Have you ever had an unwanted houseguest that just won’t leave? You know the type. They will eat all of your food, keep you up all night and overstay their welcome. They totally take advantage of the host. They are “parasitic” in nature.
Intestinal parasites are like the unwelcome houseguests in your body. They are microorganisms that live off of their host and can cause damage as a result. There are some parasites that eat the stored food in your body which can make it difficult for you to gain weight. Other parasites will have you feeling tired and may cause anemia or insomnia. Pesky devils, all.
There are two main types of parasites: Protozoa are singular-celled organisms, which can multiply within your body and may include giardia, amoeba or trichomonas. Helminths are considered worms with multiple cells. Common examples of these are pinworms, hockworms, roundworms and tapeworms.
How Well Do You Know Your Gut?
Parasites will cause damage to the intestinal lining and interfere with the digestive tract. The result could be digestive issues such as diarrhea, chronic constipation, abdominal pain and cramps, gas, indigestion, malabsorption and unpredictable bowel movements. Teeth grinding at night, chronic yeast infections, recent onset of allergies, fatigue, regular colds or sickness and itchy ears, nose or anus are other signs you may have intestinal parasites.
Another common way that parasites enter the body is through your food, including contaminated vegetables or fruits and undercooked meat. Try to avoid foods that feed parasites such as sugar, refined carbs, most fruits, dairy products and juices. Since food helped cause the issue, food can help cure it as well. Below are five foods that can help treat your intestinal parasites.
5 Foods to Fight Parasites
Garlic is always used heavily within an anti-parasite diet and it is well known for its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitical properties. Fresh garlic works because it contains alliin which converts to allicin.
Garlic is known to be effective against parasites such as giardia, lamblia, roundworm, plasmodium and leishmania. There have been several studies that link its anti-parasitic abilities.
Swiss albino mice were infected naturally with parasites and orally treated with crushed garlic daily for a week in a 2008 study published in the Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery journal. Garlic appeared to be over 90% effective during the treatment.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have been used to kill parasites such as roundworm and tapeworm for centuries in China.
According to preclinical research in 2004 at the Parasitology and Chemistry laboratories at Jorge Basadre Grohmann National University in Tacna, pumpkin seeds can produce an anti-parasitic against tapeworms when combined in 100 ml of distilled water and exposed to albino rats.
Eat pumpkin seeds raw or roasted, or made into tea. Combine two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds with three cups of boiling water for 30 minutes.
Papaya seeds are known to contain anti-parasitic and anti-amoebic abilities, which help kill worms and other parasites within the digestive system.
Papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain, which helps restore balance to the intestinal tract. In a 2007 pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, a combination of papaya seeds and honey was found to clear the parasitic infestation in 23 of 30 Nigerian children after a week of treatment. It is helpful to consume papaya 30 minutes before a main meal for optimal results.
Yeast and parasites are known to kill the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotic foods such as kombucha can help restore and build the intestinal flora within your digestive system and prevent any future parasite or yeast growth.
Probiotic-rich foods will also help strengthen your immune system and allow your body the ability to effectively fight parasites in the gut.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is rich in good bacteria and beneficial yeast and is commonly made from plain black tea. Other probiotic foods include kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso soup and kefir.
You can rid your body of intestinal parasites with thyme, too. The herb is known for natural treatment of roundworms, pinworms, hookworms and leishmaniasis.
A 2008 six-week study published in the Journal of Vector Borne Diseases suggested thyme is a treatment for cutaneous leichmaniasis in mice.
Thyme can combine with olive oil and fresh garlic to form an effective anti-parasitic salad dressing or marinade. Let it stand for a week. Also, drink thyme tea and eat thyme sprigs. Thyme is easy to grow in your backyard or in a container garden.
Other foods known to have anti-parasitic effects include almonds, sunflower seeds, grapefruit, pomegranate, cabbage, onions, cayenne, horseradish and kelp. It is also important to increase your water intake when cleansing the parasites from your body. Wormwood, goldenseal, black walnut, pau d’arco, oil of oregano and male fern are known as other effective parasitic herbal treatments.
Ayaz, E., et al., “Evaluation of anthelmintic activity of garlic (Allium sativum) in mice naturally infected with Aspiculuris terapera,” Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery, June 2008; 3(2): 149-52.
Murray, M., M.D., et al., The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (New York: Atria Paperback, 2012), 144, 552.
Hinton, L., et al., “Nutritional Symptomatology—Course Notes” (Toronto: The Institute of Holistic Nutrition, 2014), 58.
Diaz Obregon, D., et al., “[Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas].,” Revista de Gastroenterologia del Peru, October to December 2004; 24(4): 323-327.
Okenlyl, J.A., et al., “Effectiveness of dried Carica papaya seeds against human intestinal parasitosis: a pilot study,” Journal of Medicinal Food, March 2007; 10(1): 194-196.
Nilforoushzadeh, M.A., et al., “Comparison of Thyme vulgaris (Thyme), Achillea mellefolium (Yarrow) and propolis hyroalcoholic extracts versus systemic glucantime in the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis in balb/c mice,” Journal of Vector Borne Diseases, December 2008; 45(4): 301-306.