Parasite alert: 3 warning signs to watch out for
The defining characteristic of a parasite is being an organism that benefits at the expense of another. While this seems straightforward enough, sometimes symptoms of parasites go completely undiagnosed.
In many cases, you could be carrying a parasite without even knowing it. Once parasites have been treated and removed, you can begin to repair the damage that has been done to the gut wall with a daily probiotic, like our GI Distress Relief.
Keep in mind that:
- Parasitic infections are more prevalent than most people realize.
- Many times, a parasite can thrive in the human body and show no signs of its presence.
Other times, a person will feel constantly ill, be on several medications (including antipsychotic drugs), and have no idea that a chronic parasitic infection is at the root of their problems.
Parasites come in all shapes and sizes
One of the most common parasites to infect human beings is the yeast-like Blastocystis hominis, a single-celled parasitic organism that causes abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, and sometimes anal itching.
Other common parasites are:
- Blood flukes. They mature first in snails and then complete their life cycle by burrowing through human skin and swimming through veins. Blood flukes infect more than 236 million people worldwide.1 There are also other species of flukes found living in the liver, lungs, and pancreas.
- Hookworms. If given the chance, they will suck blood from your intestinal walls.
- Giardia is a single-celled parasite usually transmitted by drinking infected waters, shown to disrupt the ecology of the gut.2 It typically survives in chlorinated water and commonly lives in mountain streams, earning it the name “backpacker’s diarrhea.” About 1.2 million cases are reported annually in the U.S. alone. 3
- In instances of malaria, a new generation of parasitic microbugs will burst from a single red blood cell.
- Pinworms are the most common roundworm in the United States. Roughly 40 million people are diagnosed in the U.S. per year. 4 The most notable sign of pinworm infestation is anal itching at night, which is when the female pinworm migrates to the perineum to lay her eggs. Children are the most common carriers.
- Tapeworms can grow as long as 60 feet while living in the human intestines. There are currently more than 5,000 different species of tapeworm.
The strength of your immune system can determine whether or not you know that you’re hosting a parasitic bug.
While it’s true that many times one person can harbor a parasite without knowing it, another person could be infected with the same parasite and feel completely devastated and fatigued, without ever realizing that a parasitic infection is at the root of a lingering illness.
Why is this?
- When the immune system is weakened by fatigue, there’s always the danger of initiating an inflammatory cascade throughout the body.
- This is especially true of the gut, which has a direct line of communication to the brain via the vagus nerve.
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3 red flags that may indicate you’re carrying a parasite
Keep an eye out for symptoms of parasites like:
1. Chronic digestive issues.
If you harbor a parasite, any work you may do to heal your gut will be constantly undermined. This is because parasites often create intestinal inflammation and may potentially destroy the lining of the gut.5
If you’re eating a highly alkaline diet, ingesting good bacteria and cultured foods on a daily basis, and still experience symptoms of parasites that include severe digestive pain, gas, bloating, and fatigue, you may want to consider a parasite cleanse.
Remember, even without a parasite, it may take as long as six months to begin to see improvements in digestion while following the Body Ecology Principles. This is because it can sometimes take up to six months to completely cool down an inflammatory response in the gut.
2. Various forms of mental distress.
This includes depression, anxiety, body aches, headaches, eye aches, visual hallucinations, behavioral changes, and a strange sensation that something is stuck in the head.
- These symptoms of parasites are treated with anti-depressant pharmaceuticals and remain unresolved.
- Diagnosis can even go so far as schizophrenia.6
- Additionally, these symptoms of parasites usually pair with digestive issues.
The gut is full of both neurons and neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin. It makes up what is known as the enteric nervous system. As we mentioned above, the gut and the brain have a direct relationship, commonly called the gut-brain axis.
This relationship means that distress in the gastrointestinal tract can show up in the nervous system.
When there’s inflammation in the gut, this can lead to inflammation in the brain. Likewise, inflammation in the brain directly links to inflammation in the gut. 7 Inflammation of the brain may cause mental distress, like depression, anxiety, and cognitive disorders.
3. Autoimmune disorders.
Many times, autoimmune conditions have a relationship to one another. The autoimmune flare-ups that have been documented to be specifically tied to parasitic infection are gut- and joint-related, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and reactive arthritis.8,9
Parasites infecting the gut may ignite an inflammatory cascade throughout the body.
How to find the root cause of a disorder
Keep in mind that the strength of a person’s immune and endocrine systems largely determines how severely a parasitic infection will affect that individual.
This depends on:
- How the parasite lives off its host.
- The toxins or waste products it eliminates.
- How a parasite activates the immune system.
- If an individual’s immune system is weak or fatigued.
Chronic disease can be troublesome to treat, mainly because it’s necessary to find the initial cause of the dysfunction.
Consider help from the Body Ecology Parasite Cleanse if you eat a nourishing diet, practice stress management, and still struggle with:
- Digestive disorders
- Mental distress
- Autoimmune disease
Many times, it’s a lack of a strong inner ecosystem — a lack of good bacteria inside of us — that has much to do with why a large amount of us are infected with parasites today. Some amount of parasites living in the body is considered normal. But most people have far too many. An untreated parasitic infection can have a huge impact on health, mood, and behavior.
- 1. “Schistosomiasis.” World Health Organization, 2021.
- 2. N. R. Barash, J. G. Maloney, S. M. Singer, S. C. Dawson. Giardia alters commensal microbial diversity throughout the murine gut. Infection and Immunity, 2017; IAI.00948-16 DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00948-16.
- 3. Dunn N, Juergens AL. Giardiasis. [Updated 2021 Jul 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
- 4. Crowell, Trevor A. “Enterobius (Pinworm).” Johns Hopkins ABX Guide, The Johns Hopkins University, 2020.
- 5. Yu Zhen, Lin Liao, Hu Zhang, “Intestinal Giardiasis Disguised as Ulcerative Colitis”, Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 8968976, 3 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8968976.
- 6. M. Novotna, J. Hanusova, J. Klose, M. Preiss, J. Havlicek, K. Roubalova, and J. Flegr. “Probable neuroimmunological link between Toxoplasma and cytomegalovirus infections and personality changes in the human host.” BMC Infect Dis. 2005 Jul 6;5:54.
- 7. Liliana M. Sanmarco, Michael A. Wheeler, Cristina Gutiérrez-Vázquez, Carolina Manganeli Polonio, Mathias Linnerbauer, Felipe A. Pinho-Ribeiro, Zhaorong Li, Federico Giovannoni, Katelyn V. Batterman, Giulia Scalisi, Stephanie E. J. Zandee, Evelyn S. Heck, Moneera Alsuwailm, Douglas L. Rosene, Burkhard Becher, Isaac M. Chiu, Alexandre Prat, Francisco J. Quintana. Gut-licensed IFNγ NK cells drive LAMP1 TRAIL anti-inflammatory astrocytes. Nature, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03116-4.
- 8. K. Hanevik, V. Dizdar, N. Langeland, and T. Hausken. “Development of functional gastrointestinal disorders after Giardia lamblia infection.” BMC Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr 21;9:27.
- 9.Chelsea E. Matisz, Jason J. McDougall, Keith A. Sharkey, and Derek M. McKay, “Helminth Parasites and the Modulation of Joint Inflammation,” Journal of Parasitology Research, vol. 2011, Article ID 942616, 8 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/942616.