Natural Solutions To Deal With Parasitic Infections
Symptoms of acute parasite infection are usually obvious, but “sub-acute” (low grade infection) of parasites can cause or contribute to many health problems and the diagnosis is often missed in conventional medicine (for reasons which I describe below). Symptoms of sub-acute parasitic infection can include:
- chronic GI symptoms (IBS, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, constipation)
- chronic digestive complaints (belching, heartburn, malabsorption)
- weight loss (unintended)
- autoimmune disease
- multiple food intolerances
- chronic fatigue
- fever, chills (especially if no other cause is found)
Parasites are, in the broadest sense, any organism that lives on or in another organism and detracts from the health and vigor of the host. An organism that lives on or in another organism but does NOT detract from the health and vigor of the host is referred to as a commensal. If the organisms benefit from their relationship with each other, they are known as symbiots and their relationship is called symbiosis.
Obviously, many relationships between organisms and humans can be considered parasitic: virus/human, bacteria/human, worm/human, even human/human! Medically speaking, the term parasite is most commonly understood to mean the relationship between a human host and a protozoa or worm. These relationships are almost always destructive to the host. In addition, certain bacteria, fungi, protozoa and amoebas have dual relationships with the host and can be either parasitic or commensal.
Because of their parasitic potential, parasite/commensals will be considered in addition to true parasite. Some examples of each include:
Protozoan: E. histolytica, Giardia lamblia, Plasmodium (4 species), Leshmania, Toxoplasmosis, Cryptosporidia
Worms: Enterobiasis (pinworm), Trichuriasis (whipworm), Ascariasis, Necator americanus (hookworm), Strongyloidiasis (threadworm), Trichinella, Wucheria bancroftii
Protozoan: Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis
Amoeba: Endolimax nana, E. histolytica, E. coli, Iodamoeba butschlie
Fungi: Candida albicans, candida spp.
Bacteria: Klebsiella pneumonia
Symptoms of Acute Parasitic Infection
History and symptoms have largely been regarded as the guiding factors for diagnosis of parasites. These symptoms vary according to the species of organism, what part of the body is infected, and the severity of the infestation.
Systemic symptoms of fever, chills, skin lesions, hemolytic anemia or jaundice, especially following out-of-country travel, often suggest the diagnosis. Overt GI symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, flatulence, epigastric pain, intermittent nausea and malodorous stools may indicate intestinal infection.
Holistic Consideration of Parasites
When history and/or symptoms are overt, a diagnosis of parasites may be readily suspected. Sub-acute infections resulting in low-grade GI symptoms are encountered routinely in general family practice but are frequently unrecognized as such. This problem of under-diagnosis is likely due to several factors:
- Lack of history of exposure. It is not necessary to travel out of the country to acquire a parasite. Many organisms present themselves in food. A history of world travel used to be a major factor guiding physicians to diagnosis. Today, however, it must be appreciated that any non-exotic parasite can be acquired locally.
- Sub-acute nature of symptoms: Acute parasitic infections, with attendant severity of GI or systemic symptoms, is often easier to diagnose than sub-acute infection. Sub-acute infection can be either caused by a true parasite or by a parasite/commensal and can trigger a variety of local complaints that are not typically thought of in conjunction with parasite, but should be.
- Inadequacy of laboratory evaluation. The first “weak link” in the diagnostic chain, especially in sub-acute infections, is often the physician. The second weak link can be the medical lab, the method of collection, or both.
Many medical labs are equipped to identify overt parasitism, especially when the specimen yield is high. When the percent yield is low, the organism is often missed. Further, exotic species are more often recognized than non-exotic species and parasitic/commensal organisms, which may be overlooked or under-reported. For example: Candida albicans, is rarely reported on a conventional stool assay because it is considered a commensal and therefore not thought of as infectious. However, an overgrowth of this organism is known to behave in parasitic fashion to the host.
What To Do If You Suspect Parasites
First, don’t “play doctor” unless you ARE one! See a physician about your complaint and get a “work-up” by conventional medical standards. This will probably include blood and perhaps urine analysis and physical diagnosis. IF nothing can be identified to explain your complaint AND you have symptoms on the list above, then it is time to have some additional testing performed by an alternative medicine physician to evaluate for a sub-acute parasitic infection. You need a physician consult for this.
Based on your symptoms, the appropriate tests FROM THE RIGHT LAB will be ordered. (Remember, many labs miss the diagnosis when the number of parasites present in the sample are small). I use laboratories that specialize in looking for low-grade parasitic infections, so if something is there, they will find it. Also, increasing the number of specimens has been proven to dramatically increase the likelihood of finding an offending organism. This is because parasites in the GI tract “shed” only periodically and are often missed by a single stool sample.
The most common tests needed to discover parasites include the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis, Candida testing and a Gastric Acid Self-Test. Again, knowing which tests to order is a matter of clinical judgment that few laymen are prepared to make.
If you believe, based on your chronic symptoms and from what you have just learned, that you may have parasites as a cause of your problems, please give me a call for consultation. I can help you learn if parasites are a cause of your “undiagnosed” complaint.
Exact treatments will differ depending on the organism and location. There are some basic recommendations that apply to all parasitic infections, however.
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Parasites “sap” nutrients from the body and weaken the immune system. Especially important nutrients include vitamin A and B12, but any nutrient can be deficient based on the nutritional patterns of the parasite.
- Fiber Formula: (helps transport killed organisms out of the body): 6 caps, 2 times per day between meals.
- Chlorophyll: (water soluable; intestinal detoxifier): 1 cap, 2 times per day with meals.
- Immune Support: 1 cap, 2 times per day with meals
- SupremaDophilus: 1 cap before bed. Helps replace “friendly” gut bacteria.
- Parasite Tincture: as directed by physician.
- Berberine has been shown to have anti-protazoan effects
- Colloidal Silver: 1-1/2 tsp. two times per day (for 140 pound body weight; adjust up or down as needed). Use 5ppm silver for 14 days.
NOTE: Sub-acute parasitic infections are usually better treated by alternative medicine than by conventional drugs. The reason is that anti-parasitic medicines are toxic to the host as well as the parasite, and low-grade infections must be treated for a much longer duration of time to be sure that all organisms are killed.