What are intestinal parasites?
A human intestinal parasite spends part of its life cycle in the human intestines. Digestive parasites can live anywhere from the small intestine, to our bile ducts, and down to our colon.
The types of intestinal parasites range from a 6 foot intestinal worm, to tiny flukes (5 millimeters) down to microscopic protozoa.
Who is at risk for an intestinal parasite infection?
Because of improved sanitation and living conditions in the USA, parasites infections are rarer than ever. Back in the 1890's, parasite infections affected 40-50% of Americans. Someone who grew up with modern sanitation and who is healthy, young and strong will rarely get a parasite infection.
But there are still 3 modern parasite infection risk factors are:
- weak immunity
- digestive problems
- travel to places with poor sanitation
1. People with weak immune systems
Animals have been fighting parasites since sea invertebrates evolved 665 million years ago. Humans have a large number of tools to prevent infection and defeat parasites.
But, when people have weakened immunity, parasite infections are more likely to happen. Things like poor sleep, poor diet, too much stress, antibiotics, medications or immune diseases (an obvious one is AIDS) can all increase our chances of being infected by intestinal parasites.
2. People With Digestive Problems
There is strong research showing that Irritable Bowel Disease is strongly correlated with intestinal fungal infections - which suggest weakened defense against parasites as well.
Some digestive problems are also caused by low stomach acid production. And when stomach acid is low, it doesn't kill parasite eggs that are in foods like sushi, pork or raw salad.
And lastly, many digestive symptoms like bloating, intestinal pain, diarrhea and strangely colored stool are caused by parasites. So it's possible that IBS symptoms can be caused by a hidden parasite infections.
3. People Who Travel to Countries with poor sanitation.
When traveling to places with poor sanitation, contraction of an digestive parasite is much more likely.
Untreated drinking water can cause extreme digestive problems from parasite infections. Those stomach parasites can ruin your trip and live in your body wreaking havoc long after you return from your vacation.
What are intestinal parasite infection symptoms?
Here's a list a common parasite infection symptoms:
- weight loss (malnutrition)
- and many more...
What types of parasites can infect human intestines?
- Entamoeba Histolytica
- Giardia lambilia
- Blastocystis hominis
- Dientamoeba fragilis (doesn't always cause problems)
- Helminths (worms)
- Ascaris lumbricoides
- Human whipworm
- Chinese liver fluke
- Human liver fluke
- blood fluke
- pork tapeworm
- fish tapeworm
How do you diagnose/test for intestinal parasite infections?
There are 6 commonly used parasite tests. But, intestinal parasite experts would not consider all of these tests ideal for finding gut parasites. On the most accurate parasites tests, we compare and contrast those tests on
For this test your gastroenterologist will stick a fiber optic cable with a camera on the end of it into your colon/intestines.
This parasite test can find large, worm type parasites, but it won't find smaller parasites that are the cause of digestive problems. If this is the only parasite test your doctor uses, they'll miss many intestinal parasites.
click here to read more about the endoscopy/colonscopy parasite test.
Blood Antibody Parasite Test
This test draws blood and then looks for specific parasite antibodies in your blood. The problem with this test is that if you show that you're producing antibodies, that could be from a past parasites infection, or it could be from a current infection. There's no way to differentiate without doing multiple blood tests before and after treatment. And even that reliability may be questionable.
Saliva Parasite Antibody Test
The saliva parasite test also looks for parasite antibodies. But, it is more likely to miss some parasite antibodies because saliva is less likely to have antibodies than blood. This test also can't differentiate between past and current parasite infections.
Blood Smear Test
This test draws blood, puts the blood on a slide, stains it, and then is examined by a parasitologist. This test is excellent at a diagnosing blood borne parasites like malaria. But, it is useless for diagnosing intestinal parasites.
DNA PCR Parasite Test
The DNA PCR parasite test is the newest parasite test. It comes from the same technology we used to sequence the human genome.
This test processes fecal matter, and then looks for known parasite DNA. The current problems with this test are:
- The DNA database for parasites is limited - so it can only look for the most common parasites. With global travel and global exporting of food, dozens of types of parasites are routine found infecting human intestines.
- The current test can confuse current with previous infections - so it has the same limitations as the blood antibody test.
Ova Parasite Stool Test
The ova parasite stool test is the ideal intestinal parasite test. It has the following benefits:
- can distinguish a large number of parasite species
- distinguishes between current and past infections
- test can be taken at home
- if test is analyzed by experienced technicians, it won't miss parasite infections
High Quality Version of Stool Test
Here are the characteristics of a high quality version of the stool test:
- can find dozens of parasites from every continent
- uses high quality preserving fluid
- more expensive
- test is administered over multiple days to find evidence of cyclical parasites
- uses high contrast dying fluid
Low Quality Version of Stool Test
Here are the characteristics of a low quality version of the stool test:
- can only find 3-5 parasites from 1 continent
- uses low quality preserving fluid
- uses low contrast dying fluid
- collects stool samples on 1 day - missing evidence of cyclical parasites
What is a digestive parasite cleanse?
A parasite cleanse is a way to get rid of parasites from your body. A proper parasite cleanse is more than just buying some product that says "parasite cleanse". And if you just take parasite killing supplements, the parasite infection can sometimes come back worse than ever. Depending on the type of parasite you have, you may need to make significant changes to prevent re-infection.
There are 7 steps to a proper parasites cleanse.
1. Get Tested to Discover What Parasites You Have
You don't want to undergo a parasite cleanse if you don't know what parasite you have. Different intestinal parasites require different protocols - so you need to get tested first.
2. Understand Original Causes of Infection
Parasites can be caught in many ways. Things like parasite infested water, or a significant other can be the source of your original parasite infection. And if you don't have some idea what caused the infection, you may get reinfected by that same parasite source.
3. Improve Immunity
If you have strong immunity, then your body can start killing parasites --- and just as important --- have immunity that will prevent reinfection of parasites after you complete your parasite cleanse.
4. Increase Vitality
This step is difficult to prove with scientific research. But, clinical practitioners like Emma Lane of the UK strongly believe in this step. Simply put, vitality is basically how much energy and vigor you have. And you really need high vitality in order to deal with killing the parasites.
5. Support Body's Detoxification Pathways
When you begin to kill off parasites, the parasites defensively release chemicals that you body must neutralize. Things like glutathione can be supported with supplements and dietary choices.
6. Parasite Cleanse / Kill Parasites
Most parasite cleanses start with this step...often including probiotics. And if the person is has strong immunity and high vitality, this can sometimes work as a first step. But, most Americans need to work hard at building up their and immunity before killing the parasites.
The exact parasite you have will determine what type of medicine or supplements you take to kill the parasites.
7. Retest To Make Sure You've Successfully Killed the Parasites
Finally, even if you feel better after this intestinal parasite cleanse, it's important to re-test your stool. This retest will hopefully indicate that you no longer have an intestinal parasite infection...and the parasite cleanse was successful!
Evan Jerkunica, Parasites.org's founder is happy to help. To get your questions answered, you can: