Believe it or not, it’s estimated over half of all Americans will have parasites in their lifetime.
And if you take into consideration mosquito and tick-borne diseases, then that number is climbing dramatically right before our eyes. Practically every type of parasite has been documented in the US, ranging from microscopic organisms like toxoplasmosis and giardia to foot-long tapeworms.
What You Don’t Know About Parasites Can Hurt You
Times have changed and parasites are much more widespread that previously thought. We hold this belief that you have to live in an area associated with malnutrition and poor hygiene practices to contract a parasite, but this simply isn’t true. We worm our dogs and cats on a regular basis but never consider they could pass their parasites on to us just by licking our faces or being in such close proximity. We briefly wash then eat raw fruits and vegetables imported from countries where the hygiene of the workers who picked and transported them is unknown to us.
Clinicians are rarely educated on parasitology and are, therefore, inexperienced in recognizing common symptoms of parasites. Even common water-borne infections like giardia and cryptosporidium, which are picked up camping and swimming in lakes and rivers, are still somewhat unrecognizable to the average family physician. Toxoplasmosis that passes from cats is a known concern to pregnant women, but what about the average person who gets a scratch that gets red and inflamed, followed by a fever and dismisses it as a cold or flu and doesn’t get proper treatment?
Could You Have Parasites? Take This Quiz to Find Out
Answering “yes” to any of these questions is a risk factor for parasite exposure.
- Do you have pets in your home?
- Do you live on a farm and take care of animals?
- Do you go hiking, camping, or fishing?
- Do you swim in lakes, ponds or rivers?
- Have you travelled internationally?
- Do you drink untested well water or unfiltered tap water?
- Do you eat raw fruits, vegetables, and salads (especially in restaurants)?
- Do you eat sushi or other rare-cooked or raw fish or meat?
- Do you eat exotic foods?
- Do you eat organ meats?
- Do you eat pork, beef, bear, fish or shellfish?
- Have you had a variety of sexual partners or practice oral sex?
- Do you take immunosuppressive drugs?
- Have you had frequent courses of antibiotics?
- Do you work in health care?
- Do work with or around animals?
- Do you garden?
- Do you work in sanitation or as a plumber?
- Have you been bitten by ticks, mosquitoes, flies, or other biting insects?
- Have you been bitten or scratched deeply by an animal?
Common Symptoms of Parasites
The warning signs for parasites are also symptoms of other common diseases. If you have any of the following symptoms, and common causes have been ruled out or treatments haven’t been successful, then parasites should be considered as a possible cause.
- Gas and Bloating
- Abdominal Pain
- Loss of Appetite or Excessive Appetite
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
- “Leaky Gut” Syndrome
- “Fluttery” Feeling of Movement in the Abdomen
- Rectal Itching
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Joint and Muscle Aches and Pains
- Dark Circles Under the Eyes
- Skin Conditions
- Sleep Issues
- Teeth Grinding
- Chronic Fatigue
- Immune Dysfunction
- Unexplained Fevers
- Hair Loss
- Weight Loss or Gain
- Tooth Loss
How Parasites Damage Your Body
Once these hidden hitchhikers find their way into your body, there are 6 basic ways they create damage:
- Cell Destruction. Destroying cells faster than your body can rebuild, repair, or create new cells. This can result in ulceration, perforation, or anemia.
- Production of Toxic Substances. Producing toxic substances that harm the body. Your body will pump out eosinophils in large numbers once the infection becomes chronic, and while these specialized white blood cells are excellent fighters against microscopic invaders, once their numbers get too high, they themselves can cause tissue damage that results in pain and inflammation.
- Irritation and Inflammation. Just their mere presence is irritating to your body and causes inflammation.
- Skin Reactions and Intestinal Damage. Parasites typically come in through the skin or the mouth. In the case of skin invaders, they penetrate the protective layers of the skin and cause dermatitis, local inflammatory reactions, and rashes. Internal hitchhikers can penetrate the lining of the intestines, causing damage and even perforation.
- Organ Damage. Once parasites get into your organs, specifically the brain, spinal cord, heart, eyes, or bones, the sheer size and/or weight of the parasitic cysts produces damage just from the pressure. If these cysts travel into the intestines, bile ducts, or pancreatic ducts, they can become large enough to cause obstruction.
- Immune System Suppression. Parasites suppress the immune system and are thought to be a cause of autoimmune responses. They depress immune system function while simultaneously activating the immune system response.
Pitfalls of Diagnostic Testing for Parasites
Parasitic diseases have been reported in US medical journals as far back as 1963, so why don’t we hear more about them? First of all, your clinician needs a basic understanding of the geographic distribution, methods of transmission, symptoms, and the life cycles of the over 130 parasites that have been found in Americans. You may have already had blood tests show indicators of parasites.
For instance, elevated eosinophils on a Complete Blood Count (CBC), or abnormal levels of vitamins, minerals, or liver enzymes are all clues to parasitic infections. But, unless your clinician has a suspicion or you’ve raised the concern for exposure, then it’s likely these tests have not been looked at for their connection to parasites.
The tests you can order for yourself that are specific to finding parasites are a comprehensive stool test and saliva analysis. Available stool testing uses cultures and DNA probes, where they look for the DNA of common parasites. The limitation of these tests is that the parasites have to be present in your digestive system and come out in your stool. You can get a false-negative test when the parasites are in your organs, like the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, and aren’t actively being flushed out.
This is why we recommend taking Verma-Plus for 2 weeks before doing a test, because it targets parasite elimination and starts pulling them down into the colon. It’s much less likely you’ll get a false-negative test once the parasites have been provoked for elimination.
Here at UNI KEY Health, we offer both a Parasite Flexi-Test and an Expanded GI Panel. The Parasite Flexi-Test is focused on identification of 10 of the most common parasites, while the Expanded GI Panel is more comprehensive and also looks for other indicators of inflammation and compromised digestive system function. If you have autoimmunity or bowel issues, we recommend starting with the more comprehensive Expanded GI Panel.
Effective Parasite Cleansing – the Best Defense Is a Good Offense
Just like poor soil grows fungus, parasites grow when your gut health is poor. Stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes are your body’s natural parasite killers. Over time, your body’s natural defenses can wear down and need to be built back up again. Acid reflux and food intolerances or allergies are clues that your stomach acid isn’t up to par. Constipation, diarrhea, gallbladder issues, or difficult elimination are all signs your bile is congested. Undigested food in your stool and bloating are signs you aren’t breaking down your food well and digestive enzymes are lacking.
Start by strengthening your gut health – supplement with hydrochloric acid with meals, cleanse and build better bile, take proteolytic enzymes between meals to break down toxins and parasites, and completely cut sugar out of your diet. Sugar is the number one food parasites love to consume.
Once all you have all of this taken care of, it’s time for a Parasite Cleanse. My Colon Cleansing Kit is a 30-day cleanse targeting microscopic parasites and worms, while repopulating you with healthy bacteria that boost your immune system. Because parasite exposure is practically unavoidable, it’s a good idea to cleanse every Spring and Fall to keep your digestion and immune system healthy.
If you walk into any health food store, you’ll find a vast array of products claiming to rid you of intestinal parasites. Did you know UNI KEY Health was started because our Founder, James Templeton, couldn’t find effective parasite cleansing products that didn’t cause painful cramping and fatigue, and decided to create his own? Our parasite formulas are gentle, effective, and time-tested, with positive testimonials from countless happy customers.
Regardless of which parasite cleanse you choose, it’s essential you complete it. Parasites may not be entirely gone when you feel better; they could be down to a level your body can tolerate or you may be between life cycles and there are eggs waiting to hatch. Everyone in your household (including pets) should cleanse together at the same time. It’s disturbing, but parasites can easily pass from person-to-person through food prep, kissing, or even from toilet seats. Wash hands and use bleach wipes on counters and other food prep areas, as well as on the toilet seat before you sit down each time.
For more information about parasites and cleansing, read Ann Louise Gittleman’s “Guess What Came to Dinner?“, a comprehensive reference guide and the primary resource for this article.
If the idea of a cleanse seems overwhelming to do alone, it’s not too late to join Ann Louise Gittleman and the Fat Flush Nation on Facebook for their group cleanse beginning Monday, June 4. They’ll take you through the 30-Day cleanse, step-by-step, with daily support and encouragement!