It is estimated over one billion people worldwide have parasitic infections. Some people live their lives symptom-free, but others experience significant health problems as a result.
Common Parasitic Infections
- Blastocystis Hominis
- Entamoeba Histolytica
- Malaria – Plasmodium parasite
- Intestinal worms – hook, fluke, round, flat, tape, etc…
Symptoms of Parasitic Infections
- Common physical symptoms are diarrhoea, abdominal pain, food allergies, flu-like symptoms, itchy anus, severe food cravings (particularly for carbohydrates/sugar), excessive flatulence, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weight loss, neuropathy, tremors, speech problems, tinnitus, photosensitivity and skin rashes.
- Common psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, severe irritability, rage, a hollow and disconnected feeling and significant mood swings.
- Parasites often lead to strange symptoms that:
- Seem to affect a range of body symptoms that are otherwise unrelated. For example digestion problems, skin rashes, headaches and fibromyalgia.
- Can suddenly come and go.
- Are really unusual such as fullness in the ears or a wriggling sensation in the eyes, ears or other parts of the body.
- Cannot be explained by Western medicine.
How Do You Get a Parasitic Infection?
- A common route of infection is faecal-oral contact. If an infected person doesn’t wash their hands well and prepares your food, little parasite eggs that can live for months under their finger nails can drop into your food. The eggs make their way through the digestive tract to your bowels where they typically take hold. If you have travelled to hot countries in Asia, Mexico or South America, there’s a high chance you have picked up a parasite via:
- Person-to-person contact;
- Insect bites from mosquitos and ticks in endemic areas can also cause infection;
- Contaminated food or water.
How Do You Know You May Have Parasites?
- You have a number of the symptoms discussed above.
- Western medicine cannot find anything wrong with you.
- Your symptoms can keep changing.
- Symptoms started soon after travel to a hot climate country (Asia, South America, Mexico, Africa).
- You do not respond to medications or herbs as you should (and sometimes they have the opposite effect).
- Infection is confirmed by a stool test – note: there are many different parasites. Stool tests will test for the more common ones. A negative result means that you don’t have the parasites they tested for but you may still have others. Also, new parasites are being discovered all the time (e.g. Zika).
- The best thing to do is to be thoroughly assessed and diagnosed by the right practitioner.
Why Do Parasites Affect Some People More Than Others?
Many people have parasites. For most people, the parasite causes no problems. This is because their immune systems are strong enough to keep the parasites under control. However, for some people, parasites cause significant and life-changing health issues. This is usually because their immune system is weak and cannot keep the parasite under control. The parasite systematically ‘hollows you out’ making you even weaker and less able to fight it off.
Because of modern busy lifestyles, poor food quality and eating habits, many younger people have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to react badly to parasites. More and more people travel routinely to Asia (including Bali) and other hot countries where parasites are rife.
Why Are Parasites So Hard to Get Rid Of?
Parasites are animals capable of adapting and changing. Some parasites secrete a protective film around themselves which can render medications useless. Parasites can also secrete biotoxins when they feel threatened by treatment, which can exacerbate symptoms and cause all sorts of problems and make you feel even worse. They can also adapt to medications and herbs to become resistant.
What Are The Western Medicine Treatment Options for Parasites?
The main treatment for parasites is strong antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. These are initially administered orally (capsules) over a course of treatment lasting 10 to 20 days depending on the regime. In extreme cases administration can be via enema. These drugs seek to kill the parasite on contact. Eradication of the parasite is confirmed by stool test.
Sometimes these drugs don’t kill the parasite so a second stronger tranche of drugs may be used. If the initial drugs do not kill the parasite, the parasite may adapt and fortify itself against drugs making it very difficult to kill.
Why Do You Still Feel Bad Despite Successfully Killing the Parasite?
There are three potential reasons for this:
- The parasite targeted and killed off was not the cause of your symptoms; or
- You are suffering a residual effect of having had the parasite for so long. There are many reports of people continuing to experience symptoms even after confirmation that the parasitic was no longer present. There appears to be some residual or memory in how the body operates that continues to cause problems; or
- The drug treatment was too harsh for you and it has caused some organ damage leading to problems.
If you are still experiencing symptoms despite having taken all Western medical steps to eradicate the suspect parasite, this is where Chinese medicine can help.
Treating Parasitic Infections With Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine was developed in very hot, humid and jungle-like conditions and parasitic infections are generally more tropical diseases in nature. The Chinese suffered many of the symptoms of parasitic infections but fortunately the same jungles that bore the parasites also had plants to provide herbal remedies.
Chinese medicine works on both expelling parasites AND strengthening your immunity so your body can keep the parasites at bay – just like everyone else. Note: Chinese medicine is not able to expel all types of parasites.
Low-grade infections. If you have a low grade parasitic infection, a safer option may be to strengthen your immune system to keep the parasite under control rather than subjecting your body to the harsh drugs required to try to kill it.
Allergic to Western medications. If you are allergic to antibiotics you may not be able to undergo Western drug treatment for parasites.
Damage from Western drug treatment. Post successful parasitic treatment, you may have a range of digestive problems (the strong antibiotics will also kill off a lot of your gut bacteria) making you tired, giving you stomach and bowel problems, that need to be treated with Chinese medicine and specific probiotics to return your gastrointestinal tract to normal.
Drug-resistant parasites. Post unsuccessful treatment where the drugs did not work, Chinese medicine is one of the few treatment options available.
Other parasites remain. If it is likely that some other parasites remain, the best treatment strategy is often to systematically strengthen your immune system and gradually control and expel the parasites, where possible, with Chinese herbs.
Protection against future infections. Getting rid of a parasite in no way provides immunity for future infections. The best ‘immunity’ is to build up your body’s immune system to fight off or keep new infections at bay.
The body is quite capable of dealing with and keeping in check many parasites if your immunity is strong enough. The Chinese medicine focus is on strengthening your body and immune system to keep you well.
If you are suffering from the effects of parasites (or even suspect that you are) make an initial appointment to see us about it. We can organise tests, refer for medications if required and treat you with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Also, if you have been through all Western medicine treatment options and are still unwell, come and see us. We can spend time with you to help you determine your options.