. Interestingly, humans do not always show symptoms, but if the worm takes up residence in the intestines it can eat away all your nutrients and off load toxic waste into your system. Anyone with dogs and cats at home needs to observe hygiene.
However if you do experience the following symptoms it could indicate that tapeworm is present: dizziness, hunger pains, allergies, bloating and wind, general digestive problems, mineral imbalance.
This worm is usually ingested by drinking water that contains hookworm larvae, or if you eat contaminated vegetables and fruits. Once in the host, the worm will hook onto the intestinal lining where it drinks your blood! Microscopic examination shows that this tiny worm actually has teeth! It can live in your body for up to 15 years with a female producing around 6-7 million eggs during her lifespan! These eggs don't hatch inside your body - they are passed out through normal bowel movements. Hence the importance of a healthy bowel with elimination once or twice daily.
If you have hookworm invasion you may experience weakness, anaemia, nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
This tiny worm lives in your colon and is the most common worm found in our bodies. It even lays eggs outside your body too! You can acquire this worm through unclean hands, and dirty clothes and bed sheets. If you have pinworms you may experience anal itching and irritation.
After copulation the male dies and the female will make her way to the anus where she lays around 5,000 to 10,000 eggs. This can contribute to the anal itching and you can continually reinfect the area by constantly scratching. Pinworms will live for around two months. These worms can also travel to the vaginal area in women causing irritation and inflammation, as well as granulomata in the uterus and fallopian tubes. This little parasite is very difficult to control and reinfests very quickly and frequently. Some tests have shown that it can migrate towards the appendix, urinary system and peritoneal cavity.
You can become infected with roundworm by ingesting the eggs contained in soil on your fruit and vegetables. The eggs live in your intestines and gravitate to various organs where they cause severe damage. This is one of the most commonly acquired parasites globally. It is actually quite large and can be as thick as a pen or pencil and often around 16mm in length.
You would expect to experience weight loss, weakness and fatigue, often abdominal pain and possibly infections.
This worm is found globally and is the largest of all the tapeworms, sometimes up to 13 metres in length! You will acquire this if you eat undercooked fish that contains the worm's larvae, or by handling raw fish and not washing your hands thoroughly. It can also be ingested via smoked or pickled fish. It literally sucks onto your intestinal wall, where it thrives and lives until it grows into an adult. Surprisingly, it does not cause a lot of damage to the intestinal wall but it will feed off glucose and is often present in cases where hypoglycaemia is experienced. It appears to love vitamin B12 and will leach this from your system, thereby contributing to anaemia. It's a very active tapeworm that produces billions of eggs during its lifetime in your gut!
These tiny parasites are known as Bilharzia or blood flukes. They inhabit your blood vessels, bladder and intestines and can pass their eggs through your urine and faeces. Infection occurs through the skin, often the feet, when in fresh water where certain types of snails that carry schistosomes are living. Fresh water becomes contaminated by schistosoma eggs through urination or defecation by infected people. The eggs then hatch and, if certain types of snails are present in the water, the parasites develop inside them. The parasite leaves the snail and enters the water where it survives for up to 48 hours.
You may not even be aware of being infected, but if you begin to experience fever, chills, coughing, muscle aches or itching, then your body has developed a severe reaction to the eggs, but not the worm itself.
Becoming reinfected constantly can damage the liver, intestines, lungs and bladder.
This little critter often occurs in Africa, South America (especially Brazil and Venezuela), southern China, SE Asia, Japan, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
So, if you travel to any of these areas avoid immersion in fresh water, lakes, rivers and canals. If you have already been exposed I recommend you get a blood test, especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined here.
This is a flat type worm that attacks your liver. It can irritate and cause inflammation and even make tiny holes in your liver. You acquire this dreadful parasite by eating undercooked fish, contaminated vegetables, or even eating crops where human faeces have been used as a fertiliser. For all you swimmers out there, beware! Do not swim in dirty contaminated water, including home pools, and avoid drinking contaminated water. Liver Fluke can live in your body for as long as 30 years creating the following symptoms:
enlarged liver, pain in the right side of the body, oedema, vertigo, bile stones, and cancer.
Entamoeba histolytica is a one celled organism that produces amebiasis. It is found in water and damp environments, including soil, contaminated fruits and vegetables. It spreads through faecal contamination so any crops fertilised with human faecal waste will be contaminated. People who do not wash their hands when they have used the toilet can infect themselves and others through their poor sanitation habits. It can also be spread through unsafe sexual practices. Interestingly, most people don't display symptoms but when they do they would include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, weight loss, weakness and fatigue.
Toxoplasma gondii invades your central nervous system. Again you acquire it by eating undercooked meat or handling infected kitty litters. It is a very common parasite, crescent shaped when viewed through a microscope. If a person has a very weak immune system they are more likely to experience symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache; otherwise many people appear to have antibodies to counteract it.
Giardia Lamblia resides in your intestines or your gall bladder. Again, it is spread by faecal or water contamination. Poor hygiene, such as not washing hands, and unsafe sexual practices can trigger this organism to spread and contaminate the host. This organism can live in natural streams and even in tap water because it is resistant to chlorination - another good reason to filter your water!
Any symptoms you may experience are similar to those caused by other organisms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and mineral/vitamin deficiency since nutrients will be leached from your system.
From a naturopathic standpoint, I recommend people take herbal and/or homoeopathic remedies and run through a short course of worming every year. It is so easy for any of us to become contaminated even if we are very hygienic because we cannot control all our surroundings and contacts. If parasites are not cleared from the body on a regular basis they will simply thrive and grow - they multiply inside you and literally eat your food, drink your blood and attack your vital organs!
As a naturopath, I aim primarily to free the entire gastrointestinal tract of toxins to enable the digestion, kidneys and bowel to work efficiently. Only then can you experience more vitality. There are no side affects from taking herbal/homeopathic remedies for worming, but there are certain herbs that are used in accordance with varying symptom profiles for specific types of parasites. These need to be dispensed professionally for the correct results. Remedies to normalise digestive enzymes, aid in the assimilation and absorption of nutrients, detoxify kidneys and create regular bowel movements are also incorporated into the healing regime.
Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 18 years' experience in natural therapies.
Lyn has recently created a Meditation CD for anxiety, stress and self healing.
Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804