Parasites 101

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Parasites are a topic that come up a lot in sessions with my clients. Honestly, I do feel the awkwardness of even bringing up the topic. I always feel as if I am having to ‘convince’ people that I am not making up the notion that everyone has some parasites.

Two+ years ago when I stepped into this world of functional nutrition and root cause health, I honestly had no idea that parasites were even an issue. I, like many of you, had never been taught this or told this by my doctor. Conventional medicine just doesn’t learn about this in school. I mean, they are taught that parasites are a rare occasion. But this simply isn’t the case. I have done much research and study on the root causes of chronic health issues, and parasites are one of the main culprits tied to diseases.

In an ideal body, our immune systems should be able to neutralize parasites when we encounter them. BUT we live in a toxic world, with pathogens like parasites that are seeking out and craving the toxicities that also live inside our bodies. They just want to survive and thrive too! :) Unfortunately, many of us are excellent hosts to these little buggers. When we are exposed to environmental toxins like industrial toxins, pesticides, VOCs, constant EMF exposure, mold exposure in majority of buildings, chemicals and heavy metals in our water and many personal care products. With all of these things coming at us each week or even EVERYDAY, it puts a huge burden on our liver and lymphatic system to be able to address all these things. Let’s face it, WE ARE TOXIC!

If you have pets, you are told to routinely deworm your dogs, cats, etc. We can just as easily pick up the same parasites that animals have! Whether you are walking outside barefoot, tending to the garden, eating food (they are found often in meats, fish, veggies, really anything), playing with your pets, etc, you can just as easily pick up a parasite. You don’t have to visit Mexico and accidentally drink the water there to get one.

Don’t hear me wrong, our immune systems are incredibly amazing! They are able to tackle all of these things. BUT it has to be up for the challenge. With the amount of toxins and pathogens we throw at it daily, if you aren’t being mindful of giving extra support, it will eventually slow down and be unable to fully do it’s job.

Think of your car. We have to do oil changes every 3-5 months in order to keep it running well. I certainly don’t know a lot about cars and oil, but even in a quick google search I found that “Motor oil provides lubrication to the many moving parts of an engine, which helps to avoid damage and keep your engine running smoothly. Each time your engine runs, by-products from combustion are collected in your engine oil. If contaminants build up beyond the capacity of the oil, they accumulate and create deposits, sludge and wear in the engine.” [1] Your liver and drainage system within your body are no different. We NEED to be providing weekly, if not daily support, to our liver and immune system to stay running effectively. Just the fact that you have a liver and kidneys is not enough to buffer the amount of toxicity that we have today. So addressing toxins and pathogens is an essential part to healing and keeping your immune system running optimally.

So, what exactly are parasites? Parasites are defined as anything that lives off of or on a host. They also feed off of or at the expense of the host. The CDC classifies 3 main types of parasites: Protozoa, Helminths, and Ectoparasites. [2]
  • Protozoa - Most parasites are one cell protozoa and they can invade any single cell in our bodies. Protozoa reproduce and multiply by duplicating themselves like a bacteria or virus. Examples include: toxoplasma and giardia.
  • Helminths - Are multi-celled organism that can live on or inside your body and include roundworms, thorny headed worms, flatworms (tapeworms are in this group), pinworms, whipworms, hookworms. Flukes are also considered in this group. Helminths can live in the gastrointestinal tract, blood, lymphatic system, and other tissues. Examples include: clonorchis, taenia, and ascaris.
  • Ectoparasites - parasites transmitted from ticks, fleas, lice, and mites and live on the surface of a human host or feed off the skin. Examples include: malaria, filaria, brugia and babesia.

Circling back to parasites as an important step in addressing our body’s toxicity build up. As mentioned above, parasites like to harbor or eat many of the different toxicities listed. It is one of the ways that they try to remain undetected within our body from our immune system. Confusion. There are multiple studies linking parasites to symptoms of: endometriosis [3], mental health issues [4], some types of cancers [5,6,7], seizures [8], allergies [9,10], and honestly many other health issues. Parasites find ways to hide inside our body and cause MANY different types of symptoms.

Again, you can be exposed to any of these parasites in many different ways. Rivers, lakes, and ponds or even just being outside. From your food or other people or your pets. Public restrooms and places where you might come in contact with other bodily fluids. Traveling, really anywhere. I am not sharing this to make you feel paranoid or alarmed, but really just wanting to prove the point that it is important to make it a priority to address any possible parasitic expose 2-3 times per year.

What are common symptoms or signs that you may have a parasite living inside you? I’m so glad you asked! :) If you have any of the following symptoms, you might want to consider doing a parasite cleanse:
  • Digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea or alternating of both
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Mucus in stools
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Intestinal permeability
  • Allergies (food or airborne)
  • Chronic ear and sinus infections
  • Rashes
  • Insomnia or waking up multiple times at night
  • Teeth grinding
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia
  • PMS
  • Chronic candida or other chronic infections
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Poor nutrient absorption
  • Foul smelling stools
  • Anal itching, especially at night
  • Bed wetting (in kids)
  • Mood issues like hyperactivity and other
  • mental disorders, anxiety, depression
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Inability to gain weight

These are some of the challenges than can be tied to parasites!

Detoxing from parasites is part of every single one of my client’s healing journey. Whether an individual is dealing with more chronic, complex health issues, or they have minimal health challenges and are just looking to optimize, we address parasites.