What to Do About Intestinal Parasites

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » What to Do About Intestinal Parasites

You’ve probably heard horror stories of 3-foot tapeworms camping out in someone’s gut. Most parasites though are so small they can only be seen with a microscope! Millions (if not billions!) of people around the world have parasites. Many don’t even know it.

Intestinal Parasites

There’s a very good chance you have yeast overgrowth or intestinal worms. The CDC estimates over 60 million in the US are chronically infected with toxoplasmosis. And at least 14% of us have been exposed to toxocariasis. And that’s just in a developed country.

Countries with poor sanitation and poor hygiene due to economic factors are even more likely to have issues. The World Health Organization estimates over 700,000 people worldwide die each year from parasites and vector-borne pathogens. The prevalence of parasitic diseases is likely much higher than estimates.

Our bodies are literally crawling with hundreds of strains of yeasts and bacteria. The digestive tract alone holds more than three pounds of bacteria. We need them in the right balance for good digestion and nutrient absorption in the intestinal tract. Probiotics are the good guys and have a huge impact on our health.

Out of Balance

When the good bacteria get out of balance, problems begin. There are many risk factors including diet, certain medications, stress, contact with infected sources, and others. Our bodies also host naturally occurring yeasts. When we have an overgrowth this can have a big impact on health (and not in a good way). While vaginal yeast infections may sound familiar, they’re usually a sign of a much larger infection.

The most disturbing invaders to our bodies, in my opinion, are parasites. Sadly, most people carry these guys around too. Studies have found that most people, especially those with chronic diseases and cancer, are host to at least one kind of parasite.

Parasites can range from tiny ones only seen by a microscope to long tapeworms (several feet long). A tapeworm can live for 30+ years and parasite infections can last for years!

Different Types of Parasites

We don’t really want to think about the creepy crawlies in our gastrointestinal tract. But it’s important to know what we’re dealing with here. With the high prevalence of intestinal parasites, there are a whole range of different types. Common intestinal parasites include:

  • Whipworms – Nearly 800 million worldwide have whipworms. They hang out in the large intestine and are a type of helminth infection. It’s transmitted by fecal contaminated soil and contaminated food grown in that soil. Lighter infections don’t even have symptoms.
  • Tapeworm infection – Tapeworms can cause intestinal parasitic infections but they can also travel to other parts of the body. Young tapeworms form cysts and can live in other organs, including the brain, liver, spine, and heart.
  • Roundworms – The larvae can infect various body tissues. Ascariasis is also a type of roundworm. Mature worms like living in the gastrointestinal tract, blood, and lymphatic system.
  • Pinworms – These are the most common intestinal worm infection in the US. The females lay thousands of eggs while their host is asleep. This can cause intense itching on the anus and restless sleep. The microscopic eggs are most commonly spread between young children. It’s important to regularly wash all sheets, pajamas, and underwear. You’ll also want to treat the whole family if one of you has it.
  • Hookworm Infection – Along with Ascaris, hookworms are a helminth parasite. They live in the small intestine and attach to the intestinal wall and cause blood loss. Many infected people don’t have symptoms.
  • Entamoeba histolytica – The CDC estimates only 10-20% of people with E. Histolytica show symptoms. It’s more common in tropical regions or you can pick it up by visiting one. Those living in unsanitary conditions or men in homosexual relationships are also at risk.
  • Protozoan – Protozoa infections, like giardia and giardia lamblia, are microscopic. They infect the blood and can be transmitted from one person to another through mosquito or bug bites. They can also infect the human intestinal tract and be transmitted through feces.
  • Cryptosporidium – Aka crypto, this parasite is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the US. You can get it from the ingestion of contaminated food or water, including while swimming. It can cause symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Not everyone who is infected has symptoms, but they can still pass it to others for about 2 months after infection. Those with a weakened immune system are most at risk for serious symptoms.

How Do We Get Parasites?

Parasites can enter the body in a variety of ways, depending on the type. You can get it through contact with contaminated soil, eating raw or undercooked meats, or even from bug bites. If you’re traveling to a developing country or drink contaminated water you’re also at risk. Because some parasites are microscopic and live on surfaces for several weeks, they’re easy to spread.

Treating parasites is a 3 step process. First, we have to kill the invaders, then they (and the toxins they create) need to be flushed from the body. Finally, we need to support the body in healing and regenerating itself.

How to Tell If You Have Parasites

There are many symptoms directly or indirectly associated with parasites. If you have several of these symptoms, there’s a good chance you have an infestation. Remember that some parasites don’t even cause symptoms though!

Symptoms of Parasites

  • Lowered immune system and constant illness
  • Rectal itching, especially at night
  • Digestive problems like bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Tired all the time
  • Floaters or spots in the eyes
  • Trouble sleeping and teeth grinding at night
  • Anemia
  • Asthma
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Psoriasis or eczema
  • Extreme hunger
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Plus many more…

If left untreated, Candida, yeast, and parasite overgrowth have been linked to a plethora of chronic conditions. Yeast and Parasites are often found in people with the following conditions:

  • Infertility or permanent fertility damage
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Malnutrition
  • Vitamin Deficiencies
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Kidney Stones
  • Chron’s Disease
  • Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Digestive problems of all kinds

Conventional Parasite Treatments

Typically your healthcare provider will order a stool test. Stool samples that don’t contain live, visible parasites are considered negative. PCR tests though can detect dead or dormant parasites. If someone tests positive they can be prescribed anti-parasitic drugs.

Natural Remedies for Intestinal Parasites

The good news is there are effective natural treatments to help the body kill and remove parasites. If you suspect that you have an issue, you might consider some of the treatments below.

Change What You Eat

Since parasites thrive in a weakened immune system, eating healthy is one of our best defenses. Lots of sugar depresses our immune system and causes microbe imbalances. I recommend getting rid of all processed sugar and even reducing natural sugars. Sources like honey and high-sugar fruits can still cause problems during an active infection.

Some natural stevia is ok once in a while, but avoid anything that gives the body a sugar source and feeds yeast or parasites. Also, consider skipping dairy to give your body a boost. Eating healthy whole foods is a must!

Sweat it Out

As your body kills off parasites, their toxic by-products must be removed from the body. Some of these (like heavy metals) are best removed through the sweat glands. Work up a sweat by exercising, using the sauna, or even working in the garden! Taking cayenne is another good way to kick up the heat.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

This naturally occurring substance has an amazing ability to kill parasites and parasite eggs. It’s naturally high in the silica we need for hair, skin, and nail growth. Plus it has trace minerals and can help restore body tissue and improve digestion.

I start with 1 tsp a day in 8 ounces of water and work up to 1-2 Tablespoons a day. Be sure to only use food-grade DE. Taking DE may also cause a Herxheimer reaction (see more below).

Apple Cider Vinegar

What can’t apple cider vinegar do? It may help lower blood sugar, improves digestion, and kills harmful pathogens. It helps the body detox for clearer skin and a healthier body. While it won’t kill parasites on its own, it strengthens the body’s defenses against pathogens.

ACV is strong on its own so be sure to take it in water. I start with 1 teaspoon up to 3 times a day, 30 minutes before a meal. You can increase up to a Tablespoon at a time.


Probiotics help restore the helpful gut bacteria that are wiped out by parasites (or antibiotics or hormonal birth control). We need these good bugs for a healthy gut. I include lots of fermented foods in my diet, and I also like this probiotic supplement. Just don’t take them within an hour of ACV or diatomaceous earth though!

Herbs and Spices

Garlic is a powerhouse when it comes to pathogens and parasites. You can include minced raw garlic cloves liberally in your diet.

Cinnamon is another natural remedy for parasites. You can use ½ teaspoon of high-quality cinnamon powder in water, kefir, or coconut milk yogurt up to three times a day.

Anti-parasitic essential oils include clove, eucalyptus, fennel, and white camphor. These are great to diffuse or can be diluted and used topically. Consult with a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils internally.

Herbs commonly used for parasites include andrographis and a blend of clove, wormwood, and black walnut hull. You can also use digestion and immune boosting herbs to strengthen your body’s natural defenses. Be sure to do your research before trying any new herbal regimen!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and great for immune support. It’s also helpful for parasite infections. If you have parasite symptoms you can use 5 grams of vitamin C per day spread out in 2-3 doses. Too much can cause loose stools so you can adjust the dose down if needed.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural, mild anti-fungal, and very nourishing to the body. If you’re not already using it in your cooking, it also tastes great blended into coffee or tea. You can add several tablespoons a day for healthy fats and to support healthy bowel movements as you’re eliminating toxins. Personally, I don’t use coconut oil as much anymore and mainly use olive oil.

Herxheimer’s Reaction

Sometimes getting rid of parasites can be uncomfortable. Herxheimer’s reaction, named after the German doctor who discovered it, is basically a die-off reaction. Trying to treat parasites and infections quickly or with potent remedies can cause a Herx reaction.

It’s best to be on an anti-yeast/parasite diet for several weeks before even starting supplements, This can help minimize reactions. You can start with small doses of apple cider vinegar and diatomaceous earth. Work your way up to help keep the die-off symptoms at bay.

You may even find that you “catch a cold” a week or so after starting to treat your yeast and parasite symptoms. This is actually a mild Herxheimer reaction. Backing down supplements and drinking more water should help it pass quickly.

Other Important Notes on Intestinal Parasites

Removing parasites is a difficult job for your body. It’s important to support your body during the process. Regular exercise, a good diet, adequate sleep, and limiting exposure to toxins all help!

Epsom salt baths are another excellent way to help detox through the skin. I like to use 1/2 cup of Epsom salts in hot bath water or try one of these detox bath recipes.

Be sure to drink plenty of water to flush out die-off toxins faster. And of course, plenty of sleep gives the body enough time to regenerate and heal. I aim for at least 9 hours a night. It’s also very important to skip the sugar and refined carbs as these make the process much slower. Raw vegetables and healthy fiber sources help keep your energy levels up and clean the body faster.

You may also want to try this wellness challenge that has tips and recipes for ditching the grains and sugar.

Do you suspect you may have parasites? What are you doing to address them? Leave a comment and let me know!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


446 responses to “What to Do About Intestinal Parasites”

  1. Jack LeFluer Avatar
    Jack LeFluer

    This article is worth it’s weight in gold! Can’t believe how much I match up with all these symptoms and yet Drs would never suggest trying any of this to me.

  2. Petrus Strydom Avatar
    Petrus Strydom

    Good day all and a special thanks to Wellness Mama.
    I see that a great percentage of participants are struggling with sugar issues. Now I’m no expert and have no credentials and will therefor resolve to a simple encouragement. There is a serious amount of good information on the net and one only need to search a bit for insightful works. One such item I would start with is a video documentary called “That Sugar Film” and another “reversing diabetes”
    It brought me great understanding of situations in my own health and set me on a path to healing.

  3. Johanna Avatar

    I really need to flush out the parasites! I can feel them at night. The only issue is that I am breastfeeding. I am taking Diayonomaceus 1 teaspoon in the morning. What else can I do to eliminate them while breastfeeding?

  4. Ericka Moore Avatar
    Ericka Moore

    Hi there! You mentioned a 30-day challenge in this article, but it only takes me to another article. Did I misunderstand? I was hoping it was a challenge I could sign up for that would send emails or texts with challenges and recipes or something. Please point me in the right direction! Thank you!

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      At one time it was a different type of health challenge with emails and a community forum, but it’s just an article about how to do it yourself now. Sorry for the confusion!

  5. Kandace Avatar

    Hi All – I’m hoping someone can help me here still as I see that this article has been out here for several years now. I believe I have a tapeworm (regular sushi eater going on 7 years now), and I can neither afford to go to a regular doctor nor have had any positive experiences with them prior.
    My diet is quite clean besides the raw fish – primarily vegetables, quinoa, beans, no processed foods, low carb, vitamins, fish oil, and no other meats, but I am constantly tired and foggy headed. I’d love to implement these dietary changes as well as some herbs…perhaps the Dr. Clark cleanse I think it was called – black walnut, clove, etc. However, I have a ten month old that I am breastfeeding, and I would like to continue to do so. Has anyone out there eradicated a tapeworm naturally while breastfeeding? Is it safe to do so? Any recommendations at all would be lovely. Thanks!

  6. Sandra Avatar

    Hey, thanks for the informative article but why did you advise against taking probiotics within an hour of driking acv ? I drink acv in my water daily and I wanted to incorporate probiotics soon.

    Do not take probiotics within an hour of Apple Cider Vinegar or Diatomaceous Earth!

  7. Amber Avatar

    Great and helpful info! I’ve been looking into this much more myself because I’ve had a lot of gut issues! Thanks for helping!

  8. Amanda Avatar

    I Do! (Blastocystis Hominis) And to try and starve them once and for all, I went from a year of healthy Keto and intermittent fasting to carnivore three weeks ago to try and facilitate that. I have nausea some days after eating and am taking Ox Bile to help with breaking down all that protein and fat though last night the nausea was horrendous and my gut hurt. I just passed stools that had chalk like coloring to them and what sure looked like parasitic biofilm. Could this all be die off? Thank you for this really informative article!

  9. Vivien Avatar

    A few years ago I had parasites and it took 5 weeks to clear them. I had severe stomach pain, dizziness and weight gain.
    Sadly, I’m sure I’ve got them again. Pain and gurgling in my intestines, intense sweating on and off, headaches, light headedness, anemia, disturbed sleep and distended stomach.
    I am going to stop all bread, white potatoes, sugar and fat as I know they affect and feed these parasites. I know I also need to do a parasite cleanse….may use Silica or Paragon
    Is there anything you can recommend?
    Feel so tired.

  10. anna Avatar

    Hello, is it possible to find out medically if I have bugs? I have almost all symptoms. Thanks. Anna

  11. Annie Avatar

    Hello. I just discovered your site and I think I badly need help. I’ve been feeling not myself since 6 years now.more if I’m honest with myself.anyway, I don’t sleep properly at night.i dozed off in the afternoons.i am very very depressed to the point that I’m having suicidal thoughts. I am always tired.i like cleaning my house but I can’t be bothered anymore.i am extremely sad one moment and the next I am angry. I am gaining weight. My period,when I have it,last only barely 3 days instead of my full 7 days.and it is do little than I can practically count the drops. My hair has been falling off for five years now.ive been to a gynecologist and the latter told me I have hypothyroidism and also my body is producing too much male hormones so she put me on hypothyroid meds and contraceptive pills.i also do not have a bowel movement for days.maybe once a week or two.i am so bloated.and the gas is very smelly.as soon as I eat a little thing,my belly blow up and i look 5 months pregnant.reading your article made me thing that I have parasites too.can any of you prescribe a home cleansing recipe I can do?also I’ve noticed my left eye is heavier than my right and feels swollen but it doesn’t hurt.it just feels heavy but when I look in the mirror,my left eye is like more close off than my right eye.i also has bad breath.even when i clean with oil pulling,my mouth feels better but not clean.please please anyone can advice?!
    P.s: I also have very bad memory loss ,I feel dizzy when I get up from sitting,I am gaining weight,I am always hungry and craving carbohydrates and sugary food

    1. kelly Avatar

      Hi Annie, are you still having these issues? Do you by any chance have any foreign bodies or medical devices placed inside your body?

  12. Elizabeth Oattes Avatar
    Elizabeth Oattes

    I just arrived home from Dominican Republic on Dec 28th and on Jan 1st started having acid reflux then a cold and sneezing ,vomiting and severe stomach cramps along with constipation. After day 5 of this I went to emerg where they took blood xray and urine analysis but no stool sample. I told them i was in the Carribean the nurse said it was probably a bug from there but the doctor said a parasite will be unlikely and will go away on its own.They treated me for constipation and more than 24hours later I am in similar condition only ive decided that eating is a bad idea. After some research on home remedies,I made a smoothie of papaya and papaya seeds, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, lime juice, cucumber, celery and oil of oregano. It tastes aweful but we will see how it goes

  13. Jon Avatar

    How long does it take to get rid of candida and parasites and how do you know when they are gone or in check at balances levels? When can you start to eat carbs and sugars again? Or it this a forever diet change? I went to a medical medium and they told me I have roundworm parasite and candida. I’m sure I have candida as I definitely have symptoms of that and I don’t doubt the parasite as I have traveled around the world backpacking through India South America and Southeast Asia being exposed to lots of questionable foods.

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