Edit: 30-day parasite cleanse with me now available at http://www.funtribe.org/
You probably think of parasites as only affecting children or people in impoverished countries, but many adults in wealthy nations can also be infected. This is because of factors such as international travel, inappropriately cooked food, and environmental or dietary factors which can reduce our immunity or harm our healthy gut flora. But how can we clear and prevent parasite infections naturally?
Herbs Commonly Used in a Parasite Cleanse
If you have been experiencing persistent digestive or related complaints, such as diarrhoea, heartburn, fatigue or weight loss (see a doctor if this still continues, or is rapid), you may have parasites. Fortunately, there are herbal remedies that have been found to clear many types of parasite. They may take longer to work than pharmaceutical interventions, but are safe and can be used longer in order to disrupt the entire life cycle of parasites.
One of these herbs is oregano (Oreganum vulgare), in this case tested as an oil emulsion. Fourteen adults with Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanii and Endolimax nana were given 600mg of the oil emulsion every day for six weeks. There was a complete disappearance of B. hominis in eight cases, E. hartmanii in four cases, and E. nana in one case. B. hominis scores also significantly fell in three other cases, and symptoms improved in seven out of eleven patients who had this parasite. As you can see, not all infections were resolved, but this is why a blend of herbs is typically used in parasite cleanses.
Another herb that may be of use is clove (Syzygium aromaticum). In a laboratory study, the oil from clove flower buds, the part typically used in herbal medicine, was tested for its effect against Leishmania donovani (one form of Leishmaniasis). This is quite a nasty parasite infection, but the clove oil was able to kill off a great proportion of the parasite at certain stages of its life cycle. It was not toxic to mouse immune cells, however. A similar effect has also been demonstrated with wormwood extract (Artemisia annua), which is another common ingredient in parasite cleanse formulas.
A uniquely revolting parasite, due to its size, is the tapeworm (Taenia spp.). These can infect humans if we eat undercooked meat or are in contact with infected animals or contaminated soil. Despite pharmaceutical treatments being effective, they can cause nasty side effects and have a narrower range of action than many natural remedies. In a trial on patients with tapeworm in China, a blend of pumpkin seed and areca nut extract was 89% effective in clearing the parasite, with only mild side effects.
What About Diet?
Of course, we must never forget the importance of using nutritional interventions to prevent and aid the treatment of parasite infections. These mostly consist of the same modifications used to correct imbalances in gut bacteria. Avoid sugar and gluten, as these both feed parasites and lower immunity as well as gut integrity. Alcohol and processed foods can damage healthy gut bacteria populations and reduce overall immunity too. Additionally, avoid pork, because it is more likely to contain parasites than other types of meat. What you should include more of is antimicrobial, antiparasitic foods such as garlic, onions and coconut oil, as well as fermented foods, which contain "friendly" bacteria.
In conclusion, there are many natural interventions that can help to clear parasite infections or overgrowth. However, it is best to work with a qualified naturopath, and consult your GP if necessary for acute relief.