Parasites

getty_rm_photo_of_giardia_lamblia_parasite
Getty RM Photo of Giardia Lamblia parasite (Web MD)

With our current focus on the gut, the diagnosis of worms and other parasites as visitors in some families is common.

What the term ‘parasite’ means to naturopaths is that the gut health is poor and the immune system is under par. What this means homeopathically is that the patient has gut problems as a symptom of a bigger issue and the whole person needs a tune up if the symptoms are ongoing.

In practice this means that “worming” or “parasite detox” products often don’t work because you need to look at and treat the bigger picture, while supporting and rebuilding the gut.

I do see many patients who have had ongoing gut problems including parasites. It seems that because we are all individual our needs in terms of managing gut issues are also very individual. Many people will have spent months if not years on strict dietary regimes, undergoing herbal detoxes, using a variety of expensive probiotics and other supplements and perhaps trying homeopathic Cina and so on, but without success.

Pin worms are the most common worms picked up by small children from the sandpit or from other carriers. Some children may succumb to a bout if there is a mini epidemic at school, for example, through poor hygiene, but other children seem to have a high susceptibility and the problem is ongoing. These are the children who need constitutional treatment. Worms are not the problem, but a symptom of an underlying imbalance and no amount of worming treatments are going to fix them permanently.

Symptoms may include Itchy anus or vagina (usually worse at night), vaginal discharge, restless sleep, teeth grinding, dark circles under the eyes, nose picking. Sometimes there will be tummy aches if the infestation is significant. Behavioural problems are sometimes associated with worms.

The most common homeopathic remedy for worms is Cina and this can sometimes be helpful if a bout is a one off and minor.

Some years ago I developed a Worming Support combination which includes the most commonly indicated remedies for worms. This can work really well for some people, but if there is an underlying issue it will either work well then the worms will come back or it won’t make a difference.

Here a consultation is the only answer and will usually focus on supporting the gut, clearing the worms, building up the constitution and looking at obstacles to cure. This might include vaccine damage, heavy metal toxicity, stress, etc. Parasites are opportunistic so they take advantage of a weakened immune system to make your body their home.

The word parasite comes from the Greek ‘parasitos’ which means ‘one that stands at the meal of another’. There are probably millions of different parasites on the earth including ticks, fleas, moquitoes and so on. Internal parasites can live and reproduce for many years in unsuspecting humans causing a variety of health issues, leaching nutrients and gradually taking over!

Parasites are responsible for many health issues including a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms, vaginal irritation, joint pain, nervous diseases, immune dysfunction and chronic fatigue. It is likely that many chronic health issues may be related to a parasitic infection, however, it is important to understand that the parasite is not the problem in itself, but part of the overall problem.

The three most common internal parasites, apart from pinworms, we are likely to see in Australia are Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis and Giardia lamblia.

Signs and Symptoms of Parasitic Infections

There are a wide range of symptoms which may manifest as a result of parasites.

• Abdominal pain and cramps
• Low back pain
• Anorexia
• Pruritus ani (itchy bottom)
• Autoimmune disease
• Hives, psoriasis, eczema, skin ulcers or skin rash
• Chronic fatigue
• Constipation
• Compromised immune function
• Weight loss
• Abdominal distension
• Arthritis
• Fevers
• Blood in stools
• Food allergy
⦁ Teeth grinding during sleep
• Colitis
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease
• Crohn’s Disease
• Increased intestinal permeability
• Flatulence
• Irregular bowel movements
• Foul smelling stools
• Malabsorption
• Nausea and vomiting
• Rectal bleeding

Sourced from GSDL

Blastocystis hominis

Blastocystis hominis has become much more common in recent years and it is said that around 20% of stool samples will show up this parasite if the lab test is carried out properly.

Blastocystis has been associated with many chronic conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibroymyalgia and arthritic complaints. Blastocystis organisms are not limited to the gut but have even been found in synovial fluid of the knee[3].

Symptoms may include cramps, vomiting, sleeplessness, nausea, weight loss, anorexia, vertigo, lethargy, wind and itchy skin. B Hominis may also be misdiagnosed as IBS and one study [2] showed that eradication of B Hominis can clear IBS symptoms.

Some people can carry this parasite for years but remain symptom free. Many people suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, however, may be harbouring an infestation of this pathogen.

For more information: http://www.badbugs.org/Blasto_symptoms.htm

Dientamoeba fragilis

Dientamoeba fragilis is another common parasite, which again is being more frequently diagnosed as lab techniques improve.

Symptoms are similar to B Hominis and include diarrhoea/ constipation and abdominal pain, bloating and gas.

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, weight-loss, chronic fatigue, depression, low-grade fever, bloody stools and anal itching. D fragilis has also been implicated in some cases of indeterminate colitis and is often misdiagnosed as IBS.

The organism lives in the colon and transmission is often from pinworms as the Dientamoeba trophozoite can often be found in pinworm eggs.

For more information: http://www.badbugs.org/Dfragilis_symptoms.htm

Giardia lamblia

Giardia lamblia is yet another frequently found protozoa. Protozoa are so small they can only be seen with the help of a microscope and only some of them cause disease in humans. Often it will be resident in the gastrointestinal tract for many years without causing any symptoms.

Symptoms may include severe and chronic diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fatigue and weight loss.

One problem with Giardia is that it can change the permeability of the gut mucous membranes, affecting immunity and resulting in increased susceptibility to secondary infections. This may also result in poor absorption of fats and poor assimilation of fat soluble vitamins and other essential nutrients.

Giardia lamblia can spread throughout the body, attaching itself to the intestinal walls, causing gastroenteritis and may spread from host to host by faecal-oral routes. It may also cause infection indirectly from contaminated water or food.

A review in the Journal of Nutritional Medicine showed 27% of patients studied with chronic fatigue had Giardia infection. 21% were cured after the Giardia infection was eradicated.[4]

It has also been reported that increasing dietary fibre (ie pre-biotics) may reduce the rate of Giardia lamblia by inducing mucous secretion and reducing the attachment of the trophozoites.[5]

Obviously ruling out Giardia is of prime importance when dealing with conditions such as chronic fatigue.

Eradicating Parasites

Although anti-parasitic drugs are effective they are very powerful pharmaceutical medications and should not be taken without careful consideration. Cases which have been treated with such drugs will often reoccur so again, treating the whole person and supporting the gut is important even if you go down this route.

Natural Alternatives for Eliminating Parasites

As more and more people become aware of the possibility of parasites and the need to eradicate them, they are returning to the natural remedies of the past with good success in many cases.

Homeopathy is certainly up there in the management and resolution of parasitic infection with a wide range of remedies specific to parasites. The best option, however, in any case of chronic infection regardless of cause, is to consult your homeopath for an individualized remedy. Treating the whole person is key to the best outcomes in cases where over the counter products or pharmaceutical drugs has not helped.

As well as taking anti-parasitic products, it is important to ensure the immune system is supported. Taking immune boosters such as vitamins A, C with zinc and/or our Immune Boost combination will help strengthen the immune system and prevent further infestation. Treatment should also involve a low carbohydrate diet to minimize what the parasites feed upon and to reduce acidity in the gut. Fibre may also improve the development of beneficial bacteria and produce an environment which is detrimental to parasites.

Approaches that help to restore gut health, improve bowel flora and enhance digestive processes should all be considered in a protocol for eliminating parasites and as part of overall constitutional treatment.

Patient Commitment

Using natural products to eliminate parasites may take some time. This needs commitment from the patient as in some cases eradication may take three months or more.

Anti-parasitic products are often best taken every two or three days – a protocol we follow with our own Worming Support remedy. This enables the eggs to hatch and then the remedy is taken to eliminate the newly hatched parasites. This cycle should continue for at least one month, after which the remedy can be taken less frequently – once or twice a week.

Conclusion

For ongoing or recurrent cases consult your homeopath for support protocols to clear the parasites, check nutritional status and rebalance the whole system with an individualised treatment plan.

Resources

1. http://www.positivehealth.com/article/colon-health/all-natural-remedies-for-parasites
2 http://www.cdd.com.au/pdf/abstracts/2002-eradication%20of%20Dientamoeba%20fragilis%20can%20reslove%20IBS-like%20symptoms.PDF
3. Lee, et al., Annals of Rheumatic Disease. March 1990.
4. Galland L, Journal of Nutritional Medicine 1990.
5. Leitch GJ, et al., Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 1989;41(5):512-20


Melanie Creedy is a UK trained and Australian Registered Homeopath (AROH). She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and is editor of the AHA National Newsletter.
Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australia, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services.

Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a  suggestion or treatment seek advice from your homeopath.