What to Do About Intestinal Parasites

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

intestinal parasites
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

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.

Comments

446 responses to “What to Do About Intestinal Parasites”

  1. KRYSTAL Avatar

    Hi, do you think sweet potatoes must be removed from diet for the successful removal of parasites? I have been eating auto-immune paleo for 3 months and am not sure that it’s working, and I think I need a more drastic approach. However, thinking it’s a parasite

  2. Dee Avatar

    Hello
    I am positive that I have somehow picked up a parasite. Flukes. I don’t eat anything raw..hardly eat meat and do not travel outside of U.S. and I guess Drs in the US are very unconcerned and dismissive about parasites. My family Dr of 15 years actually used the word paranoid! Even tho I had parasites in hand.(actually in a mason jar of alcohol. I’m so frustrated. I’ve been trying to figure out how this happened..I went swimming at a lake in Tennessee 3 months ago. We went to the county Fair 3 no. Ago..I love animals and was petting the sheep..cows etc. I am an avid mushroom Hunter and spend a great amount of time in the woods crawling around damp places..I just would like confirmation that I’m not crazy and they are Indeed parasites. And to of course evict them all. Thanks
    Dee

  3. Kerrie Avatar

    Very informative, & well written – well done to wellness mama , more people should be aware of this information and there will be a lot less illness about, it’s a shame the nhs site/ goverment does not make these remedies more known, I wonder why??

  4. Dan G Avatar

    Thank you for the info. I think we know without question that my wife has parasites. My question is, if you suspected having them (with symptoms you listed above), what tests would you do to identify the type of parasites? Thank you!

  5. Cynthia Avatar

    How long should this cleanse and treatments be used to ensure it has killed off the parasites? Very informative post.

  6. Sameir pawar Avatar
    Sameir pawar

    Hey! Glad you have this in your feed! I am 22,I was put on heavy antibiotics through out my childhood due to frequent illness viz. Fever, cold and viral infections.
    Now at this age, from last couple of years I have become intolerant to certain carbs which give me bloating and gas. Also I am heavily constipated. Dandruff occurs after eating a group of carbs and sugars, dairy,gluten. Just now I have been prescribed with milk of magnesia and I saw small black specks in the stool. I am sure it is a parasite infection. Please tell me how to tackle it. As I am indian very less choices for meat. Thanks

  7. Jessica Dilger Avatar
    Jessica Dilger

    A lot of these symptoms can also be linked to the MTHFR Gene mutation I wonder if they go hand in hand?! That would be interesting to know!

  8. Elena Avatar

    Hello Wellness Mama!!!
    I was online to look for some “Worm” info b/c I realized my dog had worms. Of course, then I was sure I must have them and the first site that beckoned me to check out their info on the subject was yours!
    This makes total sense b/c I’ve been a subscriber of yours for a few years now!
    In fact, it was a blog that either you or someone on your blog posted that inspired me to start my own community page! I was in transition in my life, I knew what I wanted to write about and give to others, but I was stuck on which platform, which site, how to market, my niche, everything! I read on your page that either you or one of your guest bloggers started a 5-figure income business, JUST focusing on her community. She explained how she didn’t even need to market nationally. That if her message was simple and focused she just had to focus on her own community, which made things a lot cheaper and easier.
    It’s now about 3 years since I read that and I’m finally up and running, as of this past month!
    So, a big thank you to Wellness Mama for having this info on your blog (how ever it happened)!

  9. Lizzi Avatar

    I think my not quite 2 year old has a parasite. She has a lot of the symptoms down to an itchy heiny. I think I may try coconut oil first combined cutting all sugar and grains (she’s already gluten and dairy free due to previous stomach issues)
    Do you have a dosage suggestion for one so tiny?

  10. Mcdowell-Harris Avatar
    Mcdowell-Harris

    I appreciate this blog and with that being said I’ve read through the entire list of comments and No one ever answered why it is suggested not to mix DE with AVC. I have Lyme (1yr) a recent mosquito bite seem to bring back all the Lyme symptoms that went away for 6 months so I decided to treat myself again and had a reaction today from taking ACV and antibiotics with emergenc C packet spaced out all With in 1 hour and suddenly felt extremely fatigue I dosed off. I woke up feeling pain in my stomach and nausea. I figured I had to go have a bowel movement but it felt as if nothing was there… moments later it was coming out the front and back end. I examined stool and believe I seen parasites and bacteria and mucus. I’ve neever had this reaction before and I’m assuming it’s. Herx from The Antibiotics that I recently reintroduced. This has me not wanting to ever take antibiotics but instead the continue natural remedies. It’s never ending cycle and you will never know I’d you did the body completely of parasites and bacteria

  11. Patty Avatar

    Effective treatments for parasites:
    1 billion probiotics.
    Castor oil
    Neem
    Cream of tarter
    Dia tomaceous earth
    5000 ml. Vit. C.
    Olive oil
    Epsom salt
    Garlic
    Oregano
    Coconut oil
    Pure pine gum spirits (turpentine)
    Hydro colonics
    Apple cider viniger

    1. Barb H Avatar

      Patty, great list. I am going to look into a few on the list.

      Hydro colonics? You mean enemas? If home enemas, what did you use in the solution?

      A friend of mine was fighting this battle (parasites – worms) with her kids.

      She told me she administered a garlic enema nightly. In addition to cleaning and other remedies.

      She told me it worked!

      Now mine have came down with this night mare.

      I am going to try the enemas.

  12. Theresa Avatar
    Theresa

    I think I have parisites. Is there any place I send a photo to of what I found

  13. Deirdre Avatar
    Deirdre

    hi!

    This is great information on DE! I have read about other parasite cleanses that are more expensive, and they say you have to take other support sups while you are killing the parasites. Do you find that with DE alone can flush out the parasites? Thanks!

  14. Bethany Avatar
    Bethany

    Hi-
    I dont know when this post was written but I live in Jacksonville and I see a Functional Medicine NP
    She is wonderful. She did an entire GI MAP on me and found that I have three different parasites!
    She listens, spends time, and get to the roots of the problems you are having. The website is healthpartnersllc.net Check it out!

  15. eilis Avatar

    hi
    i have parasites and when i take the tablets it causes terrible activity around vulva, vagina and anus its driving me mad this past 3 nights i have only had 3 hrs sleep at night, i spent 8 hours in hospital lastnight having swabs from vagina, urine test and blood test came back positive, i never go to doctors/ hosp unless its a real emergency which is never, but this past 3 nights the wriggling is driving me insane, the interesting thing is, when i take the medication proscribed it drives the worms mad its so scary they actually wriggle inside my pants, when i stop the meds they calm dow a bit but never go away i dont know what to do , im on third course of 2 tabs morning and eve for 3 days im scared

  16. Joseph Avatar
    Joseph

    Hi WM!!
    I was in Thailand with my family in January. One night I woke up ill. I spent the next 3 hours with violent vomiting and explosive diarrhea. The next day I was bedridden. 48 hours later I was fine. I’ve had “Bali Belly” a few times in the past so I assumed it was a bad case of travellers diarrhea. However for the past 3 months since I have had loose stools. Ranging between very soft to mushy to watery. I may have had one or two normal stools. I fear I have picked up a parasite. I have no other symptoms except “chronic diarrhea”. I have had my annual blood tests last week and everything is normal. Can you shed some light on my situation and provide feedback and advice. Thanks in advance.

  17. Coco Avatar

    Is there harm in taking Diatomaceous Earth and Apple Cider Vinegar together? In a large glass of water?

  18. Elizabeth Avatar
    Elizabeth

    I’m honestly thinking I have a parasite or something. I knew I bloated after eating, but when we went out today I got to see my reflection after eating, and I look 9 months pregnant…. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing since I’m not pregnant….. Need help big time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *