When you think of parasites, you might think of things like fleas and ticks – parasites that tend to bother cats and dogs – but there are also some that can bother humans. Intestinal parasites are some of the most common parasite infections in humans, though they can attack other systems in the body as well.
Parasites tend to thrive in the more tropical regions of the world, though they can also occur in the United States. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of parasites as well as some natural remedies to clear your infection.
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in another organism, often feeding on it. In humans, parasite infections are rarely fatal, though they can cause some very unpleasant symptoms. There are three distinct types of disease-causing parasites:
Protozoa – These are single-celled organism that are only capable of dividing and multiplying inside the host (Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria is an example).
Helminths – These are multicellular worm parasites such as tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms.
Ectoparasites – These are parasites that live on rather than in their hosts, such as fleas or lice.
Though there are only three main categories of parasites, there are many individual parasites that can cause infection. Here Is a list of the most common parasite infections in humans:
- Coccidia – An intestinal parasite found around the world; this parasite enters the body through food contaminated with human or animal feces.
- Giardia – A parasite that affects the small intestine, giardia are transmitted through contaminated food or water.
- Malaria – Spread through the Anopheles mosquito, malaria is an infection that affects the red blood cells.
- Toxoplasmosis – Also known as parasitic pneumonia, this parasite infection affects the liver, heart, eyes, and brain – it is spread through ingesting raw or undercooked pork or lamb.
- Pinworm – This parasite affects the intestines and anus and is very common in temperate regions.
- Fasciolopsiasis – Common in East Asia, this intestinal parasite is transmitted through contaminated water plants or water.
Now that you know a little more about what parasites are and what kind of infections are common, you may be wondering how to spot a parasite infection. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms of parasite infections.
Parasite infections can be spread in a number of different ways. Protozoa and helminths, for example, can be spread through contaminated food, water, soil, or blood – some can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Other parasites are spread through insects such as mosquitos.
Each parasite infection is a little bit different, but many of them have overlapping symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms associated with parasite infections:
- Itching of the anus or vagina
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss or changes in appetite
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Sleep problems
- General malaise
- Aches and pains
There are more than 1,000 parasites known to affect humans, so symptoms may vary according to the specific parasite and its location in or on the body. There are numerous tests your doctor may run to diagnose your infection.
10 Natural Home Remedies for Parasites
Now that you understand the signs and symptoms of parasite infections, you may be wondering how to handle them. Treatment options may vary according to the type of parasite, though traditional medical treatments typically include some kind of medication.
Unfortunately, these medications often come with side effects and they may interact poorly with other drugs or supplements you are taking. The ten natural remedies listed below will help to clear up your parasite infection without the risk for dangerous interactions or unpleasant side effects.
- Shredded Coconut – A natural anti-parasitic agent, coconut can be very powerful against parasite infections (especially intestinal infections). To use this natural remedy, take a tablespoon of shredded unsweetened coconut in the morning then drink a glass of water with two tablespoons of castor oil three hours later.
- Papaya – This tropical fruit has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and has been shown to help expel intestinal worms. Take one tablespoon of fresh papaya juice (from an unripe papaya) and one tablespoon of honey and mix with ¼ cup of hot water. Drink this mixture in the morning on an empty stomach and follow it with a glass of warm milk two hours later.
- Garlic – Another natural anti-parasitic agent, raw garlic is great for intestinal worms. Simply chew three cloves of raw garlic on an empty stomach once a day for seven days.
- Carrots – These orange vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, a nutrient that is a precursor for vitamin A which helps to kill parasite eggs. Simply grate two carrots and eat them in the morning on an empty stomach. Do not eat anything for several hours after and repeat once daily for a week.
- Pumpkin Seeds – These seeds contain a compound called cucurbitacin which has natural anti-parasitic properties. Grind 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and mix it with 3 cups of boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes then cool and drink slowly.
- Cloves – This aromatic spice has natural antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-parasitic properties. Crush some dried cloves and stir one teaspoon of the powder into a cup of hot water then steep for 20 minutes and drink three times daily.
- Pomegranate – All parts of the pomegranate plant are effective in killing parasites, but the bark is the most potent. Take a daily decoction of 90 to 180 ml of pomegranate bark three times daily, with the treatments spaced an hour apart.
- Turmeric – This yellow spice is naturally antiseptic and antimicrobial, plus it helps to kill intestinal worms. Simply mix a half teaspoon of ground turmeric with a pinch of salt in a half cup of warm water and drink once daily for five days.
- Wormwood – The flowers of the wormwood plant are very powerful in fighting parasites. Dry and crush the flowers into a powder and take 8 to 16 grams per day for roundworms and tapeworms.
- Hyssop – To get rid of roundworms and other intestinal parasites, take an infusion of hyssop leaves three times daily.