The word “parasite” carries with it negative connotations. Whether figurative or literal, no one wants to harbor a parasite. In the literal sense, parasites are living organisms that have as much right to live as any other living thing; however, we don’t want them living in our bodies.
You can only pick up a parasite from direct contact, either through something you eat/drink or something that comes into contact with your skin (including via sexual contact). The organism then goes quickly to work to make itself at home. Often, that means illness for the host (you).
Common parasitic infections include:
- cryptosporidiosis – an intestinal infection passed through contact with infected stool
- giardiasis – transmitted through contaminated food or contact with an infected person
- malaria – transmitted through bites from infected mosquitoes
- toxoplasmosis – transmitted through contaminated food or contact with cat feces
- trichomoniasis – sexually transmitted
These illnesses are caused primarily by three types of micro-organisms:
- ectoparasites – multi-cell organisms that can live on or from your skin; insects like mosquitoes and arachnids like ticks fall into this category
- helminthes – multi-cell organisms, commonly known as “worms”; they include tapeworms, flatworms, and roundworms and are visible by the time they reach adult stage (1)
- protozoa – single-cell organisms that quickly grow and proliferate when they find a hospitable host; they are common in untreated or stagnant water or can be contracted from contaminated stool. (2)
Symptoms of Parasitic Infection
Many parasites find a nice, safe, warm, moist home in the digestive tract. Symptoms of infection are therefore a direct correlation of such invasion:
- nausea, vomiting
- fever, chills
- abdominal cramps
- skin irritation, such as redness, a rash, or itching
- genital discharge
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle aches
For every human toxin in the natural environment, Nature has an antidote.
What we deem a parasite doesn’t translate to an inherently “bad” organism. Every microbe on Earth serves a purpose in the natural world—we may not recognize what that is. Some of these organisms cause illness to humans but not necessarily to other species. By simply making our bodies inhospitable and ensuring a robust immune system, we can rid ourselves of the organisms that make us sick if we happen to come into contact with them.
Herbs are powerful medicines. It may seem simple to treat yourself for any illness by employing plants known to have certain qualities. If you are infected with a parasite, however, professional care is indicated to make sure you are using the right herbs in the appropriate dosage to get rid of the unwelcome invaders. Consider someone certified in functional medicine with experience in herbal treatment of parasitic infections. Other foods you can eat with impunity.