Parasitic infections are more common than you might realize, and they can vary in degree from mild to severe. Professional diagnosis is always recommended, and prescription drug therapy is usually required when dealing with severe infestations. Some mild and moderate parasitic infections might respond to home treatment, however.
Familiarize yourself with some common parasites.
There are various species of intestinal parasites, but only two main types: helminths and protozoa.
Helminths have many cells and are more commonly known as worms. Some of the most prevalent helminths are tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms.
Protozoa only have one cell, and unlike helminths, they can multiply inside the human body. The most common protozoa include giardia and cryptosporidium.
Know the symptoms.
The exact set of symptoms can vary depending on the parasite you have, and you may have a parasite inside you for years before any symptoms manifest.
Even so, there are some symptoms that the majority of infected people do experience. These include abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysentery, nausea, vomiting, bloating, itching around the rectum, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.
When you’re infected with a helminth parasite, you may see parts of the worm in your stool.
Understand the risk factors.
Since many of the most common symptoms appear alongside other health conditions, too, you should also assess your risk factors when determining if parasites might be the root cause of your problems.
If you live in or visit an area known to have parasites, your risk of becoming infected will dramatically increase. This is especially true if you embark on international travel to countries with poor sanitation.
Poor sanitation and poor hygiene, in general, are risk factors for developing parasites.
Those with weaker immune systems are more likely to become infected. This includes children and the elderly, as well as anyone with a prior health condition that weakens the immune system, such as HIV.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If you think you have an intestinal parasite, make an appointment with your health care provider regardless.
You must do this first, even if you wish to get rid of the parasite with home remedies.
Your doctor will test for parasites using a standard set of tests.
Most typically, the doctor will wish to collect a stool sample for examination.
When testing for pinworms, the doctor may press a piece of tape against the anus for examination with a microscope. If you have pinworms, the tape will usually collect microscopic eggs.
If your condition is serious or otherwise urgent, your doctor may wish to diagnose the problem using x-rays.
Follow up with your doctor.
If you’ve been diagnosed and treated for parasites, you should schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor after your treatment regimen ends.
In most cases, the doctor will retest your stool for parasites. If you still have an infection, you will need further treatment.
Once the parasite leaves your system, your doctor will likely give you instructions on how to avoid reinfection. Reinfection can be more dangerous than the initial infection.
Remove simple carbohydrates from your diet.
Avoid all sugars aside from honey and opt for whole foods instead of their refined equivalents. You’ll also need to avoid most juices and dairy products.
Parasites thrive by absorbing sugars, so any simple carbohydrate you consume will ultimately give the parasite fuel to continue living.
Ideally, you should avoid most sources of sugar for at least one to two weeks while you treat the infestation, then for an additional one to two weeks afterward as your body recovers.
Eat certain seeds and nuts.
Some preliminary studies suggest that pumpkin seeds, papaya seeds, and almonds may help prevent and cure parasitic infections within the intestines. Try to consume one or two handfuls of these foods each day for at least two weeks, or for the duration of the infection.
If you aren’t able to eat these nuts and seeds by themselves, consider adding them to smoothies, yogurt, and other food.
For instance, grind down the seeds of one medium papaya and mix the paste with 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of coconut oil and 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk. Blend it all together with the fruit of the papaya and 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) of organic honey. Drinking the resulting smoothie for seven consecutive days might be enough to eliminate mild to moderate parasitic infestations.
Include anti-parasitic fruits and vegetables.
While not every fruit and vegetable can fight off parasites, some varieties may have the potential to do so. Include as many as possible in your diet until you get rid of the parasite completely.
Some of the most helpful fruits include pineapple, blackberries, pomegranates, and papayas. You can eat the fruit fresh or drink the juice. If you don’t like the taste of these fruits, most can also be taken in supplemental form.
Several potentially helpful vegetables include onions, garlic, cabbage, kale, beets, and carrots. If you don’t want to alter your diet too dramatically, you can make subtle changes by seasoning more of your food with garlic and onions.
Flush out your system.
Since intestinal parasites dwell within your digestive tract, thoroughly flushing out your system may push the parasite out of your body.
Drinking plenty of water and sugar-free fluids should help.
Eating more fiber may also help, especially when you have a worm-type parasite. This may not be quite as effective for single-cell parasites, however.
Restore beneficial bacteria with probiotics.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that keep your digestive tract healthy. Taking probiotics can naturally strengthen your body as it battles an invading parasite.
Most yogurt contains the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus, and eating one or two servings of yogurt each day can gently restore to bacterial balance in your gut.
Alternatively, you can take probiotics in supplemental form. Follow the dosage instructions on the package to determine how much to take and how often.
Support your immune system.
While your body relies on many different nutrients to stay healthy, vitamin C and zinc are especially important for a healthy immune system. Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night will also boost your immune health and allow your body to fight the infection.
As a general rule, try to get 90 mg of vitamin C and 20 to 30 mg of zinc each day. You can get both nutrients through food or through health supplements.
When fighting any parasitic infection, try boosting the amount of sleep you get each night to eight or nine hours.
Take food-grade diatomaceous earth.
This is a natural substance that contains silica and other trace elements, and when taken correctly, it can kill mature parasites, larvae, and eggs. Additionally, it can also help improve your overall digestive health.
Only use food-safe diatomaceous earth. Other varieties can be harmful if ingested.
Typically, you’ll need to start by dissolving 1 tsp (5 ml) of the powdered supplement into 8 oz (250 ml) of water. Drink this solution once daily. If necessary, you could gradually increase the amount to 1 or 2 Tbsp (15 or 30 ml) if the infection persists for several weeks.
Try apple cider vinegar.
The B-vitamins in apple cider vinegar can help nourish the body as it fights against infection, and its acidic pH can help neutralize the pH of the body while improving digestive health.
Start by taking 1 tsp (5 ml) of apple cider vinegar up to three times daily. Taking it 30 minutes before each meal can improve your body’s ability to absorb it.
If you handle the initial dosage well, you might be able to gradually increase it to 1 Tbsp (15 ml) instead of 1 tsp (5 ml).
Use certain herbs and spices.
Certain herbs and spices are believed to help strengthen the body and combat invading parasites. You can take most in the form of capsules, powders, and teas.
Herbs commonly used against parasites include barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, anise, wormwood, curled mint, and black walnuts.
Similarly, cinnamon is one spice that may have anti-parasitic properties. Season your dishes with cinnamon or drink a solution made with 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) of cinnamon and 8 oz (250 ml) of water up to three times daily.
Note that some herbs may have toxic side effects when taken for prolonged periods, and others can negatively interfere with other medications. Thoroughly research any herb before taking it medicinally.
Support your system with oil.
In particular, both coconut oil and olive oil may help your body get rid of intestinal parasites.
Cook your meals with either oil instead of using butter, margarine, or other cooking oils.
To aid your body as it fights the infection, consider taking either oil supplementally, as well. Dissolve up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of coconut oil into hot tea. Toss 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) of olive oil with any vegetables you consume or drink it straight.
Soak in an Epsom salt bath.
Dissolve 1/2 cup (125 ml) of Epsom salts in a full bathtub of hot water. Soak in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the salt bath may not kill the actual parasites, it can help remove the toxins left behind by those parasites, which helps your body’s ability to fight the infestation. The salt water draws these toxins out of your body through the pores of your skin.
Consider taking neem.
Neem tree oil is an old anti-parasitic folk remedy originating in India, and you can take it as a capsule or tea. It kills parasites and flushes out the toxins left by dying parasites, and it may also help restore the health of your liver after infection.
Follow the dosage instructions that come with the supplement. Precise dosage will vary depending on the severity of your infection, your age, and your overall health. It’s best to talk to a healthcare provider before taking this supplement to avoid the risk of complication.
Note that neem is not safe for women who are pregnant or nursing since it could severely hurt or kill the baby. It can also be toxic to young children.
Work at a slow, steady pace.
As you eliminate parasites from your intestines, you may experience severe bodily discomfort and abdominal pain. Going through the treatment at a fast pace will increase this discomfort.
If you’re receiving treatment under the guidance of your physician, follow the schedule set by your doctor to ensure the maximum benefit.
When you’re primarily relying on home treatment, you should try to stretch it out over the course of several weeks. Maintain an anti-parasitic diet for a few weeks before introducing some of the supplemental treatments (apple cider vinegar, diatomaceous earth, neem oil, etc.) into your system.
This drug works quite well against most protozoa parasites and is one of the most commonly prescribed.
Typically, you’ll take this drug in oral form, but the dosage may vary depending on the type of parasite and your personal medical history. The treatment regimen usually lasts for several days, though.
In severe cases, you may receive metronidazole intravenously.
Common side effects include nausea, skin rashes, and vaginal infections. When taken orally, the drug is also known to leave a bad taste in the back of the mouth.
Most doctors will prescribe this drug if you’re suffering with pinworms or roundworms in the small intestine.
The drug gets into your system and paralyzes the parasites there, thereby allowing your body to flush them out more effectively.
You’ll typically take this drug as a one-time dose.
Common side effects include rashes, dizziness, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
This is a very powerful drug usually used against tapeworms, but your doctor may prescribe it for other types of parasitic worms, too.
This drug poisons the parasite and makes it unable to absorb sugar, causing it to die within the body.
The medication is delivered orally but the dosage will depend on the severity of the infection and the weight of the patient.
Common side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness.
Talk to your doctor about other medications.
Depending on the type of parasite and your personal medical history, there is some chance that your doctor will prescribe a different course of drug therapy other than the primary three.
Each medication works differently. Some require one dose, while others may require continued doses that lasts for multiple weeks. Regardless of the specifics, though, you should take the drug as prescribed to maximize its effectiveness.
Other drugs used to treat giardia and similar protozoic parasites include tinidazole, which is given in a single dose, and nitazoxanide, which is taken in an easy-to-swallow liquid form.
Mebendazole is another drug commonly used against pinworms and roundworms. Praziquantel and nitazoxanide are other anti-parasitic drugs typically prescribed for tapeworm infections.