A parasite can wreak havoc on your body. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms caused by parasites are common to individuals who don't have parasites as well. That leaves everyone wondering - should I get tested?
Nearly every digestive parasite causes digestive symptoms. Often the digestive problem will be painful if parasites are involved because parasites create inflammation. Once you have a parasite your gut biome becomes disturbed, leading to gas, bloating, and changes in stool color and consistency. If you don't have a digestive problem, the good news is that you probably don't have a problematic parasite.
However, parasites can also lie dormant in your body for months. Some parasites will live harmoniously in one person's gut while creating a nightmare in another's. Many of the most common parasites have both beneficial and harmful qualities. To boot, these little culprits come in many different forms. Each can cause an array of seemingly unrelated symptoms. In extreme cases, parasites can literally stuff up your intestines and cause blockage, a very serious and life threatening condition.
Why It's Important to Get Tested Quickly
Parasites should be addressed quickly because they adapt to the unique conditions of your gut and weaken your body. Once they adapt to your system, they are harder to get rid of. As they weaken your body, they also weaken your resistance to fight them. Once weakened, you are more vulnerable to new infections as well. Thus, parasites invite other parasites. The more parasites you have, the more likely you are to catch another one.
Testing may be too expensive for some individuals. Also, testing frequently shows a false negative. If the worm cannot be found in the stool, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Testing for DNA antibodies or other markers of the worm's presence in the stool is often much more reliable than viewing slides on a microscope. If a person can afford it, testing is a good idea because it can identify the specific species, which may be essential for successful treatment.
How do you know if you have parasites? When I have a client that eats a healthy diet compatible with their doshas but still has many digestive problems, I start to consider parasites and then look for signs.
Passing a worm in your stool is a definitive sign that you have parasites.
Other important signs include excessive food cravings and/or weight loss, despite eating large portions of food. Indigestion, frequent gas, abdominal pain, and food poisoning all hint at the possibility of parasites. If your elimination consists of chronically soft stool or acute watery stool and diarrhea, you may be harboring unwelcome visitors. Many parasites cause anal itching. If you experience bloody stools, constipation, or IBS, consider getting tested to determine whether parasites are ravaging your GI tract.
Next, consider your tongue. Is it coated? Does it have depapillated regions - places where it looks irritated, as if a piece of it was scraped off? Is your tongue swollen with teeth marks around the edges? Do you have a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth? All of these can indicate changes in the digestive tract caused by parasites. However, these signs may be present in individuals without parasite infection as well.
Parasites destroy ojas so may see signs of dryness or low ojas on tongue. This may include cracks as well as bare patches on the tongue (a peeled tongue).
Parasites create inflammation so you may see rawness or heat signs on the tongue such as a yellow coating, red dots (inflamed papillae), or rawness due to toxic mucus. Your tongue may be swollen (with scalloped edges) due to inflammation and low agni.
Parasites create ama so you may see a thick coating on the tongue.
Parasites can make you feel jittery and prevent you from sleeping soundly. Their waste products contain toxins that can make you a bit cuckoo, a condition called "verminous intoxication." These toxins can also cause joint pain, reactive arthritis, and skin irritation. They may wake you up throughout the night to pee. They can cause you to grind your teeth. Parasites can make you feel weak and fatigued. These little vampires can lead to anemia as they rob your body of nutrients.
Parasites frequently secrete specific hormones and chemicals to make your body a more hospitable host. For example, blastocystis secretes chemicals that shut down your immune system, making you more vulnerable overall to infection. If you experience frequent urinary tract infections or vaginal yeast infections but your diet is otherwise clean, think about getting tested. Also consider getting tested if you frequently get sick for no apparent reason.
Parasites often have cyclical flare ups that coincide with the moon or a particular time of year. Every parasite has a different life cycle. Some will cause pain in the upper GI, others will cause pain in the lower GI. You may find one of these invaders passed in your stool, which is why it's always a good idea to check out your poop before you flush. Traveling increases your risk for contracting a parasite because you have no natural immunity in a foreign territory.
Beware! Parasites are often stealthy and keep their presence under the radar by causing no signs or symptoms at all. That's why an antibody or DNA stool test is your best bet to ensuring you are parasite free.
How did I get them?
Once you find out that you do have parasites, many wonder - "how did this happen?!" Parasites are endemic to every country, including developed industrialized nations. Pinworms are especially common in the United States, affecting up to 40% of all children. Hookworms, tapeworms, and ascaris are also common worldwide. H pylori and blastocystis hominus are some of the most infectious agents, affecting anywhere from 20%-60% of the population worldwide.
Most digestive parasites infect via the fecal-oral route, for example, by restaurant employees who fail to wash their hands after going to the bathroom or children who scratch their butts then touch a doorknob. Contaminated food or water may contain parasites. Undercooked meat and untreated water are two of the most common pathways to pathogenesis. Many parasites enter the skin through your bare feet. You can pick them up from handling animals, shaking hands with someone who has poor hygiene, or by working or walking in contaminated soil.
Important Examples of Foods to Avoid While Traveling
breads, cakes, beer, etc
milk, cheese, ice cream, etc
salads, fish, meat, etc
As with almost any illness, weak digestion increases susceptibility. In particular, gooey food such as wheat or dairy coats parasites in mucus, protecting them from stomach acids. As mentioned, travelers are at an increased risk because they lack natural immunity to parasites in non-native lands. When traveling, digestion may be weak due to different routine, foods, and jet lag, leaving your gut more susceptible to infection. It's especially important to avoid gooey and difficult to digest food when traveling, tempting as they may be. Avoid undercooked meat. Boil water when traveling. Dishes, cups, and silverware may even become contaminated during the rinse cycle of washing.
Parasites flourish when the weather is warm and moist. That makes autumn an ideal time to get tested and to cleanse your body of summer parasites.
What Kind of Test Should You Get?
Joyful Belly recommends DiagnosTechs Full GI Panel, or Genova's GI Effects Stool Test which gives you both an assessment of parasites and the function of your entire digestive tract. Traditional visual exam under microscope for ova and parasites is insufficient on its own. There are frequent false negatives because parasites must be alive and active once they get to the lab for them to be detected with this test. Tests should include a visual ova test as well as a test for specific presence of antibodies in saliva and stool. A DNA test or antibody test is more accurate in detecting their undercover presence than visual inspection alone. This level of testing ensures you will have the most accurate picture of what's going on in your gut. Even if parasites are ruled out, the GI function test will still give you a clue as to what might be causing any digestive distress you experience.
Ultimately, the diagnosis of parasites must be made by a Western medical doctor. Your doctor should recommend a treatment that is specific to the parasite rather than broad spectrum. Herbs will often reduce or eliminate symptoms but may fail to kill the infection entirely, unless accompanied by an appropriate diet and cleanse. Since pharmaceuticals inevitably disturb your gut biome, be sure to ask your doctor to recommend a probiotic that specifically contains beneficial organisms killed by the pharmaceutical. Note that treatment is often far less expensive than the test itself.
Some parasites are classified as both good and bad bacteria, depending on who you talk to. In that case, some discernment may be required before taking a pharmaceutical. Otherwise, parasites should be killed as quickly as possible, before they have a chance to adapt to your gut or cause permanent damage. Once parasites adapt, they are more difficult to get rid of.
Pesky parasites are trouble! At Joyful Belly, we specialize in digestive health and wellness. Students on our Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition program learn all about how to fight parasites using herbs, diet, and lifestyle. Don't fall victim to an invasion. Get tested to be sure all of the guests in your gut support your well being.
Disclaimer: 'Worm / Parasite' could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Worm / Parasite'.
Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution.
Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care.
Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'WORM / PARASITE'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
According to Ayurveda, one or more of the following
and biocharacteristics may aggravate 'Worm / Parasite'.
If you have an excess of one of these doshas or biocharacteristics below, Ayurveda recommends reducing foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate them.
Click on the biocharacteristic to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be reduced.
Symptoms Tell A Story
The first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms.
Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances.
Symptoms show you where your body is weakened.
Ultimately, all disease has a root in tissues too weak to defend itself.
Ayurveda describes these patterns of weakness using doshas & biocharacteristics.
If you notice a biocharacteristic or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms,
it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
An agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
WORM / PARASITE IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance.
Most people have a weakness in one or more organs.
These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.'
They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point.
Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease.
At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease.
You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area.
At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Worm / Parasite'.
See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type.
Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Biocharacteristics of the 1,615 People Reporting Worm / Parasite
On average the biocharacteristics
of people reporting Worm / Parasite were more aggravated than 69% of other symptoms.
From the 1,615 people who reported Worm / Parasite in this research study of 74,671 individuals,
average deviation in biocharacteristic levels were the following:
Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic,
systemic approach, instead of focusing only on the disorder in question. Ayurveda
shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them
using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't
take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you.
Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an
exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?
Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type,
which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths).
It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders.
Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder.
It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of biocharaceristics (gunas).
For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc.
This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalanced biocharacteristics.
By eating an optimal diet that balances your biocharacteristics, your whole body is strengthened
and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease
are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies -
such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance
To get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body
type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so
by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.