Parasite Cleanse

Parasites were once all the rage in the world of wellness, but lately, SIBO has stolen the limelight.

Today, you are no more or less likely to get a parasite infection than you were twenty years ago. It’s only our focus—and the trends of the moment—that change.

Parasites are a complicated issue. While you might be horrified to find out you have parasites and want to get rid of them as quickly as possible, you’ve actually been living with parasites all over and in your body for your whole life.

Like bacteria, most parasites are harmful or harmless depending on their environment (you!) However, there are a few that are always bad news.

If you suspect you have parasites, or you’ve done a parasite test that’s confirmed you have them, you might have come across something called a ‘parasite cleanse’.

Read on to find out about parasite cleanses, and whether or not one could work for you.

What is a parasite cleanse?

What a parasite cleanse is depends on who is asking or answering that question.

Having said that, a parasite cleanse is usually a combination of herbal supplements and/or a diet, designed to rid your system of parasites.

There are many different kinds of parasite cleanses, but the aim of most of them is to clear parasites from your body.

This is a problematic claim though because we all have parasites. It’s impossible to live without them. For instance, by age 60, you’ve got a couple of thousand ‘demodex’ living on your face. You can’t see them because they’re only about a third of a millimeter long and see-through.

They’re not anything to worry about. All they want is to eat some dead skin cells and a bit of the oil that comes along with them.

Did you know that around 80 percent of us have parasites in our guts? Of the 3200 known species of parasites, over 1000 of them can live in the human body. We can only test for 50 to 60 species, which means that the vast majority of parasites can remain undetected. 

So, the term ‘parasite cleanse’ is both inaccurate and confusing.

Why do a parasite cleanse?

If you’re struggling with dysbiosis, inflammation, or other chronic conditions, parasites in your gut could be partly to blame.

The only way to tell if you have parasites in your gut is to do a test. However as far as we’re aware, there’s no test that looks for every type of human gut parasite.

Our most advanced Gut Health Tests detect 23 of the most common types of parasites.

While some parasites can definitely cause dysbiosis (an imbalance of the bacteria and other microbes in your gut), and nasty symptoms too, for many people, the dysbiosis was there first.

In other words, you’re more likely to get a parasite infection if your gut health is already compromised. The key in both situations is to support your whole digestive system, and the rest of your body and mind alongside it. 

If you’d like some expert advice on how to kick your gut health back into gear, check out our blog Thirteen ways to improve gut health: research-backed tips.

If you’re hoping to simply kill the parasites and put an end to your symptoms, you’ll probably be disappointed. A parasite infection is almost always part of a much bigger picture of disharmony.

Improving your general gut health, your immune system and other body systems will give any parasite cleanse a better chance of working.

Get to understand your gut, with our most comprehensive gut test

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What are parasites?

The definition of a parasite is any organism that attaches itself to another organism and benefits from living there. However, usually when people talk about parasites they mean the microscopic ones you can’t see with your naked eye. 

Parasite infections can happen to the healthiest of people, if they come into contact with dirty water or food. Some types of parasites always cause symptoms: these are known as ‘pathogens’ (organisms known to cause disease).

Some examples are:

  • Giardia lamblia
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Cryptosporidium species
  • Cyclospora cayetanensis
  • Pinworms
  • Hookworms
  • Threadworms
  • Whipworms
  • Dwarf tapeworms
  • Tapeworms
  • New world hookworms

You’ll notice that some worms are included in this list. Worms are a type of parasite but they’re usually referred to as just ‘worms’. The first four parasites on the list are parasitic microbes: usually just called ‘parasites.’

There are also many types of parasites known as ‘pathobionts’: organisms that exist in a host (you!) without necessarily causing disease. Two very common examples are:

  • Blastocystis hominis
  • Diantemoeba fragilis 

Our more comprehensive Gut Health Tests look for all of these common parasites, and more. You can check out all of our Gut Health Tests on our tests page.

How long before a parasite cleanse works?

How long a parasite cleanse takes to work depends on so many factors, for example:

  • Your definition of ‘works’ (do you want to have no parasites, or have no symptoms?)
  • Which parasite you have
  • The method you’re using to address your parasite infection
  • Your individual health status and body chemistry

At Healthpath, we usually recommend that you follow an antimicrobial protocol—designed to reduce numbers of unwanted microbes in your gut—for around six to ten weeks. Most people see definite improvements in their symptoms after a week or so.

However, some people may need longer on a protocol, or to try a different kind of approach. Some parasites require conventional anti-parasitic medication from your doctor. 

If your Gut Health Test reveals you have Giardia, for example, you need to tell your doctor right away. You’ll get a pharmaceutical antimicrobial which is designed to kill the parasite quickly. 

This usually works within a week. However some infections don’t respond to these antimicrobials. They’re also very powerful, so they’re likely to cause quite a bit of damage to the rest of your microbiome while they do their job.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your gut health throughout and after any kind of antimicrobial protocol or parasite cleanse, whether you’re taking antibiotics from your doctor, or herbal antimicrobials through us at Healthpath (or from any other provider).

How to do a parasite cleanse

You should always do a parasite cleanse—or any other type of gut health intervention—under the guidance of a Registered Nutritional Therapist or Functional Medicine Practitioner.

That’s because the herbs and supplements that kill parasites are very powerful. Taking high quantities of them for too long can be just as harmful to your gut health as conventional antibiotics.

There are also specific supplements that support your gut health throughout and after an antimicrobial protocol. Experienced practitioners have used these products for years with a wide range of clients. Finding the right one to work with is key to a successful parasite cleanse.

How to do a parasite cleanse at home

As far as we know, you can do any type of parasite cleanse at home. There may be some specialist clinics that use equipment or therapies on-site (like infrared light or massage, for example), but this is rare.

Most parasite cleanses involve herbal supplements, a whole foods diet, and rest, all of which you can do at home.

How to do a parasite cleanse naturally

Most parasite cleanses involve taking herbal supplements, which are of course natural.

As we mentioned above, certain parasite infections require antibiotic treatment from your doctor. 

Humans have been dealing with parasites for thousands of years, and for most of that time, they used herbs to treat them. That’s why we still use them now: herbs are among the most time-tested remedies for parasites and other diseases known to man.

Modern research backs this up:

  • Artemisia annua is effective against monogenean parasites1
  • Oil of oregano eliminates blastocystis hominis2 
  • Herbal remedies equal to antibiotic therapy in treating worm infections3

What to eat during a parasite cleanse

At Healthpath, we always recommend a nutrient-dense diet made up of whole foods. That’s because your body is designed to eat that way.

During a parasite cleanse, eating a nutrient-dense whole foods diet that includes lots of fibre and plant chemicals is more important than ever, because processed foods and sugars fuel the dysbiosis that often accompanies parasite infections.

Yes to:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Fish and seafood
  • Organic meats
  • Natural whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Unprocessed fats (olive oil, coconut oil)

No to:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Industrial fats (seed oils)

What to expect during a parasite cleanse

Everyone has a different reaction to a parasite cleanse. Some people feel better very quickly, with few side-effects, while others may have a temporary worsening of their symptoms.

It’s quite normal to feel bloated or tired, or have mild flu-like symptoms on a parasite cleanse. You may also get constipation or diarrhoea. These effects should only last around a week. If they last longer, let your practitioner know.

What’s a good parasite cleanse?

A good parasite cleanse is one that works for you!

In general, a parasite cleanse should include an antimicrobial herb, or combination of herbs, and some other supplements to support your gut throughout the cleanse.

Examples of research-backed herbs include:

  • Oil of oregano
  • Wormwood
  • Anise
  • Barberry
  • Berberine
  • Black walnut
  • Clove oil
  • Goldenseal

How long should I do a parasite cleanse?

At Healthpath, we don’t recommend you follow any kind of antimicrobial protocol long term.

That’s because the herbs and supplements that kill parasites and other unfriendly microbes can also kill friendly microbes. If you don’t have enough friendly microbes in your gut, dysbiosis is likely to return in the future.

Again, that’s why it’s important to work with an experienced practitioner. Among other things, they will recommend specific prebiotics and probiotics as part of your protocol, to keep your microbiome diverse and thriving.

Looking for advice on tests? Speak to a gut health expert.

Book free consultation

What’s the best parasite cleanse product?

There is no one best parasite cleanse product. However there are a few things you should look for.

Research-backed

Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot of research that proves the effectiveness of herbs in treating parasite infections. A quick search through a medical research database like PubMed will reveal whether the ones in your parasite cleanse product have any evidence behind them.

Not too expensive

There are some very overpriced products on the market. If you’re paying hundreds of pounds, you’re probably paying for the marketing rather than the product.

Pure

Herbal preparations have worked for us for thousands of years. There’s no need to include any fillers, binders or unpronounceable chemicals in parasite cleanse supplements. Your product should include the herb, the capsule (if you’re using capsules) and not much else.

Where can I buy a parasite cleanse?

We recommend you buy your parasite cleanse products through a Registered Nutritional Therapist or Functional Medicine Practitioner. That’s because they usually have an in-depth knowledge of all the best products (and the not-so-good ones!)

Don’t get your products from an unregulated company or website. Those products may work for you, but they may not, and you’ll be left with no next steps or alternatives.

Key takeaways

  • Parasites aren’t necessarily bad guys, and they aren’t necessarily causing your symptoms
  • If you suspect you have parasites, our Gut Health Tests can reveal the presence of some of the most common ones found in the UK
  • Work with an experienced practitioner to pinpoint whether or not parasites could be responsible for your symptoms, and how to treat them
  • Some parasites require treatment from a doctor
  • Herbal parasite remedies have worked for thousands of years, and have considerable evidence behind them
  • Whether you use conventional antibiotics or herbal supplements to address your parasite infection, it’s important to support your gut health throughout and after the protocol

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20165872/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10815019/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703238/

 

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